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The 15 Hottest Bars in NYC

By Kelly Dobkin
July 7, 2014

Say what you want about NYC's dwindling club scene, but the fact remains: the Big Apple is still the nightlife epicenter of America and, frankly, the world. In our quarterly update, check out 15 new bars, lounges and brewpubs that are currently burning things up with killer cocktails, craft beers and more. Did we miss your favorite new watering hole? Tell us in the comments.

  • Dear Irving

    ​​Why it's hot: This whimsical new cocktail den on Irving Place comes from the team who created Chelsea speakeasy Raines Law Room, and is inspired by old-world cocktail parlors and time travel. The glitzy interior was inspired by different time periods, including '60s mod and the Roaring Twenties. 

    Must-drink: Whiskey Business: rye, ancho chile liqueur, cinnamon, lemon, angostura bitters ($15).

    Insider tip: Reservations are encouraged and can be made here.

    The details: 55 Irving Place; no phone

  • Photo by: Paige Hogan

    The Garret

    Why it's hot: This stylish secret bar atop Five Guys Burgers in Greenwich Village replaces former tenant Bleecker Heights Tavern, and comes from the collective minds of bartending vets Kyle O’Brien (Hotel Chantelle) and Gavin Moseley (Riff Raff's) along with marketing point man, Adam Fulton. 

    Must-drink:  Rosarito Stick-Up: El Tesoro reposado, Grand Marnier, rosemary, thyme, sage syrup and egg white ($14).

    Insider tip: Walk straight to the back of the burger joint to find the secret staircase. Guests are welcome to bring food from Five Guys Burgers up to the bar with them as The Garret only serves cocktails for now.

    The details: 296 Bleecker St., Second Fl.; 212-675-6157

  • NoMad Bar

    Why it's hot: Next door to the NoMad Restaurant's Library Bar, the NoMad team has opened a new bi-level bar and restaurant with a separate entrance at 10 W. 28th Street (complete with its own Goodfellas-inspired trailer). Food from executive chef James Kent, inspired by some of Daniel Humm's dishes at both EMP and NoMad, and drinks from NoMad bar director Leo Robitschek​ make it a hot ticket.

    Must-drink:  The extensive cocktail menu features classics, new concoctions and some large-format drinks that serve six-eight and cost $90, like the Madison Park Smash and mai tai.  Their version of the classic Gloria cocktail (Campari, gin, dry vermouth and triple sec) is a lighter, more summer-friendly Negroni. 

    Insider tip: Check out their $36 chicken pot pie with black truffles and foie gras (inspired by the NoMad Restaurant's famed roast chicken) and a version of the buzzed-about Humm Dog; once served at PDT, it's a bacon-wrapped, deep-fried dog with black truffle and celery ($14).

    The details: 10 W. 28th St.; 347-472-5660

  • Grand Banks

    Why it's hot: This seasonal floating oyster and rosé hub is the summer watering hole for 2014. Located aboard the historic F/V Sherman Zwicker, a boat docked off of Hudson River Park's Pier 25 in TriBeCa, restaurant vets Mark Firth and Adrien Gallo are behind the maritime-exhibit-meets-bar.

    Must-drink: Sherman's cup: white wine, seasonal berries, lemon, lime, orange ($16).

    Insider tip: The opening menu features small plates like fried squash blossoms, crudo and of course a variety of raw oysters. 

    The details: Pier 25, Hudson River Park; 212-960-3390

  • Photo by: Noah Fecks

    La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

    Why it's hot: The first American location of the Parisian wine bar of the same name is located in SoHo/Little Italy; it's run by the folks who brought you the Experimental Cocktail Club. Even with its mouthful of a title, the spot has garnered some early popularity for its international wine list featuring more than 600 bottles, many via enomatic machine.

    Must-drink: Since the wine list here is so extensive, let a staff member steer you toward wines that suit your palate and price range.

    Insider tip: You can make reservations here, although walk-ins are accepted.

    The details: 249 Centre St.; 212-343-3660

  • Sheltering Sky

    Why it's hot: A rebranding of the McCarren Hotel's (formerly the King & Grove Williamsburg) rooftop bar Upper Elm, nightlife guru Nur Khan is now steering the ship atop this eight-story-high lounge overlooking McCarren Park.

