Food & Drink

The 8 best cocktail bars in NYC. Boosh.

Published On 12/04/2013 Published On 12/04/2013

Are you ready to have the best night of your life? Because that's damn sure what it could be if you spend it at the city's best Thrillist-approved cocktail bars. Check out our picks below:

Pouring Ribbons

East Village
This second floor cocktailery is home to 1) a ton of great cocktails laid out on a very cool cocktails matrix, 2) a Tales of the Cocktails best bartender winner of 2012, and 3) one of the best Chartreuse collections in the city.

Andrew Zimmer

Booker & Dax

East Village
Dave Arnold and David Chang collaborated on this cocktail science lab -- home to clarifiers, centrifuges, flaming pokers, and other cocktail wizardry that you'll realize isn't just for show as soon as you settle down with a few of them.

The Wayland

East Village
A totally relaxed atmosphere and a set of delicious eats contribute to the enjoyment of some excellent cocktails here. They take their preparation very seriously, especially in joints like the ginger-tinged Garden Variety Margarita and the smoke-infused I Hear Banjos, which you might... if you've had a few of these/someone is playing multiple banjos.

Andrew Zimmer

Amor Y Amargo

East Village
With room for just a couple seats, this bitters-centric outpost can be both enjoyable and educational if you're not yet versed in the ways of bitters, amaros, and the like. (Editor's note: you're not yet versed in the ways of bitters, amaros, and the like.)

Yelp/The Jedi Foodi E.

PDT

East Village
Hidden behind a telephone booth in the subterranean late-night spot Crif Dogs, PDT is helmed by cocktail hero Jim Meehan, whose team mixes up reliably excellent concoctions that'll even go well with the occasional amped-up dog from next door.

Death & Co

East Village
A constant innovator, this spot is home to more than a few modern classics. And while it may be difficult at times to squeeze past the door, when you make it into the dimly lit spot for mixological excellence, you won't even remember that you waited for 45 minutes in the cold.

Andrew Zimmer

Dead Rabbit

Financial District
This multi-level Gangs Of New York-era'd tap room, parlor, and grocery brought over one of the UK's top talents to tend a tome-like menu. It's been raking in Best of the Year awards ever since.

Little Branch

West Village
This spot's got pretty much everything you could possibly want from a cocktail bar: superbly made drinks created by a team from the Milk & Honey family, an intimate setting complete with a piano, and it's underground. Come on, you love that.

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1. Pouring Ribbons 225 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009 (Alphabet City)

This cocktail lounge, tucked into a wood-paneled, second-floor space, brings an upscale-meets-gentlemen's club feel to Alphabet City. Expert bartenders mix drinks like you’ve never tasted before, like a coconut Tiki martini and an old-fashioned with bourbon, apple brandy, and rum. The bar bites menu, created by the folks at Beecher’s Cheese, is heavy on the cheese and charcuterie.

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2. Booker and Dax 207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

Hailing from the same culinary genius that begot New York City's most renowned bowl of ramen, Booker and Dax serves classed-up cocktails with innovative twists. Look for this creative spirit in the simplest of cocktails, like the Banana Justino, which is prepared via a centrifugal spinning process that separates the flavors from the solids that deliver them. The just-large-enough space keeps party groups at bay, so you can properly focus on your milk-washed tea vodka and all its complex, lemon-ey goodness.

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3. The Wayland 700 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009 (Alphabet City)

From a duo that spent many years bartending, cooking, and consulting in the restaurant business, The Wayland is a live-music cocktail bar in the heart of Alphabet City that aces the neighborhood watering hole game. Connected to the bar is a kitchen that specializes in small plates like raw (or fried) oysters, pork belly BLTs, and fried mashed potatoes. The cocktails reflect a DIY approach, with hours of prep work just to produce house-made radish, spiced apple, and key lime-flavored bitters.

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4. Amor y Amargo 443 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

You won't find any mixers, sugars, or juices in this tiny, tile-covered sleeve -- just a bitters/amaro-heavy focus on truly classic, uncorrupted cocktails. Head-man-behind-the-rail Sother Teague also peddles everything you need to stock your home bar and make the same exact drinks he does (but probably not as well!).

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5. PDT 113 St. Marks, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

Formerly one of New York City's best-kept secrets, this hidden speakeasy has become world famous thanks to its meticulously crafted cocktails and balance between swank and back-of-a-hotdog-joint status. Enter through a phone booth in Crif Dogs and get transported to a sexy hideaway where you can post up with inventive takes on Old Fashioneds and Sazeracs alongside waffle fries nestled in foil. Although the name insists you "Please Don't Tell," the secret's clearly out so it's best to make reservations; call to snag a spot when the lines open at 3 PM daily.

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6. Death & Company 433 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

Death & Co. is a high-end, dimly lit sanctuary for both the casual AND professional mixologist/cocktail enthusiast. Responsible for launching the careers of many of New York's most prominent bartenders, this speakeasy has produced a 500-recipe cocktail book and enough top-notch drinks to keep both locals and newcomers ready for the wait, and insatiably eager for another visit. Martinis are served in 5oz glasses with the remainder in an iced carafe, and Old Fashioneds are reinvented with reposado tequila, mezcal, and a flaming orange. While the decor is certainly reminiscent of Prohibition-era times, the drinks remain cutting-edge.

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7. The Dead Rabbit 30 Water St, New York, NY 10004 (Financial District)

The Dead Rabbit is a cocktail sanctum, taproom, small-plates resto, and "grocery." This Irish-American-inspired duplex in the Financial District -- boasting vintage saloon-like vibes and decor -- will make you feel as if you've traveled back in time. The taproom, which is located on the ground floor, is a traditional Anglo-Hibernian pub, where you can order craft beers, bottled punch, and a variety of whiskeys. If you walk upstairs you'll find the parlor, with an ambiance equally as charming as the pub, but with a heavier focus on communal punch and cocktails. The small "grocery" is actually a corner in the taproom, where they sell an assortment of dry goods, but most notably Irish and British imports that are otherwise hard to find.

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8. Little Branch 20 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

Stashed in a hard-to-locate, speakeasy-style basement where the bartenders wear suspenders and the standup piano encourages jazz trios, Little Branch is a Prohibition-style bar doing cocktails like Sidecars and Aviations. The space is dark and candlelit, and if you don't want to squint at the menu in a dark corner feel free to have the bartender whip up something customized for you.

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