If you’re looking to get a little sloshed with a big group of friends, you can chug beers and vodka sodas at the city’s best dive bars, sure, but what’s more fun than sharing one large format cocktail and drinking it together? New York’s best large format cocktails come ladled out of punch bowls at hotel dens, served in theatrical scorpion bowls at tiki bars and in oversize cocktail glasses at the city’s best speakeasy bars. Ordering a drink to share is the ultimate New York bonding experience—plus, it make splitting the bill a whole lot easier.
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Best large format cocktails
Punch is the star at this Latin-themed bar, with 13 varieties on offer. The Funky Old Man From Martinique is a Caribbean number, with rum, lime, cane syrup and a splash of sparkling wine; while the Basilica curbs the smoke of whiskey with lime, basil, vanilla, passion fruit and cucumber. Punches are available in three sizes: the for-two Con un Amigo ($40), a four-person Toda La Familia ($80) and the Royal, which can serve five or more people ($120).
The for-two Gibson ($32) at this ritzy hotel bar is a great accompaniment to date night, in that it’s almost like getting a drink and dinner in one fell swoop. The cocktail stirs vodka, gin and Chenin blanc with vermouth, green apple eau de vie, beeswax and pickled vegetables.
This standard-bearing cocktail parlor from mixology matriarch Julie Reiner (Lani Kai) expresses its Victorian bent in intricate tile work, curved leather booths, marble tables, vintage sofas and a functioning fireplace. The centerpiece is the 19th-century mahogany bar, where vest-clad barkeeps stir and shake throwback potions, handily defined in the novel-like menu. Choose among regal crystal bowls of punch or finely wrought drinks, both classic and new. The Improved Whiskey Cocktail lives up to its name with an oversize ice cube mellowing a brawny blend of rye, maraschino liqueur, bitters and absinthe. Call for an order of house chips fried in duck fat, or a cheese plate featuring wedges sourced from neighborhood fromagerie Stinky Bklyn to keep you moored.
The Instagrammable punch bowls are worth a trek to this Times Square hotel bar. The Honey Rum Punch—made with aged rum, house-made black-tea–demerara syrup, freshly squeezed light, Peychaud bitters and honey sourced from the hotel’s rooftop hive—serves four ($58) or eight guests ($96).
Cocktails come in three sizes ($11 single, $35 for two to four people, and $70 for up to eight) at this South Street Seaport bar. The Drinkupny sounds like a tempting beck-and-call and not just in name only—the bowl has balsam magnolia blossom, oolong tea, local aperitif wine, lemon and a bubbly splash of Perrier.
Sure, you can drink old-fashioneds, gin and tonics, and rum and cokes by yourself, but it’s so much better sharing the experience in one big bowl with friends. The revived Holiday Cocktail Lounge serves those same basic quaffs for four ($45) or six people ($56).
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With four floors—one of which is a rooftop patio—Tonic East is equipped to handle any large party or event. The vast space, plus the 60-plus TVs scattered throughout the bar, makes it a popular spot for watching NFL, NHL and college football games. The extended happy hour—from 11am to 10pm Sunday through Wednesday and 11am to 8pm Thursday and Friday—doesn’t hurt either. Order from the happy hour menu to score select cocktails for $6 and a few beers for $5, or spring for a full-price option with some of the premium beers on tap, like Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA or Schofferhofer Grapefruit. Any good game watch requires munchies. The loaded tater tots with bacon, cheddar, sour cream and scallions ($10) or wings with buffalo, barbecue or sriracha sauce (ten for $12) might fit the bill.
Venue says: “Happy Hour Sunday-Wednesday 11am-10pm. Thursday-Friday 11am-8pm”