Top 5 cocktail pubs in New York

14th July, 2015 by admin

The local cocktail pub is a new category that marries all your needs under one unpretentious New York roof, writes Tyler Wetherall for BarChick.

Click through the following pages to discover the top 5 best cocktail pubs in New York

Click through the following pages to discover the top 5 best cocktail pubs in New York

The dive bar has long been the New York neighbourhood staple: the drinks are strong and cheap, and the regulars have a stool at the bar. When you craved a perfectly executed cocktail, you travelled into Manhattan to a classic cocktail joint, generally reservation-only with dress codes and decorum. The two didn’t crossover.

But in recent years these categories have started to shift and change. As the number of casual cocktail consumers increased, restaurants took note, upping their cocktail programmes. Equally, cocktail bars have started to look to the low-key, open-arms attitude of dive bars or Irish pubs for inspiration. And what has emerged is the fully functioning love child of a three-way marriage between a dive, a restaurant and a cocktail bar. You could call it a high-class dive or a cocktail pub; call it what you will, they’re popping up across the city.

One of the first to fit this model was East Williamsburg’s Ba’sik, opened by Jay Zimmerman and Derrek Vernon back in 2011. It does, as it says on the tin, the basics, but executed with brilliance. The cocktails are neatly designed, the style is casual yet pleasing, and the pub grub is tasty. No secret entrances, no rules and regulations, and no one will roll their eyes if you order a rum and coke. “We’re trying to fulfil the most amount of needs in the best way possible,” explains Zimmerman.

“You could say we’ve dumbed down the pillars of hospitality in order to make them all available under one roof.” Except the drinks are hardly dumbed down – he’s maintained the artistry of the profession while shedding the associated pretensions.

In Manhattan, The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog is arguably the most famous, combining a working Irish tavern on the ground floor serving a wide selection of whiskey and hot dinners, with one of the world’s best cocktail bars in the parlour upstairs. Using a similar model, Mother’s Ruin, The Evelyn and Boilermaker combine low and high brow: a casual ambience and food designed to soak up spirits alongside cocktails that can compete with the best.

“I call it the rise of the cocktail gastro pub,” says Philip Duff, director of Liquid Solutions Bar & Beverage Consulting and director of education at Tales of the Cocktail. “It’s a really strong commercial concept; in a relaxed atmosphere you can get decent food, a beer or a glass of wine, as well as excellent cocktails. The reason it has great legs is it draws in more people creating the possibility of regular customers, as opposed to the high end bars, where people only visit on special occasions and stay for one or two drinks.”

This new category has been emerging over several years, but what has started to change is the appearance of these bars in residential neighbourhoods. Last autumn, Zimmerman and Vernon opened up a second venue, Sekend Sun in Astoria, a multi-cultured neighbourhood better known for Greek bakeries or sausage shops than culinary cocktails. “A huge part of what we do is bringing what you get in Manhattan out to the boroughs,” Zimmerman says.

Down in Cobble Hill, The Long Island Bar is offering a similar respite to locals. Joel Tompkins and legendary Toby Cecchini revived the 1950s diner in 2013 and have wooed critics and locals alike with the “straightforwardish” – as Cecchini describes them – cocktails and high-end bar grub thanks to chef Gabriel Martinez.

These bars all boast serious pedigree, and yet they’re appearing in parts of the city little associated with high-end craft cocktails. The higher level of cocktail consumption and general education of the market has created increased demand, making this possible; but also, by providing everything under one roof in the guise of a cocktail pub, they’re increasing their market. In general, this is part of a global move towards less ego and pretension in cocktail craft, as seen in the backlash against the phrase “mixologist” or resurgence of shot menus. Ultimately, these bars are a place for good drinks, good food and good times, which is exactly what a bar should be.

Flick through the next few pages to discover the best bars in New York.

For more global bar recommendations, visit BarChick.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our newsletter