The Quintessential Craft Cocktail Tour of New York City

In the city that never sleeps, there are naturally an overwhelming number of great cocktail bars that make it hard to choose just one. From hidden speakeasies and Cuban-themed lounges to stunning hotel bars, there’s a plethora of options depending on what you’re looking for, each slinging masterful drinks. To aid you on your cocktail adventures throughout New York City Entertainment Voice has chosen the quintessential bars you shouldn’t miss.

Dead Rabbit
This Irish cocktail bar in the Financial District is considered one of the best bar in the world and consistently wins awards and accolades for good reason. The Taproom downstairs is open all day serving beers alongside an impressive selection of whiskeys, cocktails and punches, but head upstairs to The Parlour for the full cocktail experience. Not one to stop innovating, Dead Rabbit recently unveiled their new cocktail menu that steers in a new direction from their past menus. The first of a series of menus debuted with “Resurrection” on February 2016 and is the first in an installment of six graphic novels each featuring 30 brand new drinks. The bar also has a solid food menu, from their scotch and lobster deviled eggs to lamb shepherd’s pie.

Death & Co
Another of New York’s long-standing cocktail institutions, Death & Co remains one of the city’s coolest. Despite its popularity, the vibe in this spacious bar is inviting and comfortable. Their large cocktail menu, separated by style and spirit types, continue to be innovative and influence the rest of the craft cocktail community. There will be many drinks you’d want to try while you’re here and patrons will be happy to know Death & Co’s food offerings are some of the tastiest as bar food in the area goes.

The NoMad
The NoMad is the place to be for a night out to impress. This destination is known not just for the upscale atmosphere but also for the exceptional cocktails. Leo Robitschek and his team of bartenders are slinging some exciting drinks within the spectacular space. Robitschek was awarded World’s Best Hotel Bar one year and the James Beard award for Outstanding Bar Program the next. He expanded his cocktail list for NoMad with large format “cocktail explosions” and reserve cocktails including a $198 Vieux Carre featuring a 50-year-old cognac and Thomas M. Handy Sazerac rye whiskey. Enjoy a perfectly crafted cocktail at the Elephant Bar, in the Library room, or at the The NoMad Bar. The NoMad Bar serves a casual yet elevated menu consisting of dishes such as carrot, beef or tuna tartare and their infamous chicken pot pie with black truffle and foie gras.

This prohibition-era Cuban-themed bar in New York comes from the same team as The Dead Rabbit and it has mastered rum-based cocktails, classics and beyond. Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon put as much attention to detail here as they did at Dead Rabbit, both to the drinks and the interior and ambiance. A visit to BlackTail is worth the trek to Battery Park. The bar’s rum-focused program of updated classics won them the award of “Best New Cocktail Bar in America” in 2017 at Tales of the Cocktail. Try some of the best Daiquiri and Mojito, perfected by head bartender Jesse Vida.

Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy, two veterans of Milk & Honey, took over the bar’s intimate old space to open Attaboy. While they don’t keep the reservations-only system, the bar still focuses on crafting bespoke cocktails for its guests. Give them your spirit of choice and the flavor profile you desire and the attentive bartenders will create something just for you while slipping in a surprising twist here and there. On the weekends, line forms outside so come early to grab a seat.  

Suffolk Arms
One of the newest cocktail hot spots in New York, Suffolk Arms was opened by Giuseppe Gonzalez, a third-generation bartender who’s worked at some of the city’s best bars including Pegu Club, PKNY, Flatiron Lounge, and Dutch Kills. He opened the bar with the friend, Ruben Rodriguez, owner of Havana Café in the Bronx. The cocktail menu includes 11 signature drinks that “stretch the boundaries of mixological creativity” including The Tough Room, consisting of a Guinness with a Whiskey Sour float along with vodka cocktails meant to be “thought bombs” to disprove the bad rap that vodka drinks have. Chef Alex Garcia is in charge of the kitchen churning out classic American fare and nods to the ethnic cuisines found in the Lower East Side neighborhood.

