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Alyson Penn

Alyson Penn

Alyson Penn is Time Out's former New York Assistant Food & Drink Editor

Articles (69)

The best Montauk restaurants

The best Montauk restaurants

Montauk might be known as the Hamptons’ more laidback, surfer-y sister town, but the fresh-faced crowd that descends upon the town every Memorial Day gives the NYC weekend getaway spot a buzzy-and-breezy vibe. And while there are plenty of great Hamptons restaurants out east, we’ve narrowed in on Montauk’s best waterfront restaurants and bars, seafood restaurants and cheap eats joints specifically for those traveling to the shore. RECOMMENDED: The best Airbnbs in the Hamptons

The best Hamptons restaurants

The best Hamptons restaurants

Oh, the Hamptons: that see-and-be-seen summer paradise where the crùme de la crùme of NYC society retreats to beat the heat—and chow down at the best Hampton restaurants. Sure, you can check out the best restaurants in NYC, but the Hamptons is awash—pun intended!—in restaurants and bars, both classic and of-the-moment. But it can be hard, especially if you only go there for short weekend getaways from NYC, to decide which of the best things to do in the Hamptons are worth your hard-earned cash. Do you go shopping? Or do you head to these spots, including everything from a breezy bayside seafood restaurant to a rustic wood-fired pizza joint? Here are the best Hamptons restaurants. RECOMMENDED: The best Airbnbs in the Hamptons

The most haunted places to visit in and nearby Miami

The most haunted places to visit in and nearby Miami

Despite its young age, Miami is full of history—and not all of it is glamorous. Before the cocaine-fueled crime spree of the ‘80s there was the mob-backed mayhem of the 1920s and, before that, decades of backwater blues as white settlers and Black migrant laborers forged a city from the swamplands. We might lack haunted colonial taverns and Victorian mansions, but there are plenty of historic graveyards, storied villas and deserted ghost towns to explore near Miami. Whether you want to do something during the day before you head out to one of your massive Halloween parties in Miami or you’re just looking for a fun day trip from Miami any time of the year, we have rounded up the spookiest spots in the Magic City. RECOMMENDED: The best haunted houses in Miami

The 16 best restaurants in South Beach

The 16 best restaurants in South Beach

It’s impossible to flip-flop your way down Collins Avenue or Ocean Drive or Lincoln Road without stumbling by a South Beach restaurant beckoning tourists with promises of goblet-sized margaritas or so-called authentic Miami foods (think Cuban sandwiches). Chances are, this will not be a fine dining experience. The truth is, South Beach is a place where you’d better be damned sure you’ve got a restaurant recommendation. That’s not to say you can’t eat well—South Beach is full of restaurants with big-name chefs putting out tasty dishes and also semi-hidden spots that the locals have been trying to keep to themselves. So skip the Miami pool party fajita place with bottom-shelf fishbowl cocktails and join us on a real food tour of South Beach. RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in Miami

The best restaurants near the High Line

The best restaurants near the High Line

The High Line, Manhattan’s elevated green space that slinks up Manhattan’s west side from Gansevoort to 34th Street, is an excellent NYC attraction any time of year, and walking its mile-and-a-half stretch is an especially lovely way to work up an appetite in the fall. Happily, eating and drinking options abound from its southern end near the Whitney Museum of American Art all the way up to Husdon Yards.   RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the High Line in NYC

The 14 best restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen

The 14 best restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen

Situated between the chaos of Times Square and the gentle current of the Hudson River, Hell’s Kitchen is packed with restaurants and bars. Stroll up and down Manhattan’s westernmost avenues and you’ll have your pick of eating and drinking destinations, some of the best in NYC scattered among them. Hit these spots for a little slice of heaven in the ominously monikered neighborhood.  RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

NYC’s best dishes and drinks of 2018

NYC’s best dishes and drinks of 2018

We eat and drink a lot—it's one of the perks of the job—so we take this list of NYC's buzziest and best dishes and drinks really seriously. Luckily for us, our fair city is constantly churning out new classics, from mouthwatering main courses and desserts to creative cocktails and inspired additions to the best brunch in NYC. Discover what you need to get in your belly below. Hungry for more city essentials? Check out the 101 very best things to do in NYC. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

The best Long Island wineries

The best Long Island wineries

Jerry Seinfeld recently made the joke, “If you go out [of NYC], you’re gonna be on the Island. Long Island is not one of those places. You can’t get in it. There’s nothing to get in. You just stay on it.” While this “dead zone” rep of Long Island (suburbs, suburbs and Hamptons) is semi-warranted, the North Fork is a pleasant gastronomic surprise. Parallel to its more famous cousin, the Hamptons in South Fork, the Easternmost region makes for an ideal weekend getaway from NYC with stretches of farmland for pumpkin picking, restaurants helmed by NYC chefs and nearly 3,000 acres of vineyards sourcing the best Long Island wineries. Here are some of our favorite places to sit back, relax and enjoy a glass of wine. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do on Long Island

