The Times Square, New York guide
In 2009, this rakish, 1970s-vintage piano bar in the Edison Hotel looked destined to go the way of the 99¢ peep show. But the team behind Tribeca mixology den Ward III ushered in a second act, introducing some key upgrades (including serious cocktails) while maintaining the charmingly offbeat flavor of the place. Forget you're a stone's throw from Times Square while listening to nightly live jazz acts and sipping dark-spirit–heavy tipples, such as a funky old-fashioned riff that showcases the rich, tropical complexity of Banks 5 Island Rum. Those who suffer the cruel fate of being in Times Square on a weekend morning can console themselves with a range of six Bloody Marys (noon–5pm).
Owner Patrick Donagher is more interested in converting craft-beer newbs than scaring them off: A giant chalkboard wall suggests craft alternatives to mainstream swill, and a daily-changing menu offers 40 mostly American drafts ($7--$9), to help you find your new favorite beer. Purists gravitate toward the casks (between two and four at any time), as well as some of the expert picks on the list of 150 bottles, including Jolly Pumpkin's funky La Roja sour ale ($21). See what strikes your fancy on the daily-changing menu (organized by style, with tasting flights available for curious drinkers), or dig into the bar's stash of seasonal ales.
This Hell's Kitchen watering hole packs a lot of glittery, pseudo-Victorian personality into a small space. Patrons can sip cocktails off the backs of sexy centaur mannequins, or park at the bar while bopping their heads to tunes from various DJs during weekly theme nights.
At this airy Nolita drinkery, co-owners Timothy Lynch and Richard Knapp bring in a rotating cast of star bartenders to sling classic and contemporary drinks. The laid-back space—done up with a cream tin ceiling, exposed brick and weathered-wood bar—also offers a full menu. Sip your cocktail and nibble on globally inflected bites, including the TONY-approved spicy fried chickpeas, mini merguez meatball grinders and ginger-glazed duck wings.
There is no bar to belly up to at this louche lounge. Drinks are prepared in a beautiful but half-hidden back room surrounded by gleaming examples of every tool and gizmo a barkeep could wish for. From this gorgeous tableau comes an austere cocktail list, which includes classics like the Manhattan and Negroni, and variations thereof. The Old Cuban (rum, champagne, mint and bitters) smacks of a mojito with something to celebrate. And the velvety Japanese, powered by brandy and orgeat (almond-and-rosewater syrup), is so strong it could serve itself. Who needs a barstool anyway?
Ladies should probably leave the Blahniks at home. In traditional Irish-pub fashion, McSorley’s floor has been thoroughly scattered with sawdust to take care of the spills and other messes that often accompany large quantities of cheap beer. Established in 1854, McSorley’s became an institution by remaining steadfastly authentic and providing only two choices to its customers: McSorley’s Dark Ale and McSorley’s Light Ale. Both beverages have a lot more character than PBR, though at these prices, it won’t be long before you stop noticing.
Bespectacled lit chicks outnumber apparatchiks in this former Ukrainian social club. The dim parlor-style bar nestled in the second floor of a walk-up has Cold War decor, cheap Baltika beer, whiskey on the rocks and free readings—all of which lure New York’s literary underground, including stars like A.M. Homes and Kathryn Harrison.
As befits cocktail progenitor Sasha Petraske’s liquid legacy, the drinks at this clubby, low-ceilinged Village rathskeller are nigh perfect. If you choose to deviate from the menu, just give the neatly attired, polite bartenders a base liquor and a hint of your mood, and they can tailor a drink on the fly. A call for rye got us a spot-on Italian twist on a Manhattan, featuring maraschino liqueur, Carpano Antica vermouth and amaro. Custom-made cocktails—no password or secret handshake required.
Once a strictly private-events space, this bi-level venue from the owners of Village Pourhouse opens its temperature-controlled, weather-shielded roof deck to the public most nights of the week until 10pm. Drinks, which include cocktails like mojitos, as well as wine and beer, can be sipped while enjoying Hudson River views and items from the grill, including a duo of mini kobe burgers.
This rooftop lounge, backed by restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow, features 3,000 square feet of outdoor space and private chaise longue-equipped cabanas. Three separate terraces offer views of Lincoln Center and Central Park, and an appropriately sleek bar—constructed of stacked metal pipes—dispenses specialty cocktails like the Oran’gin the Mood (orange juice, Bombay Sapphire, Patrón Citrónge and club soda). There’s also a swimming pool on the upper level, but locals shouldn’t bother with the SPF: It’s open to hotel guests only.
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