King Cole Bar and Lounge
Both the King Cole Bar and Harry’s New York Bar in Paris lay claim to the Bloody Mary—but why quibble? The signature St. Regis cocktail is spicy, smoky, and totally worth every penny of its exorbinant price, what with the white-glove service, clubby environs, and that multimillion dollar Maxfield Parrish mural.
Plan B: If you find the St. Regis too stuffy, have the bartender at the Tribeca Grand’s Church Lounge mix you up a Wasabi Bloody Mary, which mixologist Sasha Petraske created for the hotel’s now-defunct Sanctum.
• St. Regis Hotel, 2 E. 55th St., between Fifth and Madison Aves., 212-753-4500
Take a Break on Museum Mile
Roof Garden Cafe
Up on the romantic rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sculpture, hot Italian tourists, frozen daiquiris, and colossal Central Park views converge into one juggernaut of a drinking experience.
• Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Ave. at 82nd St., 212-535-7710,
Watch the Game in Style
40/40 Club
Jay-Z’s towering, two-level sports club—which gridlocks a quiet Flatiron Street with stretch Expeditions and frequent celebrity sightings—is a pillar of sophistication, with cream-colored leather chairs, sleek Italian marble floors, a collection of LCD flat-screen televisions, not to mention a cigar lounge and two VIP rooms.
•6 W. 25th St., between Broadway and Sixth Aves., 212-989-0040
Catch a Rock Show
Bowery Ballroom
Superior sightlines and sound, a darkly swank, well-stocked bar, and next-big-thing lineups mean Bowery Ballroom has the title of best music club in New York pretty much locked up.
Plan B: If the Bowery is sold-out, try rock club Sin-e or burlesque boîte The Slipper Room, both on the Lower East Side.
•6 Delancey St., between Bowery and Chrystie Sts., 212-533-2111,
Hold a Romantic Tete-a-Tete
Angel’s Share
This elegant drink parlor’s hideaway location—it’s tucked inside the second level of a Japanese restaurant—makes it perfect for a tryst. Strictly enforced rules like “no groups bigger than four” keep the environs hushed and the cocktails are always expertly mixed.
• 8 Stuyvesant St., at 9th St. and Third Ave., 212-777-5415
Go Salsa Dancing
A genuinely mixed crowd of revelers flocks to S.O.B.’s for polyrhythmic, south-of-the-equator beats. La Tropica, the club’s Monday-night Latin dance party, offers salsa lessons for novices.
Plan B: The classic Copacabana hosts Latin music just about every night of the week.
• 204 Varick St., at W. Houston St., 212-243-4940,
Talk Finance Over Beefeater Martinis
Bull and Bear
Watch the stock ticker from a cushioned seat at the Waldorf=Astoria’s mahogany bar, crowded with would-be masters of the universe. If the market’s up, there’s a juicy steak to be had in the adjacent dining room, otherwise, keep diving into those bathtub martinis.
• Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, 301 Park Ave., between 49th and 50th Sts., 212-872-4900,
Slum It at a Dive
Rudy’s Bar& Grill
Old-timers still drink themselves to death around the bar, but local youngsters, businessmen and the ubiquitous hipster element now rule the prime real-estate red-leather booths at this West Side paean to dirt-cheap booze.
Plan B: Make a pitstop at Siberia for a bona fide Hell’s Kitchen dive crawl.
• 627 Ninth Ave., between 44th and 45th Sts., 212-974-9169,
Witness a New York Legend
Cafe Carlyle
The incomparable Bobby Short has extended his run to 2005, when this venerated cabaret spot celebrates its 50th anniversary. Or catch Woody Allen with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band on Monday nights.
• Carlyle Hotel, 35 E. 76th St., at Madison Ave., 212-744-1600,
Pair Wines Like a Gotham Gourmand
More than 100 wines by the glass and 200 varieties of cheese are available at this bustling midtown bistro, so novices might want to request the menu of suggested pairings.
Plan B:
Foodies stuck downtown should head to Clinton Street’s Punch & Judy.
• 182 Park Ave., at 32nd St., 212-725-8585
Pretend You’re a Hollywood Heavy
Bungalow 8
Naughty Park Avenue princesses lounge with quasi-titled Euros at Amy Sacco’s private lounge inspired by the Beverly Hills Hotel’s infamous cottages. And if you don’t have a Town Car waiting outside, the concierge can arrange a helicopter.
Plan B: You don’t need a membership to enjoy a drink at Village celebrity magnet Da Silvano.
• 515 W. 27th St., between Tenth and Eleventh Aves., 212-629-3333
Get Hep to Jazz
Jazz Standard
The jazz club underneath Danny Meyer’s BBQ restaurant Blue Smoke features superlative booking, stellar sight lines, and crystalline sound, not to mention classic cocktails like the Dark & Stormy.
Plan B: Return to the Harlem Renaissance at Lenox Lounge.
