Union Square’s most handsome new bar has all the trappings of a bookish retreat (captain’s chairs, rolling ladders, communal wooden tables)—except for, you know, books. Instead, illuminated shelves in the bar’s wall-length library cases are stacked with liquor, like a boozy scene out of Beauty and the Beast. The seasoned team, which includes Dushan Zaric from Employees Only and Kyle Tran of the Aviary in Chicago, curated a heavy-hitting, four-digit spirit list that’s catalogued in an encyclopedic tome. Sure, New York has seen this brand of scholarly-looking bar before—the Library Bar at the NoMad comes to mind—but with cocktails this good and a staff this accommodating, more is more in our book.
ORDER THIS: Your eyes might glaze over the long-winded names of liquors listed in the cocktail descriptions (Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac, Clément V.S.O.P. rhum agricole), but you don’t need to be an aficionado to appreciate good flavor. The Victorian-inspired Cherry Cobbler ($14) doubles down on the namesake fruit, with bright cherry flavors showing up in Maurin Quina Le Puy and sour cherry syrup, rounded out with amontillado sherry, lemon juice and sparkling rosé. The frothy Western Addition ($14) is a more modern blend of blanco tequila, rhubarb juice and Madagascar peppercorn tincture, offering a smoky bite to the drink’s berry sweetness. And of course, there’s that list of more than 1,000 liquors, including ghost-distillery Japanese whiskeys and forgotten Armagnac brandies, all of which are available straight up for more pared-down enjoyment.
GOOD FOR: Unwinding after a long day of work. In a neighborhood packed with street performers and NYU students, Library is a relaxed, sophisticated reprieve from those freewheeling, chaotic streets. On a recent Thursday night, the decidedly adult crowd, a mix of business commuters (it’s located inside the Hyatt Union Square) and after-work paramours, lounged on either the plush indoor seating or at alfresco tables along a quiet strip of 13th Street.
THE CLINCHER: Chef Ron Rosselli, who also oversees the food program at sister restaurant Bowery Road inside the hotel, churns out Greenmarket-based bar bites like a crunchy blooming mushroom with yuzu-kosho aioli ($12) and a crushed avocado spread—really, guacamole—with seeded corn crackers ($12). (If hunger truly strikes, the restaurant’s full menu is also available.) From potables to plates, you won’t mind “studying” in this library.