Last weekend we spent four days in the wonderful City That Never Sleeps, and not only were we able to hit a couple of the seminal lounges in the chronology of craft cocktails, but we also found a couple of new treats. On our first night, we wandered from our hotel in Times Square to The Rum House. Despite being feet from one of the most frenetic and tourist-packed places on earth, The Rum House still managed to create a wonderful little sanctuary (even though we did have to wait a bit to find a place at the bar and let the pre-theater crowd clear out a bit). I started with a traditional daiquiri and then tried a special rum-based version of the Brooklyn, conjured by our excellent bartender, Abel. The rum Brooklyn was a great example of why I love the current world of craft cocktails where we can riff to our hearts’ content.
Although we had tickets to a couple of shows, I did carve out a night just for explorations in cocktails. We started at Pegu Club, which was a lovely surprise. Walking through the front door and up the stairs was like taking a slow stroll back in time to a more genteel and classy era. I could have stayed there all night, just chatting with the bartender and marveling at the ambiance. The big downside of New York is there are too many wonderful places to explore!
Little Italy (left) and Kill Devil, Pegu Club
Next we headed to the east side to pay homage to Death & Company. As much as I had longed to visit this place, I have to admit that it felt a bit soulless compared to Pegu Club. The bar was gorgeous and the drinks were delicious, but there was just something missing. So glad to have gone, but I don’t think I would return. Especially not with fantastic options like…
High Noon (left) and Warspite, Death & Company
Mace. We found Mace through the recommendation of the bartender at Pegu Club, and I’m so glad we took his advise. Mace approaches cocktails in a whole different way than any bar I’ve visited so far, and while some of their drinks are not the type you would sip everyday, they were thought-provoking in the most delicious way. Drinking the White Pepper was like a blast to Asia, with all the sweet, salty, bitter, and bright flavors I would imagine coming from a late night stroll in an open market. In sharp contrast, the Turmeric incorporated a clarified milk punch with jalapeno to create a light and creamy libation that managed not to sit too heavily. My favorite part was that Ethan, the bartender, took the time to chat with us, explaining the ideas behind the bar’s menu, plus offering suggestions for other local bars and eateries. I absolutely loved that even in New York, good bartenders will take the time to share the love of cocktails. Unfortunately, I spent all my time gabbing and enjoying the cocktails rather than taking pictures. Instead, I’ll share my favorite anti-choking poster from New York.
I think you could spend years in New York and not find all the wonderful cocktail gems. The city is constantly evolving and growing the next batch of cocktail stars. I heard a few bartenders and others mention Blacktail, Angel’s Share, and Attaboy, plus the neighborhood bar Amor y Amargo. I’m already starting my new list for the next trip.