The best Irish coffees in NYC

The best Irish coffees in NYC

There’s a reason that Irish greet each day with a chipper, “Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!” and that reason is Irish coffees. Sweet, creamy, nutty, hot and extra boozy, NYC has some of the best Irish coffee outside of Ireland (and San Francisco, which was the true birthplace of the beloved winter warmer.) Irish coffee has been a seasonal favorite for American drinkers since its invention 1952, and our fair city—with its large, deeply rooted Irish-American population, cozy bars (especially bars with fireplaces) and authentic Irish pubs—isn’t far behind. On St. Patrick’s Day (or any day), forego college-era frothy beer and raise a toast to old Erin with a slow-sipped classic Irish coffee at one of these ten bars in NYC. RECOMMENDED: Find more cocktails in NYC

Six great NYC date spots to mix things up

Six great NYC date spots to mix things up

Sure, the most romantic NYC spots will still probably make for excellent date nights. But if you’re looking to mix things up, try one of these lesser-known, up-and-coming destinations instead. You know: Rainbow RoomTry:  ManhattaYou want to impress your date with those breathtaking skyline views, but the Rainbow Room is too expensive (and now tends to host only private events). Instead, take a smooth elevator ride to the 60th floor. Danny Meyer’s Manhatta has received rave reviews for its expansive city vistas and relatively affordable (at $78) three-course prix-fixe menu, which manages to be refined but not stuffy.Financial District (manhattarestaurant.com) You know: Gramercy TavernTry:  The GrillDing ding! Two behemoths go head to head: Danny Meyer vs. Major Food. While we adore Meyer, his Gramercy Tavern has been around for 25 years and it’s always nice to try something new. If you want another fine-dining experience that’s grand but not froufrou, head a little farther uptown to the Grill, where you can dig into unparalleled food (we like the signature slab of prime rib) and still be swept up in an atmosphere of sleek sophistication.Midtown East (thegrillnewyork.com) You know: One if by Land, Two if by Sea Try:  The Waverly InnIf you’ve called on this candlelit 18th-century hideaway before, you probably associate date night with ghost sightings. So, why not return to the same nabe for a similarly unearthly encounter at the 1844-built Waverly Inn? Grab a drink and commune

The best places for Christmas brunch in NYC

The best places for Christmas brunch in NYC

Christmas in New York comes with plenty of traditions, from checking out Christmas window displays to taking in one of theater’s best Christmas shows to sitting down with your loved ones for Christmas brunch at a top-notch restaurant. Cheers the season with Bloody Marys and tuck into holiday prix fixes and a la carte menus that will leave your belly warm until the tree comes down. RECOMMEDED: Full guide to Christmas in NYC

The very best bars in Chelsea

The very best bars in Chelsea

Whatever your poison of choice, Chelsea is brimming with quality drinking options. You'll find high-flying rooftop bars, piano-backed karaoke bars and plenty of top-notch frozen drinks to go around. These are the best bars in the neighborhood. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Chelsea, New York

Listings and reviews (69)

The Polynesian

The Polynesian

3 out of 5 stars

Run by Major Food Group (The Grill, The Pool, Carbone, and Dirty French) The Polynesian is a handsome tiki bar in Hell’s Kitchen located in Pod Times Square Hotel.  Awash in deep-turquoise walls and old-world landscape murals under high ceilings with wooden beams, it's the crown jewel of tiki-themed bars, where there's actually buried treasure inside. Heads turn as the waiters carry the Exotica Bowl, a very large-format pearl-in-the-oyster cocktail smoking with dry ice, and the fruity Barbossa’s Punch, a ceramic treasure chest filled with splashes of pineapple rum, apple brandy, grenadine and curaçao. And while a bar serving drinks in conch shells, boats, and skulls in the heart of Times Square might sound tacky, it's just as elevated and exciting as Major Food Group's other sought-after establishments. 

Broken Shaker

Broken Shaker

4 out of 5 stars

Whether you’re hot off Metro North after a weekend antiquing upstate or have just found yourself in the no-fun nexus of Gramercy and Murray Hill after work, Broken Shaker is your no-fail refuge for a good time.  Located in the Freehand Hotel, the New York version takes its name from its Miami sister, where the Broken Shaker dominates the beach city's social life. The New York Broken Shaker is just as fun and might just actually trick you into thinking you're on island time.  And unlike rooftops around the city with sleek designs and glass parapets, Broken Shaker is meticulously crafted to look and feel like a well-worn and snug oasis. Oh, and stop downstairs to try one of pastry chef, Zoe Kanan’s James Beard nominated pastries at their in-hotel restaurant, Simon & The Whale.  

