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NYC’s Best Spots for Summer Cocktails

It’s good to be an adult. Instead of sticking with plain ol’ H20, we suggest that while in Manhattan you should do as the locals do and find a watering hole. (This is the city that has a cocktail named for it.) The drinks scene is wide and varied with posh lounges, artisanal affairs, and downtown quarters. And in the name of all things sun-drenched and summer, we put together a quick cheat sheet to some of our favorite places in NYC to toss back a refreshing tipple or two.


Best Manhattan

This classic drink can go wrong quickly. But for the perfect balance of rye, sweet vermouth, and bitters, head to ABC Kitchen on 18th Street, just off of Union Square. The restaurant may get most of its kudos from its organic and locally sourced food menu, but the cocktails are a knockout, including the Manhattan made with McKenzie rye distilled in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Plus, there are other interesting herbal concoctions to keep you entertained like the spicy ginger margarita and rhubarb cosmopolitan.


Get Lei’d in the City

Most people can agree that Hawaii is paradise. So for a true island feel–Manhattan is surrounded by water after all–head to Lani Kai in Soho. Proprietor Julie Reiner, the famous mixologist behind Flatiron Lounge and Brooklyn’s Clover Club and who splits time between Hawaii and NYC, is reinventing the usual tiki cocktail. There are old school drinks like a Mai Tai, classed up with aged rums, and more adventurous fare like the refreshing Hawaiian Iced Tea that blends vodka-infused tropical black tea with mint tea syrup and lemon juice. There are also specially offered cocktails on Tiki Mondays that go perfectly with the pupu platter menu.

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Dry Martini, Please

Cassa Hotel’s 10th floor Terraza Lounge & Terrace boasts a delightfully breezy outdoor space, and a Midtown location that makes it a perfect spot to kick up your feet after checking out the Museum of Modern Art or the 5th Avenue shopping strip. For cocktails fans, there’s also a solid selection of masterfully crafted usual suspects like a dry martini.


Talking Tequila

Tequila is having a real moment in NYC, with most bars offering everything from low-grade margaritas to high-quality sipping types. For a wide and varied selection, head to Mayahuel in the East Village. It’s a hip yet grown-up spot for a weekend jaunt, or better yet go on a weeknight for a more laid back date night. In any case, the agave plant is the star from sotol (made from the dasylirion agave plant), tequila to mezcal. There is also a long list of cocktails, including the Red Ant River Swizzle that features mezcal, sugar cane, lime, and Absinthe, and the frothy and delicious Selena Fizz made with blanco tequila, elderflower, grapefruit, lime, and egg white with a dash of orange bitters.


Gin Games

New York City and London have long had a close relationship, so with plenty of English expats calling West and Greenwich Village home, Whitehall Bar + Kitchen was well positioned when it opened last fall. It’s been impressing locals and Brits alike since then with modern Anglo fare like the mushy pea fritters served with minty yogurt and grilled mackerel with potato salad. But while the grub is good, the grog is right up there with some of the best joints in town. Gin is the specialty here, and shaken or stirred into delightful cocktails. The Vesper, the classic James Bond drink that blends Cocchi Americano, Plymouth Gin, and vodka in this case, is a winner, as is the No. 4, which uses Greenall’s gin, yellow Chartreuse, lemon, orange bitters, and fresh muddled ginger. Drink up!

Photo Credits: Manhattan: Manhattan Cocktail via; Tiki: Francine Daveta/Lani Kai; Martini: Martini via; Tequila: Tequila via; Vesper: Vesper by Reese Lloyd Attribution License

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