Forget the restaurants, the coffee shops, the shopping destinations, the museums. You can find that stuff elsewhere. But no city in America rivals the nightlife in New York. Drinks International‘s 2011 list of the World’s 50 Best Bars included seven in NYC, with PDT clocking in at Numero Uno. America’s mixology trend has found its nexus here, led by revered bars like Death & Co., Pegu Club and Milk & Honey. The aforementioned PDT (“Please Don’t Tell”) has even written the definitive cocktail book for the millenial generation, codifying the speakeasy revival and influencing a league of martini-makers across the nation.
So where to begin? You can certainly go the route of targeting destination bars like the above, but be prepared to wait hours for admission if you haven’t snagged a reservation in advance. Fortunately these places often cluster together to form alcoholic constellations all over the city, so you can kill some time sipping Six Point Ales or mai tais around the corner ’til that artisan cocktail purveyor calls your cell. The majority occupy the East Village, West Village, the L.E.S. and Williamsburg, but even Long Island City and Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill harbor top-flight bartenders (at Dutch Kills and Clover Club respectively). If beer is more your thing, try dba, Spuyten Duyvil, or Radegast, and for great wines at sweet prices start with the exhaustive menu at Terroir (tip: the 5-6pm happy hour brings $6 wines and a free glass of sherry). The whole scene is a bit of a mess, so I keep the following NYC Nightlife Map on my phone at all times. If you’re thinking Gucci and Manolo Blahnik, I probably can’t help you (when I really want to people-watch I head straight to the Ace Hotel Lobby Bar). If you’re in the market for tasty digestifs in unordinary digs, here’s your guide:
NYC Nightlife Map: