Best new bars

Hang out at these hot spots.

Photograph: Talia Simhi

Cornelius The Prospect Heights bar scene continues to grow with the arrival of this spot—named and designed after the train tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt—from the owners of Le Gamin, Soda Bar and Franklin Park. Drink options include a large selection of American whiskeys, as well as wines, beers and a brief cocktail list. Small plates (oyster shooters, pulled-pork sliders, head-on shrimp with fried lemons and creamed leeks) are crafted by former Freemans sous chef Michelle Hanna. 565 Vanderbilt Ave at Pacific St, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-398-6662)

Absinthe Despite its name, this East Village wine bar does not serve absinthe or any other hard liquors (the name actually comes from the space’s wallpaper, which features images in the style of 19th-century painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who often worked under the influence of the wormwood-based tipple). The wine list includes roughly 100 different bottles from around the world; you’re welcome to try any of them, so long as you are willing to pay for three glasses. Meanwhile, a small-plates menu includes playful creations like beet and apple lollipops with a goat cheese mousse, from chef Matthew Purcell (Gramercy Tavern, Oceana). 111 First Ave between 6th and 7th Sts (212-777-0440)

Compiled by Daniel Gritzer


City Winery Knitting Factory founder Michael Dorf shifts his love of large-scale venues to the world of wine with this multi-faceted center devoted to the grape. While a membership program allows those who can afford it the opportunity to make their own wine on the premises (the annual fee starts at $5,000), a restaurant and wine bar are open to the public. At the latter, the list of pours includes more than 500 international bottles—50 available by the glass—and snacks include selections from Murray’s Cheese, as well as a full menu designed for seamless pairing with the vino (see this week’s restaurant openings, page 20). The Knitting Factory origins aren’t completely lost: The space also features a stage for live music. 155 Varick St between Spring and Vandam Sts (212-608-0555)

67 Orange Street Nineteenth-century nostalgia rules this Harlem lounge, inspired by Almack’s Dance Hall, the erstwhile Five Points saloon. Owner Karl Franz Williams, also of Harlem’s Society Coffee, has outfitted the cozy vintage space with purple velvet curtains, distressed mirrors and filament lightbulbs. But he took some liberties with the recipes: The Ol’ Fashionista blends Grand Marnier with bourbon, the house sidecar gets a splash of green chartreuse, and the New York Sazerac features a dose of cognac. 2082 Frederick Douglass Blvd (Eighth Ave) between 112th and 113th Sts (no phone yet)

Sweet & Lowdown Owner Israel Katz (Le Jardin Bistro) appreciates native talent. He named his Lower East Side wine bar for a Gershwin tune, and stocked his list with wines (about two dozen by the glass) and cheeses made exclusively in the USA. The two-room boîte features a farmhouse-style lounge outfitted in American oak; in the rear, you’ll find deco mirrors and work from Manhattan street artist Teo Filo Olivieri. What, Norman Rockwell wasn’t available? 123 Allen St between Delancey and Rivington Sts (212-228-7746)