April 12, 2016
The cocktail scene in New York continues to boom, but if you choose your hotel carefully you won’t even need to step outside to experience it. Here’s the lowdown on three of our favourite hotel bars in Manhattan.
Rooftop season is on its way and we couldn’t be happier. Something about a sky-high bar adds a dash of glamour to a hotel stay, and when that hotel is in the heart of Manhattan, with woozy views of the whole of Central Park, it’s hard not to feel a little bit starstruck.
Viceroy Central Park New York opened its doors in early 2014, helping to cement the up-and-coming reputation of this hitherto nondescript stretch of 57th Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway. Two years later, The Roof – as it’s straightforwardly named – is arguably the focal point of a tidal wave of new development, attracting an after-work crowd in search of a lounge-like vibe without the velvet-rope attitude.
If it weren’t for the nighttime chill, we’d have grabbed a pew on the 29th floor terrace and sipped Moscow Mules until the sun came up. Views this magical should be savoured at length, after all. Instead, we sequester ourselves from the throng at a cosy rear table in the nautical-themed bar; all polished perfection in leather, brass and iroko wood panelling, carried over from the luxe ocean liner cabin vibe of the guest rooms.
Eat: Dine on small plates from ground-level restaurant Kingside (also a must-visit for breakfast). Generous charcuterie and cheese boards are amply loaded for two, though you’ll fight over the Spanish Marcona almonds.
Drink: In addition to the eye-watering spirits menu, The Roof has the classics down pat. Our tip: a perfectly executed Old Fashioned made with Old Forester Bourbon.
The Roof, Viceroy New York, 120 W 57th Street, New York, NY 10019
The neighbourhood north of Madison Square Park, or ‘NoMad’ as the real estate gurus would have it, is home to the swanky, eponymous NoMad Hotel on the corner of 28th and Broadway. The former Beaux-Arts home of the National Cash Register Company, NoMad has been meticulously transformed into 168 generously sized guest rooms and a Parisian-inspired labyrinth of intimate public spaces – including a showstopping bar/restaurant extension which opened in 2014.
The bi-level venue – with its sage green leather booths, an upper mezzanine level, and a magnificent, mirrored, double height bar – is hardly a secret in this part of town, so be prepared to settle in early or endure a (not inconsiderable) wait for a table. Our one-minute-past-opening enthusiasm pays dividends, with prime seats at the bar as the room swells to bursting point behind us. We resign ourselves – cheerfully – to staying put. The old school tavern vibe proves a powerful lure in this modern-day saloon, and while the dimly-lit space lacks the views of its rooftop competitors, its epic cocktail list and bartender theatrics are in a league of their own.
Eat: Lavish pub grub, New York style. Try the raved-about chicken pot pie, adapted from NoMad’s Parlour restaurant’s signature whole roasted chicken – it’s big enough to share.
Drink: Everything here is a work of art. Go for something dark and moody to suit the scene. Our choice: The Gentlemen’s Exchange – Rye whiskey, Suze, Foro Amaro, Vermouth di Torino, cold brew coffee, absinthe, angostura bitters. Not for the fainthearted.
NoMad Bar, The NoMad Hotel, 1170 Broadway, New York, NY 10001
Recently opened on the 15th floor of Hotel Indigo on the Lower East Side, Mr. Purple is exactly the kind of venue glamour-seeking tourists dream of discovering in NYC. At first, entering the glass-walled space is like stepping into an episode of Sex and the City – all padded leather bar stools, floor-to-ceiling windows and a glittering display of rainbow-hued spirit bottles, vying for attention with the Manhattan skyline behind. It’s one of the most jaw-dropping first impressions we’ve experienced in a while.
But look around and you’ll notice, unlike the famous TV show, the crowd here is kind of… well, normal. Yes, there’s the usual mix of insanely good-looking staff and a handful of hipsters and hotshots. But on our visit – early evening on a Thursday – the room is filled with 30 and 40-something couples and small groups of friends, some of whom are clearly hotel guests and out-of-towners. It’s refreshingly down-to-earth.
And then there are the twin roof decks, one with a deliciously inviting pool, both with stupendous city views. Anywhere else they’d steal the show immediately, but Mr Purple’s main bar is such a looker it takes us a few moments to even register their existence. But come summer, this new kid on the block will surely be the hottest roof deck in all of Lower Manhattan.
Eat: Much of the menu features homegrown local purveyors like 2nd Ave Deli, Beecher’s Cheese, The Pickle Guys and il laboratorio del gelato, just a block away. Fill up on classic burgers, chicken tacos or the divine Beecher’s Baked Mac & Cheese, or opt for bar food faves like calamari or buffalo wings.
Drink: Sparkling, house-bottled negronis arrive quickly and go down a treat, but the punch-style, tequila-based Mr. Purple speciality cocktail wins the day – light, smooth and ever-so-slightly spicy.
Mr. Purple, Hotel Indigo, 180 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002
Ready for a cocktail fest in the Big Apple? Book your flight to New York today.