Photo by Jakub Dziubak for Unsplash.
Five Great Cocktails to Order in Manhattan Right Now
The New York City cocktail scene is massive, with great drinks shaken and stirred in every neighborhood. Here’s our guide to the best of what’s out there now.
There’s no shortage of great places to drink in New York right now. From iconic dive bars to swanky jazz clubs, there’s a memorable sipping experience to be found in every neighborhood. For the cocktail curious, the options can feel overwhelming. Not only is there an abundance of world-class cocktail bars in the city right now, but each offers an array of drinks that all taste, and look, equally delicious.
This list offers just a snapshot of what’s out there. From modern takes on classics like the sour or the martini, to drinks inspired by food, art, and more, these cocktails capture the range of flavors filling shakers and mixing glasses today. Some of these spots are trendier than others, so be prepared to make a reservation or get there early to beat the crowds. This is New York after all.
Bar Calico — The Prickly Pair
Photo by AshleySears.
On the second floor of Gramercy’s Freehand Hotel, Authentic Hospitality has created a desert oasis in the form of Bar Calico, which draws inspiration from modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe and her home of New Mexico. The cocktail menu features drinks that highlight authentic Southwest flavors, like the Tomatillo Margarita, which is, in essence, a punched-up salsa verde with Ancho Reyes and blanco tequila tossed in. Other drinks make direct reference to O’Keeffe’s work and life. The Prickly Pair is a reference to her marriage to Alfred Stieglitz, who gave O’Keeffe her first gallery show in New York. The relationship was complicated, due in part to O’Keeffe’s career eclipsing Stieglitz’s. The drink, made with Elyx vodka, basil eau de vie, prickly pear, lime juice, orgeat, and egg white has a deep pink hue, which head bartender Alex Dominguez says has made it particularly popular in a post-Barbie world.
Madame George — NY Bodega Sour
Photo by Madame George.
The midtown cocktail scene can be tricky to navigate, as places cater to the after-work corporate crowd. Madame George opened in 2022 right next to its sister bar Valerie, a popular happy hour standing room-only spot. Madame George though, is a subterranean cocktail lounge inspired by New York City itself. The Coney Island page of its menu features refreshing long drinks meant to capture summertime sipping, while the Subways page has stirred cocktail that allow for minimal aeration. One such drink, the Nuts 4 Nuts, is a Manhattan variation meant to evoke the street car vendors by the same name. The real attraction though is the NY Bodega Sour, made with bacon fat-washed rye from Breuckelen Distilling, lemon juice, maple syrup, egg white, and orange bitters that’s then garnished with sesame seeds. It is meant to capture the flavors of an everything bagel sandwich and is served in a ceramic cup similar to those a bodega would give you a $1 coffee in. Drink enough of these and you’ll need the real breakfast order come morning.
Katana Kitten — Hinoki Martini
Photo by Noah Fecks.
Katana Kitten strikes the perfect balance between kitsch and craft with its Japanese-inspired cocktails and décor. Foreign movie posters line the walls, and colorful drinks fill beer mugs in this laid-back West Village spot. Managing partner and world-renowned bartender Masa Urushido has created a cocktail menu that reflects traditional Japanese serves, like five different highballs, including the bright green Melon-Lime soda and the dark purple Grape Soda, as well as fresh takes on an amaretto sour and fizz, made here with pear brandy, calpico, and pandan. While all of these are great cocktails, it’s hard to pass up the Hinoki Martini, which is served in a snow cone shaped glass that arrives in a wooden box filled with ice. Made with Grey Goose vodka, Spring 44 Mountain gin, fino sherry, junmai daiginjo, and hinoki tree essence, the cocktail has remained one of the bar’s most popular since it first opened in 2018.
Double Chicken Please — Cold Pizza
Photo by Emmanuel Rosario.
Recently named the best bar in North America, Double Chicken Please offers up two concepts in one, serving “taptail,” or, cocktails on tap, up front, and hand-crafted drinks in its back room, dubbed “The Coop.” Getting seats in the back can be tough, so you will definitely want to make reservations, likely a few days to a week in advance. But their hacking design of deconstructing dishes and reassembling them as drinks is worth experiencing. The nine cocktails offered are arranged as appetizers, entrees, and desserts. The Waldorf Salad is like a boozy Cel-Ray soda, and the Red Eye Gravy comes with a microwaved slice of Copa, giving the buttery drink some salt to play off of. The Cold Pizza is maybe the most intriguing, combining Don Fulano blanco tequila, Parmigiano Reggiano, burnt toast, tomato, basil, honey, and egg white. If a slice is the most iconic of New York bites, then this savory drink is begging to be tasted.
Hawksmoor — Full Fat Old Fashioned
Photo by Francesco Sapienza.
Famed London steakhouse and cocktail bar Hawksmoor opened up a location in The Flatiron District in 2021. Bar Manager Adam Montgomerie keeps the menu balanced with a page of seasonal drinks, and a roster of classics executed with precision. That includes the Sour Cherry Negroni, Mackinaw Highball, and the Ultimate Martini, served at -12 degrees Celsius. You can’t leave though without trying the Full Fat Old Fashioned, made with Elijah Craig bourbon, salted brown butter, and Michter’s rye, and a staple of Hawksmoor menus for over a decade. Old fashioneds are so easy to make at home, that to order one at bar this fancy, there better be something special to it, and the fat-washing gives the drink a buttery vanilla-soaked mouthfeel, like a scoop of Häagen-Dazs in a glass. A dollar from every sale of the drink also goes to Citymeals on Wheels. Seating in the bar area can fill up with suits quickly, so it’s best to make a reservation, even if you don’t plan to stay for dinner.
Ted Simmons is a lifestyle journalist specializing in trends, features, and celebrity profiles. A good drink tastes better when it’s soundtracked by great conversation, and he is constantly considering the latest in music, movies, TV, and sports.
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