As much as I love my trusty go-to well drink (shout out to vodka sodas), nothing compares to the taste of a properly mixed cocktail. In New York City, the mixology scene is just as fascinating as its foodie culture – and it’s always fun to discover a new favorite cocktail made by a skilled bartender. From vodka infusions to the perfect muddling of fresh herbs and berries, these are some of the best mixology bars in NYC.
Death & Co., 433 E 6th St
Its name may not sound inviting, but Death & Co. is a favorite among New Yorkers. The bartenders dressed in suspenders and bowties are a nice touch as well. There’s a cool speakeasy-type vibe to this bar, where mixology fans can feel like a 1920s socialite while enjoying delicious cocktails like the Lost Cause (Aval Cider, St. George Spiced Pear, Clear Creek Pear Eau de Vie, sparkling wine and vanilla), or the Night in Tunisia (Plantation Jamaica 2001 Rum, Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Ras el Hanout, Pamplemousse, hibiscus and lime).
Russian Samovar, 256 W 52nd St
A few weeks ago, my friend Quentin introduced me to the Russian Samovar after lunch. The second I ordered my first shot of pear-infused vodka, I knew we’d be staying for more than one round. It had to be one of the smoothest vodkas I’ve ever had, and I couldn’t believe it only consisted of vodka and fresh pears. I could even see the vats of different vodka infusions including plum, pear, raspberry, ginger, and dill, all marinating away. Pull up a seat at this cozy establishment, chat with the friendly Russian bartenders, and test how adventurous your palate really is.
Apotheke, 9 Doyers St #1
Far from the average cocktail bar, the mixologists at Apotheke take an entertaining “pharmaceutical” approach to their tipples, blending liquors with organic produce sourced from local greenmarkets and their own rooftop herb garden. Their menu of “prescriptions” is extensive and imaginative, with cocktail categories such as health and beauty, pain killers, and stress relievers. Try the Dr. Ruth under “aphrodisiacs” for a mix of vodka, rosemary, strawberries, champagne, lime, and agave, or go bold with a “euphoric enhancer” called the Devil’s Playground. This concoction is made of gin, absinthe, dragonfruit, prickly pear, lime, and agave.
67 Orange Street, 2082 Frederick Douglass Blvd
This Harlem cocktail bar pays homage to 67 Orange Street – the address of Almacks, which was one of the first black-owned and operated bars in NYC. Mixology fans will love the vintage feel of the menu, which includes a Hayman’s Tea (earl grey-infused Old Tom Gin, honey syrup, lemon juice and St. Germain) and the Color Purple (Plymouth Gin, lavender bitters, blackberries, crème de violette, St. Germain, lemon and simple syrup).
Seamstress, 339 E 75th St
For a more casual cocktail bar option, Seamstress on the Upper East Side is a great place to relax and sip some mixed drinks after a long day. The mixology menu at Seamstress is beyond creative, with imaginative drinks like Camille’s Bouquet – Tanqueray 10 Gin, Neversink Apple Brandy, Campari, poppy seed, lemon and egg white.
Verlaine, 110 Rivington St
One of my all-time favorite cocktails is a lychee martini, and Verlaine makes my favorite in NYC. These martinis are icy, smooth, and almost creamy in taste and texture. From the outside, this bar looks a bit run down, but step inside, and you’ll discover a swanky Lower East Side cocktail lounge. The best part? Verlaine’s happy hour lasts from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. every day, during which their famous lychee martinis are only $6.