Hemingway and Fitzgerald would really love New York right now. We’re in the midst of a cocktail bar boom, one that clearly takes its inspiration from the Roaring Twenties. There’s never been a better time to experiment with the wildly interesting cocktail lists from some of the best bartenders, mixologists, sorry, barchitects around. Here are some of my favorites:
Death and Co: This dark, cozy spot in the East Village has a cocktail book, and the cocktail names are almost as brilliant as the drinks (Sentimental Journey, Shattered Glasser, Faithful Scotsman and the Whirling Tiger, for example). If you’re more than two and can agree on something, there are punch bowls for $42. Calling first to see if there’s room is highly recommended, as occupancy is strictly managed by a surprisingly friendly doorman. 433 E. 6th St nr Ave A, 212-388-0882 , deathandcompany.com
Little Branch: An unmarked door and a steep flight of stairs lead to this spot where absinthe and real mint juleps are on the list, served by vested bartenders who look like they haven’t aged a bit since 1929. Jazz trios every day from Sunday-Thurs makes this a great live music hideaway, but note it’s cash only. 20 Seventh Ave. South, New York, NY 10011 , no website.
at Leroy St.
Employees Only: The beautiful Art Deco-inspired bar, managed by white-jacketed barkeeps in mustaches (well, not the females), is a cozy, intimate spot for a drink when it’s not three-deep and a total sh*t-show thanks to hoardes of people who read about it on some blog. It’s best visited on a weekday, fairly early (before 8), for a starter cocktail. They carry an array of artisanal liquors, and create beauties like the Vesper, potato vodka, gin and lillet blanc. They also have a pretty back garden, and a really fine steak tartare if you want to stay awhile. 611 Hudson St, W. Village. Visit employeesonlynyc.com
Bemelmans Bar: Oh, this is such a classic. You want old school New York? This is it. It’s named after Ludwig Bemelmans, the man who created Madeline. The bar at the Carlyle Hotel has live jazz starting around 5pm, the best bar nuts you will ever eat, and a phenomenal, perfectly mixed, cold martini. I highly recommend doing this on one of those New York days when you actually go to a museum (Frick is right down the street). 35 E. 76th St, Upper East Side. thecarlyle.com.
Hotel Delmano: You read about my run-in with the Devil’s Garden, isn’t that reason enough to hop over to Williamsburg and check out this vintage-looking lounge with nary a hotel room in sight? 82 Berry St, Williamsburg. Read more about it on nymag.com.
Weather Up: One of my favorite spots in Prospect Heights/Ft. Greene area of Brooklyn. No signage, of course, but the bar looks like it hasn’t been touched since 1932, while the white subway tiled interior looks fresh and clean. The drinks are very fine and there is a beautiful back garden in which to drink them. 82 Vanderbilt, read more on nymag.com
Madam Geneva: It’s tucked away at the back of the restaurant Double Crown, but it’s worth finding because it’s such a dark, sexy little room to hide in. The jam-mixed drinks are interesting, and the Asian small plates menu means you won’t have to eat jam for dinner. Bowery and Bleecker, Noho/E. Vill. madamgeneva-nyc.com