Acknowledging the obvious, the constant onslaught of brilliant bars opening in New York City, makes it difficult to select the best but there are some bars that deserve a nod for their staying power and ability to survive amongst the glitzy newcomers on the block.
When we landed in NYC it was 5.30pm. The American Airlines flight from Hong Kong was bumpy and unpleasant. Bones rattled, nerves shattered, the only sensible thing to do was to get a couple of stiff drinks into us…fast!
We headed to Times Square. What better way to give the head a surreal brain-bust. Walking up 7th Avenue, there it was, larger than life, TSQ Brasserie. We entered through glass doors, perched our weary bodies at TSQ’s bar and nestled in for the night with the heart of Times Square our backdrop.
Although regular red wine drinkers, we were ready for something mean, with a bit of bite. Flirtatious Bix, the bartender, suggested cocktails. It was happy hour and they were going for US$4.00 a pop. Mojitos became our drink for the night which eventually transitioned to early morning. Our group of two grew to a boisterous crowd including a Swedish and a Canadian orthopaedic surgeon in New York for a conference.
Why go there? Central location in pumping Times Square.
When to go? Happy hour. Cocktails are half price.
Where is it? 723 7th Ave New York
Open from 7am to 1am
Go TSQ for the cocktail bar.
Good for those on a budget but wanting the technicolour action of Times Square right on your doorstep.
It took a few days to recover from our NYC arrival. Fast forward to day three, clear headed and refuelled with daily hearty breakfasts at Scotty’s Diner at 336 Lexington Avenue, we ventured south in search of a drink at a curious bar gleaned from the pages of a traveller magazine.
We arrived at our destination. What bar? There was just a roller door that had been lifted up to reveal a wooden door and it was closed. No life in sight. The sign above the door clearly shouted Chinese restaurant. We were after Apotheke bar but there’s no bar here.
Disappointed we left the scene to meet up with friends from Sweden who were living in New York. Before journeying out for dinner they suggested we try out to their favourite bar. Off we sauntered in the same direction from which we had already come. Back to Apotheke at 9 Doyers Street. We opened the door, pushed aside a heavy velvet curtain, to reveal what can only be described as a pharmacy or chemistry lab of sorts. Behind the ‘dispensary’ were good-looking lads in white lab coats at-the-ready to prescribe appropriate ‘medicinal’ concoctions. The Prescription List covered a curious selection of House Prescriptions including Euphoric Enhancers, Stimulants and Therapeutic Treatments. These cleverly-named cocktails really hit the spot. ‘Kissed by Absinth’ was a mesmerizingly splendid combo of Saigon cinnamon, Cognac, cloves, star anise, fennel seeds, vanilla with House Absinth, and egg white. The Therapuetic Treatments headliner ‘Edamame & Shiso’ was a scene stealer with its stellar combo of Vodka, fresh edamame puree, fresh muddled cucumber, shiso leaf, shaved ginger, Wasabi-pink Himalayan salt rim. If that doesn’t kick-start a sluggish liver, nothing will.
We checked out several bars during our time in NYC, they were glorious, salubrious or outstanding. But we started to tire of this homogenised bar scene in search of a drinking hole with bucket loads of old New York soul. Whiskey Tavern at 79 Baxter Street is one such charmer. Fried Pickles & Herbed Sour Cream; Bacon with Blue Cheese & Maple Syrup; Pickles from the Pickle Guys; and Tater Tots with Chilli & Cheese Sauce were washed down with our drinks of choice. The food was a heart-attack waiting to happen, but authentic American and tasty! Mojitos hit the right spot, so too some good old Whiskey.
NYC boasts a plethora of bars including roof top bars. Our hotel Affinia Shelbourne has a roof top bar which is a very pleasant place for a night-cap and a civilized way to finish the night before slipping away quietly to the comfort of crisp white sheets and plump feather-light pillows.
Footnote: MontyandMe travelled to NYC in May 2011.