    Must-drink: Bottle service is available, but we recommend the Paul Bowles cocktail made with Herradura tequila, ancho chile, fresh lime, basil and blackberry ($15). 

    Insider tip: A small food menu is available from Elm chef Paul Liebrandt and includes items like lobster rolls, fish tacos and sliders.

    The details: 160 N. 12th St., Brooklyn; 718-218-7500

  • Nitecap

    Why it's hot: Alex Day and David Kaplan of cocktail den Death & Co. and Maison Premiere's Natasha David have opened this new hot spot in the basement of the Lower East Side restaurant Schapiro's. An epic 14-page drink menu offers up a series of signature cocktail creations for both early evening and late night and everything in-between. Also, the spot is walk-in friendly and serves noshes from Schapiro's upstairs.

    Must-drink: Peach Boy: Krogstad Aquavit, orgeat syrup, Mathilde peach, lemon juice and mint ($12); Tartan Swizzle: Famous Grouse Scotch, Laphroaig 10-year single malt, passion mix and pineapple and lime juices ($13).

    Insider tip: The "honor bar" menu lets you grab a bottle from the list and "pay for what you drink." Plus there's a whole menu of "Shortys" - short pours of beer paired with harder booze.

    The details: 120 Rivington St.; 212-466-3361

  • Up&Down

    Why it's hot: The revamp of The Darby space (before that, Nell's) on 14th Street by owners Scott Sartiano, Richie Akiva and Ronnie Madra is now officially open for cocktails (Tuesday-Friday evenings post 7 PM) after hosting a slew of Fashion Week parties in early February. The concept features two connected spaces: "Up," a rowdy dance club on the main level, and "Down," a swanky subterranean cocktail lounge. Mixologist Andres Santillana designed the drink menu.

    Must-drink: Dottie Cup: strawberry-infused gin, bonal, lemon, cucumber soda; Nuru, Naked and Famous: Casamigos reposado tequila, Vida mezcal, Aperol, Yellow Chartreuse, lime, pineapple, chile oil. Both $16.

    Insider tip: The "Up" section of the space is available for private parties and is open to the public beginning at 11 PM Tuesday-Sunday. Bottle service is available, though not required.

    The details: 244 W. 14th St.; 212-242-4411

  • Sweetwater Social

    Why it's hot: This "NYC-inspired" cocktail-focused lounge from the Goldbar team and mixologists Tim Cooper (Goldbar) and Justin Noel (1534) features a cocktail menu laid out on an NYC subway map. The subterranean spot features a 30-ft. bar and rec-room-style activities like foosball and shuffleboard. The original concept was to create an underground sports bar with refined cocktails, but that morphed into a sort of childhood-inspired basement for adults. (Look out, Fat Cat.) A 20-ft. communal table emphasizes the "social" vibe indicated in the name.

    Must-drink: The Samba: cachaça, pineapple, basil, lime juice, cardamom tincture, pellet ice; Wu-Tea-Ki: black-tea-infused rum, lemon Demerara, citrus bitters, Angostura bitters, pellet ice served in an NYC deli coffee cup. All drinks are $14.

    Insider tip: Currently unmarked, it can be a tricky spot to find, but a doorman standing near the entrance should clue you in. Get there early evening for the best scene.

    The details: 643 Broadway; 212-253-0477

  • The Bar at the Marlton Hotel

    Why it's hot: Jack Kerouac once drank here = instant cachet. The lobby bar in the newish Marlton Hotel is a hot spot located on a quiet, notoriously cursed block of Greenwich Village  — West Eighth Street — known mostly for failed restaurants and shoe stores. Inside the Marlton, guests who dine at the equally trendy Margaux can also enjoy the cocktails on the menu at the bar. Kerouac-inspired drinks run the gamut from The Dharma Bum to a Double Rye Manhattan and range from $13-$18.

    Must-drink: Greenwich Gold: 4 Roses Bourbon, honey, lemon allspice dram ($13); Bohemian Sidecar: NY Applejack, cognac, lemon, Royal Combier, absinthe mist ($14).

    Insider tip: Get there early so you can snag a booth, as the bar area crowds up quickly after 7 PM. The coffee bar serves as spillover for the bar, but you'll have to order your drinks and carry them over.

