With more New Yorkers venturing outside of their 600 square foot apartments and into some on the city’s finest eating and drinking establishments, their level of curiosity continues to increase about new venues to grab a bite and a beverage. I applaud information hubs such as Grubstreet, Urbandaddy and Eater.com for keeping the inquisitive diner engaged and updated about many of the hottest and newest endeavors around town. However, some of the best-kept resources for go-to spots are often those individuals who are serving you up that round of cocktails. Many bartenders are well known as mini-Zagat guides to some of the hippest and under appreciative destinations throughout the boroughs. As dining professionals, they know what it takes for a venue to whip up the perfect balance between stellar service, a fun atmosphere, delicious delicacies and an all around memorable experience.
I always enjoy the standard questions asked by my guests that include:
- Where do YOU like to go out in the city?
- If you were to make a cocktail, what would you drink?
- What’s good here? (Okay, I don’t love this question, but it’s a pretty hysterical one)
And even with my best responses, I realize that my preferences of dive bars, lesser known cocktail dens and ironic Brooklyn bars serving can beer will not satisfy every patron's request. Therefore, I have rounded up a slew of varied responses from some of the industry’s top professionals to give you the inside scoop on some of their top picks to grab a drink when not behind the bar.
Name: Jane Elkins
Slinging Drinks at: Summit Bar (133 Avenue C New York, NY 10009) & Booker and Dax (207 2nd Avenue New York, NY 10003)
Favorite bar #1: Mother's Ruin (18 Spring St New York, NY 10012)
Why? For its rockstar bar staff.
What are you sipping? I try to stick to Lillet Blanc with soda or wine on tap, because if I don't, I won't remember leaving (which happens more often than I care to admit).
Favorite Bar #2: Moto (394 Broadway Brooklyn, NY 11211)
Why? The turn-of-the-century, retrofitted space is cozy, there's live music every night, and the food is rather tasty to boot.
What are you sipping? I usually stick to sparkling wine when there.
Name: Steve Schneider
Slinging Drinks at: Employees Only (510 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014) & Macao Trading Co. (311 Church St # 1 New York, NY 10013)
Favorite bar #1: Ward 3 (111 Reade Street New York, NY 10013)
Why? Bartenders own the place, you can tell by the hospitality. I love them.
What are you sipping? Shot and a beer. No one is judging.
Favorite Bar #2: Raines Law Room (48 West 17th Street Manhattan, NY 10011)
Why? I love taking out-of-towners to Raines Law Room. The decor, the lovely ladies behind the bar, the pulse, the experience — it can only work in NYC.
What are you sipping? I usually get a 20th Century Cocktail — no idea why. It was on the menu like a year ago and I never stopped ordering it. Shot of Fernet as well.
Name: Erika Ordonez
Slinging Drinks at: Huckleberry Bar (588 Grand St Brooklyn, NY 11211) & The Tippler (425 W 15th Street. New York, NY 10011)
Favorite bar #1: Isa (348 Wythe Ave Brooklyn, NY 11211)
Why? It's gorgeous and rustic. I like going there for a chill glass of wine and to indulge in their amazing fare. I love their bathroom too! It's really just so cool in there. It made dinner with a girl friend romantic!
What are you sipping: I usually drink wine when I'm there. They recently hired a new person to over see their cocktail program named Dan and last time I was there he was speaking my language when making me mezcal cocktails.
Favorite Bar #2: Nights and Weekends (1 Bedford Ave Brooklyn, NY 11222)
Why? It's a great place to get food on the late side, great vibe, nice and interesting staff.
What are you sipping? Amores Perros- Mezcal, Fernet, Maraschino, Pineapple, Lime. Yum!
Name: Justin Noel
Slinging Drinks at: 1534 (20 Prince Street New York, NY 10012) & Prestige Brands
Favorite bar #1: Viktor and Spoil (105 Rivington St New York, NY 10002)
Why? Great food, great drinks, and the staff are always great when I come in.
What are you sipping? Anything with Mezcal.
Favorite Bar #2: Ba'sik (323 Graham Ave Brooklyn, New York 11211)
Why? Its low key, great food, and really a nice local spot in the Burg.
What are you sipping? Their local beers on draft.