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Hotel bars: the best new and classic New York hideaways

These hotel bars are throwbacks in the best sense—stake out a spot at one of these New York bars to have a drink in style.

 (Photograph: Daniel Krieger)
Photograph: Daniel Krieger

The NoMad Hotel Bar

This Gramercy hot spot, owned by Eleven Madison Park’s Daniel Humm and Will Guidara (with cocktails by EMP’s drinks mastermind, Leo Robitschek), offers a chic upgrade to the typical hotel-bar experience. Couples and after-work crowds mingle by the elegant bar, flanked by two huge mahogany elephants, but bibliophiles would do well to hunker down in the adjacent two-story library, filled with a selection of browsable tomes. Once you’ve nabbed a seat, try the bracing Start Me Up ($15), a sweet and spicy mix of bourbon, rum, honey, ginger, Strega, lemon juice and house-made orange bitters. Or sample the slightly sweet Le Poulet ($8), a Belgian-style brown ale made exclusively for the hotel by Brooklyn Brewery. 1170 Broadway at 28th St (347-472-5660, thenomadhotel.com)


 (Photograph: Waldorf Astoria New York)
Photograph: Waldorf Astoria New York

Peacock Alley at the Waldorf Astoria New York

At the turn of the 20th century, the promenade connecting the old Waldorf and Astoria Hotels was the place to see and be seen. Thanks to the society ladies showing off their gowns and jewels, the corridor was known as Peacock Alley. That moniker was given to the hotel restaurant and bar after the two companies combined and moved uptown into a grand new building in 1931. Sumptuous touches, such as plush stools and a mirror emblazoned with a frosted peacock, hark back to the Waldorf’s early days; the cocktail menu is similarly old-school, with drinks like a martini ($18–$22) and a Manhattan ($18–$25) on offer. 301 Park Ave between 49th and 50th Sts (212-872-1275, peacockalleyrestaurant.com)


 (Photograph: Beth Levendis)
Photograph: Beth Levendis

Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle

Even when it’s packed with Fifth Avenue shoppers or longtime regulars enjoying nightly jazz sets, this Upper East Side refuge feels intimate, with table lamps providing a soft glow and waiters in white jackets serving drinks. Be sure to examine the wall-covering, whimsical mural of Central Park by Ludwig Bemelmans, the drinkery’s namesake and author of the children’s book Madeline. Revive with a classic whiskey smash ($21), a combination of Maker’s Mark bourbon, muddled mint and lemon. 35 E 76th St at Madison Ave (212-744-1600, rosewoodhotels.com/carlyle)


 (Photograph: Matthew Williams/Wythe Hotel)
Photograph: Matthew Williams/Wythe Hotel

The Ides at Wythe Hotel

The minimalist decor at this chic Williamsburg spot immediately directs your attention to the stunning Manhattan skyline, visible through floor-to-ceiling windows. (Step onto the deck to take your inevitable Instagram shot of the Chrysler Building.) Though it’s less packed this time of year than in the summer, a hip young crowd of locals (peppered with Euro expats) can still be found preening and listening to nightly DJ sets. The staff keeps things simple, preparing drinks with regional small-batch spirits (echoing the ethos of Reynard, Andrew Tarlow’s locavore restaurant on the hotel’s ground floor). Order a refreshing Winter’s Green ($12), a gin-and-tonic riff that gets its color and herbal flavor from a splash of Chartreuse. 80 Wythe Ave at North 11th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-460-8006, wythehotel.com)


 (Photograph: Evan Sung)
Photograph: Evan Sung

Minton’s at the former Cecil Hotel

Once a jazz club where legendary musicians like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie played, this newly restored Harlem supper club is a throwback in the best sense. House bands play throughout the evening, and the diverse crowd is kitted out in their finest duds—jackets are required for men—making it feel as though you’ve traveled back to the 1930s. Get comfortable at the mahogany bar and check out Billie Holiday, Hot Lips Page and Tony Scott in the striking mural discovered behind the stage during construction. Quaffs nod to Jazz Age greats: Try thewarming cognac-and-sherry mixture known as the Ella—as in Fitzgerald. 206 118th St between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (Seventh Ave) and St. Nicholas Ave (212-243-2222)


Whether you’re entertaining out-of-towners or simply want to knock one back in style, these hotel bars in New York can provide a welcome—and classy—respite from winter’s chill. Sip both classic and creative libations at the NoMad Hotel’s elegant bar—including a homey, two-story library—or experience old–New York glamour at Peacock Alley, an Art Deco joint within the Waldorf Astoria New York hotel.

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