When it comes to getting a drink in New York City, the vast amount of options can be overwhelming, especially if you’re visiting or are a newcomer to the five boroughs. So we enlisted superstar cocktailian Sam Ross to help us navigate NYC’s bar scene.
“There is such variety, and not just from the cocktail scene, but with dive bars and restaurant bars, too,” Ross says. “You could legitimately go to a new bar every day of the week for as long as you could keep it up, and you’d never crossover.” Ross knows the scene better than anybody. He’s been nominated for and won multiple bartending awards, and he’s responsible for creating the beloved modern classic cocktail, the Penicillin. His first bar Attaboy is considered one of the best in the world, and his just-opened Diamond Reef is already becoming a must-visit drinking destination in Brooklyn’s Bed Stuy neighborhood. With plans to open a Nashville outpost of Attaboy next month, Ross is bringing a piece of NYC’s booming cocktail culture to the ever-growing Southern city.
“The public in New York are the most educated public in the world when it comes to quality, and you can’t bullshit them anymore,” he says. “You have to deliver in NYC, and you have to do it consistently across the board.” From the realest dive bar to the swankiest cocktail spot for date night, here are Ross’s tops picks for the absolute best bars in NYC.
“I might be a little biased with this, but I’m pretty sure Diamond Reef does the best frozen drinks around right now. We’ve got three machines making three different cocktails: the Penichillin, a Mai Tai riff called the Banana Hammock and the Spicy Flamingo, which is a tequila, watermelon and chile mix. I don’t know, man, it’s hard to find better frozen drinks at the moment.”
“Super, super divey spot down in Red Hook that’s been around for a couple of decades. They have cheap Budweiser, are open until 4 a.m. every day and the characters you see in there are very much noteworthy.”
“It’s always nice and bustling, but if you get a table up in the mezzanine, you can look down at the mayhem below. The way they’re able to execute such high-level cocktails in a fast-paced environment is very impressive to parents.”
“The characters you see at this East Village spot are legendary. They’re open until 4 a.m., Molly’s super friendly behind the bar, and they have $4 Budweisers that are ice cold and shots of whiskey at a really good price, too.”