Best Creative Cocktails in NYC

May 5, 2017
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by Zagat Staff

Enjoy the artistic talents of mixologists at one of these city cocktail spots.

Eleven Madison Park
Flatiron · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.8 · Service 4.8

“Brilliant as ever” , Daniel Humm’s New American “knockout” on Madison Square Park is “a total indulgence” where a “spectacular” tasting menu with pairings from a “massive” wine list provides a “culinary adventure” that’s “expertly” served in a “magnificent” art deco space; the “jumbo bill” is a given, but “throw the budget out the window” “you can’t afford to miss this place.”
The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog
Financial District · $$$
Food 4.1 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.0

While this Irish-inspired FiDi duplex has a “well-deserved” rep as a “cocktail mecca” with a “Bible” of “enviable” craft drinks, its “well-prepared” pub fare is “not just an afterthought” ; manned by an “excellent” staff, the saloonish digs “get busy quickly” and “just need more elbow room” when it hops.
Please Don't Tell
East Village · $
Food - · Decor 4.0 · Service 3.9

Accessed through a phone booth in Crif Dogs, this speakeasy-style East Village lair features bartending "experts" who whip up "fancy concoctions" (at "fancy prices" ) in "intimate" , "taxidermied" digs; the initials stand for 'Please Don't Tell', but since "everyone's been told" , it's best to make advance reservations.
Mayahuel
Mexican · East Village · $$$
Food 4.0 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.0

The “drinks are the highlight” of this “mezcal lover’s paradise” in the East Village where the “unbeatable” cocktails can be paired with “uncomplicated” yet “flavorful” Mexican small plates; a brick-walled, two-story setting exuding “exotic” vibes adds to its “distinctive” feel.
Employees Only
West Village · $$$$
Food - · Decor 3.9 · Service 3.7

A "semi-speakeasy" behind a semi-hidden entrance, this "sceney" but "relaxed" West Villager ranks among the "all-time favorites" for "phenomenal cocktails" via "bartenders who treat their craft as an art" ; since it "tends to get packed" , those in the know employ it as a "late-night alternative."
Apotheke
Cocktail Bar · Chinatown · $$$$
Food - · Decor 4.0 · Service 3.7

A "secret gem" on a "random" Chinatown side street, this "fancy" lounge tricked out like an "old pharmacy" features "talented mixologists" in "cool lab coats" showing off "mad scientist" skills as they "serve up your medicine" via "serious" designer cocktails; if you can swallow the "premium cost" , it's a "really sweet spot" to "drop the dollars.
The Lucky Bee
Thai · Lower East Side · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.9 · Service 3.7

Seasonal Thai curries and spicy Southeast Asian street snacks are prepared with local ingredients at this upbeat Lower Eastsider from a pair of Aussie owners (including a former Fat Radish chef). The vibrantly colored space boasts a black-and-white bar pouring attractively garnished cocktails.
Westlight
American · Williamsburg · $$

Panoramic skyline views from the terrace and glassed-in lounge are the big draw at this hot rooftop bar in Williamsburg’s William Vale Hotel, also offering a menu of crafty nibbles conceived by chef Andrew Carmellini (The Dutch, Locanda Verde). As expected, a well-curated cocktail list comes with the territory.
Chumley's
West Village · $$$

Though its entrance remains unmarked, this revival of a legendary West Village speakeasy (which closed in 2007) is decked out in swankier style under new owner Alessandro Borgognone (Sushi Nakazawa). The densely arranged photos and book jackets on the walls recreate the look of the original, honoring its history as a literary haunt, while sweeping, glossy leather banquettes and American fare by an Atera alum update the experience.
Ghost Donkey
NoHo · $$$

This East Village bar focuses on mezcals and tequilas served solo or in cocktails such as the mushroom margarita (made with a huitlacoche-infused spirit) and the slyly named Stone Wall with habanero cider. There’s a brandied caramel horchata too, along with a short menu of creative nachos, ceviche and churros, and extra whimsy courtesy of neon accents and a flower-covered donkey at the entrance.
BlackTail
Cocktail Bar · Financial District · $$$

The Dead Rabbit team is behind this Battery Park City resto-bar on Pier A, which harks back to the expat life in Havana with its highballs, punches and sours, accompanied by seafood-focused American fare. The space includes a wood-panelled main bar and a ‘lobby’ area.
Olmsted
American · Prospect Heights · $$$

A chef with an all-star history (Per Se, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Chicago’s Alinea) has teamed up with a farmer to open this Prospect Heights American drawing from super-local sources, including its own backyard garden. The woodsy interior brings nature inside with the beginnings of a live green wall, and has a chef’s counter for watching the action.