• 116 East 27th St., between Park and Lexington Aves., 212-576-2232,
Choose a Beer From a List a Mile Long
Ginger Man
This polished Murray Hill pub serves a mind-boggling 66 draught beers, as well as 152 by the bottle, although the smoking ban means stogies are no longer ceremoniously puffed. And while the clientele is all business during the day, it loosens its tie and kicks off its heels at night.
Plan B: Tour the Brooklyn Brewery.
• 11 E. 36th St., between Madison and Fifth Aves., 212-532-3740
Gaze out at the Chrysler Building
High Bar
The 18-floor terrace of the Gramercy Park Hotel has wraparound views of the Manhattan skyline, including a striking shot of the Chrysler building, and a spirited seasonal cocktail menu—from a cooling High Bar Fizz to a hot buttered rum to offset the meanest of winter chills.
• Gramercy Park Hotel, 2 Lexington Ave., at 21st St., 212-475-4320
Smoke While You Drink
Circa Tabac
This self-styled “cigarette bar” is exempt from the smoking ban thanks to a loophole that that gives grandfather status to establishments that can show that ten percent of their business comes from the sale of tobacco products.
• 32 Watts St., between Thompson St. and Sixth Ave., 212-941-1781
Sample Oysters and Chablis
Grand Central Oyster Bar
Grab a stool at the actual oyster bar, meet friends in the adjacent saloon, or eat an expensive but delicious meal in the splendid restaurant area under the Rafael Guastavino–designed tiled arched ceilings.
Plan B: If the Oyster Bar is closed (sorry, no seatings after 9:30pm), check out Grand Central Station’s classic Campbell Apartment, the restored private office of early-20th-century tycoon John W. Campbell.
• Grand Central Station, lower level, at Vanderbilt Ave. and 42nd St., 212-490-6650,
Grab a Burger and Some Suds
Corner Bistro
The crowd isn’t queuing up at this Village tavern just for the $2 mugs of McSorley’s or for the scruffy old bartenders plying their trade with seen-it-all stoicism. What everyone’s really here for is the Bistro Burger: an eight-ounce slab of juicy grilled beef that’s one of the heftiest, messiest, and cheapest chunks of cow you’ll have in this town.
Plan B: If the lines are ridiculously long (a likely occurrence), try that other Village classic, Cedar Tavern.
• 331 W. 4th St., at Jane St., 212-242-9502
Hit the Dance Floor
Table 50
The subterranean space may be swanky—think exposed-brick archways, leather banquettes, and low tables—but this intimate nightclub features a no-hassle door policy, a roster of underground sounds, and a caberet license, meaning it’s actually legal to dance here. And these days, that’s no small feat. See the Party List for more nightlife options.
• 643 Broadway, at Bleecker St., 212-253-2560,
Splurge on Sake and Sushi
Bar Masa
Indulge in Stefan Trummer’s sake cocktails and Masa Takayama’s masterful sushi without the $300 sticker shock at this smaller, more animated, comparatively economical version of the mother ship.
• Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, at 60th St., 212-823-9800
Take a Trip Back in Time
21 Club
The tablecloths at this famous Prohibition-era speakeasy are still red and white, toys still hang from the ceiling, Nixon’s wine is still in the vaults, and, in spite of the lunchtime dress code, the crowd here doesn’t have anything against neckties.
• 21 W. 52nd St., between Fifth and Sixth Aves., 212-582-7200,
Listen to Literary Luminary
KGB’s reading series is legendary, drawing marquee literati like Luc Sante, A.M. Homes, and Rick Moody, as well as struggling writers hoping to get noticed by the Paris Review editors in the crowd.
•85 E. 4th St., between Second and Third Aves., 212-505-3360,
Check out a Trendy Club
Only the beautiful and the well-connected get a free pass inside this thoughtfully designed and laid out two-story space. Bottle service and plainclothes models boogying to hip techno remixes add to the I’m-in-with-the-in-crowd effect.
• 189 East 3rd St., between Avenues A and B, 212-223-0909
Go to a Gay Bar
Starlight Bar & Lounge
A funky mix of Chelsea boys and East Village artistes provides an unintimidating starter course in New York gay nightlife. And the Sunday-night “Starlette” party is widely considered one of the best lesbian nights in town.
•167 Ave. A, between 10th and 11th Sts., 212-475-2172,
Put Another Song on the Jukebox
Hi Fi
Owner Mike Stuto’s one-of-a-kind El-DJ mp3 jukebox takes center stage at this music-centric bar, with 2100 albums and more than 31,000 songs, all surfable from a hard drive via trackball.
•169 Ave. A, between 10th and 11th Sts., 212-420-8392,
Order a Classic Cocktail
Bemelmans Bar
The cocktail list showcases an appetite for innovation as well as a deep-seated respect for the classics, while murals of frolicking animals painted by bar namesake and former Carlyle resident Ludwig Bemelmans offer a whimsical counterpoint.
Plan B: For a less stodgy setting, order from the list of classics at the Flatiron Lounge.
• Carlyle Hotel, 35 E. 76th St., at Madison Ave., 212-744-1600,
Published August 19, 2004