RH Rooftop Restaurant

RH Rooftop Restaurant

3 out of 5 stars

If you’ve ever found yourself gazing into the mirror and uttering a Real Housewives tagline (“I’m not just a last name, I’m a legacy”), then wash off that Goop face mask and hail an Uber to RH Rooftop Restaurant, ASAP. The Meatpacking District restaurant atop the new NYC flagship of Restoration Hardware is teeming with tony women sporting expensive neutrals, thigh-high boots and Dry Bar blowouts. You half expect to see Tinsley and Sonja in the far corner, bickering in front of a film crew. Actually snagging a table is as trying as watching a full episode of the New Jersey franchise, thanks to the no-reservations policy. On a recent Wednesday night, I was told over the phone that the wait was expected to be 45 minutes. But when I arrived, the projected time was more than one hour, which slowly crept into nearly two. No apologies issued. But every languid second dawdling for a table prints money for the furniture brand. Just to kill time, you can order a $16 pinot noir at the coffee and wine bar perched two floors below, then plant yourself on an outrageously expensive white sectional under a wildly expensive chandelier as you nervously clasp the wineglass’s stem. When a text message announces that your table is ready, you will head back up to the fifth-floor restaurant, which is so very un-NYC—it’s too pretty, too clean, too neat. The aesthetic looks like a trust-fund teen conjured up her ideal sweet-16 spot, with rows and rows of crystal chandeliers, potted trees and a glass

Reception

Reception

2 out of 5 stars

When you think of the word reception, do you think of a warm welcome at someone’s home, where the hostess takes your coat, inquires how you’ve been and—oh, while she’s in the kitchen—asks whether you need anything to drink? Or do you think of a fabulous party, where all the gussied-up guests are indulging in equally gussied-up gastronomic treats? At the cocktail bar named Reception, you’ll find neither. Instead, you’ll enter a candy-coated, retro-futuristic space with nary a greeting. On a recent Wednesday night, all four tables were filled with groups of friends in beanies and thick glasses. Even parked on a barstool, I had trouble flagging down one of the two bartenders who seemed to be constantly preoccupied and slightly ticked that I was interrupting them. The downtown bar serves cocktails but touts its Korean-inspired “elixirs”—a nebulous buzzword for non-alcoholic drinks that harbor Gwyneth Paltrow–approved health benefits. We went to see if these stone-cold-sober options could cure our winter blues. They couldn’t. Out of the five elixirs, four are indistinguishable from chilled, off-brand seltzers. The exception is Aphrodite’s Milk: As a libation intended to “increase libido,” it’s appropriately thick and nutty, mixed with egg white and black sesame. However, the Skinny Shroom (“aids in the breakdown of fat”) with sparkling buckwheat, shimeji mushroom shrub and quince honey is thin on flavor, and Queen Min’s Botanics (“balances hormones”) with white lotus, ginseng hone

Felix Roasting Co.

Felix Roasting Co.

5 out of 5 stars

There’s so much to poke fun of at this chichi coffee shop. Take the Pepto-pink room that could double as a Wes Anderson set or its preening “every coffee has a story” motto or the tableside rose-water spritzes. But damn if our cynical hearts weren’t melted when the barista, unbidden, offered a one-on-one demonstration of how to make the $14.50 (ha!) Hickory-Smoked S’mores Latte. “Just tell me if you need me to pause for pictures at any point,” he offered this clumsy iPhone photographer. Yes, he’s done this before. And during this adorably overwrought prep, a lot of things happen. First, he offers you a shot of the addictive graham-cracker–infused steamed milk—which would make a fantastic stand-alone slurp—before mixing it with espresso in a chocolate-rimmed coupe. Then, he covers the drink with a glass cloche, infusing it with hickory smoke, thereby cocooning it—and you—in a woodsy aroma. Finally, he adds the finishing touch: a caramelized marshmallow that he torches until it’s golden brown. Midway through drinking your velvety, campfire-kissed treat, he’ll drop off warm hand towels to aid in the gooey, chocolately mess dripping down the stem. But in case the S’mores Latte is sold out (sometimes by 10am—the shop opens at 7am during the week, 8am on weekends), another new-age java is the Deconstructed Espresso Tonic, which comes in a Bordeaux wineglass filled with tonic water, non-alcoholic Campari reduction and lemon-basil leaves. The server mentions that you should first swi

Undercote

Undercote

Like most elitist things, Undercote plays hard to get. For instance, you can only make a reservation through email. And if you don’t receive a follow-up text, you should have known you haven’t been booked. But on a recent Thursday night, the hostess was able to “squeeze” us into the half-empty speakeasy. The T-shaped room beneath the Korean steakhouse Cote is dimly lit and all black but for the walls, which are adorned with vertical gardens, some set behind glass. It feels very reptile-house chic—you half expect to see a mounted placard delineating the origins of the poison dart frog. This Mother Earth theme extends to the peculiar, NSFW botany-book menu: Most pages don’t list drinks at all, but are instead illustrated with plants and made-up erotic nicknames. The spiky Begonia melanobullata is listed as “a.k.a. SPANK ME” (no thanks), while the leafy Peperomia puteolata is seemingly “RIBBED FOR HER PLEASURE” (how thoughtful). Sandwiched between these Georgia O’Keefe–esque pieces of art are the divine, but astronomically priced drinks. The Role Model and the Cola Nerve Tonic are $27 cocktails that are punched with whiskey, the former soothed by a smoky cocoa tinge and the latter imbued with herbal and floral notes. For sweeter sips, the Big Melons in Little Collins ($20) is rounded out with a nutty, sesame-seed–infused soju, while the juicy Raspberry Beret ($24) is reminiscent of a sour ale mixed with a melted fruit popsicle. But the drinks alone can’t save the night. You’ll l

