Tried and tested: My fav bars in NYC
You all know at this point that I appreciate a good drink. So whenever I travel to a city, I include at least one new bar on my bucket list. For that, I usually check out The World’s 50 Best Bars to get an overview and find the most trending places to be. But I also appreciate a nice stroll through the neighborhoods, finding buzzing places on the go.
As I am obviously nowhere near a local (as I used to be in Singapore), I am typically a little hesitant to share my favorite bars in a foreign city, especially when I only visit it for a weekend. And particularly in New York, which is known for its bar scene and high density of trendy spots, it’s hard to keep up. However, after visiting New York for the 8th time, I think I have explored enough bars to share my favorites with you.
There are a few reasons Campbell is considered one of the best cocktail bars in New York City. First: Its location in Grand Central Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, long known as the Campbell Apartment, is absolutely stunning. Arriving through the grand marble staircase is an experience, but after passing the hostess, you’ll enter another world. The drinks are a bit pricey, but the atmosphere in The Campbell is undoubtedly extraordinary and worth every penny. Just order one of their unique Martinis, sit down, and watch.
A classic speakeasy dedicated to bringing back the roaring twenties, including Burlesque Shows on Tuesdays and Sundays, with locations in New York and Los Angeles. Created by Brooklyn-born entrepreneur Dave Oz, Bathtub Gin is named after the homemade alcohol watered down in bathtubs during Prohibition. Step through the back door of Stone Street coffee shop in Chelsea and find yourself sent back in time. Right in the center of the venue, between plush velvet sofas and bistro tables, you will find their famous bathtub, where you can take a picture before the burlesque ladies take it over for their show. We enjoyed the evening at Bathtub Gin, mainly because of the show, but I do have to say that their drinks are on the less boozy side. This is nice if you plan to spend a prolonged time in the bar, but it may hurt your wallet.
Death & Company
Since opening in 2006 in Manhattan’s East Village, Death & Co has been a must-visit destination for serious drinks and cocktail enthusiasts. They won countless prizes (including Best American Cocktail Bar in 2010), opened two other locations in Denver and Los Angeles, and are about to launch a new concept in another city. Their reputation causes a long wait list (and they don’t accept reservations). I really like the idea of Death & Co so much that we also visited their location in Denver. However, don’t expect to order anything you want. The bartenders are restricted to their admittedly endless, long menu. The drinks are pleasant and very boozy (hence the name, I suppose?), but if you are looking for a handcrafted, unique drink, this is not your bar. Once entering the strict door, you’ll find yourself in an actual parallel world that you certainly won’t leave sober…
Ampersand is your typical neighborhood cocktail bar. It’s undoubtedly less fuzzy than the above and more down to earth, but that’s what I like about a bar. It’s the place around the corner where you can get an excellent drink (and trust me, Ampersand knows their craft!), get to know the bartenders and neighbors, and just relax. One of my favorites on their menu is the “Amperoni” (I love myself a good Negroni, but this one comes with Passion Fruit!!) and the Buzz Word (Gin, Chartreuse, Thai Basil, Lemon, and Pink Peppercorn), but honestly, all of their drinks sound lovely, and I can’t wait to go back and try them all.
A newly opened speakeasy under MINE Craft Sushi 峰寿司. We came for the sushi, but ended up in their newly opened underground bar. The “speakeasy” lounge welcomes you in a sleek yet welcoming setting, where guests can enjoy an outstanding drink selection that features Japanese-inspired craft cocktails (and mocktails), fine sake, shōchū, spirits, and wine.
Currently ranked 47th on the latest World’s 50 Best Bars list, Employees Only was first established in New York as a space for staffers in the F&B industry to kick back after hours. Since then, it has expanded globally, including an outlet in Singapore, where we first learned about the bar concept. Since Employees Only Singapore was closed while we lived in Singapore, we knew we had to return to their original once we made it to New York again. Upon entering the bar, which was pleasingly relaxed, I was surprised about their atmosphere, as I expected a more elaborate, sophisticated vibe. Instead, I found myself in a roaring crowd of people boozing fancy cocktails on a weeknight––and I loved it!
510 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014 · @employeesonlyny
On my next visit, I’d like to check out these:
Patent Pending – A discreet, intimate bar at night and coffee shop during the day. I went there to get a coffee and was blown away by their hospitality and kindness. I could sneak into their hidden bar area and made myself a promise that I would check it out on my next visit. Check out their dreamy Instagram feed: @patentpendingnyc
Clover Club – The only bar on my list located in Brooklyn is a part neighborhood institution, part destination cocktail bar, and certainly the inventor of the yummy Clover Club Cocktail. I haven’t visited Brooklyn for a hot second, but for my next NY visit, I have a strong reason to finally go! @cloverclubny
Hawksmoor NYC – Not a classical bar, but a steakhouse that originated in London and quickly became one of the city’s best-loved restaurants. I’ve heard that the drinks at @hawksmoornyc are fantastic, and I can’t wait to come back and dine and indulge here. @hawksmoornyc
Dante – And last but not least, the famous Dante has been a beacon for the community of Greenwich Village ever since it opened its doors in 1915. In 2015, two Australians decided to breathe new life into the historic space, and the results were remarkable: Only four years later, Dante was named the best bar in the world. Between 3 pm and 5 pm daily, their sister location in West Village celebrates a three-hour-long Happy Hour with $10 per cocktail. Guess where you’ll find me next time, in New York?
Tried & Tested: Bars in Manhattan, Summary
In summary, these are my favorite bars in NYC, specifically Manhattan:
Death & Co
There’s no denying that New York City’s famous nightlife is known the world over, so this list is considered a work in progress.