Mixology As An Art Form: The Best Cocktails In The City & Where To Get Them

by Alyssa Rinaldi · March 23, 2011

New York alcohol traditions fall in and out of style on a regular basis.   We scoured the city to uncover some of the new trends and discovered that the haute cocktail scene is making a comeback. Below is a list of the best places to go for the chicest and most well-crafted libations.

Summit Bar(133 Avenue C, between 8th and 9th st.)

Mighty packed on the weekends, this EV spot offers up either "Classic" or "Alchemist" choices on their cocktail menu. The low lighting and exposed brick make for a sexy and subtly upscale place.  The cocktails range in prices up to $12, and are crafted with excellent ingredients making the trip to Avenue C well worth the while.

Must-Try: Ground to Glass: a mix of Corralejo blanco tequila, red pepper puree, cucumber, fresh lime, Summit blended bitters, and hickory smoked salt

Rye House (11 W 17th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves.)

This wood paneled, dim candle-lit place in the Flatiron is home to some incredible concoctions. This Lynnette Marrero and Jim Kearns owned joint offers a plethora of liquor, and creative cocktails like the  Appleseed Cobbler mixed from maker’s mark bourbon, laird’s bonded applejack, cinnamon bark syrup, and apples.

Must-Try: Rye House Julep: peach infused death’s door white whiskey, laird’s bonded applejack, and mint.

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Clover Club (210 Smith St, between Baltic and Butler, Brooklyn.)

This Carroll Gardens spot, sister to the Flatiron Lounge, has a frequently-changing menu of specialty cocktails. You'll find the drinks a bit less expensive (at most $12) than those at more well-know places like Apotheke or the Pegu Club, but don't let that fool you- it's worth the trip on the F or the G trains. Their menu is broken up into different sections based' on 'family.'  No matter what you try, you're sure to "have a great time," as their menu hopes you will.  The food is good, too.

Must-Try: Blackberry Collins: Cognac, Blackberries, Creme de Mure, lemon, and soda.

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Ward III (111 Reade Street, between West Broadway and Church st.)

Though the bespoke cocktail movement has been done and done again in NY, lesser-known Ward III promises a great experience.  With its vintage-speakeasy decor, this spot in TriBeCa offers 9 drinks on the menu or, of course, the opportunity to have a drink tailored to you.  The un-crowded, dark, and classy atmosphere make for a relaxing haute-cocktail experience that won't break the bank ($12 each).

Must-Try: Any bespoke cocktail.

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The Blue Owl (196 Second Ave,  between 12th and 13th .)

The best part, aside from the original names of the cocktails (things like 'Browns Nemesis' and 'Cottontail') is the underground location: down a metal staircase leading to a golden-lit cocktail cave where you can enjoy your drinks. Sure, it's been around for awhile, but this is a classic.

Must-Try: Milkman's Daughter: Cardamom infused Maker's Mark Bourbon with Peach Nectar and Peach Bitters, shaken with Sweet Black Tea

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Dutch Kills (27-24 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City.)

Another Sasha Petraske spot, it's only two stops off the train into Queens. Tables are first-come first-serve at this 1800s saloon-resembling venue, marked only by a tiny gold plaque bearing the name. Their cocktails are arguable as good as those at Milk & Honey, range in diversity, and will only cost you $11 instead of $16.

Must-Try: The Menu changes often, but go for the Presbyterian.

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Dram (177 S. 4th Street, Williamsburg.)

Lots of wood, dark, and cozy-this bar offers bespoke cocktails, a large menu of classic ones, beer, and wine.  Hovering over the bar, a lit kayak illuminates the space, making for a unique experience.  Cocktails are $9 or $12, depending, and it's just a short walk from the newer Pies-N-Thighs location.

Must-Try: Behind God's Back:  Chairman’s Reserve Rum, Fresh Pineapple, Lime, Orgeat, Cane Syrup, and Bitters Float.

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Prime Meats (465 Court St., at Luquer st., Carroll Garden. )

This restaurant and bar prides itself on its fresh ingredients and a wonderful Germanic-inspired menu.  If you're in the mood for something a bit more than food, their artisan cocktails are made with fresh ingredients and decently priced.

Must-Try: Remember the Maine: Rye, Cherry herring, Punt e mes and Absinthe

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Double Crown  (316 Bowery, at Bleecker St., NoHo.)

Next time you're in NoHo, swing in for one of Double Crown's cocktails.  Known more for their food, this Asian-Fusion restaurant offers up some good evening cocktails. If you don't make it there at night, it's worth checking out for their excellent collection of brunch specialty cocktails.

Must-Try: Purple Haze Mojito: Bacardi Superior, fresh mint, purple basil, lemongrass syrup, lime, and homemade lavender soda.

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Mulberry Project (149 Mulberry St, between Hester St and Grand St., Little Italy.)

Small, with the main room about the size of a large studio, this newly-opened bar in Little Italy is called the Mulberry "Project" for a reason: that its decor and drinks will be ever-changing.  Furnished with black leather booths and brick walls, this bespoke-style bar boasts mixologist Matty Gee (formerly of Milk&Honey) as their Manager/Beverage director-which ensures you're in for a good experience.  Tell him what you are in the mood for and he'll help you out. While the drinks are pricey, you get what you pay for: a cocktail tailored to your preference.

Must-Try: Whatever spirits and tastes you're in the mood for.

[Rye House photo via Loungerati] [Clover Club photo via GQ] [Blue Owl photo via StarChefs] [Dutch Kills photo via TimeOutNY] [Dram image via BrooklynExposed] [Prime Meats Image via Delish] [DoubleCrown Image via DoubleCrown [Mulberry Project Image via UrbanDaddy]