The cocktail revival shows no signs of abating, even if the cutesy speakeasy theme that first accompanied it has (thankfully) started to fade. Here are some of the best places in town for a sophisticated pour that would make Don Draper proud.
Arguably the best of the faux speakeasies to flood the city over the past decade, PDT (for Please Don't Tell) earns bonus points for its semi-secret location off (or through the telephone booth of) punkish frankfurter shack Crif Dogs. The taxidermy motif might seem like a dated relic from 2002, but drinks like the Benton (an extra-smoky riff on an Old Fashioned) will have you thinking only of the present.
2 Pegu Club
Just off Houston Street, Audrey Saunders' entry in the cocktail craze feels a bit more polished and grownup than most of its peers. That could be thanks to its vaguely colonial Southeast Asia vibe, the relatively large space or the decidedly adult pricing. But the cost is justified by cocktails consisting of the best and rarest ingredients--you can buy your own aromatic bitters here--and one of the better food menus of the cocktail bar's new class.
Ace cocktails in a lovely, amber-lit room just over the Williamsburg Bridge. Dram fills up quickly, but its small size cuts down on wait times typical at cocktail bars with excessively academic approaches to their pours. Ideal spot for a drink while you wait for a table and steak as big as your torso at nearby Peter Luger's. Name your liquor and shaken-stirred preference and let the bartenders do the rest.
The rare cocktail bar that doesn't take itself at all too seriously, even though the liquor quotient in the cheeky tiki drinks is no joke. The Polynesian decor that immediately whisks you away from a somewhat forlorn Lower East Side street is worth it even before you and a dozen or so friends imbibe in the sharable drinks which may or may come served in hollowed-out pineapples.
5 Lantern's Keep
The best of several relative newcomers that have brought the nu-cocktail craze above 14th Street, Lantern's Keep comes courtesy of Raines Law Room alum Meaghan Dorman and enjoys an enviably snug location deep within the Iroquois Hotel, where it keeps the spirit of the Algonquin Hotel bar, just shuttered next door, alive.