Zauo

Zauo

3 out of 5 stars

New York City is full of indoor kids. So it’s no surprise that Zauo, the Japanese fishing restaurant, makes the rugged sport as simple—and indoorsy—as possible for the state’s worst fishermen. Inside the multi-level, Finding Nemo–esque space—complete with a wooden boat hanging from the ceiling and an LED screen broadcasting underwater videos—the staff guides you to one of the many shallow pools teeming with your chosen fish (rainbow trout, flounder, lobster, salmon, among others). They bait your hook, give a brief explainer on proper technique and secure your squirmy pal into a net before letting you snap a pic of your moment of triumph. The whole thing takes a few minutes and ends with a team clapping and cheering and drum-banging for your very outdoors-kid accomplishment. It’s an everyone-gets-a-merit-badge event, which is refreshing in a city that requires Olympic-level competitiveness just to walk through Times Square in July. But the gimmicky part ends as soon as the meal begins. After you order your fish fried, grilled, sashimi’d or simmered in soy sauce (or you can have certain breeds prepared two different ways), the dishes arrive swiftly and elegantly plated, if you don’t mind staring at your victim’s head. The lobster tempura is tender and sweet with a light, crunchy batter, while the flounder simmering in soy sauce strikes just the right notes of full-bodied umami. But that same flounder is not to be sashimi’d, as the raw slices are too thin to be so chewy. And if

Playboy Club New York

Playboy Club New York

3 out of 5 stars

My original reservation at the Playboy Club was canceled the morning of. Through a voice mail, the hostess explained in a well-rehearsed speech that the space was closed for the next three days, as foreign dignitaries were holding their U.N. summit meeting there. After playing the message back several times, I called to reschedule (and to clarify), and she confirmed: “Crazy, right?!” Right. When I finally arrived on a recent Wednesday night, checking in through two bouncers and passing red-velvet ropes, the first person I saw inside was a Bunny at coat check. As a ’90s kid whose exposure to Playboy was limited to bedazzled keychains on middle-school backpacks and half-watched episodes of The Girls Next Door, seeing a Bunny in person for the first time was like seeing Big Ben in London or Mickey at Disney—they actually exist! And they are just like the photos! There’s no shortage of them in the revamped New York club. The Bunnies, donning the original suit, are greeting you at the hostess stand, they’re posing for group shots against the wall, they’re on the wall (in vintage photographs), they’re standing idly between orders, they’re serving drinks (although they are most certainly not making drinks). They’re all there, sauntering through the gorgeously lush main room—a dimly lit circular space anchored by a glowing, oval bar that is surrounded by dark, marble-top tables, red-velvet chairs and black wood-paneled walls. For all the hullabaloo concerning the opening, the actual

Adriaen Block

Adriaen Block

3 out of 5 stars

CBD (cannabidiol), the completely legal, non-psychoactive calming property found in marijuana, has been touted throughout NYC as a weed substitute and a wellness fad, found in restaurants that are either (1) seeking relevancy or (2) mixing it with activated charcoal. Adriaen Block is offering option No. 3. Set along a quiet, residential stretch of Ditmars Boulevard, the Astoria bar is like the brick-and-mortar version of Tiesto walking into grandma’s: A red velvet rope guards the entrance, scantily clad friends stand outside taking a cigarette break and a live DJ blasts pop music that spills onto the sidewalk seating. At one point on a recent Friday night, an elderly man pushed his walker back and forth, staring in confusion. The bar serves eight drinks—four low ABV and four dry—each laced with several droplets, theatrically squeezed from a plastic pipette by the server. The Stoney Negroni, with Cocchi Americano, dry sherry and a French aperitif wine, makes for a slightly minty, less bitter negroni, while the Mellow Berry is a thick, fruity concoction served with a house-made blackberry shrub and orange bitters. If you’re staying dry, the Pear & Parsnip is “spiked” with Seedlip, a distilled non-alcoholic spirit, and mixed with a refreshing, citrusy shrub. After hitting the bar’s two-drink max, you do feel a sense of calm setting in, but not enough to wash away some very important questions: Is the CBD really kicking in? Or is it just one big placebo effect? Does all CBD taste

