Best-looking bars in NYC
Once you reach the 26th floor of Beekman Tower, you’re instantly welcomed into a decadent barroom fashioned with soaring cathedral windows, jewel-tone blue walls and glass showcases filled with vintage oddities. This intoxicating music-box–like space has four doors that lead to the main draw: a maze of enclosed terraces snaking around the perimeter, outfitted with red-velvet couches, checkered black-and-white floors and sweeping views of Midtown East.
NO PHOTOS, NO FIGHTING, the hot-pink neon-lit sign commands as you descend below Doyers Street into the Chinese Tuxedo–owned cocktail bar. While nothing stirred us to brawl (the edict is a shout-out to the street’s historic gang violence), it’s harder to resist snapping pics of the cool-kid cavern with its Gucci tiger-print wallpaper, flickering candles and flower arrangements that could be plucked straight from a wedding at the Plaza.
Like the menu, the cozy teal-and-white tiki den is rife with time-warp nods to the Pacific isles, including retro floral-patterned banquettes, hand-carved totem pole stools and mother-of-pearl light fixtures. The effect is somewhat dreamlike—corroborated by a lo-fi pop soundtrack ranging from the Velvet Underground to St. Vincent.
Choice acts keep New York’s most dapper nightspot on the map, while the steep cover charge and white-jacketed service makes sure riffraff doesn’t scuff up the bar’s most valued draw: original Ludwig Bemelmans murals. Mixologist Brian Van Flandern’s spiffy (and pricey) potions preserve the bar’s classic character. Try the popular Paradise cocktail (pear vodka, Aneri and prosecco with lime and bitters), or a rum, lime, tonic and Martell cognac concoction named for the spot’s longtime barkeep, Tommy Rowles.
Scuffed into submission by owner Joshua Boissy and the designers behind nearby Moto, this 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: two French Quarter staples with plenty of appeal in Brooklyn. It's dangerously easy to be seduced sitting round the oval, marble-topped bar, emptying beau soleil and belon shells.
At first glance, Primo’s is an oxymoron: an inexplicably sexy space modeled on… a 1950s diner? On one hand, there’s glass-block partitions, chrome-edge tables and doo-wop music. But swap the black-and-white checkerboard floor for soft-gray terrazzo triangles, the soda-fountain counter for a liquor-stocked bar and the squeaky plastic booths for jewel-tone velvet banquettes, and you have the most downright sensual “diner” we’ve ever seen.
It’s a scene straight out of Midnight in Paris—or maybe Back to the Future—all golden-age yearning and space-time shuffling. This dapper Gramercy lounge from Raines Law Room operators is a railroad space divided into period-piece quarters, including a tufted Victorian parlor and an ashtray-dotted hooch den worthy of Don Draper. Spend an hour at this luxe oasis and you’ll completely lose track of time—no DeLorean required.
Like many rich and, ahem, mature New Yorkers, the Campbell Apartment inside Grand Central Terminal has had a little work done. After a change of hands, historic bar reopened with more seating, a relaxed dress code and a streamlined moniker. And just like the most expensive plastic surgeries, the best features are preserved: The landmark space still sports its wooden, hand-painted ceilings, oversize stone fireplace and leaded-glass windows.
The Rotunda is the room that The Pierre is most well-known for. The curved walls and grandiose murals, painted by Edward Melcarth in 1976, make the room feel like it was plucked straight from a rococo fairytale setting. It was newly renovated to include a full bar and light snacks in the afternoon and evening.
In the early evening, the height of this dreamy, overgrown rooftop bar affords a regal view of gleaming West Side buildings and the cloud-streaked horizon. A floor of pebbles and slate, trellises woven with flowers and weathered wooden tables recall an upstate country home left adorably to seed. But as the sun descends over the Hudson and darkness encroaches, something stranger occurs. Christmas lights encircling small trees and the rafters overhead blink to life. A brass band waltzes dizzyingly through a funereal tune.