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There is no hiding the fact that New York is the birthplace and the world capital of cocktails and bartending culture, where any cocktail bar is worthy of the name, turning what a century ago was prohibited into a trend. Here, the bartenders are professionals who are passionate about their work and customer service, atmosphere, product selection and the cocktail menu are created by and for the satisfaction of the customer, which is the only real objective, definitely in USA where bartender make the rules, the brands don’t.

What is more, “homemade” is law in this city. Homemade preparations are used in the mixes and they are not necessarily anything more complicated than syrups and macerated distillations. They are simple but optimal mixtures, prepared so you have the perfect experience.

Discover some of the best cocktail bars in New York; whatever the time of day, whatever the season, the Big Apple is always on the go. That’s why they call it “the city that never sleeps“.

The dead rabbit Grocery and grog

Without a doubt, the Dead Rabbit is one of the best cocktail bars in the world and number one in New York and has won a large number of prizes such as the World’s 50 Best Bars or the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award, among others.

Named after a famous 19th Century gang, this three-floor pub is in the financial district of the city and is inspired by the old Irish pubs with American influence. It consists of a ground floor with a more informal atmosphere, where craft beer, punches, whiskeys and food from the menu are served, a first floor for cocktails, punches, whiskeys and bar snacks and a final exclusive floor only for large groups.

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(The Dead Rabbit entrance)

The Dead Rabbit is the concept of a bar come true: A space lit only by the light of the candles which create a perfect atmosphere, which is accompanied by traditional Irish music.  The Dead Rabbit is devoted to the avant-garde in art and “customer service” as it was once understood and as it is understood now, a place for everybody, residents and visitors, where the customer is the most important element.

I had the great good fortune to meet Jessica Friedman, an “old school bartender” with a great attitude, happy, witty and talkative and who is at all times bent on not only preparing the best cocktails but also on ensuring that your experience is positive and that you have a great time.

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(Raimondo Palomba and Jessica Friedman behind the bar of  The Dead Rabbit)

On arrival, you are served a welcome draught (in my case, a citric punch) and you are given a comic-style booklet which tells the story of John Morrissey, the leader of the “Dead Rabbit” gang. In its pages, you discover a highly varied and original menu with mixtures of quality products of impressive creativity and simplicity.  The bar-snack menu is as good as that of the cocktails.

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(The Dead Rabbit)

The Dead rabbit is, without a doubt, one of the bars which is most outstanding and which make you feel right at home. Ah! I recommend that you have an Irish Coffee before you leave. It will be the icing on the cake. 

30 Water Street, near Broad Street, in New York City

Amor y amargo

This small cocktail bar is right in the heart of East Village, one of the most famous districts in Manhattan, best known for its night life and Bohemian attitudes.

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(Amor y Amargo entrance)

Professional skill and the close attention of the owner, Sother Teague, make this little place one of the best cocktail bars in NY, especially if you are involved in this sector or you are a lover of bitters.

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(Amor y Amargo)

At Amor y Amargo, as the name indicates, everything is dedicated to the world of bitters and there are an impressive collection.  The cocktail menu offers a selection of home-made creations and a selection of twists on classics.

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(Raimondo Palomba and Sother Teague, owner of Amor y Amargo)

They also prepare two homemade Vermouths, and sell all kinds of bitters and cocktail utensils.  The friendliness and passion of Sother for his work make him a genuine “old school bartender” and Amor y Amargo a unique experience.

443 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009,

Angel’s Share

There was a time when it was forbidden to sell alcoholic drinks in the United States, a time known as Prohibition, which was in force from 1920 to 1933. However, throughout these years some clandestine bars managed to get round this law. They were the so-called Speakeasies and nowadays they are a genuine symbol of North-American culture.

Angel’s Share evokes this golden period with a Japanese speakeasy that is unique in its style. In order to get in, it is necessary to find the Asian restaurant, Village Yokochogo up to the second floor and you will suddenly find yourself in an Asian restaurant that is very busy and noisy. When you enter this chaotic place, you could expect anything but a speakeasy inside. 

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(Exterior entrance to the Village Yokocho restaurant where hidden speakeasy Angel’s Share is)

Turn left and you will find a wooden door. As you open it, you will be transported to another completely different location… A small, relaxed and elegant speakeasy where all the staff are Japanese, giving that Oriental touch to the cocktails. The style of the bartenders is impressive  and their shakes and movements are of a unique elegance.

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(Angel’s Share speakeasy)

They make “signature” cocktails with many homemade references that are a million miles away from the conventional. They play with the tastes of umami and with ingredients such as wasabi, lychees, sake and other elements.

