The Ten Best New Bars in NYC, 2015
Spice-infused cocktail at Mace
Scott Gordon Bleicher
Far from an arduous task, keeping up with the drinking scene in NYC is one of the ongoing pleasures of living in this exhilarating place. This year we saw mixologists experimenting with exotic spices, spirits and infusions, much to our heady delight. Here's our top ten list of 2015's best new drinking establishments. Cheers!
Mace (649 East 9th Street, 212-673-1190)
The real miracle on 9th Street wasn't the Christmastime pop-up former Experimental Cocktail Club barman Nico de Soto brought to the East Village these past two holiday seasons, but what sprung up in-between. Last spring, he transformed the former Louis 649 space into Mace, a steely, muted Parisian boite colored only by the herbaceous ingredients that sharply season each drink on the menu. While the narrow space doesn't offer much room to breathe, it offers plenty of flavor to inhale deeply, from the assertive Celery Seed, wrapping an infused mezcal with a chipotle tincture in a haze of sherry, to the creamy Chamomile, which swaddles floral notes with brown butter fat-washed cognac. (Adam Robb)
Holiday Cocktail Lounge (75 St. Marks Place, 212-777-9637)
Most beloved dives can't afford to update their offerings while maintaining their charms, but the spring reopening of Holiday Cocktail Lounge was a happy surprise. The address hasn't changed but the building has, thanks to a bountiful investment by its owner (and the inventor of Pirate's Booty.) And the mural dedicated to Holiday's predecessor has endured as well as the bar's former patrons, as perennial an ornamentation as Holiday's twinkling Christmas lights. And if they look a little lost sipping on a menu revamped by Michael and Danny Neff – most recently responsible for invigorating the enduring charm of the Hotel Edison with their Rum Bar – they can still feel at home with the prices, which include $5 cans of Rolling Rock and $7 Long Island iced tea on draft to wash down $6 grilled cheeses. (Robb)
Lumos is the place for baijiu
Sara Ventiera, the Village Voice
Lumos (90 West Houston Street, 646-692-9866)
NYC is filled with specialty bars. There are thousands of whiskey joints, tons of tequila taverns, tiki bars, rum pubs, mezcal haunts. If it exists, it's in the Big Apple. Baijiu, an ancient Chinese spirit made from sorghum and/or rice, has only recently been acknowledged by bartenders in the West. Baijiu cocktails have been popping up on beverage lists at speakeasies and Asian-inspired eateries over the past couple years, but Lumos is the first bar to deal solely in the celebratory liquor. Since last spring, lead bartender, Orson Salicetti (formerly of Apotheke), has been mixing up a seasonal list of cocktails that enhance the varied aromas of the booze. Look for interesting drinks like the Goji ($15), a rich and smoky riff on a paloma with goji berry-infused Baijiu shaken with mezcal, pink grapefruit, lime, agave and orange bitters. With rare grog and an underground cabaret vibe, a trip here is an experience. Stop by on a Saturday: they offer burlesque shows in the back room. (Sara Ventiera)
Dullboy's menu leans heavily toward classics such as the Last Word, Paloma, and Gibson.
Adam Robb, the Village Voice
Dullboy (364 Grove Street, Jersey City; 201-795-1628)
Liquor licenses in Jersey City don't go unused for long, so last February,shortly after Park & Sixth owner Brian Dowling relocated his original restaurant to the south side of Grove Street, he teamed up with The Garret's Adam Fulton to open Dullboy in its place. It was a quick turnaround, its low-lighted ambiance evoking the drafty chill of The Shining with billowing dime-store paperbacks and disused typewriters mounted to the walls. The menu was limited; fresh oysters shuffled through the pass of the former sandwich kitchen, and the drinks menu was a rough draft at best. Now at year's end, the room is packed – extending to the benches outside – and you can't see the decor past someone you know, even as competition's proliferated over the past ten months. Now bartenders Gabriel Reiben and Grant Wheeler execute a menu of original libations like the mezcal Alejandra, packed with the earthiness of achiote syrup and chocolate bitters. Now clean slurps of oyster are still an option, but so are hot, buttered bar steaks and marrow-slathered burgers. Now's the time to check it out. (Adam Robb)
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