New York City’s drinking scene is in a league of its own, and there’s no shortage of cocktail experiences you need do if you want to truly be part of this city. From age-old classic cocktails invented in NYC to latest and greatest cocktails in NYC that call local and speakeasy bars home, those who crave more than just a pint at the best beer bars face no shortage of choices. After all, that’s what the city’s about: options. Cocktail lovers, drink your heart out.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to cocktails in NYC
50 cocktail experiences you should have in NYC
Venue says: “For over 100 years we have been serving the freshest oysters & seafood in NYC! Our Oyster Happy Hour features Bluepoint Oysters, $1.25/each”
Nestled beneath the buzz of the city’s most cherished (and photogenic) train station is the sprawling New York institution that is Grand Central Oyster Bar, which first opened back in 1913. Order your martini with a side of the catch of the day.
If ever there were a king of tiki this side of town, it would undoubtedly be The NoMad Bar. Moody reverie sets the stage for bar director Leo Robitschek’s tiki bar creations, from classic mai tais to a house Forbidden Dance, so channel your inner tropics here at any time of year.
The Penicillin, a new-wave classic, originated at now-closed institution Milk & Honey but has since taken on a new persona at NYC’s Death & Co. Order the native New York concoction—made of layered scotch whiskeys and lemon, ginger and honey—and take in the surroundings while you’re at it.
Dining or drinking at Rockefeller Center’s storied Rainbow Room and its sister bar (which happens to be the highest terrace bar in the city) are certainly fit for those New York treat-yourself moments. Think of the ROI as not only a great place for a cocktail but an insane view to boot.
PSA: NYC’s Waldorf Astoria closes down in February for a massive renovation, so get there while you can. Order a classic Bronx (Bols genever, orange bitters, sweet and dry vermouth, and fresh orange juice) at Peacock Alley and say hello to The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book author Frank Caiafa, who can usually be found milling about.
Manhattan’s 21 Club is both a former Prohibition-era speakeasy and a legendary institution; in other words, an essential NYC watering hole. The Southside cocktail—gin, mint simple syrup, lemon, mint leaves and soda served in a highball—is said to be a 21 Club original and has been among its most popular orders for the last century.
Another classic NYC institution: the martini. Pop in for a jazz performance at Café Carlyle and grab a nightcap at the world-famous, mural-adorned Bemelmans Bar. Bonus: If you order a martini, it’ll come with a sidecar of your drink’s overflow so you can top up at your leisure.
Looking for more great NYC bars?
For Long Island City, the transformation from underserved 'hood to serious food-and-drink destination has been percolating for the past several years. Alewife represents the next crucial piece of the puzzle: a craft-beer destination that can go toe-to-toe with the most pedigreed suds haunts in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Sure, there's an Anywhere, USA vibe to the generic-looking gastropub, and we could do without the poppy soundtrack and truffle oil on our fries. But while the out-of-towners behind the bar—a team of hops zealots with ties to Alewife Baltimore and the cultish Lord Hobo in Cambridge, Massachusetts—may not get every detail right, they come through where it counts. The beers are phenomenal, and their enthusiasm for sharing them is exactly what's needed to gain the craft-beer movement some new converts. DRINK THIS: You'd be hard-pressed to find a dud among the 28 draft lines, which dispense a well-balanced selection of domestic all-stars (High & Mighty, Two Brothers), Old World classics (Mahr's) and hard-to-find European imports (De Ranke XX Bitter, Guineu Riner). Among the latter, committed beer hunters will notice an exciting (and largely unpronounceable) cast of Scandinavian breweries—the up-and-coming region is well represented, with recent hits including a refreshing Nøgne-Ø Saison from Norway and a funky, flowery Oppigrds Well-Hopped Lager from Sweden. Friendly servers can help steer the uninitiated through the unfamiliar terrain. If you're at a loss, a good mo
Venue says: “All day Happy Hour Monday-Thursday! Late night Happy Hour: Sunday-Thursday 11pm - to close.”