Tucked into the no-man’s-land between the Upper East Side and Spanish Harlem, this craft-beer cubbyhole has the sort of community-hub vibe that makes you want to settle in and become part of the furniture. The well-priced suds (including rotating craft brews and cheap cans of Genny Light) and slapdash setup appeal to a neighborhood crowd, but it's chef Corey Cova's madcap bar food that makes it destinationworthy. The Momofuku Ssäm Bar alum is a comfort-food savant, deploying local curds in a variety of kitchen-sink creations. Try the NY State Cheddar—a grilled cheese featuring an unstoppable combo of braised pork belly, fried egg and house-made kimchi—or dig into an Eggo waffle topped with coffee-cured bacon, reduced maple syrup, aged cheddar and grilled foie gras.
Dinner, drinks and a show in this glittering room can feel like an evening that only an oil sheik could afford, but commit to it: With its airy murals by Marcel Vertes, this elegant spot in the Carlyle Hotel is the epitome of New York class, attracting such top-level singers as Elaine Stritch, Judy Collins, Christine Ebersole and Ute Lemper. Woody Allen often plays clarinet with Eddie Davis and his New Orleans Jazz Band on Monday nights; call ahead to confirm. To drink in some atmosphere without spending quite as much, try Bemelmans Bar across the hall.
The Upper East Side has its share of low-key gems (Torishin) and crown-jewel restaurants (Daniel), but verifiable hot spots? There are few. The idea of a hobnobbing scene in Manhattan’s stuffiest zip code seemed laughable a few years ago—as likely as an electrodisco party in Greenwich, Connecticut. But the Penrose—named for a neighborhood in Cork, Ireland, where two of the owners grew up—is finally bringing a bit of the indie-chic East Village to Gossip Girl territory. Operated by the gastropub specialists behind the Wren and Wilfie & Nell, the joint would be run-of-the-mill farther downtown, where the trifecta of reclaimed wood, craft pours and pedigreed pub grub long ago joined the ranks of food-world clichés. But it’s a welcome change up here, where the only other option in a ten-block radius is Jones Wood Foundry, and locals have responded in droves. Step inside and it’s easy to see why the handsome joint was an insta-hit—antique lights cast a golden glow over a long, curving bar in the front room, while elegant patterned wallpaper and aristocratic framed portraits decorate nooks in the back. DRINK THIS: Skip the foofy cocktails (they read better than they taste) and opt for a draft beer or a dram of the brown stuff instead. The craft-brew list ($5–$9) offers familiar, solid standards (Kelso Nut Brown) and a couple of Irish imports (Guinness Extra Stout)—fine enough drafts for a laid-back night with pals. Those looking to break out of the Guinness-at-an-Irish-bar rut can
Venue says: “Main Bar: Su-W 11a-2a Th–Sa 11a-2a Cocktail Lab:M-F 6p–2a Sat-Sun 12-2aGrowler Bar: 7 days a week 12-2aEspresso Bar: 7 days a week 6a-4p”
The Alewife team crosses the East River this fall, debuting two bars, including this Upper East Side hangout. A custom draft system controls the pressure for optimal fizz. To pad the boozing, chef Michael Haigh (the Vanderbilt) will dole out gussied-up bar snacks such as sriracha peas, house-made Cool Ranch chips and truffle popcorn. Keg pallets and lighting fixtures fashioned from plumbing parts decorate the space, including a 65-seat biergarten.
This dingy dive is in peril, with a new development threatening to close its doors. Until then, the neon-lit institution holds on among the skyscrapers and Bloomies shoppers. Every breed of drinker can be found here—from shot-and-a-beer suits to old-time regulars. The booze is modest: There’s plenty of liquor, and a selection of basic beers (Bud, Coors, Sam and Guinness). The bar also stocks a few bottles of wine, but you’d do well to avoid them—we assume they’d make a decent vinaigrette by now.
Cocktail enthusiasts haven’t had much use for the 6 train above 42nd Street. The Upper East Side, so rich in greenery and regal townhouses, is comparatively wanting when it comes to nightlife. But the Guthrie Inn—joining Earl’s Beer and Cheese and ABV—is the latest in a series of hipster-baiting bars colonizing the upper reaches of the UES. Owner Adam Clark, who also has a hand in Earl’s next door, has squeezed this bar into a lean, wooden hallway of a space. The pressed-tin ceiling, shelves stacked with amari and exposed-brick walls may bring to mind a snobby speakeasy, but the place mostly maintains the shabby, warm comfort of a neighborhood bar—the kind of place you could roll into on a Tuesday night and throw back a martini while wearing a T-shirt and shorts. DRINK THIS: The menu—from Amor y Amargo’s Christopher Elford—is composed of classics ($10) and house originals ($12), with the latter category further divided into “Shaken & Refreshing” drinks and “Stirred & Boozy” ones. But even these creations don’t stray far from the classic formulas, with pleasing and familiar results. The stiffness of the Jackson Ward, a Manhattan variation made with Old Grand Dad 100 Proof bourbon, is leavened with herbaceous and bitter Nardini amaro and Punt e Mes vermouth. The Expat might lure sweet-seekers with its promise of pineapple juice and blended rum, but it’s a tropical drink for grown-ups, with herbal Ramazzotti tempering the sugar. The Guthrie Julep, served in a gleaming, copper-ba
Last year, Earl’s Beer and Cheese emerged, seemingly from the ether, along the northern edges of the Upper East Side, bringing youthful buzz and craft brews to a ’hood that had long been a wasteland for both. Now, the previously drowsy area has received another boost from the oenocentric ABV, the latest piece of a loosely affiliated mini empire that also includes the musically inclined Vinyl Wine shop and an in-the-works cocktail bar called Guthrie Inn. With exposed-brick walls, filament bulbs and orange banquettes, ABV lacks the scrappy, fish-out-of-water charm of Earl’s. But while the look is more familiar, the menu is rife with eccentric touches: vino on tap, an exotic all-European beer list and head-scratching grub from Corey Cova, who has left Earl’s to take a starring role at ABV’s chef’s counter. Not surprisingly, the place has struck an immediate nerve, filling up with off-the-clock Mount Sinai residents, thirsty East Harlemites and other locals eager for another new neighborhood joint to call their own. DRINK THIS: While Earl’s makes do with just four beer taps and a handful of craft cans, ABV delivers a hefty binder of drink options. More than 50 wines are organized under user-friendly headers such as “rich, earthy, exotic reds” and “clean, crisp, refreshing whites,” with an eye toward offbeat producers. And those Continental brews, including classics like Kulmbacher pilsner ($6) and beer-nerd bait such as Evil Twin Hop Flood ($7), offer a refreshing detour from the
Order a drink and the barman does something odd: He offers you an ashtray. Yes, it’s a legal cigar bar. Beer glasses are frosted, martinis are shaken, and the selection of single-malt Scotches and cognacs is topflight. The celeb clientele has included Robert De Niro, Quentin Tarantino, Jessica Simpson and John Mayer (woo woo!).
The luxe setting and monied crowd at Daniel Boulud’s Deco beauty might seem a little stiff—but barkeep Cameron Bogue’s drinks are so delicious and exquisitely executed, you won’t mind sharing your banquette with a suit. A sloe gin fizz was a stunner, combining sloe gin with lemon juice and homemade rhubarb bitters, crowned with a silky egg-white head. The La Terre was an earthy, complex blend of red vermouth, Aperol, grapefruit juice and house-infused beet gin. All of this refinement will cost you: Canapés (snacks are made at Café Boulud next door) are $28 for four people, and cocktails top out at $19.