I'm sure in New York City good bars are everywhere and locals have their own neighbourhood favourites. These are the three bars in Manhattan I revisit every time I'm here. Maybe it's a good thing we don't have places like these in Toronto because I'd probably be drinking a lot more.
45 W 27th St
You don't have to be an Oscar Wilde to appreciate this bar, although it helps. A bronze statue of the flamboyant Irish playwrights sits on a bench outside. Another is inside leaning against the bar, holding a pint of Guinness. Search and you'll find his witty quotes inscribed on tables and counters. The furniture and the decor are from Wilde's era, looking as if several antique shops have exploded in here.
Every inch of this place is carefully decorated. Even visiting the washroom is an adventure. What keeps this bar from feeling cheesy is that almost everything is authentic from Victorian times, shipped in from various European cities. There is something to marvel at everywhere you turn, which normalizes the extravagance, almost.
My friends and I were trying to guess how much the owners invested in this place. I estimated at least 2 million. Later, I Googled this and learned it's 4 million. You can treat this bar like a museum when it's midday and empty, but when the crowds come, the vibe here is chilled out and fun, which is what Oscar would have wanted. The cocktail to try is "Oscar Wilde’s Potent Elixir."
228 W 47th St
This is the first bar in New York I really fell in love with. We don't have tiny old school piano bars in Toronto, and after coming here, I wished we did. If you're a first-time visitor staying in or around touristy Times Square, this is a dark and intimate hidden gem where you'll actually find locals. With no cover charge, live piano and jazz music is performed nightly, and the cocktails are loaded with alcohol.
I always have a good time when I come here. I usually get a "Dark and Stormy" but I don't think you can go wrong with any of their cocktails.
28 West 53rd Street
This bar is something out of a magazine. Literally, as I first learned about this place when I saw it used as the backdrop of a fashion spread in a women's glossy magazine.
Baccarat is an old French company making luxury crystal glassware. Their first hotel in New York is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Apparently, everything from the crystal champagne flutes to the crystal chandeliers is for sale.
For such an upscale hotel and bar, the vibe is somehow not slick and pretentious. Everyone who works here seems really nice. The hotel is right across the street from MoMA. Sure, a cocktail here will cost more than your average dinner, but it's worth it for the atmosphere. I'd love to come back to the hotel for lunch or afternoon tea.
Other bars I discovered on my last trip to New York are The Crosby Bar, a cute hotel bar in SoHo, and The Skylark, a cocktail lounge in Midtown that did feel slick but had stunning views of the city thirty stories high. What are you favourites bars to have a cocktail in New York? Let us know in the comments below.