Another year, another smashing set of bars opening in NYC. This city has long been world-class for imbibing, and 2014 upped the ante again. Without further ado, our 10 best new bars of 2014.
10. Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, 151 West 51st Street, 212-554-1143
Le Bernardin wine director Aldo Sohm launched this affiliated wine bar in midtown, a more casual — yet still immaculate — spot to eat and drink. The deep by-the-glass list skews Old World and classic, with selections from Burgundy and Bordeaux interspersed with wines from Germany, Austria, Greece, and Argentina. Voice wine writer Lauren Mowery points out that the Coravin wine flight might be the best way to go, economically; you get three pours of thematic wines for $30, and the set changes frequently.
9. Fools Gold, 145 East Houston Street, 212-673-2337
Fools Gold is what happens when the owners of the Beerly Legal Group (which owns beer havens Alewife in Astoria and The Jeffrey on the Upper East Side) team up with the proprietors of East Village beer bar Idle Hands. This cavernous Houston Street space is devoted to both brews and whiskeys, and the team ensured that drinkers would find the best of both worlds when bellied up to the bar. Fools Gold’s more than 30 taps pour rare suds from all over the world, and the back bar holds more than 80 rare expressions of American whiskey. The casual vibe and roomy digs ensure this spot is always full but comfortable — it’s a good place to go with a group.
8. Grand Banks, Pier 25, Hudson River Park, 212-960-3390
What’s better than patio drinking? Boat drinking. And while a few ventures took to the water this year, none were as successful as Grand Banks, a 142-foot schooner that’s a piece of living history. Board this seasonal vessel and toss back oysters with cocktails before moving on to lobster rolls and beer. Be sure to check out the old photographs and artifacts that line the walls, and stay for the occasional lecture, too.
7. One Fifty One, 151 Rivington Street
Death & Co.’s David Kaplan and Alex Day are colonizing Rivington Street — the team followed up speakeasy-esque Nitecap with this ’70s-channeling underground cocktail lair. The address once held 151 Rivington, a dive that held special sway for the owners. “Dave and I didn’t know each other when we both moved to the city, but for various reasons, we both independently found a special little bar on the Lower East Side that ended up being a hub of our social lives: 151 Rivington,” Day told the Voice a month ago. “The bar stuck in our minds as being so special and unique.” When it went up for sale, the pair leapt at it — updating the menu, of course, with their own brand of cocktails. If you’re looking for the kind of craft mixology that goes on at the sibling bars, though, you’re not going to find it here: “It’s meant to be a neighborhood joint, a place you wanna go every day for a couple of drinks,” said Day. And that means simple pours around $10.
6. NoMad Bar, 10 West 28th Street, 212-796-1500
With the help of wonder-duo Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, beverage director Leo Robitschek built the bar attached to the NoMad restaurant into one of the best mixology lairs in the city, so it’s no surprise that the group knocked it out of the park at this cavernous space devoted to craft cocktails. Here, you’ll find an expanded cocktail list and reserve spirits (which can be mixed into cocktails, some of which are priced more than $100), plus a menu of bar food good enough to land this place on our list of Best New Restaurants this year, too. Wait’s too long? You can always head to the original.
5. Boilermaker, 13 First Avenue, 212-995-5400
A quick flip turned the ’70s-themed Golden Cadillac into this neighborhood bar themed around the beer-and-shot combo, but almost all Disco Era details were thoroughly wiped from the space before it reopened (an exception is the bar, the colors of which have been muted). Now a cozy cubby that fills quickly, Boilermaker offers several varieties of its namesake. The real draw, though, is the list of craft cocktails, some of which are on tap, priced significantly lower than most bars of this caliber. Pro tip: Order a basket of fries to go with your booze. They’re some of the best in the ‘hood, if not the city.
4. Dirck the Norseman, 7 North 15th Street, Brooklyn, 718-389-2940
Conceived of as a brewpub and drinking hall, this Greenpoint establishment is named for the neighborhood’s first settler, and designed with mead halls in mind — so it’s a good place to settle in for an afternoon or night of putting back drinks. Greenpoint Beer & Ale Company brews on-site, and you’ll find seasonal beers rotating through the taps alongside Gaffel Kolsch, Jever Pilsner, and Augsburg’s Brauhaus Reigele. Cocktails and wine round out the beverage options, and everything pairs nicely to brewpub fare that exceeds expectations. Order the chicken schnitzel.
3. Dear Irving, 55 Irving Place
Raines Law Room owner Yves Jadot had a busy year; in addition to a new outpost of that bar, he opened this Gramercy cocktail spot, for which Raines Law Room bar manager Meaghan Dorman wrote the drinks menu. You should sip cocktails, then, like the Girl Scout cookie-inspired Samoa — which blends genever, bourbon, and crème de coconut — and the Hero of Little Venice, an excellent flip featuring rum and root beer. The place channels Woody Allen’s dreamy Midnight in Paris, and in addition to drinks, the place is turning out British bites from Jason Hicks of Jones Wood Foundry.
2. Racines, 94 Chambers Street, 212-227-3400
This New York outpost of a Parisian wine bar gave new life to both the wine bar category at large and to its Tribeca neighborhood. Its nicely priced by-the-glass list offers a carefully curated selection of oddities from all over the world, inviting drinkers to explore categories they may have had little exposure to, and enticing geeks to drink glass after glass of stuff normally only offered by the bottle. Most wines are Old World, and many are sustainable, organic, or biodynamic. Almost all come from tiny vineyards. And if you just want your glass of Sauvignon Blanc, that’s available, too, though it’s worth taking a seat at the polished bar and letting this friendly staff lead you on a journey into something new.
1. Nitecap, 120 Rivington Street, downstairs, 212-466-3361
Nitecap isn’t a speakeasy — those fell out of fashion at some point during the last couple of years — but you will have to look hard for the sign, which is stenciled on a brick pillar next to Schapiro’s on Rivington Street. You might notice the bouncer standing there, too, and sometimes there’s a telltale line — this is a project from Death & Co.’s David Kaplan and Alex Day and Maison Premiere alum Natasha David, after all. And like Death & Co., the drink list here is long, though its tenor is less fussy. Sure, there are cocktails made with cachaça or Calvados plus a handful of ingredients, and the brandy list is impressive or intimidating, depending upon whom you ask. But there’s also “Shorty Service,” which buys you a short pour of beer or wine and a slug of something stronger, and the menu is littered with jokes and drinking games. This is a place where you could easily entertain drinkers of all different stripes and levels of expertise, but it’s also a neighborhood bar you can relax into when you’re just after a beer. We could use a few more of those, no?