We’ve been known to enjoy a cocktail (or three), and what better way to celebrate the warm weather than with a fresh from the garden libation? The city’s hottest bars and restaurants around the city have swapped out their stiff winter warmers for lighter, brighter concoctions in honor of spring.
With fresh ingredients, like mint, muddled strawberries and cucumbers, seasonal libations are high on our radar right now. Especially the ones at the newly minted Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. There, you can savor the waterfront views at The Ides, the rooftop bar, and sample a ”Chihuahua,” a citrusy blend of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and tequila served in a highball glass with a salted rim. And there’s plenty more to enjoy all over town — from ABC Kitchen’s “Strawberry Royale,” an idyllic combination of fresh strawberry juice and sparkling rose, to PDT’s “Jade Fizz,” the essence of spring in a glass with muddled cucumbers, lemon, lime & cachaca. Here are a few of our favorite spots and cocktails this spring…
PDT – Jade Fizz
Address: 113 St. Marks Pl., near First Ave.
Phone: (212) 614-0386
We know, we know. The secret’s been out for quite some time on this sexy speakeasy hidden behind a phone booth inside Crif Dogs. But we still get just as excited to sample Jim Meehan’s newest libations. Afterall, he just took home the first-ever James Beard award for Outstanding Bar Program. And in the spirit of spring, crafty PDT bartender Karen Fu has created the “Jade Fizz,” a frothy green cocktail that goes down smoothly (perhaps a little too smoothly). She says the muddled cucumbers and freshly squeezed lemon and lime juices are meant to compliment the earthy flavors of the cachaça, Japanese matcha tea, and yellow Chartreuse. We say we’ll have another.
The Daily – Sherry Cobbler
Address: 210 Elizabeth St., btwn. Prince & Spring Sts.
Phone: (212) 343-7011
AvroKo has transformed the Monday Room into this new gem of a cocktail bar, just adjacent to Australasian-bent Public. And they’re not messing around with over 600 new cocktails in their arsenal – a mix of classics and The Daily originals. Of course, they’re not serving all 600 every night, but they are showcasing a new batch of six every evening. With a rotating menu like that, you can expect the offerings to be ultra-seasonal and always interesting. And from what we’ve sampled, including the sweet and citrusy Sherry Cobbler, a blend of sherry, curacao, and smashed orange slices, and the gin-based Southside Fizz with fresh mint leaves and lime juice, you won’t be disappointed. Start your evening here or pop in for a nightcap after dinner at Public.
The Ides at the Wythe Hotel - Chihuahua
Address: 80 Wythe Ave., at North 11th St. (Brooklyn)
Phone: (718) 460-8000
We’ve waited all winter to linger on a rooftop, drink in hand, and The Ides just happened to open at the much buzzed about Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. Take your pick of the enclosed floor-to-ceiling window view or spacious outdoor terrace. With breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and a cocktail menu from the owners of Marlow & Sons, you can bet this place will be good. We like their inspired seasonal concoctions, like the “Chihuahua,” a mix of tequila and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, served in a salt-rimmed glass, or a Vesper martini with that springtime staple, Lillet Blanc. Whatever your drink of choice, we’d suggest getting there early to claim your spot on the terrace before it fills up. Because it definitely will.
Clover Club – The Green Giant
Address: 210 Smith St., btwn. Butler & Baltic Sts. (Brooklyn)
Phone: (718) 855-7939
We can’t talk about cocktails without a nod to Julie Reiner, the reigning queen of cocktails in New York. Head to Clover Club in Brooklyn for her spring-inspired collection of drinks. Ever had sugar snap peas and tarragon in your cocktail? ”The Green Giant” will likely be a first, a vegetal blend of gin, lemon and a touch of vermouth. And there’s plenty more where that came from, like “The Constant Gardener” with red bell peppers, or the “Maria Sin Sangre” with fresh basil and cherry tomatoes. Who would’ve thought you could head to a bar for your daily dose of vegetables?
ABC Kitchen – Strawberry Royale
Address: 35 E 18th St., btwn. Broadway & Park Aves.
