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I'll Have Another at Manhattan Cricket Club
Photograph: Virginia Rollison

The 100 best dishes and drinks in New York City 2014: Best drinks

New York barkeeps poured splendid sips this year, including killer cocktails, brainy beers and one stunning local liqueur

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This year’s top tipples don’t just extend to the best cocktails, though there were plenty of gorgeous takes on those, including a South of the Border spin on a classic Old Fashioned and a resurrection of a long-overlooked quaff. There’s also honey-laden beer from a pack of brewery-hopping gypsies and a brandy mash-up between two Kings County drink makers. Here are 2014’s best drinks in New York City.
  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Lower East Side
  • price 1 of 4

Don’t let the name fool you: This glass hasn’t gone awry. It’s actually on course for the intersection between the classic, a sbagliato and gelato. Opening with a bitter bite from the campari and vermouth keeping it tied to its Italian roots, the lemon zinger is quelled with Little-Italy–born Ciao Bella sorbet and a float of crisp, dry prosecco. It is, however, served in a Collins glass—perhaps to nod to its cousin, Tom. $12.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • West Village
  • price 2 of 4

Brian Bartels’s striking chartreuse riff on the brunch bastion stands out among even his most madcap shake-ups. And it will catch you by surprise: tart tomatillo and cooling cucumber water temper the house-made Serrano hot sauce at the start but the slow burn gradually intensified. With smoked, earthy celery at the finish, it’s a delicious makeover for the ol’ lady. $14.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Lower East Side
  • price 1 of 4

At the LES basement bar from the Death & Company crew, drinks maven Natasha David pulls inspiration from homey pie for this berry-bourbon tipple. The cup opens strong on cinnamon, but gives way to bright, palate-cleansing ginger, caramel-licked whiskey and bold, tart cranberry. $14.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Upper West Side
  • price 2 of 4

At Greg Seider’s clandestine cocktail lounge, ammong plush velvet, dimpled leather banquettes and dark wood, there are a handful of drinks you’ll want to order more than once, but none as cocksure as this pointedly named sipper. Toasted garam masala spices sweet, caramely Santa Teresa 1796 rum, hit with lime juice and Fever Tree club soda, with a sprinkling of microplaned ginger root on top for extra zing. $15

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Lower East Side
  • price 1 of 4

The spicy-sweet on-draft java at Nick Morgenstern’s airy café is first brewed with a kick of cinnamon and chili flakes, then chilled and doused with condensed milk to sweeten things. A generous sprinkling of rich Mexican chocolate and sprig of cooling mint leaves makes it as suitable for dessert as it is for your a.m. caffeine boost. $3.75.

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  • Bars
  • Breweries

Nomadic brewers Lauren and Joe Grimm travel between friends’ facilities to craft their small-batch beers, and the run-around seems to only make the suds better. This summer’s stunner, a glittering gold Belgian-style “bier de miel” coyly named for Nicki Minaj’s rap hit softens doubled-down trappist yeast and its 8-percent ABV with local clover honey. There’s a light touch of tart apricot and a hint of cinnamon, too, so it never gets cloying—even after more than a few pints. 22oz botte for $15.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Cobble Hill
  • price 2 of 4

The sleeper-hit sipper popping up on cocktail menus this year was the resurged Boulevardier, a simple mix of whiskey (usually bourbon), sweet vermouth and Campari, but our favorite version is the purist coupe from Toby Cecchini. Though the recipe only requires three ingredients, Cecchini’s formidable skills ensure the rye-based quaff is as balanced as it is biting. $12. 

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4

There’s nothing particularly old-fashioned about this modern Mexican spin on the cocktail classic, but that makes it no less glug-worthy. The bow-tied bartenders stir dark, rich Herradura tequila with spicy Scrappy’s Firewaters bitters, amplified by bobbing slices of jalapeno peppers (they can sub in maraschino cherries if you can’t handle the heat) and soothed with sweet agave syrup. A citrus twist at the end is a sombrero tip to the traditional quaff. $13.

Kings County Distillery and Brooklyn Winery Brandy
  • Bars
  • Brooklyn Navy Yard

This beaut has been three years in the making—for the limited-edition spirits collaboration between the Vinegar Hill distillery and Williamsburg winemakers, distiller Colin Spoelman took 775 gallons of Conor McCormack’s 2011 Cabernet Franc wine, aged it in old bourbon barrels for more than two years and distilled it into 110 fruity gallons of warming, Christmas-spiced brandy you’ll want to drink any day of the year. $45 for 375 mL bottle.

The 100 best dishes in New York by category

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