Bootlegger Jack’s Hidden Speakeasy

Bootlegger Jack’s Hidden Speakeasy

4 out of 5 stars

“Everyone give it up for Ricardo’s birthday!” The DJ blasted out to the crowd inside a small, ’20s-style speakeasy on a recent Friday night. To the tunes of Pitbull and Stereo Love, the bottle-serviced table of revelers turned their shoulder bumping and head nodding into whole-body dance moves as an amped-up bartender joyfully and nonsensically rang a back-bar bell to keep the crowd hyped. Some tables clapped along, others continued their conversations. But everyone was having fun at the drinking den that’s directly adjacent to the bathroom stalls below chef Willie Degel’s Uncle Jack’s Meat House in Astoria. A vaulted door opens to a vintage-inspired space outfitted with crystal chandeliers, patterned wallpaper, fringe-lined lamps and a caged-off pipe room, lit up by multicolored, flashing beams (akin to a mad-scientist–themed haunted house). The cocktail list is small but mighty (and strong): Of the five options, the East of East is intensely aromatic, with raspberry vodka, muddled red grapes and oregano simple syrup, and the Astor is similarly treacly, thanks to gin and Campari lifted by syrupy apricot liqueur and honey drizzle. For a more balanced tipple, Hallet’s Cove’s bite from the scotch is smoothed over with a fig liqueur, orange bitters and honey. As you stumble out of the bar, strike a pose in front of the bathroom’s very modern-day, touchscreen selfie mirror (which works just like an open-air photo booth), then upload the pics directly to your Instagram—they may be

Katana Kitten

Katana Kitten

4 out of 5 stars

The translation of this bar’s moniker is “samurai sword” kitten, but let us be the first to warn you: There are no samurai, swords, kittens or (more distressingly) any cute memes of sword-wielding samurai kittens at this Japanese-American cocktail bar. Instead, you’ll step right into B-roll footage of a Master of None date scene. On a recent Friday night, the buzzy bi-level space was comfortably crowded with hip twentysomethings chattering under noirish red lights and sipping from some exceptionally purr-ty (sorry!) Japanese riffs on classic cocktails. Try the Gatorade-blue Calpico Swizzle, which appears to be more headachy than it is: Sure, it’s served in a fat margarita glass, but the savory sake blends smoothly with the spicy sansho pepper and fizzy champagne. Conversely, the genever-spiked Meguroni comes in a simple, subdued ceramic glass, but it’s bursting with flavor thanks to its mix of earthy red bitters and whispers of buttery cinnamon notes from the aged umeshu. Of course, with most well-groomed tipples, some have more bark than bite: The red-and-white Rubyfruit looks like a slushy swirl of Christmas but tastes kinda like a bland margarita; the Hinoki Martini is presented in a large wooden box that’s garnished with hinoki tree sprigs, but wilts under the heavy $18 price tag. The bar’s elaborate cocktails and flawless service are directly and playfully juxtaposed against its grungy dive vibes, from the vintage pop-culture posters to the checkerboard floors and rainbo

Blue Quarter

Blue Quarter

3 out of 5 stars

If Alice fell down the rabbit hole to Agrabah instead of Wonderland for a cup of tea, she might have landed in a place like Blue Quarter. The whimsical hybrid is stacked with Middle Eastern decor and tea-based drinks, all behind a hidden entrance. Well, “hidden.” The unlabeled bar does sit behind the back wall of the East Village’s Mediterranean restaurant Local92, but its bright-teal keyhole door, illuminated by a gleaming spotlight, is about as subtle as Jafar’s wormy goatee. Once you push past it, you’ll find an intimate, pint-size cocktail bar that’s outfitted with blue-tiled tabletops, dangling Moroccan pendant lights and exposed brick walls dotted with antique mirrors. While the room is firmly grounded in the Middle East, the tea-inspired cocktails travel around the globe: Soon to Ripen cuts its strong Scotch and paprika seasoning with citrusy Earl Grey and melting coconut-water ice cubes. The matcha in the Unfinished Story lends the drink a chalky texture, mixing strangely with its tequila, coconut water and lime oil (curiouser and curiouser!). But the gin-spiked Studio 60 packs a pleasant punch, thanks to its spiced coriander chutney and carrot juice that go down as thick as a savory soup. On a recent Wednesday night, the bar was populated by only one other imbiber for the entire two hours, making it unusually tranquil for a downtown spot. When, after a few tipples, you exit to bustling Second Avenue, you feel like you’re in a whole new world.

News (258)

New cafe in Bushwick is legally serving cannabis-infused coffee

New cafe in Bushwick is legally serving cannabis-infused coffee

No, we're not quite as far along as California or Colorado in the green department, but the totally legal substance of cannabidiol (CBD), one of the elements found in cannabis, can now be ordered at a New York City coffee shop. According to Bushwick Daily, the team behind Flower Power Coffee Co. has partnered with the Caffeine Underground in Bushwick to serve its cannabidiol-infused grounds for practically any order—if you ask for it. CBD isn't known to have the psychoactive effects come with THC, the other active chemical in cannabis, but it can induce a calming sensation not usually found in, well, caffeine. Order the groovy grounds with the shop's lattes, cortados, Americanos or cappuccinos to be, like, totally chill while grinding out your freelance work.   While these drinks won’t give you the same kind of high as regular old marijuana, shops serving full-blown weed-infused drinks could very soon become a reality in the city. With New Jersey poised to pass legislation that legalizes cannabis for recreational use—and similar legislation already on the books in Massachusetts and Vermont—it seems like just a matter of time before New York lawmakers take the leap.  Until then, we'll have to stick to our CBD-infused coffee and monthly deliveries from our local guy for our fix.  Sign up to receive great Time Out deals in your inbox each day.