Aviary NYC and The Office NYC
The Aviary from Chicago’s Alinea group is known to be one of the best cocktail bars in the world, and the New York outpost is located on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, complete with a view of Central Park. Expect the same innovative, impeccable cocktails served in custom-made vessels as the Chicago bar. Much like the Chicago counterpart, The Office is an intimate bar with a classic speakeasy vibe serving food and cocktails a la carte, juxtaposing The Aviary’s experimental menu with a nod to classic drinks and the past. The menu is geared towards a luxurious experience, including a whole section devoted to cocktails made with rare spirits that may go up to $500 an ounce.

This speakeasy in the East Village is still, and will long continue to be, a worthy cocktail destination and one of the coolest secret bars. Guests with reservations sneak through the vintage phone booth inside Crif Dogs to sip cocktails from Jim Meehan and his team on old school leather booths. PDT has topped the list of World’s 50 Best Bars and Jim Meehan has been named American Bartender of the Year. That speaks volumes and you know you’re in for some of the best cocktails in the country including their signature bacon-infused bourbon with maple syrup.

The Raines Law Room
The Raines Law Room recalls a true speakeasy with its candlelit space and intimate seating. Named after the law passed in the 1900s, which regulated alcohol consumption, the bar’s private tables leave guests to their own conversation but each is equipped with a buzzer for when you need a refill on your cocktail from the menu created by Meaghan Dorman.

Dear Irving
Another great bar from the team behind Raines Law Room, Dear Irving allows guests to time travel within four rooms, each set in its own era. Start in Renaissance France in Marie Antoinette’s Parlor or head to the 1920s in the Gatsby Room or the 1960s in the JFK Room. The main bar itself sits in the Abraham Lincoln Room decked with velvet couches. Naturally, bartender Meaghan Dorman has also designed a cocktail menu that draws inspiration from the different time periods. The food menu features elevated small plates including croquet monsieur with black truffles and foie gras parfait.

Below Schapiro’s lies this basement bar from Alex Day (behind L.A.’s Honeycut), David Kaplan (Death & Co.) and Natasha David (Maison Premiere) is the place bartenders come to drink on their days off and at the end of their shift. There’s a fun, rotating menu filled with innovative cocktails along with a menu of “shorties” – a shot of booze paired with another to wash it down. And don’t forget about the Honor Bar; They’ll bring a bottle from the list and you pay for what you drink. Imbibers can also nosh on small bites from Schapiro’s.

Clover Club
Fancy craft cocktails meet low-key, neighborhood bar vibes at this Brooklyn destination named after a group of Philadelphia journalists at the turn of the century who met once a month to eat, drink, and catch up. Similarly, Clover Club strives to provide a place where guests can drink, eat, and converse – which translates to a cozy and low-key environment coupled with great cocktails and delicious food. Julie Reiner’s cocktail menu is organized by styles such as sours, royales and old fashioneds making it easy for guests to choose the perfect drink to end their day or start their night. They also serve a full brunch and dinner menu along with bar snacks.

Mace was opened by veteran bartenders Greg Boehm (Boilermaker) and Nico de Soto (Experimental Cocktail club in Paris). This small New York bar takes their inspiration from the flavors of different spices. Each cocktail is listed on the menu under the name of the featured spice, yet the drinks are surprisingly well balanced and conjure up an unexpected combination of flavors. Their approach to mixology has garnered them a spot as one of the World’s 50 Best Bars.

Up and Up
Come down to Up and Up, a relaxed but classy basement in Greenwich Village. The space itself is rather historic, as it used to house the Gaslight where James Taylor once performed when he was young. Now, there are marble tables to carry the top notch drinks coming out. There are bottled cocktails and a large menu of original crafted cocktails. Don’t miss the Insanely Good section of the menu, where they make an improved version of under-appreciated drinks such as Midori Sour.

Amor y Amargo
Amor y Amargo is a haven for amaro and bitters lovers. Owned by Ravi de Rossi, who own an impressive number of highly rated bars in the city, the bitters-focused cocktails draw connoisseurs from all around the country to this tiny bar in East Village. There is a small but strong menu of aromatic cocktails that span different palates, but they will also make impeccable Old Fashioneds, Manhattans and Negronis as requested. Their riff on Sazerac uses a blend of 8 amari with green chartreuse and orange citrate.