Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right New York State icon-chevron-right New York icon-chevron-right The winners of the 2018 Time Out New York Bar Awards

The winners of the 2018 Time Out New York Bar Awards

Raise a glass to Time Out New York’s Bar Awards winners: an intoxicating crop of newcomers and timelessly cool staples

Dante
Photograph: Filip Wolak
By Jake Cohen and Alyson Penn |
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New York City’s drinking scene is raising the bar. Not only are the stalwarts further cementing their iconic status, but a host of exceptional newbies—from beer bars and cocktail haunts to posh wine bars—are bringing their A game, too, creating a competitive field for Time Out New York’s 2018 Bar Awards. To choose the best of the best, we asked the best: Ten of the industry’s most sought-after pros voted for which drinkeries they think came out swinging (and shaken and stirred) over the last 12 months. Read on to discover the best bars in NYC, and scope out the next place to visit to make sure your glass is always half full.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Time Out New York’s Bar Awards

2018 Bar Awards Winners

Dante
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Bars, Cocktail bars

Bar of the Year sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin

icon-location-pin West Village

Dante

Why we love it:
Bow down, New York. This celebrity hot spot and reboot of a 100-year-old Village landmark packs ’em in for a simple, worthy reason: the drinks (like the Garibaldi, our Cocktail of the Year winner, page 15). The menu, created by Naren Young, focuses on no-frills yet noteworthy creations that encourage you to appreciate the simpler things in life—take, for example, the classic vermouth service or the Negronis on tap. One sip in and you’ll understand why this bar has not only survived the test of time but also thrives.

Why the panel loves it:
“There’s not an off night to go to Dante. The staff is really warm and engaging, and I love having a solid daytime or late-afternoon option for snacks and cocktails.”—Meaghan Dorman

“With a successful second venue in NYC, it is Dante’s global pop-ups that continue to prove the genius in the simplicity that is the Dante concept. Finally, the beautiful wizardry of Young’s cocktails have found their perfect home.”—Charlotte Voisey

Runners-up: The Aviary NYC, Ghost Donkey, Mace, The Nomad Bar

The Aviary
Photograph: Courtesy George Apostolidis
Bars, Cocktail bars

Best New Bar

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

The Aviary NYC

Why we love it:
Chicago import the Aviary NYC, stationed on the retro-futuristic 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, brings the same attention to detail and sense of wonder as the original location. Break out your camera, as every cocktail is an interactive spectacle, with smoke, fire, changing colors or some combination of the three, as in the aptly named Science A.F., a pyrotechnic spin on a Penicillin. Under the leadership of Micah Melton, the bar delivers the kind of experience that you replay in your dreams and conversations for days afterward. (We’re guilty of that, hence our five-star review.)

Why the panel loves it:
“There are no other new bars that created that much buzz when they opened.”—Kenta Goto

“The Aviary continues to raise the bar for creativity and theater in cocktail bars and is an incredible addition to the New York scene.” —Charlotte Voisey

Runners-up: Banzarbar, Diamond Reef, George Washington Bar, Loverboy

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Air’s Champagne Parlor
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Bars, Wine bars

Best Wine Bar sponsored by Segura Viudas

icon-location-pin Greenwich Village

Air’s Champagne Parlor

Why we love it:
Special occasions call for champagne, popped alongside joyful faces and clinking flutes Boomeranged ad nauseum. Luckily, now you don’t need a big reason to whip out the bubbly, thanks to this Greenwich Village gem that’s dedicated solely to the drink of kings. Unlike some menus that are fraught with inscrutable names and high prices, this wine bar is filled with explainers and fun facts, and most glasses are less than $20. Ariel Arce makes sure to keep the ambience light, decorating her shimmering palace with a marble-slab bar, brass-accented stools, gilded geometric mirrors and potted palm fronds.

Why the panel loves it:
“I fully support more champagne in everyday life.”—Meaghan Dorman

“Really cool place—and it’s super affordable. Their sparkling-rosé list is most impressive, and the way they pair food with bubbles is amazing.”—Will Talbott

“Impeccable list.”—Jillian Vose

Runners-up: The Four Horsemen, La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, Terroir Tribeca, Vini e Fritti

Eleven Madison Park
Photograph: Courtesy Eleven Madison Park
Restaurants, American creative

Best Bar-Restaurant Program

icon-location-pin Gramercy & Flatiron

Eleven Madison Park

Why we love it:
With eight to 10 whimsical, NYC-inspired courses (a savory black-and-white cookie here, a smoked-sturgeon–laced cheesecake there), Eleven Madison Park offers a dining experience unlike any other. So, it’s no surprise that the beloved restaurant, which reopened last year after a spiffy face-lift, has drinks that are equally refined. Whether you wish to sit at the bar for a cocktail while you nibble on some light snacks or you plan to dip into your 401k to experience the full tasting menu ($315 per person, before drinks), EMP is a model for how a restaurant should highlight the hard stuff. If you’re not quite ready to commit to the big-ticket feast, you can throw down for an abbreviated five-course meal ($175) at the bar.