Brew magic cocktails at this Harry Potter-like pop-up bar in NYC

Brew magic cocktails at this Harry Potter-like pop-up bar in NYC

To be clear, this is not a Harry Potter bar. But... it's also kinda a Harry Potter bar. If you're a fan of fantasy literature—or just want to be a witch—The Cauldron is here to grant your wishes. The pop-up bar, which had a five-month run in London, is officially opening its New York City version for a one-hour-and-45-minute experience of boozy witchcraft and wizardry. We'll break it down for you. Upon entering the second floor of Bavaria Bierhaus on Stone Street, you'll be given a hooded black robe and one of 73 unique hand-crafted wands from Ireland. From there, you'll head to a station to craft your boozy potions, with guidance from hand-written instructions and wandering Potion Masters (that may or may not be Severus Snape). The drinks include Transfiguration Toniq, a color changing, gin-and-lavender-based cocktail; Lost Time is a rum and chai concoction brewed in a smoky and bubbling cauldron; and mead, the fermented honey wine popular in mythology, is summoned by the tap of a wand from a gargoyle's mouth. Throughout your session, you can decode the Ancient Runic language (Elder Futhark) to translate famous quotes about magic, and drink even more libations, like the signature Hell Broth beer from Sixpoint Brewery (pumpkin allspice, marigold, vanilla), dispensed from a wand-activated tap. There's also strawberry daiquiris lit on fire (Dragon's Breath) and Bubbling Shots of Death (green shots). And there's a happily ever after: If you bring a book (fantasy or not), they'll

A Quentin Tarantino-inspired bar is opening in Williamsburg

A Quentin Tarantino-inspired bar is opening in Williamsburg

Why kill Bill when you can KillBar? But what is KillBar, you ask? It's a cocktail bar dedicated to all things Quentin Tarantino that's opening in Brooklyn this weekend. The themed bar will be outfitted with several movie-inspired Easter eggs and artwork, including a bar top reminiscent of Inglorious Bastards, a six-foot-tall painting of Uma Thurman in her yellow Kill Bill suit and wall projectors showcasing scenes from his most famous flicks. There will also be movies playing on Mondays and trivia on Tuesdays. Of course, the drinks and food will be in-theme with the director: There will be a Mr. Pink Martini and mescal shots inspired by From Dusk Till Dawn, in addition to a Kill Bill Burger, Hateful Eight wings, a Texas Funeral Grilled Cheese. The bar is from Michael Galkovich, who's owned the now-shuttered, '80-themed GB85 on the Lower East Side. KillBar officially opens to the public tomorrow, February 1st at 82 South 4th Street in Williamsburg. Photograph: Courtesy Eugene Gologursky Photography  

The best quirky-themed restaurants and bars in NYC

The best quirky-themed restaurants and bars in NYC

Yes, they're kitschy and cheesy as hell, but that doesn't stop people from seeking out New York's themed restaurants. They range from tourist-trap restaurants whose staff breaks out into song, to a hotel spot with a penchants for theatrics.  The Polynesian: Transport yourself to French Polynesia or Hawaii or any one of those perfect places at this Major Food Group bar that serves elaborate tiki drinks in a resort-like space.   House of Wax: This creepy bar and restaurant inside Alamo Drafthouse is lined with anatomical and sideshow displays straight out of a haunted house.  Jupiter Disco: The Bushwick bar proudly touts a midcentury dystopian sci-fi theme with orange florescent lights, dark turquoise booths and nostalgia-inducing technology like spectrum analyzers, oscilloscopes and a functioning reel-to-reel tape recorder. Trailer Park Lounge: It might not be the most upscale theme, but it is down-home fun at this kitschy Americana bar stocked to the brim with flashy tchotchkes. The Heath: Skip Sleep No More and just have dinner at the Heath, a cabaret-style supper club that makes you feel like you’re in 1920s Britain. Boudoir: Although not as grand as Marie Antoinette might have liked, this sumptuous cocktail den boasts red-velvet banquettes and gold trimming and serves French appetizers and desserts. (Yes, there’s cake). Ninja New York: Who doesn’t want their steamed shrimp with a side of high-kicks? This ninja-themed bar, in Tribeca of all places, has Japanese-village deco

