One thing you can count on in New York City is finding a watering hole to match your every mood. And if you're hankering for an exotic boîte from the 1940s, Macao Trading Company will satisfy your inner noir, as well as your wanderlust.
A former Portuguese colony in China, Macau is thought to be named for the goddess of seafarers and fishermen, and that sets the tone for an adventure into the TriBeCa bar. With décor sourced from flea markets around the world, the effect is part waterfront warehouse, part opium cabinet. Indeed, the lower level contains a sultry and sexy lounge area that will transport you across time zones and into an illusion.
The cocktail program here is just as inspired, thanks to mixologist Dushan Zaric, himself as exotic-looking as his bar. Widely praised for crafting menus without pretension, Zaric's secret sauce is a dedication to classic recipes to which he applies layers of flavors or spices that complement the drink and the food he serves. The Asian-influenced menu, sourced from nearby Chinatown, is well-served by a cocktail menu that gives a nod to harmonizing flavors such as green tea, coconut, pandan leaves, and eschews the clichéd ingredients such as lychees and pineapple.
Not surprisingly the world's best bar isn't the easiest place to get into. Nor is it easy to find-unless you've been inducted into the club of PDT, the acronym for Please Don't Tell.
The brainchild of master mixologist Jim Meehan, formerly of Gramercy Tavern, the bar received a No. 1 ranking on Drinks International's World's 50 Best Bars last year. And with good reason. It's elusive and exclusive not only because of its secret entry (don't worry, we'll tell you how to get there) but because of the bar program with such standouts as bacon-infused bourbon sweetened with maple syrup, the signature cocktail. That and other drinks such as the buttered rum popcorn are featured in Meehan's recent book, so not everything about this place is top secret.
Now, how to get in? First, you'll need a reservation. Then, you'll need some attitude as you brave the crowds on St. Mark's Place and make your way into Crif Dogs, an haute hot dog dive just below street level. Enter, turn left and make your way to the 1940s phone booth where one call and one turn of the door will give you entry into the darkened digs. Manners are required-rules of etiquette are posted at the door-but slinky behavior is highly encouraged.
English country home meets the new East Village in Saxon + Parole's classy fusion of the horsey and the hipster. What saves this pubby place from pretension or preciousness is the clean design-part comfy country home and part stable-and the simple menu, which focuses on charcuterie, grilled meats and "aquatic delights." But it's the bar program that stands out here, created by Naren Young, a young bar talent who honed his skills in trendy bars around the world before coming to New York City. Young's menu taps all the trends from savory to aromatic in cocktails such as the Celery Gimlet or the Lavender Collins. But he doesn't ignore the classics: you'll find updates on the Pimm's Cup, a Negroni, and a Sazerac, each infused with a cunning twist like lemon soda or chamomile.
The bar's new Cocktail Cabinet of Curiosities-the first of its kind in Manhattan offers frequent drinkers a chance to "own their own", a special base cocktail mix crafted by Young, bottled and stored in an elegant glass cabinet, and yours for the drinking any time you stop in, with or without your hunting party. Each bottle boasts your name and a history of the cocktail within. For continued tippling, S+P's sister bar Madame Geneva is right around the corner and features an intimate bar focused on gin and specialty cocktails.
New York City might be in the midst of a speakeasy trend but that hasn't stopped Ward III from spinning out its own rendition of a cocktail den. Created three years ago by a trio of bar journeymen, the TriBeCa bar provides a low-key refuge for people who want a cool hangout but without the pretension of the red velvet rope.
The three-year-old bar took a chance on its location-slightly off the beaten path and in a neighborhood known more for strollers than drinkers. But with downtown on the upswing and popular neighborhoods spiraling out of control on weekends, Ward III has found a following based on its honest menu of bespoke cocktails focused on spice and homemade bitters. Barkeeps Michael Neff and Kenneth McCoy say their clientele "appreciate crafted spirits with a definite fresh personality." So, in a place that looks a bit like Cheers and with a Nieuw Amsterdam sensibility, they've taken the old world of bartending and combined it with the new. Here you'll find the classics, original house cocktails and a list of premium libations, but you can also tell the barkeep your pleasure and leave it in his capable hands to create a custom drink based on your preference du jour.
Macao Trading Company
311 Church Street
Please Don't Tell
113 St Marks Place
Saxon + Parole
111 Reade Street
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