5 trendy Upper West Side Bars to try
I’ve said it before – the Upper West Side isn’t exactly the hippest neighborhood in Manhattan, but living here sure is easy. Despite its reputation (overflowing with baby strollers and dog walkers), the level of trendiness has been slowly shifting gears. About five years ago, a handful of stylish spots that can compete with New York’s most popular drinking establishments began to appear. Cool bartenders started stirring and shaking even cooler cocktails, and menus resembling those in Downtown and Brooklyn were popping up. The trend continues. If you’re in the mood for a libation Uptown, check out these five Upper West Side bars.
Manhattan Cricket Club, 226 W 79th St
This club with a speakeasy vibe mixes imaginative cocktails like “The Best Is Yet To Come” (Chateau du Breuil Fine Calvados, Georgia peach, lemon, mace blade tincture, Prosecco) in a 19th century apartment that exudes an old world atmosphere. If you’re more of a purist, Manhattan Cricket Club offers a sizable list of spirits and several wines by the glass. Feeling peckish? Crab beignets, crispy Brussels sprouts, and chicken liver mousse gras a few of the menu’s highlights.
If exclusivity is your thing, the club sells an annual membership, which includes reservations (non-members can enter on a walk-in basis only), priority seating, the ability to rent the space for a private function, your very own liquor locker storage to store your bottle of booze (who doesn’t want that?), and more. A year of benefits will set you back $750 per person. If you visit this club (member or not), be sure to abide by the “House Rules,” clearly spelled out on the website.
Dakota Bar, 53 W 72nd St
Launched in 2013, this classy spot is a hop, skip and jump from – you guessed it – the famed Dakota apartment building when John Lennon lived. With 30 wines by the glass and over 150 bottles, this bar is an oenophile’s dream come true. You’ll also find mixed drinks like the UWS Negroni, a decent craft beer selection, and a full menu with salads, pastas dishes, and lite bites. For a sophisticated night out on the Upper West Side – be it with a friend or date –Dakota Bar is an ideal option.
Caledonia Bar, 424 Amsterdam Ave
For whiskey drinkers, this drinking den is one of the best you’ll find uptown. Settle in and order a whiskey flight, or sip your favorite all night long. While Caledonia specializes in Scotch, the menu also features Bourbon, American whiskey, and bottles from France, South Africa, Taiwan, and Wales. If you’re a beer, wine or cocktail drinker, this place probably wouldn’t be your top choice, but you’ll have a few options ranging from a Narragansett Lager to a Loire Valley Sancerre to a classic Manhattan. The best aspect of drinking here is that there’s no attitude! Some upscale bars in New York serve plenty of that. For a giggle, be sure to check out Caledonia Bar’s house rules, and try not to break any while you imbibe.
Vanguard Wine Bar, 189 Amsterdam Ave
The neighborhood does have its share of wine bars, but Vanguard seems to be a crowd favorite. The Upper West Side outpost opened after the original in Murray Hill and has become a go-to spot for Lincoln Center concert, opera, ballet, and theatergoers. Expect a variety of reds, whites, and sparkling wines, as well as choices for your beer-loving friends. Small plates include flatbread pizzas, tartines (how about ham, cheese, and arugula, or mushroom, shallots, and truffle….I’ll take one of each!), salads, charcuterie, and snacks like white bean hummus and pimento cheese. For dessert, I’d go with the Champagne float, which consists of candied cherries, vanilla bean ice cream, Chambord, and of course, Champagne. Perfection!
Jacob’s Pickles, 509 Amsterdam Ave
Yes, pickles are indeed on the menu, but that’s not all Queens native Jacob Hadjigeorgis delivers at this UWS restaurant and drinkery. While it’s true that countless patrons flock for the comfort food, Jacob’s Pickles is brimming with a selection of house-made mixers and infusions, so needless to say, the cocktails at Jacob’s Pickles definitely don’t disappoint.
The drink program celebrates the culture of the South, but unsurprisingly, you’ll discover a drink named “The Brooklyn Gin” on the cocktail menu. Sip other tasty beverages such as “Tennessee Honeysuckle” (Dickel #12, orange preserves, clover honey, fresh squeezed lemonade), and “Michters American Manhattan,” (Michters American Whiskey, Noilly Pratt Sweet Vermouth, bourbon-soaked Montmorency cherry, Hellfire bitters). Both will pair nicely with the Honey Chicken and Pickles (buttermilk fried chicken on a biscuit). Delish!
Manhattan Cricket Club cocktail photo via their Instagram.