An epic hot chocolate festival is happening in NYC this week

An epic hot chocolate festival is happening in NYC this week

The uber fancy French chocolate manufacturer Valrhona has officially kicked off its fourth annual Hot Chocolate Festival across the city. Running until February 3, warm up with Valrhona hot chocolate recipes from pastry chefs at restaurants and bakeries like Dominique Ansel Kitchen, Levain Bakery and Baked. Each of the dozen shops offer a special version of Valrhona-based hot chocolate on its menu with delicious additions such as chocolate whipped cream, maple syrup and banana pulp milk chocolate. Other participating restaurants include Almondine, Lafayette New York, Épicerie Boulud, Patisserie Chanson, LadurĂ©e, La Maison du Chocolat, Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate, Marie Belle, and Brooklyn Roasting Company. And you're not participating solely for gluttonous purposes either. For every hot chocolate sold, $.50 will be donated to Food Tank, a think tank for global food. For more information, head over to its website. 

A new James Bond-themed bar in midtown offers skyline views

A new James Bond-themed bar in midtown offers skyline views

It was a bar so nice, they named it twice.  The team behind Dear Irving and Raines Law Room, Yves Jadot Restaurant Group, is opening the second outpost of the former in midtown. Dear Irving on Hudson is a bi-level cocktail bar that takes up the 40th and 41st floors of the newly opened Aliz Hotel in Times Square (310 W 40 St). While the bustling location is worlds away from the quiet block of Irving Place, the founders are sticking to some familiarities. Most noticeably, a "time travel" theme, with one floor akin to 1960s James Bond and another decked out in Art Deco finishes. The James Bond-style 40th floor is currently open and split into two sides: On the north end, guests enter through a wood closet inspired by Sean Connery’s agent. Inside, there's an oval-shaped ceiling, along with pink sofas, orchid wallpaper and sputnik chandeliers. Behind a wood panel screen is a living room area with a library, gold metal tables and blue velvet armchairs. On the south side, the bar is flanked by two more living rooms and a round fireplace. There are also large terraces on each side with suspended egg armchairs to look out at the city and plan how you're going to save the worl—er—nurse your hangover. The 41st floor will open in March and be reservations-only. Similar to one section of the original Dear Irving, the Art Deco bar will use crystal beads as partitions and have 1920s velvet-covered furniture. The space also includes two large terraces for outdoor booze and views. Another com

Drink this massive, 20-pound spiked hot chocolate coming to a rooftop bar

Drink this massive, 20-pound spiked hot chocolate coming to a rooftop bar

Looking for a tasty challenge? Grab 21 of your closest friends (that aren't coughing or sniffly right now) and order this massive, spiked hot chocolate at the PHD Terrace at Dream Midtown. Weighing in at a whopping 20 pounds, the behemoth drink is bumped up several notches by pastry chef Paolo Marocchi not only in size, but also in its boozy contents. Imbibers will have to agree on one liquor to add to the drink: Tequila (Casamigos Añejo), mescal (Ilegal Reposado), cognac (Hennessy VS) or whiskey (Woodford Reserve). Aside from the alcohol, other ingredients in the giant wintery cocktail include Valrhona’s extra bitter 61% chocolate mixed with Jivara milk 40% chocolate, topped with charred giant marshmallows, cinnamon sticks, homemade whipped cream and spicy cocoa powder. The hot cocoa becomes available on National Hot Chocolate Day (January 31st) and lasts until Valentine's Day (February 14th... for those that need a subtle reminder). The all-year-round rooftop bar is serving it for a steep $375, but when divided by 22—the recommended serving amount—it only comes out to just $17 a person. Since it's such a large request, guests are encouraged to pre-order the drink two days before their reservation. The weather outside may be frightful, but chocolatey booze is so delightful. 

You can now party in this speakeasy hidden behind a restaurant kitchen

You can now party in this speakeasy hidden behind a restaurant kitchen

It's like a scene right out of a movie. In fact, it pretty much is. Guests enter the new Savage Lounge a la Goodfellas, through the kitchen of Midtown restaurant Pomona (8 W 58th St). The speakeasy is not just a place to drink, DJs spin late into the night at the black-and-white 120-person cocktail bar. Inside, there is a black lacquered bar surrounded by leather banquettes and two custom art installations that include an oversized pair of thumbprints of Pomona’s chef Michael Vignola. There are also pieces from a rotating roster of artists, all of which are available for sale. You can stay for a chill cocktail or to get your groove on, as the DJ will spin everything from deep house to top 40 starting at 10pm. Pad your belly with light bites like baked oyster with chile bacon, chicken wings with black truffle and king crab with Old Bay funnel cake and charred avocado. Inside the inside is a private dining room set up with living room furniture, including a bookcase that doubles as a secretive entrance into the lounge. And just so you know, the space was formerly Beautique, where Drake and Leonardo DiCaprio used to hang out. Savage Lounge is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8pm to 4am. To see more of the space, check out the pics below: Photograph: Courtesy Savage Lounge   Photograph: Courtesy Savage Lounge Photograph: Courtesy Savage Lounge Photograph: Courtesy Savage Lounge

