It's time to think outside the bar.
When the weather starts to cool, it's easy to sidle up to the spot where everybody knows your name. But since familiarity can breed discontent, there are some new watering holes on the scene and, we must say, they're looking pretty good.
Some are classy and sophisticated (Dear Irving, The NoMad Bar), the kinds of bars where you can drop some cash at and leave feeling totally fulfilled. Another will talk your ear off about esoteric Japanese whisky (Copper & Oak) and some just want to wine and dine (Aldo Sohm, Racines NY). Whatever your vibe may be, these nine new bars are worthy of a visit—and a toast.
NoMad Bar, Aldo Sohm and Racines NY | Photos: Tasting Table
① Dear Irving, Gramercy Park
Feeling fancy? Order cocktails with the press of a button at Dear Irving, which opened in June from the Raines Law Room team. There's a Mad Men-esque vibe, courtesy of long sofas that demand lounging and glittery, beady makeshift walls. There's one menu for classic cocktails (Gibsons, Palomas) and another for house creations. Order the Hero of Litte Venice ($15), which is basically an adult cream soda consisting of rum, root beer and vermouth with a little egg for added lusciousness, while you snack on throwback bites like trays of olives, Gouda and soppressata ($15).
② Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, Midtown West
The new wine bar from Le Bernardin's longtime wine director feels like the swankiest living room you could possibly imagine, with a giant horseshoe-shaped couch anchoring the room and vibrant modern art lining the walls. You may as well split an affordable bottle of wine (many are in the $33 to $100 range) while enjoying playful, inspired French-y bites like a spinning Tower of Charcuterie ($45) or a whole-baked roasted cauliflower ($12) dusted in "chicken salt." Despite his résumé, Sohm doesn't take himself too seriously—and neither does his bar, which is why we love it.
③ The NoMad Bar, Flatiron
Not for the faint of liver, the posh new space at the NoMad, opened in mid-June, feels likes a whole new experience. The long, wide bar is a study in glamour, expertly lit and exuding class. Brace yourself, because the dizzying array of drink categories can get overwhelming. They've got all the classic cocktails covered, but we prefer to bring some friends to tackle a Cocktail Explosion ($90): giant, fruity concoctions the size of your head that serve up to eight. If you choose not to just drink your dinner, get the burger ($17), one of the best in the city.
④ 151, Lower East Side
The Death & Co. team reopened this dive bar in September and gave it a signature speakeasy transformation. Gone are the graffiti-covered walls, now covered with wood paneling, and the cocktails are updated but still maintain a dive-y charm. Pink plastic flamingos are dropped in the Negroni Gone Way Wrong ($12), which gets a dose of prosecco and lemon sorbet. There's also an entire menu dedicated to classic shot-and-a-beer combinations and plenty of daquiri options. As far as snacks go, you can't go wrong with frozen Girl Scout Cookies ($7). Done and done.
Belly up to the bar at Nitecap NY | Photo: Tasting Table
⑤ Nitecap, Lower East Side
Opened in mid-March by Maison Premiere alum Natasha David, and Alexander Day and David Kaplan (Death & Co. partners), this subterranean speakeasy dwells beneath Schapiro's and is accessed by passing through a dark velvet curtain. The place is tiny and nails that whole subway-rumbling-beneath-you-while-you-recline-in-a-velour-booth vibe. There's a slew of classic and inventive cocktails, and a brandy list that would have made Winston Churchill proud. Slowly sip one of its Firewater cocktails, booze-forward drinks that give your stomach a welcome warming, or take it easy with an aperitif. Warning: You may stay all night.
⑥ Racines NY, Tribeca
Go for the wine, stay for the food. Opened a few months back by chef Frederic Duca, who has a sister restaurant in Paris, Racines NY offers mostly French wines from small producers, with an emphasis on natural and sustainable vintages. (Many of the vineyards plough using horses and harvest by hand.) After a glass (or bottle), settle in for some food. We love the cheese plate ($18), the veal tartare with tarragon, pine nuts and warm mayo ($18) and just about everything else.
⑦ Boilermaker, East Village
Welcome to your new after-work drinking destination. Reopened last month in the former Golden Cadillac space, Boilermaker nails the cozy neighborhood feel with aplomb. Naturally the bar offers an array of Boilermakers, including a six-pack of Miller High Life and six shots of Buffalo Trace ($45) for groups of three or more. The cocktails on tap go down smoothly, specifically the Uncle Jalapeño ($10), with blanco tequila, jalapeño and pineapple soda. As for the food, all we can say is get the burger ($7 to $10). You can go for a single or double patty (one is plenty, but no judgement) and choose your cheese. It comes topped with pickled vegetables and fig aioli. It's perfection.
⑧ Copper & Oak, Lower East Side
If the idea of choosing from 70 different types of Japanese whisky and 60 kinds of bourbon delights (rather than terrifies) you, you've come to the right place. Opened in late summer, the small, triangular bar is underlit with soft yellow, making it feel as though you're sitting inside a jewel box. Trying to tackle the list is impossible; just ask the knowledgeable bartenders what they recommend and go from there. The pours come in either one or two ounces, and you can soak up the brown liquor with a charcuterie plate ($12), ham and cheese sandwich ($10) or croque-monsieur ($10).
⑨ Dirck the Norseman, Greenpoint
Named after a Scandinavian shipbuilder who crossed the East River from Manhattan, this sprawling industrial space is located on a barren block near the water. Part of the reason it's so big is because the bar, in addition to looking a bit like a Viking ship, also houses the area's only craft brewery, Greenpoint Beer & Ale Company. It turns out a rotating list of nine house-brewed ales, such as the nutty Ferret Legging (prices vary by volume) and the tart Oui Oui saison ($7), in addition to several German beers and a hearty menu with things like schnitzel and sausage.
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