The martini may very well be the most romanticized cocktail in popular culture. Celebrated early 20th-century writer H.L. Menken lauded the martini as “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.” The drink fueled F. Scott Fitzgerald and friends’ café discussions on literature and life. James Bond liked his made with vodka, and “shaken, not stirred.” And how many three-martini lunches did we see during the seven seasons of Mad Men? Whether you like yours perfect, dirty, or with a modern twist, here’s where to find some of the best martinis in NYC.
Tamarind, 99 Hudson St
Located in Tribeca, Tamarind is a sleek, spacious restaurant serving classic Indian dishes with a modern flair. What’s nice about Tamarind is that given its enormous size, glass walls, and 100 feet of windows, it still allows for an intimate and relaxing dining experience. Oh, and then there’s the ginger & pepper martini. If you like your cocktails with a little kick, this one’s for you. It’s made with Absolute Peppar, fresh ginger, and a twist of lime. The fiery flavor doesn’t overwhelm and pairs wonderfully with any spicy dish on the menu.
King Cole Bar, 2 E 55th St
Housed in the St. Regis, the muraled King Cole Bar transports you to another time. It’s easy to imagine former patrons such as Salvador Dali, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and John Lennon enjoying a drink in this glamorous, sophisticated establishment. And we can’t think of a more appropriate place in Manhattan to sip one of the best martinis in NYC. The bar’s namesake specialty cocktail, Old King Cole, doesn’t disappoint and is made with Tanqueray gin, Martini Rosso vermouth, Nonino Amaro, and burnt orange peel.
Russian Vodka Room, 265 W 52nd St
All are welcome here whether you want to get drunk downing shots with regulars or you’re just looking to enjoy a delicious, authentic Russian dish like borscht (served hot or cold), smoked fish, or beef stroganoff. It goes without saying that the Russian Vodka Room serves a strong martini. Made with ZYR vodka, olive juice, and Gorgonzola stuffed olives, the Filthy Russian sounds like it could be a meal enjoyed on a white night in St. Petersburg. For something on the sweet side, try a vibrantly flavored martini like the sour apple or pomegranate.
Nobu, 195 Broadway
Since opening in Tribeca in 1993, Nobu has become a venerable culinary institution with locations around the world. With signature dishes like black cod in miso, Japanese chef and restaurateur Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa accumulated the James Beard Award, a Michelin star, and GQ Lifetime Achievement Award to his credit. From the food and drinks to the atmosphere, Nobu offers the ultimate dining experience. There’s the matchless selection of sake, but we also suggest sampling the lychee martini. Made with Hanger 1 vodka, lychee juice and topped off with a freshly peeled lychee fruit, the drink is incredibly smooth and goes down easy. Almost too easy.
Angel’s Share, 8 Stuyvesant St
During the cocktail experience, presentation is important. And when it comes to some of the best martinis in NYC, no one does presentation better than Angel’s Share, the hidden second-floor Japanese bar in the East Village. First comes the glass, which has been beautifully frosted. Next, the bartender presents Boodles gin that has been stored in the freezer to save any disruption in balance from melting ice. So much attention is made to maintaining “perfection,” that when ordered with a twist of lemon, the bartender squeezes a wedge over the glass, letting the mist settle on the drink. As expected, olives are served on the side.