There’s something to be said for knowing one thing exceptionally well—the single-minded gin enthusiasts at the newly restored InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel have poured themselves into preaching the gospel of the fermented juniper berry. Eschewing the usual tropes of the hotel lobby bar (tacky piña coladas and bleary-eyed bartenders may come to mind), the Gin Parlour instead takes cues from 1920s-era Dutch and English gin bars. There are hints of standard hotel accoutrements—a coffee bar that springs to life with a continental breakfast in the morning—but beverage director Orion Berge (Waldorf Astoria, the East Pole) obsesses over details and ingredients with the fervor of Manhattan’s finer bespoke joints.
ORDER THIS: With more than 88 gins represented on the menu, aficionados can sample to their heart’s (and liver’s) content. But the best way to experience this lounge is to let Berge take the reins with one of his gin-fueled cocktails. Begin with the Quintessential G&T ($16) as a primer, its stemmed goblet flush with Fords Gin, house-made tonic water and a flamboyant tarragon sprig sticking out. For a refreshing boost, opt for the Brooklyn Bramble ($16) named for its floral and citrusy Brooklyn Gin base, sweetly concocted with champagne, lemon and black currant liqueur. The gem of the bunch is the Alice in Wonderland–inspired Curiouser & Curiouser ($22), livened with honey, lemon, citrus peel and Earl Grey bitters inside a whimsical tea cup.
GOOD FOR: Those nights when you just want a well-mixed drink, minus the crowd. Though this midtown bar is obsessed with detail and craftsmanship, it can’t fully escape its geography (inside a hotel), and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for those who desire slow sips and attentive service. It’s a great place to geek out about herbal flavor profiles, botanicals and distilling processes with the highly specialized staff but without a rowdy late-night din drowning out your curiosity.
THE CLINCHER: Alongside those spirit lifters is a menu full of bar snacks like broiled oysters Reuben ($16) or a more classic Rockefeller variety ($16). A room at the hotel will burn a rent-size hole in your pocket, but a couple of slurpers and cocktails, consumed in an antique chair beneath crystal chandeliers, is a small luxury you can afford.