A witchin' Harry Potter-inspired café is coming to NYC

A witchin' Harry Potter-inspired café is coming to NYC

From the mind that brought you the wonderfully weird Beetle House bar and the Will Ferrell pop-up, Stay Classy New York, comes a café that will make you feel like you're in Harry Potter. In its Instagram photo, Steamy Hallows (riff on "Deathly Hallows") describes its cups as "Coffee Potion," which, okay. We don't know much about the café, yet. besides that it "serves up delicious coffee and tea potions, huge homemade cookies, in an atmosphere inspired by Harry Potter & Halloween," as written on its Instagram handle. But keen observers are speculating that it will open in Alphabet City, since founder Zach Neil's recently shuttered pop-up Cake Shake was located on Sixth Street between Avenue A and Avenue B. This isn't the first time the city has welcomed Harry Potter gastronomic ventures. There is The Cauldron pop-up, an immersive bar that lets you use "magic" to craft your own cocktails, but there is also the disappointing Pasta Wiz, which serves speedy pasta dishes in a mildly medieval space. But if none of these are enough to light your wand, we have a full list of the best Harry Potter experiences in the city.  Per its social media, it should open in its mystery location in less than four weeks. 

Get a free cupcake at Baked by Melissa this Saturday

Get a free cupcake at Baked by Melissa this Saturday

This Saturday is National Cupcake Day, and even though it's a holiday that's not as big as Christmas (yet), you can bet that we still love to celebrate it. And is there any better way to do that than by getting free food? On December 15th, you can get one of the best cupcakes in the city completely free at Baked by Melissa. The New York City bakery is doling out one free cupcake per customer at any of its 14 locations throughout the city all day long. But if you agree with Kevin Malone's mentality on mini-cupcakes ("Mini-cupcakes? As in the mini version of regular cupcakes? Which is already a mini version of cake? Honestly, where does it end with you people?"), where one mini cupcake is just not enough, then Baked by Melissa is offering two 50-packs with every single flavor to you and a 'friend.' You just have to tag a friend on its giveaway post on Insta on Saturday, and follow the handle. Winners will be announced on Monday. Happy cupcaking!

Take a peek inside the Eataly of coffee that Starbucks is opening in the Meatpacking District

Take a peek inside the Eataly of coffee that Starbucks is opening in the Meatpacking District

We've got the buzz on the massive Starbucks Reserve Roastery moving into town. The 23,000-square-foot Reserve Roastery is officially opening in the Meatpacking District at 61 Ninth Ave (on the corner of 15th St) this Friday. The mega-brand is hoping to make it way more than just a coffee shop doling out pumpkin spice lattes, it will be an immersive coffee experience for visitors. First, the multi-level space will have the largest working coffee roasting plant in Manhattan, with the capacity to roast more than 1.5 million pounds of coffee per year. There will also be the Arriviamo Bar, a 60-foot bar on the mezzanine, where bartenders will serve cocktails like an Aperol Spritz and Nocino Notte, a riff on the Negroni with Starbucks Reserve Cold Brew and black truffle salt, in addition to other cocktails made with coffee and tea. For food, there will be Princi products, the Italian bakery that Starbucks uses in all of its local spots. The design includes a 10-foot, 2,000-pound copper siren sculpture, subway-inspired "symphony pipes" along the ceiling funneling freshly roasted beans across the space, a take-home scoop bar with 14 rotating beans from around the world and a fireplace. In the cellar will be a terrarium inspired by Hacienda Alsacia, the Starbucks coffee farm in Costa Rica, with coffee plants, ferns and philodendrons. It's the opposite of #basic. See more renderings of the space below: Photograph: Courtesy Starbucks Photograph: Courtesy Starbucks Photograph: Court

A pop-up bar specializing in hot toddies is opening in Murray Hill

A pop-up bar specializing in hot toddies is opening in Murray Hill

When the weather gets all blustery, all we want to do is cozy up inside with a warm cocktail. Stay Gold in Murray Hill knows that, and its team is bringing a holiday pop-up to the back of its space at 360 Third Avenue. Cottontail will be 30-person cocktail bar decked out with plants and festive curtains, open just for the holidays and specializing in hot toddies. The menu includes classic and elevated varieties such as the Mr. Tod, made with Highland Park Magnus scotch, JÀgermeister, chiles, hibiscus, juniper, and lemon juice, and the Purple Martin Majesties with Suntory Toki Japanese whisky, genever, apricot liqueur, butterfly pea flowers, cardamom tincture and honey. If you come in from the cold with a big group, you can order the cocktails in large-format versions served in Stanley thermoses. Guests will also have the option to choose from different Bellocq tea blends steeped-to-order for the base of their hot toddies. Cottontail is open starting Wednesday, December 12th through December 15th, returning again on December 19th through Christmas Eve, from 6pm to 3am every night. All guests will be taken on a first come, first serve basis, so get your frigid little bunny tails in there!

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