This subterranean booze den may be diminutive, but its Napoleonic ambitions surface in a smart French Colonial–themed drinks list. Far-flung flavors—agave from the Americas, hibiscus from Polynesia—play supporting roles in a dozen balanced tipples. The Africa-inspired Bang the Drum is like a Christmasy old-fashioned, featuring cognac and amaro spiced with a house-made clove-and-allspice syrup. Meanwhile, gin infused with Vietnamese peppers adds a subtle vegetal kick to the refreshing Saigon Folly. Both are a good match for the heat and slight smokiness of tender, bite-size lamb meatballs seasoned with harissa. The foxhole feel of the place—accentuated by throw rugs and orblike Edison bulbs—completes the escapist appeal.
Bars in New York City: An A-to-Z guide
This bar is Le Marquis’s attempt to bring cachet to its boutique hotel. The tiny space is fronted by glass and done up in what might be kindly described as dressed-up Holiday Inn: a curved, red-marble bar with a padded leather edge; nondescript wood furniture; and plenty of mirrors and chrome. There’s enough room for a weeknight guitarist, but nowhere to hide from the drunk, too-friendly locals. Generous bowls of senbei (rice crackers) and nuts are a plus.
Joining the recent wave of underground bars (Shorty’s, Tico’s Tequila Lounge) comes this agave-fueled grotto, operating on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays below Angelo Sosa’s Tribeca taqueria Añejo. (Abajo translates to “downstairs” in Spanish.) The focus is tequila’s smoky sibling mescal, some aged in barrels, some stored in private lockers (we’ll get to those) and all available to sop up with South of the Border snacks like fried guacamole ($7). Yes, fried guacamole. DRINK THIS: Potent mescal mixers include El Tranny ($14), which blends prickly pear and Tapatio 110 mescal with a champagne floater, and the wittily named Haas Muzik ($13), cutting the nutty richness of avocado puree with jalapeño-infused tequila, allspice pineapple nectar and cilantro. Get a drink and a side of show with the Church St. Swizzle punch ($14), which has bartenders wielding meat tenderizers to crush ice before stirring in smooth vanilla-tinged Riazul Reposado, house tangerine cordial and fresh mint. And if you’re going gaga over a specific spirit, splurge on a bottle ($200 and up) and have the bartender store it in one of the bar’s lock-and-key liquor cabinets for easy access on your next visit. GOOD FOR: A spontaneous dance fiesta. A DJ tucked next to a few oak barrels keeps the packed house moving with high-octane tunes and many an inspired Rihanna sing-along. (Eh, eh.) Even the bartenders get into the groove, channeling Cocktail with Cruise-level bottle spinning and shaker flipping. Low lights
Leah Allen, a Carroll Gardens artist, has decorated her watering hole with thrift store scores, a rescued church pew and a 27-foot-long bar. The cobbled together D.I.Y. aesthetic gives the place a personal feel that's echoed in the mostly-local crowd. Dog-toting Brooklynites colonize the sidewalk tables in warm weather. Inside you can soak up the easy atmosphere over a local draft beer, or square off in a Connect Four bout (the games are stacked on shelves near the bathroom).
You’ll need more than your wits and a nice smile to get past the doorman—like 60 Thompson’s A60, an access card (granted to hotel guests and other privileged folk) is required for entrance. Get a peek while you can: The glass-enclosed lounge (the roof is retractable during the warmer months) extends over Allen Street, providing a bird’s-eye view of the Lower East Side. Take it in over cocktails like the Forbidden Fruit (citrus vodka, Aperol, lemon juice and honey) and small plates (yellowtail sashimi, crispy taro puffs) dispatched from chef Susur Lee’s kitchen at Shang, also at the Thompson LES.
No bar has a better collection of ’70s lunch boxes, and the rollicking jukebox ain’t half bad, either. This souped-up rec room offers two pool tables, skeeball, darts, pinball, arcade favorites like Big Buck Hunter, and more. The five-hour happy hour means you can rotate pitchers and pints among the 14 brews on tap. Locals are first drawn in by the clublike exterior, but stay for the chill, pool-hall atmosphere that suits both birthday bashes or a few beers between friends.
Get espresso in the morning and tap wine later in the day at this café-bar. The 36-seat spot—which is modeled after the blue-collar fraschettas of Rome—also features fresh cornetti (sweet Italian croissants) and rustic savory bites, including bruschette and fried pizza.
CBD (cannabidiol), the completely legal, non-psychoactive calming property found in marijuana, has been touted throughout NYC as a weed substitute and a wellness fad, found in restaurants that are either (1) seeking relevancy or (2) mixing it with activated charcoal. Adriaen Block is offering option No. 3. Set along a quiet, residential stretch of Ditmars Boulevard, the Astoria bar is like the brick-and-mortar version of Tiesto walking into grandma’s: A red velvet rope guards the entrance, scantily clad friends stand outside taking a cigarette break and a live DJ blasts pop music that spills onto the sidewalk seating. At one point on a recent Friday night, an elderly man pushed his walker back and forth, staring in confusion. The bar serves eight drinks—four low ABV and four dry—each laced with several droplets, theatrically squeezed from a plastic pipette by the server. The Stoney Negroni, with Cocchi Americano, dry sherry and a French aperitif wine, makes for a slightly minty, less bitter negroni, while the Mellow Berry is a thick, fruity concoction served with a house-made blackberry shrub and orange bitters. If you’re staying dry, the Pear & Parsnip is “spiked” with Seedlip, a distilled non-alcoholic spirit, and mixed with a refreshing, citrusy shrub. After hitting the bar’s two-drink max, you do feel a sense of calm setting in, but not enough to wash away some very important questions: Is the CBD really kicking in? Or is it just one big placebo effect? Does all CBD taste