New York II
- WGB – Mace (East Village): I was fortunate enough to visit Mace on a beautiful, breezy summer day on a quiet long weekend. With only two other patrons, the encroaching willows across the street seemed to be almost oozing their way on the wind into the large open windows at the front of the bar. My bartender (and patron I suspect) spoke with a heavy Parisian accent, and described the spectacular cocktail menu impeccably. Somewhat like ZZ Clam Bar, the drinks at Mace are so named by their predominant flavour. Unlike ZZ Clam Bar, the ingredient takes center stage. The Shiso, Damiana and special of the day, Rose were over-the-top incredible. Much like Bar Termini in London, Mace utilizes the sous-vide method of flavour infusion to spectacular effect. There is a definite reason this place has inched its way onto the WGB list. It instantly became one of my favourite bars of all time.
- ZZ’s Clam Bar: I’m really not sure how to put into words just how out-of-this-world my experience was at ZZ Clam Bar. I’d long heard it was one of the best and least known in the city but, as a tiny reservations-only spot, I had never been organized enough to make it happen. No bigger than a large closet, the place felt like one of those dark, themed Disney rides where you’re immediately transported into another world. Turn of the last century New Orleans was what I thought of straight away. The dark bistro feel brought out the best in what can only be described as a spectacular cocktail list made by a single bartender at a tiny bar at the end of the room. The food is absolutely over-the-top. Uni toast is going to make me a fan every single time. Bordering on molecular, the drinks are named by their predominant flavour, regardless of whether it is actually in the drink. The Rhubarb cocktail was without question among my greatest. The bartender described it as “pie in a glass”. He was correct, and in a very, very good way.
- WGB-The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog (#1 Bar in the World, 2016): This is an odd Irish place in the financial district near Battery Park. The floors are covered in wood shavings and the our bartender was actually Irish. The cocktails sampled were of the highest quality and overall the experience was great. I learned on a recent second trip to the bar that the serious cocktails are served on the second floor. So, after hanging out at Papaya Dog a few blocks away, I managed to get a seat at the bar right at 5 before all hell broke loose (or so I’ve heard). The comic book-themed cocktail menu was a long read of beautiful drinks. It was really too bad I had to settle on one. So, if you really want the Dead Rabbit experience, be there right at five to get into the real bar on the second floor. Well worth it.
- WGB – Dante: I’m a tiny bit surprised Dante is on the WGB list. The cocktails and menu were of that calibre but it is really much more of a restaurant than bar. It was one of the last places I visited on my most recent NYC trip so I was maybe a bit cocktailed out but it didn’t blow me away. I probably need to go back.
- WGB-The NoMad & Library Bars at The Nomad Hotel: While the Elephant Bar at the Nomad was really hard to enjoy due to the sheer numbers when I was there, I arrived at the Nomad bar right as they opened and enjoyed a great drink in a calm environment. The bar supplies the drinks to the beautiful library space next door, which is primarily reserved for hotel guests. All in all, the whole place feels like a library, which is a really great way to enjoy a good drink.
- Nitecap: Opened by several cast off bartenders from some of the city’s more well known establishments, Nitecap is a low-ceiling basement spot that has a great feel about it. It felt a bit tikiesque, whether or not that was the intent. My drinks were worth coming back for.
- Death & Company: I finally had the opportunity to have a drink at this well known spot. Though considered by many as one of the world’s most important bars, if you’ve ever leafed through their cocktail book, they seem to heavily believe it themselves. There is an obvious self-reverence in the pages, which despite being a great book, kind of rubs me the wrong way. Lines like it always amazes us where in the world D&C cocktails will show up don’t help. Also, I tried about ten of the recipes and actually hated every one of them. Not a good sign. Anyway, my lone cocktail experience ended in the same vein as those with their book recipes: cloying and uninspiring.