Beyond the booze: Five cocktail menus so cool, you'll want to steal them

At these NYC cocktail bars, the clever, crafty and even kinky menus kick off the good times even before the first sip



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Say goodbye to the days of eye-rolling bar menus with cryptic drink descriptions and formal beverage lists. From graphic novels to soft-core porn, these cocktail lists are as inventive as the quaffs listed on them. Pouring over these new-age menus, you'll actually thank your friends for showing up to the bar late.


At this Lower East Side haunt by team Death & Co., the menu reads like a 22-page manual on how to have a killer night. Designed by Short Stack Editions' Rotem Raffe, it's packed with walk-in-a-bar jokes, Rodney Dangerfield quotes and pickup tips: "Lick your lips. This is either sexy or signifies you are hungry. You may get kisses or food. Either way: win." And because none of that would be as fun without alcohol, drinks are divided into ten categories like "Hunker Down," featuring cocktails heavy on dark spirits.

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Dead Rabbit

Last year, Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry were honored by Tales of the Cocktail for having the World's Best Cocktail Menu, and they've outdone themselves with their recently unveiled version: a gold-embossed tome that tells the tale of Dead Rabbits gang founder John Morrissey in awesome graphic-novel style. The menu is divided by periods in Morrissey's life, like Fiery, Ambitious and Strong (featuring the Right-Hand Smash, with bourbon; Pernod Absinthe, with Parfait Amour liqueur and black tea). The best part about this badass opus? You can buy one for yourself on the bar's website.

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Just like exhibitions at any art gallery, the drinks in this Museum of Sex bar are divided into a "Permanent Collection" and "Exhibited Cocktails," changing seasonally. The concoctions in the permanent section are also categorized by level of salaciousness, from demure to flat-out kinky (see: the Sweet & Sour Swizzle, with rum, Tabasco and pineapple). The saucy read gets bonus boudoir points for semi-pornographic illustrations and tips on swooning.

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Evelyn Drinkery

The folks at the East Village watering hole have a way with words, and we're not just talking about their cleverly named drinks, like the Man Up and Loose a Pear (Woodford, Carpano Antica, Amaro Lucano, green chartreuse). In an effort to improve your boozy behavior, their menu includes a Drinking Language guide, informing you that ordering an "easy on the ice" drink won't get you more alcohol but will make you look cheap. Another golden rule: "The word skinny shall never be used in a drink order." Amen to that! 

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Henry, a Liquor Bar

Before you get to the cocktail descriptions on the Hudson Hotel bar's menu, you'll hear the whimsical story of tired settlers traveling up the Hudson River, restored by a magical elixir (hint: booze). London import and head bartender, Ryan Chetiyawardana, penned and illustrated the menu himself, which also includes Henry Rules, a set of behavioral guidelines both gender-specific (dudes shouldn't "sleaze on female patrons") and universal: "No Jäger bombs or Cosmos."

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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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