Why the panel loves it:
“EMP is just magic! Whether you have a cocktail at the bar or a full meal, it’s a transportive space, and their attention to detail is unmatched. I dream about having the time and disposable income to have a martini there each evening.”—Micah Melton

“After the refurbishment, the bar of EMP is back and as flawless as always in its creativity, execution and excellence in drinks. The divine bar snacks from the EMP kitchen make the experience even better.”—Charlotte Voisey

Runners-up: Cecconi’s Dumbo, Olmsted, The Pool Lounge, Tetsu

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The Grill
Photograph: Courtesy The Grill
Restaurants, American

Most Stylish Bar

icon-location-pin Midtown East

The Grill

Why we love it:
Sequestered within the old Four Seasons’ Grill Room in the Seagram Building, this recently opened behemoth affords patrons the option to travel back to ’50s swank and tip back martinis and elevated versions of other classic cocktails. The intimate bar area is a continuation of the richly masculine, landmarked space: A large Richard Lippold ceiling sculpture of hanging bronze needles looms over the lacquered-wood bar top, which is surrounded by shimmering curtains and accented by a vase full of sprawling pink flowers. With the dim glow of the recessed lighting and flickering candles, you’re sure to get lost in the past.

Why the panel loves it:
“Immaculate and opulent. Small touches everywhere you look. Nice design that actually leads with functionality. A gem.” —Micah Melton

“This joint’s style—and the time and effort to create it—speaks for itself. Major Food Group’s homage to midcentury New York is as classy as it means to be and more contemporary than it has to be.” —Al Sotack

Runners-up: Loosie Rouge, Ophelia, Oscar Wilde, Pilot

The Garibaldi at Dante
Photograph: Courtesy Dante
Bars, Cocktail bars

Best Cocktail

icon-location-pin West Village

The Garibaldi at Dante

Why we love it:
In a city packed with over-the-top, 20-ingredient cocktails, sometimes you have to keep it simple, stupid. That’s the secret to this two-ingredient Italian aperitivo. Using a high-speed juicer, managing partner Naren Young infuses orange juice with oxygen, which makes it fluffy. When the modified OJ is added to Campari, you get a refreshing, velvety drink that’s low in alcohol and perfect at any time of day. $12

Why the panel loves it:
“This drink is ridiculous—Campari and OJ, yet so much more. I could drink 10 of these!”—Will Talbott

“If you haven’t had it, you must go. One of the few drinks in this world that tastes amazing from 6am until 6am. Simple and perfectly executed.”—Micah Melton

“You think it is just Campari and orange juice, but the Garibaldi at Dante is a divine expression of attention to detail—delicious and perfect. Kudos to Naren Young for elevating such a simple combination to the state of art.”—Charlotte Voisey

Runners-up: The Maison Absinthe Colada at Maison Premiere, The Irish Coffee at the The Dead Rabbit, The Steakhouse Martini at Diamond Reef, The Recortador at Death & Company

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The Aviary
Photograph: Nitin Mukul
Bars, Cocktail bars

Most-Creative Drinks

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

The Aviary NYC

Why we love it:
Calling the Aviary’s cocktail program “creative” is an understatement. The menu alone is filled with punny yet completely fitting cocktail names, like the aforementioned Science A.F. (page 13) or the Wake and Bake, in which a plastic pillow filled with the aroma of an everything bagel encases a mixture of rye whiskey, coffee and orange juice. And after you notice little shards of ice flying across the dining room from a nearby table, we won’t blame you for ordering In the Rocks, a drink that asks you to shatter a sphere of ice to release into your glass Szechuan-peppercorn–infused Scotch.

Why the panel loves it:
“Every drink is an adventure. These are experiences and memories, not cocktails.”—Charlotte Voisey

“The drinks are subtle, with pops of flavor, and the vessels are clever without being over the top. Oh, and you can’t beat the view.”—Jillian Vose

Runners-up: Mace, Pouring Ribbons, ROKC, ZZ’s Clam Bar

Amor y Amargo
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Bars, Cocktail bars

Best Specialty Bar

icon-location-pin East Village

Amor y Amargo

Why we love it:
Bitters enthusiast? Amor y Amargo, the creation of Ravi DeRossi and the Red Hook–based bitters producer Bittermens, is a full-fledged celebration of the sharp ingredient and the after-dinner liqueur amaro. With trendy fernets and cocktails using figgy-pudding bitters, the bar’s menu suits bitters experts and newbs alike. While the space may be small, the attention to crafting a vibrant atmosphere and carefully curated cocktails has made this place stand out in a big way.

