Summer date bars

Take your new crush to one of these sweet spots.

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  • Bemelmans at the Carlyle

  • Photograph: courtesy www.flickr.com/ChrisGoldNY

    Rapture Lounge

  • Photograph: Michael Kirby Smith

    Sweet Afton

Bemelmans at the Carlyle


The Oak Room and Bar
For a little bit of glitz and glam and a big dollop of history, sneak into the Plaza's bar, a 1907 stunner outfitted with burnished wood and showstopping cityscape murals. Claim a cozy table with a view of Central Park, and sink into a satiny banquette for a few rounds of classic Manhattans or strapping rum old-fashioneds (each $19.95). Should you need sustenance, try the excellent and massive $20 dry-aged prime burger. It's served on a nicely chewy, salt-speckled pretzel bun with a pile of shoestring fries, and is big enough to share. 10 Central Park South between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-758-7777)

Auction House
One look at the ornate curtains, inviting red velvet couches and suggestive nude art bathed in candlelight makes it clear why this clandestine bar is a popular blind-date spot. "I see people actually getting to know each other here," says bartender Benjamin Ironside. Settle in to one of the dark nooks and get to chatting—if you discover your date is a PETA activist, you'll score major points: The Auction House has a strict no-fur policy. 300 E 89th St between First and Second Aves (212-427-4458)

Bemelmans at the Carlyle
Weave through the Central Park footpaths on your way uptown to reach this wonderfully dark hotel bar, named for illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans, whose sketches cover the walls. The ceiling is coated in gold leaf, the booths are supple brown leather, and live performers croon from the baby grand seven nights a week (Mon--Thu, Sun $25 cover; Fri, Sat $30). Master mixologist Audrey Saunders (Pegu Club) got her start here, and her excellent Gin Gin mule (made with ginger beer, muddled mint and lime) is still a menu staple. Free bar snacks—crispy potato chips presented on silver trays—help merit the drinks' $20 price tags. 35 E 76th St at Madison Ave (212-744-1600)

Bushwick Country Club
A few strips of vintage-photo-booth snapshots ($3 each) will help you remember your night at hipster hangout Bushwick Country Club. You'll not only need the reminder (thanks to sweet-tea vodka slushes, $6), but you'll want it, too—no date can be dull when there's a backyard minigolf course tricked out with a PBR windmill, a drunken-hobo mannequin and a silver ice-maker--turned-robot. 618 Grand St between Leonard and Lorimer Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-388-2114, bushwickcountryclub.com)

Roebling Tea Room
Sipping Earl Grey might be as sexy as wearing granny panties, but at the cozy Roebling Tea Room you don't have to limit yourself to geriatric drinks (our pick: the Champagne Charlie, a concoction of black tea and sparkling wine, $10). Grab your adult (read: alcoholic) teas and head outside to enjoy dinner on the patio. 143 Roebling St at Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-963-0760, roeblingtearoom.com)

Rapture Lounge
Taking a date to Rapture Lounge is like bringing a potential lover back to your ultra-swanky bachelor pad—if your home happened to have table service. Rapture offers daily happy-hour drink deals (5--8pm), which extend to the bar's unique lineup of cocktails (including the Jealous Bitch, a white-grape-vodka--and-champagne concoction; $10). Tuesdays mean buy-one-get-one-free house shots, while Fridays and Saturdays bring two-for-one pitchers (that's right, whole pitchers) of red, white and peach sangria ($30). 34-27 28th Ave at 35th St, Astoria, Queens (718-626-8044, rapturelounge.com)

Crescent Lounge
Regulars—often, but not exclusively, of the gay male variety—chill at this neighborhood joint for a martini nightcap (try the 11106, a sweet-tart blend of gin, apricot liqueur, dry vermouth, bitters, lime and sour mix; $9)—after gorging on meze at one of Astoria's many Greek restaurants. While Crescent is a laid-back late-night spot, it's also an easy place to while away an entire evening, thanks to the giant, overstuffed sofas. 3205 Crescent St at Broadway, Astoria, Queens (718-606-9705)

Sweet Afton
To some, nothing says romance like candles and wine. To others, pickles and beer are the mark of a match made in heaven. If you fall in the latter camp, then homey Queens gastropub Sweet Afton is the place for your next tryst. It combines an industrial feel—lots of concrete and massive beams—with the dim, dark-wood coziness of an Irish pub. The bar's array of reasonably priced suds includes strong selections from craft breweries like Kelso, Fire Island and Captain Lawrence, but the unpretentious bartender will just as happily crack open a cheap bottle or can of everyman ale if simplicity is your drink of choice. Compliment your brew with beer-battered McClure's pickles. To continue on a theme, toss down some pickleback shots and see where the night takes you. 30-09 34th St at 30th Ave (718-777-2570, sweetaftonbar.com)

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