Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week he checks out the coolest cocktail bars in Manhattan.
Cocktails are a big deal in New York, where scores of the world’s best bartenders aim to recreate a classic Sex In The City or Mad Men vibe.
But which bar is best? I asked a panel of NYC locals where they would go for the perfect Manhattan in Manhattan.
Old School Cocktails
If you want polished wood, a clubby, back-in-time vibe, a twist on the classic Manhattan recipe and some award-winning bartenders, try Employees Only, says The Mail on Sunday’s Neil Simpson
Walk through the original ‘hidden’ entrance to The Back Room on the Lower East Side and you’re in one of two bars that stayed open throughout America’s troubled prohibition era. Here cocktails are served in disguise in china tea cups while beer bottles are covered in paper bags, as they were in the 1920s. backroomnyc.com
If you want polished wood, a clubby, back-in-time vibe, a twist on the classic Manhattan recipe and some award-winning bartenders, try Employees Only. employeesonlynyc.com
Or head to the old home of cocktail king Paddy Ford at steak place Wollensky’s Grill or nearby (and more pricey) Smith & Wollenskys. At the latter, you drink in a dining room that’s been used as a set for films including American Psycho and The Devil Wears Prada. smithandwollenskynyc.com
Cocktails with a View
While it sounds like a tourist trap, even locals admit you can’t beat the views from the outdoor terrace of Bar 54 at the Hyatt on Times Square
One of the new kids on the cocktail block is Manhatta, where lifts take up you up 60 floors for seasonal food, skyline views and a riff on the classic Manhattan called, not surprisingly, the Manhatta. manhattarestaurant.com
Or you can get in a New York frame of mind with city views, sunset jazz and a dessert menu at the bar at the Top of the Standard. standardhotels.com
While it sounds like a tourist trap, even locals admit you can’t beat the views from the outdoor terrace of Bar 54 at the Hyatt on Times Square. hyatt.com
Cocktails for friends and family
Bigger table places such as The Tippler below Chelsea market, are perfect for large groups
A lot of New York bars cater for couples, where you choose between a spot at the bar or a table for two. If you’re in a group, it’s advisable to call first – often that’s the only way six or more people will be allowed in. Or try bigger table places such as The Tippler below Chelsea market. Cocktails here include the Call An Uber. thetippler.com
Alternatively, head out to the converted warehouse that’s now Porchlight where the owners are on a quest to find ‘the next great American cocktail’. porchlightbar.com
Cocktails with Experts
Try your hand at cocktail-making at the cool Liquor Lab in Soho
Try your hand at cocktail-making as you learn the history of the Manhattan, the Cosmopolitan and other New York favourites at a two-hour Iconic NYC Cocktails class at the cool Liquor Lab in Soho. liquorlaboratory.com
Search under ‘Bars’ at timeout.com/newyork for guided tours of the speakeasies where famous cocktails were born.
Cocktails with Extras
At the Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog you can get a whiskey in the Irish-flavoured Tap Room bar or head up to The Parlour for serious mixology
If you think nothing says ‘exotic cocktail bar’ quite like a full-size crystal palm tree, head to the Gitano Jungle Room for New York mixes with Mexican twists. If you wait until summer, you can drink in the roof garden as well. grupogitano.com
Can’t decide between whisky or a cool cocktail? Try local favourite Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog. Get a whiskey in the Irish-flavoured Tap Room bar or head up to The Parlour for serious mixology. deadrabbitnyc.com
Or, in true ‘only in New York’ spirit, join a ‘cocktails with yoga’ night on Mondays at CocoMat Soho with Deep Eddy Vodka. It’s free, though donations are expected. Book a slot at eventbrite.com.