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Manhattan's best Cocktail spots

Where to get a Manhattan in, er, Manhattan

From a 1920s-style speakeasy to a rooftop in Times Square: The best spots to get a Manhattan in, er, Manhattan

Cocktails are a big deal in New York, where scores of the world's best bartenders aim to recreate a classic Sex In The City or Mad Men vibe. 

But which bar is best?

Old school cocktails

Walk through the original 'hidden' entrance to The Back Room on the Lower East Side and you're in one of two bars that stayed open throughout America's troubled prohibition era. Here cocktails are served in disguise in china tea cups while beer bottles are covered in paper bags, as they were in the 1920s. backroomnyc.com

If you want polished wood, a clubby, back-in-time vibe, a twist on the classic Manhattan recipe and some award-winning bartenders, try Employees Only. employeesonlynyc.com

Or head to the old home of cocktail king Paddy Ford at steak place Wollensky's Grill or nearby (and more pricey) Smith & Wollenskys. At the latter, you drink in a dining room that's been used as a set for films including American Psycho and The Devil Wears Prada. smithandwollenskynyc.com

Employees Only

Cocktails with a view

One of the new kids on the cocktail block is Manhatta, where lifts take up you up 60 floors for seasonal food, skyline views and a riff on the classic Manhattan called, not surprisingly, the Manhatta. manhattarestaurant.com

Or you can get in a New York frame of mind with city views, sunset jazz and a dessert menu at the bar at the Top of the Standard. standardhotels.com

While it sounds like a tourist trap, even locals admit you can't beat the views from the outdoor terrace of Bar 54 at the Hyatt on Times Square. hyatt.com


Cocktails for friends and family

A lot of New York bars cater for couples, where you choose between a spot at the bar or a table for two. If you're in a group, it's advisable to call first – often that's the only way six or more people will be allowed in. Or try bigger table places such as The Tippler below Chelsea market. Cocktails here include the Call An Uber. thetippler.com

Alternatively, head out to the converted warehouse that's now Porchlight where the owners are on a quest to find 'the next great American cocktail'. porchlightbar.com

The Tippler

Cocktails with experts

Try your hand at cocktail-making as you learn the history of the Manhattan, the Cosmopolitan and other New York favourites at a two-hour Iconic NYC Cocktails class at the cool Liquor Lab in Soho. liquorlaboratory.com

Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog

Cocktails with extras

If you think nothing says 'exotic cocktail bar' quite like a full-size crystal palm tree, head to the Gitano Jungle Room for New York mixes with Mexican twists. If you wait until summer, you can drink in the roof garden as well. grupogitano.com

Can't decide between whisky or a cool cocktail? Try local favourite Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog. Get a whiskey in the Irish-flavoured Tap Room bar or head up to The Parlour for serious mixology. deadrabbitnyc.com

Or, in true 'only in New York' spirit, join a 'cocktails with yoga' night on Mondays at CocoMat Soho with Deep Eddy Vodka. It's free, though donations are expected. Book a slot at eventbrite.com.

First published in March 2019

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