The service is impeccable and the bar snack menu which allows you to match a cocktail with sashimi or soft-shelled crab in one of the best taste experiences is also incredibly good.

8 Stuyvesant St, New York, NY

PDT (please don’t tell)

Look for the giant sausage which says, “Eat me”, and you will find “Crif Dogs”, a fast food restaurant specialising in hot dogs. When you go in, turn left and you will find a small room which looks like a telephone box and an old red telephone. How do you get into the cocktail bar? Lift the phone, dial 1 and wait for an answer. If you need to book, you will have to wait until the time that they tell you that you can come in. In our case, that was two to three hours.

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(Crift Dogs entrance and telephone box to entry in Please Don’t Tell speakeasy)

Once you go through the telephone box, you will discover a small  and elegant speakeasy, with leather chairs, stuffed animals, faint lights and bare brick walls. The signature cocktail menu is very good, with original creations served in a special manner. What is more, you can take advantage and have a hot dog at the bar, which only makes it more attractive. 

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(Please don’t tell speakeasy)

The only thing that does not stand out so much are the bartenders as it is clear that the cocktail menu has been designed by someone else, in this case the mixologist Jim Meehan, bartender, journalist and author of “The PDT Cocktail Book”.

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(Please don’t tell speakeasy)

The most unusual aspect is that, although you are not informed in advance, you only have half an hour to drink up since, once this time has passed, you will be invited to leave the bar.

113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

The Rum House

It is inside Hotel Edison, close to the very busy Times Square. This classical bar has classic decoration in wood and has an old piano in the middle of the room where music is played live at weekends. 

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There is a good selection of Rums and the cocktail menu is simple with twists on classics prepared by the team. It is highly recommended to have a Dark’n’stormy!

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(The Rum House)

The atmosphere is perfect… it takes you back into the past where the bartenders are “old school”, tough but friendly, far away from the bustle of the streets and the lights of Broadway, offering a relaxed place to sit, have a chat and take a drink. 

228 West 47th Street, NYC 10036 Between Broadway & 8th Avenue

Death & Co.

The name, Death & Co., makes reference to one of the most used maxims at the time of prohibition: that he who lives his life without alcohol deserves only death. 

It is located in the New York district of East Village, one of the most interesting cultural areas in Manhattan.

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(Entrance and interior of Death & Co speakeasy)

When you arrive, you will see a robust wooden door and as you go through you will discover a place with tradition in the style of the prohibition era and an impressive and careful selection of distilled drinks brought from all over the world.

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(Death & Co)

There is an extensive signature cocktail menu and twists on classics, simple mixes served in classical and also original glasses.  The only negative aspect of the place were the bartenders, who were a bit cold, since they did not speak to the customers at all. In New York, you are so accustomed from the moment you arrive to friendly treatment (above all at the bar) that you expect the same from everybody. 

433 EAST 6TH STREET (B/W 1ST & A)  |  NEW YORK, NY 10009

Lillie’s

Located on Times Square, there is a place which evokes the traditional English “Gin Palace” in the Victorian style and with original 19th century decoration.

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(Lillie’s)

It offers a perfect signature cocktail menu. They are simple and there are also twists on classics, as well as a very extensive menu of beers (some of which they make themselves) and a long menu of distilled drinks, specialising in Whiskeys.

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(Lillie’s)

It is highly recommended to try the bar snacks as there are meat dishes prepared with Bourbon. The service too is excellent with young bartenders who create a very striking atmosphere above all as time passes, when, unbeknown to you, there is suddenly a queue to sit at the bar (which is not exactly small).

249 West 49th Street, NY, NY, 10019

It is highly recommended to try the bar snacks as there are meat dishes prepared with Bourbon. The service too is excellent with young bartenders who create a very striking atmosphere above all as time passes, when, unbeknown to you, there is suddenly a queue to sit at the bar (which is not exactly small).

In short, the “cocktail” is only the final objective in the complete experience of a cocktail bar as there are other important factors such as the “atmosphere” created by the decoration, the music, the lighting and… the most important thing, the attitude of the bartender! Because bartending is based on “serving the customer“, being friendly and being the professional figure who guides you in your experience at all times. 

In New York, I have found the best bartenders, who do their work with passion, being friendly with the customer and devoting their time to chatting and having a good time together, something which is fundamental at Atelier Lounge & Cocktails, because the most important thing for us is that each one of our guests should have an all-round experience and feel like he’s in the home of his best friend.

A place that is not only for having a cocktail and having a good time but also a space for learning where you can share experiences and where that “added value” (which is attention to our guests) is the most important thing. 

Por Raimondo Palomba
Bar manager Atelier Lounge&Cocktails