    The details: 5 W. Eighth St.; 212-321-0100

  • Ramona

    Why it's hot: Brooklyn fans of the East Village's Elsa no longer have to schlep to the city for a taste of the spot's signature drinks. This Greenpoint sibling offers up a curated cocktail menu in this copper-finished bi-level space complete with copper chandelier and mezzanine seating that overlooks the crowds.

    Must-drink: Black Book: bourbon, jalapeño, honey, lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom ($9); S.M. Jenkins Cocktail: Pimms No. 1, Velvet Falernum, cucumber, lime, ginger ale ($11).

    Insider tip: Grab a seat on the top floor for a bird's-eye view of the crowd.

    The details: 113 Franklin St., Brooklyn; 347-227-8164

  • The Long Island Bar

    Why it's hot: This Cobble Hill neighborhood bar was family-run for over 50 years by the Sullivan family before closing in 2007. In 2013, Joel Tompkins and Toby Cecchini (NY Times columnist and former owner of now-closed NYC bar Passerby) restored and opened the bar last fall, and it's been a hot spot for locals ever since. With its menu of classic cocktails and retro ambiance, the spot has been an insta-hit drawing Brooklynites from all over with the lure of its iconic neon sign.

    Must-drink: Long Island gimlet: gin, lime-ginger cordial; Blood Orange Spritz: vodka, blood orange, vanilla, Prosecco. Both $12.

    Insider tip: The bar doesn't take reservations, but a small room in the back can be rented out for large groups.

    The details: 110 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn; 718-625-8908

  • Verboten

    Why it's hot: The first permanent outpost of this roving party (that's been going on for over 10 years in NYC and elsewhere) is located in a massive 10,000-sq.-ft., split-in-two space (a former metal shop) in Williamsburg. The larger area is a giant dance space complete with skylights, video walls and a floor made from reclaimed wood. The adjacent Cabaret Bar is a little cozier but also contains a dance floor.

    Must-drink: A Scanner Darkly: 10 Cane Rum, ginger beer, lime juice, molasses syrup; Logan's Run: Bulleit Rye, vanilla-bean syrup, lemon juice. Both $13.

    Insider tip: The space is typically only open Thursday through Sunday nights post 11 PM, but is also open for special events on other nights. Stay on top of their schedule here. Note: in most cases, there is a $20-$30 cover.

    The details: 54 N. 11th St., Brooklyn; 347-223-4732

  • Dirck The Norseman

    Why it's hot: Greenpoint's first brewpub focuses on Scandinavian beers and its own just-launched home brews in a former Polycraft plastic-bag factory. Enjoy German-inspired bar snacks — fried pig knuckles, schnitzel, etc. —  with your brewskis.

    Must-drink: The house-brewed beers just launched (days ago), so any of those seven are worth a try, including the Fisticuffs and the 9% ABV Tupelo IPA ($8).

    Insider tip: Beers are available in different sizes so you can easily sample what's on draft. Sizes are as follows: 0.2ℓ (8 ozs.) - $3; 0.4ℓ (pint) - $6; 0.5ℓ - $7; 1.0ℓ - $13. You can also get a traditional Kolsch “Kranz”: a tray of 11 0.2ℓ glasses filled with a mix of beers for $30. Grab a seat by the potbelly stove on colder days to warm up.

    The details: 7 N. 15th St., Brooklyn; 718-389-2940

  • Gilded Lily

    Why it's hot: Like many other new hot spots, Gilded Lily got its legs during NYC Fashion Week in February, but is now open to the public. And in the spirit of its name, everything in this dance-focused lounge is gilded, from the dance floor to the bar and the booths (note picture above). This is the first nightclub from restaurateurs Lisle Richards and Eric Marx of The Metric Group (The Wayfarer, etc.), who also recently opened the The Monarch Room in the space upstairs. So far the spot has been hosting parties for the likes of Paul Sevigny and other NY scenesters.

    Must-drink: It's a bottle-service-type situation going on here (although not required for entry) with the usual well drinks and mixers. The main event is the DJ and dancing.

    Insider tip: Tables can be reserved by e-mailing hello@gildedlilynyc.com.

    The details: 408 W. 15th St.; no phone

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