The ball’s about to drop on 2013, but we’re sneaking in one last big list, one that feels particularly celebratory (and, um, apropos going into a season where we could all use a little liquid courage to combat the post-holiday blues and the cold). That’s right, it’s our best new bars list. Presenting our favorite spots that opened in the last 12 months.
Attaboy, 134 Eldridge Street
Bespoke cocktails are always a crap shoot, and something we’d generally rather avoid — unless, of course, we’re dealing with pros. Such is the case at Attaboy, the narrow lounge Milk & Honey alums Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy installed when their bartending alma mater moved uptown. As with Milk & Honey, there’s no menu here — yet we’ve never had a bad drink.
Battery Harris, 64 Frost Street, Brooklyn, 718-384-8902
When Lower East Side German beer hall Loreley pulled out of Williamsburg, it left behind stunning and sizable outdoor digs — and Battery Harris stepped in admirably to fill the void. Order a Caribbean-tinged cocktail — we’re partial to the frozen dark and stormy — or a draft beer or wine, and pair your tipple to eats like jerk chicken and Jamaican patties. It probably goes without saying that this is an especially nice place to be on breezy summer evenings.
The Dead Rabbit, 30 Water Street, 646-422-7906
The Dead Rabbit garnered our Best New Bar award in Best of NYC 2013 not only for its cocktail program — an impressive tome of drinks inspired by the last bartending heyday at the end of the 19th century — or its disparate and equally superb concepts (the bottom floor is a cozy pub; the second, a cocktail parlor). This bar landed the honors because of its imagination within the bartending realm — which it managed to further, even in a booze-soaked town — and within the neighborhood: Thanks to the Dead Rabbit, there’s reason to head to the Financial District late at night.
Dynaco, 1112 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn
This neighborhood effort from the brothers Forgash rooted next to Do or Dine in Bed-Stuy just before summer, giving the area a laid-back feel-good spot in which to escape reality (which is exactly what neighborhood bars are supposed to do). Sip a beer beneath the speaker-bedecked back wall or stop in for a cocktail (something with whiskey always seems like a good order) — you’ll likely find a few industry folks huddled at the bar.
Golden Cadillac, 13 First Avenue, 646-924-8153
For several years, bars were climbing all over themselves to pay homage to Prohibition speakeasies and pre-Prohibition cocktails and maybe the tiki years, preferring to brush the decades between then and now under the rug and pretend that they never existed. But this year, Golden Cadillac landed in the East Village, hacking away at the now-tired brown, bitter, and stirred stranglehold by shamelessly celebrating the disco era with drinks that are bright, fruity, and sweet. Good timing, we say.
The Jeffrey, 311 East 60th Street, 917-238-2449
From the team that built the formidable Alewife, a craft beer bar over in Long Island City, comes this Upper East Side pint-slinger steeped in rare brews both local and international. Thirty taps and about as many bottles give beer geeks plenty of fodder; neighbors might consider filling their growlers and taking something delicious home.
Long Island Bar, 110 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-625-8908
We all love a good revival story, and that’s what we get here thanks to Toby Cecchini and Joel Tompkins, a pair of industry vets who brought this historic Cobble Hill diner back to life, preserving the art deco flourishes of the space while building out a brand new cocktail program. While you’ll find beers on tap, you want to order a cocktail here, if only to experience Cecchini’s handiwork.
Pearl & Ash, 220 Bowery, 212-837-2370
Many restaurants boast incredibly strong beverage programs these days, but drinks often still play second fiddle to the food (except, maybe, during happy hour). Not so at Pearl & Ash, where sommelier Patrick Cappiello is pushing the boundaries of the restaurant wine list and blurring the line between eatery and bar in the process. What that means for you is that there’s as much reason to go out of your way to stop by for a glass or three of vino as there is to drop in for dinner.
Play, Museum of Sex, 233 Fifth Avenue, 212-689-6337
If you’re going to open a cocktail bar at the Museum of Sex, reasoned the team behind this project, it should offer an experience in line with the institution’s vision. And that means a safe spot to play, reflected in the art, menus, and even decor flourishes (feel free to deface one of those books on the shelves — that’s what they’re there for). The bar applies a museum-like curation to some of its cocktails, contracting artists to create drinks that are as much about the physicality and back story as they are about the liquid you’re imbibing.
Tørst, 615 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-389-6034
We all thought we knew the rules of the craft beer bar — install dark and cozy decor, insert rare craft options, and maybe buy a Jenga game or two — and then Tørst came along and completely dispensed with any preconceived notions. This sparsely and elegantly designed space is bright, for one thing, and it pours drafts you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere (thank the list consultant Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø for that — he puts many of his own Evil Twin kegs on the line) plus bottles that are even more rare. This might also be the first time the general drinking public collectively geeked out about the tapline system — the bar boasts a futuristic system that allows each beer to be stored and poured at its own unique temperature.
More:Best Of 2013