The cocktail may not have been born in New York, but it was definitely perfected here. Just look at all of the standout quaffs this city has to offer: everything from top-notch classics to boozy frozen drinks to Bloody Marys that you’ll want to sip long after brunch ends. Sidle up to the bar for the best cocktails New York has to offer.
Best cocktails in New York
Mixologist Garret Richard marries key island staples—rum, coffee and tropical fruit—over crushed ice in a beakerlike Chemex coffee-maker glass for this buzz-boosting number. Stumptown cold-brew concentrate takes the backseat here, rounding out bright splashes of guava nectar, orange juice and passion-fruit syrup, and sweetened with honey and house-made Falernum (a nutty-sweet Caribbean syrup). $3.
Bartender Danny Neff serves his small-but-mighty soda-gun version with the usual accoutrements but upgrades Coke with breakfast tea–infused vodka and employs a house oleosaccharum (a syrup made from lemon, orange and grapefruit peels) in place of the traditional triple sec. $6.
At this elegant hotel saloon from Daniel Humm, Will Guidara and Leo Robitschek—the James Beard Award–winning trio behind neighborhood stunners Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad—find a refreshing, textbook take on the springy classic, shot with a sharp snap of ginger. $16.
Meat is, needless to say, the marquee draw at Prime Meats—the dry-aged steaks for two have great, funky flavor and a beautiful char. But the barkeep, in suspenders and plaid, takes his sweet artisan time stirring up fine potent cocktails, like this applejack sazerac, which sweetens apple brandy and bitters with a hint of maple syrup. $10.
At this sleek Chelsea drinkery—the first bar from restaurant mogul Danny Meyer—Booker and Dax alum Nicholas Bennett helms the rustic, reclaimed-wood bar, turning out first-rate down-home sips that don’t mimic the real deal but instead redefines ‘em. A standout is the supremely smoky Gun Metal Blue, just barely splashed with curaçao and peach brandy. $14.
Longtime Clover Club head bartender Ivy Mix takes the steering wheel at this pan-Latin cocktail bar and to great effect—Mix was chosen American Bartender of the Year at the 2015 Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail for her superb signature drinks like the tropically minded Tia Mia, a riff on a mai tai made with mescal, rum, lime, orgeat and curaçao. $13.
Joshua Boissy's gorgeous salon—its green walls fogged with a faux patina that suggests decades of Gauloises smoke—is devoted to the twin pleasures of oysters and absinthe. There are 34 international varieties of the latter, best enjoyed as an opalescent brew made by slow-dripping ice water over a sugar cube. But there's even greater sorcery to be found on the trim list of cerebral cocktails from bar manager Maxwell Britten (Freemans, Jack the Horse). The Carondolet, for example, deploys gin, orange-flower water, citrus and Maldon salt—the salinity draws out the drink's vanilla and honey notes. $13.
Alex Stupak’s shrine to spit-roasted pork pours five michelada varieties, from a Mexicali-based standard ($9) to a “loaded” version with chipotle-spiked tomato juice and beef broth ($12). But it’s Wylie Dufresne’s brainy elote-inspired riff that truly stuns—made with corn powder in place of salt, smooth Negra Modelo, ponzu for acidity and barley-rich Malta Goya for a hit of umami. $9.
When Fernand Petiot introduced his vodka-and-tomato concoction to the St. Regis’s King Cole Bar in 1934, the name Bloody Mary was deemed too vulgar for the hotel’s chichi clientele, and it was thus rechristened the Red Snapper. The bar’s signature drink hasn’t changed much in those eight decades: It’s still silky smooth with rich tomato, but a delayed kick of smoky cayenne pepper leaves lips tingling. Though heavy-handed on the booze—not that we’re complaining—a thick lemon wedge is wrung for full-force tang to cut both the spirit and sweet vegetable juice. $24.
The skeletons of the bar's direct ancestor and former tenant, Milk and Honey, still rattle around Attaboy—the knock-and-buzz door system, the dusty tailors M&H Alterations window—and wistful boozers can seek solace in Petraske-era standard-bearers, like owner-barman Sam Ross’s signature Penicillin, a still-inspiring blend of Laphroaig 10-year, honey-ginger syrup and lemon. $16.
As the name suggests, American spirits are the emphasis at this dark, sultry bar. Along with a selection of bourbons and ryes, there are gins, vodkas and rums, all distilled in the States. Using the homeland hooch, mixologists Jim Kearns and Lynnette Marrero shake and stir top-notch mixed drinks like the refreshing house punch made with arrack (a rumlike spirit) and chai-infused rye. The Creole Daiquiri combines New Orleans rum with chorizo-flavored mescal (it’s a bit like sipping a taco, which is a good thing). While the focus is clearly on drinking, there’s excellent upscale pub grub: We liked the fiery fried buffalo sweetbreads.
Venue says: “Welcome spring with our cocktail of the month, Spring Blossom made with Basil Infused Brooklyn Republic Vodka!”