Phone: (212) 475-5829
No one showcases the season’s bounty quite like Jean-Georges and Dan Kluger do at ABC Kitchen. They put the nearby Union Square Greenmarket and their own, rooftop garden to good use with a market-fresh menu and that includes the cocktail list, too. These are so good you’d be wise to visit the bar, whether you have a reservation or not for an herbaceous basil-lime daiquiri, blood orange bellini, or vodka-thyme lemonade. Grab one of the coveted seats at the bar and order a few small plates – go for the ramp and goat cheese toast – to go along with one of our favorites drinks this spring, the “Strawberry Royale,” made with fresh strawberry juice and sparkling rosé. Follow that up with a “Sour Cherry Old Fashioned,” made with just-muddled cherries, and pray for a table.
Weather Up - Daisy Desantiago
Address: 159 Duane St., at West Broadway
Phone: (212) 766-3202
They’re serious about cocktails at this Tribeca watering hole. We’d even venture to say a bit obsessive with a $6,000 ice machine with what mixologists deem perfect slabs to show for it and different ice cubes for different drinks. Weather Up’s thoughtful cocktailing doesn’t stop there. Their drink list is brief, but effective and boozy. For spring, they’re featuring the flavors of the season in libations, like the “Daisy Desantiago,” made with rum, fresh lime juice and mint, and the gin-based, citrus-infused Martinez. Bonus points for their first-rate raw bar. Start with drinks and stay for dinner.
Bearded Lady - Joyride
Address: 686A Washington Ave., at St. Marks Ave. (Brooklyn)
Phone: (469) 232-7333
The Bearded Lady is a Prospect Heights neighborhood favorite. And for good reason. The staff is friendly and the atmosphere relaxed. Plus, they have an impressive supply of oysters from all over the country. (If you go after midnight, they’re just a dollar a piece.) And, of course, we can’t forget their artfully crafted cocktails. Their spring offerings are inventive, if not slightly eccentric, like the bourbon-based “Joyride,” made with a unique blend of fresh basil, muddled black grapes, fresh lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar, and the “Good Manners,” with cava, bourbon, mint & cucumber. If that doesn’t scream spring, we’re not sure what does.
Demi Monde – Maxx & Lucy
Address: 90 Broad St., at Stone St.
Phone: (212) 248-7220
Truth be told, the Financial District isn’t the first place that comes to mind when we’re planning a night out. But it just may become one of our go-to spots this season, thanks to this swanky new bar from an ensemble cast that includes a pedigree of Death & Co. and Pegu Club. Demi Monde’s cocktail menu is heavy on the fizzy and the fruity, with drinks, like the bourbon-based “Check Your Head,” made with freshly squeezed lemon and peach juices, and fresh mint. Or sample the “Maxx & Lucy,” a vibrant amalgam of gin, sparkling wine, muddled raspberries, and lemon juice. While you’re there, check out Demi Monde’s housemade sodas, especially the celery and strawberry tarragon soda, which pairs perfectly with tequila, gin, and vodka. But our favorite is the “Pineapple Coconut Egg Cream.” Add rum and it tastes like a frothy piña colada. Not a bad way to ease into summer.
Bishops & Barons - Bella Rossa
Address: 243 East 14th St., near Second Ave.
Phone: (212) 253-2112
This chic, new bar in the East Village is pimped out with zebra rugs, chandeliers and red velvet banquettes. But the cocktails are an even more compelling draw. Sample the “Bella Rossa,” an invigorating blend of lemon juice, freshly muddled strawberries, Campari, and ginger beer. Or, if you’re looking for something a little more out there, try the tart “Short Shade,” made with Bison Grass vodka, agave nectar, lemon juice, and mandarin orange purée. Oh, and plan to stay for dinner. The menu is no joke either. There’s a wagyu flank steak with spicy spring greens, grilled artichoke, or lobster turnovers to pair with your libation.
Amor y Amargo – Brother James
Address: 443 East 6th St., near Ave. A
Phone: (212) 766-3202
New York’s first ever bitters bar is so devoted to bitters they use over a dozen different bitters to craft their cocktails. They’ve even partnered with a Brooklyn-based producer named Bittermens to produce their very own brand of bitters. So if you like the flavor you’re drinking, it’s available for sale right at the bar. This season, they’ve got plenty of offerings worth sampling, each one inspired by a different bitters. Start the night off with the “Di Pompelmo,” a grapefruit-tequila concoction featuring their own, Hopped Grapefruit Bitters. There’s the “Brother James,” a gin-based cocktail laced with hints of celery and vinegar from the Celery Shrub Bitters. You might consider offsetting all that bitters-based boozing with a few dishes from the tapas menu, thoughtfully designed to complement the cocktail menu.