Why the panel loves it:
“When this bar opened, everyone was wondering if they were crazy for opening an amaro bar. They weren’t. Their involvement in the rise of the category is extremely impressive, and some amazing bartenders have gone through that bar.”—Jillian Vose

“It’s a tiny room with great energy and creative drinks.”—Meaghan Dorman


Runners-up: Hi-Collar, McSorley’s Old Ale House, Tørst, Yours Sincerely

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Ghost Donkey
Photograph: FILIP WOLAK
Bars, Cocktail bars

Best Crew

icon-location-pin East Village

Ghost Donkey

Why we love it:
At New York City’s finest bars, the drinks can be well made and the spaces tricked out, but if the bartenders aren’t enjoying themselves, chances are you won’t either. This mezcaleria from AvroKO Hospitality Group stacks fun-loving experts behind the bar to mix playful drinks from head bartender Nacho Jimenez (saxon + Parole, the Dally), like the mushroom-infused mescal margarita or the mescal Negroni with mole spices. Besides, who wouldn‘t want to drink out of a ceramic ass? (A donkey, of course.) At this joint, you’ll be feeling good way before the tequila shots. 

Why the panel loves it:
“When this bar opened, everyone was wondering if they were crazy for opening an amaro bar. They weren’t. Their involvement in the rise of the category is extremely impressive, and some amazing bartenders have gone through that bar.”—Greg Boehm

“It’s a tiny room with great energy and creative drinks.”—Micah Melton

“When Nacho and Masa [Urushido] are behind the bar, there is no where you would rather be in NYC.”—Charlotte Voisey

Runners-up: Attaboy, Leyenda, The Lost Lady, Mother’s Ruin

Lucy’s
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Bars, Dive bars

Best Dive Bar

icon-location-pin East Village

Lucy’s

Why we love it:
The East Village ain’t what it used to be. At least that’s the conventional wisdom among those who lived and partied there during the pre-aughts. But if there is one watering hole in which the nostalgic mourners can drown their sorrows, it’s Lucy’s. The beloved dive is a time capsule of 1981, when it first opened as Blanche’s. (Blanche ceded the bar to Ludwika Mickevicius, a.k.a. Lucy, in 1997.) Lucy, a Polish native now in her seventies, can be found bustling around the bar, which boasts all the dive signposts: pool tables, dim red lights and a jukebox. Lucy’s proves that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Why the panel loves it:
“It takes years to earn dive-bar status, and Lucy’s has certainly done that.”—Greg Boehm

“Lucy’s is among the last of its kind, with the romance of old New York grit and grime, punk rock—all of that. And Lucy herself is a New York City treasure.”—Al Sotack

Runners-up: 7B, Clem’s, Doc Holliday’s, Johnny’s Bar

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Angel’s Share
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Bars, Lounges

Best Legacy Bar sponsored by Hudson Whiskey

icon-location-pin East Village

Angel’s Share

Why we love it:

You know a bar’s a legend when it has been around for more than 20 years and still attracts a line of twentysomethings vying for a table. Of course, you’ll never actually see these folks waiting on the street. First, you’ll have to step into the nondescript Japanese restaurant in the East Village that leads to the bar. That’s right: You’ve landed in one of the city’s OG speakeasies. The queue is worth it, in no small part because of Angel’s plush interiors and the seriously skilled bartenders who continually mix some of the city’s best cocktails, made with a host of creative ingredients.

Why the panel loves it:

“Sasha Petraske used to talk about going to Angel’s Share and finding the inspiration for Milk & Honey. For the bar that inspired Milk & Honey to still be operating at the top of its game in New York City? That’s unreal.”—Charlotte Voisey

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad drink at Angel’s Share.”—Will Talbott

“Incredible cocktails and hospitality. Lots of talented bartenders have branched out all over and continue to show why this bar is part of the true roots of New York City cocktail bars.”—Micah Melton

Runners-up: B Flat, Death & Company, Flatiron Lounge, Pegu Club

The Pool Lounge
Photograph: Matthew Taylor-Gross
Bars, Cocktail bars

Sexiest Cocktail

icon-location-pin Midtown East

The Cucumber at The Pool Lounge

Why we love it:
In 2018, looks are everything. So it’s no wonder that presentation reigns at this bar, which sits in the revamped Four Seasons space inside the Pool, a seafood restaurant. The menu’s most showstopping cocktail is the absinthe-laced Cucumber by Thomas Waugh, who has mixed drinks at ZZ’s Clam Bar, Death & Company and Clover Club. A whole coupe glass is lined with overlapping layers of sliced baby cucumbers, which will soon bring to life the impish green fairy. Then, the ingredients of cucumber-infused absinthe, lime juice, cane syrup and muddled cucumber wheels are poured over a scoop of crushed ice. It’s a lot of work, but as we all know: Beauty is pain.

Why the panel loves it:
“The garnish alone is out of control.” —Will Talbott

“Stunning! Simple and striking. Definitely the best-looking cocktail of the year!”—Charlotte Voisey

“A beautiful mosaic of thinly sliced cucumber.”—Micah Melton

Runners-up: The Bloody May at The Aviary NYC, Cocktail Explosion at the NoMad Bar, The Purple Tuxedo at Ophelia, The Coconut at ZZ‘s Calm Bar

Did you know these cocktails were invented in NYC?

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