Drink Like Churchill at Black Hound Bar and Lounge

Not to bludgeon the speakeasy idea (regarding Wednesday’s post), but, there is a new one in town, and this time, it has popped up in the Financial District. Enter, Black Hound Bar & Lounge, the latest in stealthy craft cocktails by Jeremy Strawn of Mulberry Project and Death & Co, and gourmet bar bites by Mexican chef Antelmo Ambrosio.

The theme runs along the line of literary, political, and artistic greats, which their cocktails mirror in name. This includes an ode to Ernest Hemmingway, and no, it’s not the Hemmingway Daiquiri thank goodness. Instead, drink the Moveable Feast, a Sazerac Rye, Amaro Montenegro and Luxardo Fine combination that begs to for a snack like Ambrosio’s truffle macaroni and cheese or tuna tartare to give it some sustenance.

They also have a Winston Churchill-inspired drink called Painting as a Pastime, which uses vodka, pistachio syrup, ginger and lime. I don’t buy that Churchill would have been particular to this combination given he was more of a brown spirits or gin man, but it sounds good just the same. 

Despite the drink, you might be able to picture Churchill sitting here, given the lounge’s dark wood accents, the ceiling covered in antique mirrors, and the plush leather bar stools big enough to hold his heft. Also, what better place for the former prime minster of England than in the neighborhood dedicated to money and business relations.  Now, you too can make like this great man, or Hemmingway, or any other creative type, and do that other thing they do best, throw one back. 

More Sandy Relief Benefits This Week, All With a Boozy Twist

It’s great that after a few weeks, two holidays, and another on the way, people are still recognizing the disaster that Hurricane Sandy caused in various parts of the city. In the next nine days there are four fun events aimed at raising money for victims, displaced families, and devastated businesses. Here are some ways you can give more to the relief efforts, and drink your face off at the same time.

Tonight, hit up the Bowery Hotel for the 1st Annual New York Bartenders Ball featuring live music by Chances With Wolves and cocktails made by drink mavericks from Death & Co, Employees Only, PDT, Ward III, Dutch Kills, Dram, The Whiskey Brooklyn, and Weather Up Tribeca. Starting at 7pm, $100 gets you in for a five-hour open bar with food, and every penny goes to Occupy Sandy NYC Relief and the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation

Also tonight, the $10 donation at the door of NYC Heart’s NYC event at The Tippler will be donated to victims of the hurricane. While you feel good about giving back, you can also feel good about shaking your tail to Diane Birch and Maverick & Ice, and then, participating in the live auction hosted by Brian McCarthy. The party runs from 6pm to 2am, and they will serve $10 cocktails and nibbles all night long. 

The Barman’s Fund is at it again, but this time they are inviting you to party down at Dutch Kills on Sunday, December 2 at 9pm until 2am. Join them for the 2nd Annual Barman’s Fund Holiday Shindig, where for $50 you can feast on food by #7 Sub and The Vanderbilt, sip cocktails made with Brooklyn Gin, Tito’s Vodka, Owney’s Rum, and others, all mad by barman Richard Boccato. All proceeds go to various NYC charities. 

Next Tuesday, December 4, The Brooklyn Brewery hosts a Hurricane Sandy relief fundraiser for Rockaway Surf Club, Red Hook Initiative, and Coney Recovers. Tickets run $40 and include a commemorative tasting glass, unlimited samples of beer from breweries including Blue Point, Kelso, Dogfish Head, Empire, Founders, and more. With all these incentives, giving has never felt so good.

 

Photo by Caspar Newbolt

New York Opening: Demi Monde

Named after a group of people who live hedonistic lifestyles, Demi Monde flaunts a decadent caviar service, glittering chandeliers, and cocktails with names like Jewel Box, Whisper Campaign, and Mister Sparkle.

Located in the Finanical District, this tippling establishment comes from the team behind Death & Co., and draws inspiration from such literature as Norman Mailer’s Deer Park, Henry Miller’s Opus Pistorum, and, of course, Alexandre Dumas’ Le Demi-Monde. The interior is stocked with sumptuous hunter green booths, dark wood walls, and dramatic, velvet drapery.

4 Out of 5: Jamie Freed on New York

Jamie Freed is the personal shopping manager for Topshop and TOPMAN. She lives in Williamsburg and works in Soho. This is her take on four places she likes, and one place she doesn’t.

RECOMMENDED

Death & Co – "If I could only go to one bar for the rest of my life, this would be it. They’ve got a cool vibe without being pretentious. The swoon-worthy bartenders are charming and polite in addition to being extremely talented. Take time to read their clever menu (note the Dorothy Parker and Ernest Hemmingway witticisms sprinkled throughout). I usually get the Dick & Jane or any other champagne cocktail. If Thomas is there, ask him for a recommendation. His impeccable taste and discerning palate will steer you in the right direction. The best part about Death & Co is that it’s never too crowded. The windowless façade makes it hard for the masses to find, and the no-standing policy keeps the bros at bay. Oh, and if you only drink vodka + soda with a splash of cran, go elsewhere. They keep one bottle of vodka here and likely use it just to clean the bar."

Tiny’s and The Bar Upstairs – "I don’t know that words can describe how much I love Tiny’s! They’ve nailed all the details here. From the shabby chic interior and pressed tin ceiling to the mismatched plates and the very entertaining Ana, they’ve created a comfortable environment that always makes me feel like I’m at home. It’s a great date spot too, with a few joints around the corner for cocktails after dinner (try Weather Up or Silver Lining if you’re into jazz). Oh yeah, and get the burrata."

John Derian – "Decoupage is not a dirty word. Step inside this cozy little boutique and you’ll see what I mean. I’m obsessed with Derian’s decoupage paperweights and trays. My favorites are the ones covered with old typewritten letters and snarky sayings. This shop is my gifting go-to, especially when you’re buying for that person who has everything. In addition to the decoupage collection, John Derian also stocks 18th-century-inspired French pottery, vintage rugs, and loads of other curiosities from his travels. I feel like I’ve magically left the East Village and have been transported to the Marais whenever I’m here. I might just move in."

Saturdays Surf – "It’s a shop. It’s a café. Cute surfer dudes hang and work here. It’s also right behind Topshop. What’s not to love? Saturdays isn’t just for my AM caffeine fix, and it’s not just for surfers. They’ve got beachy prints and books as well as grooming products, candles, and a cool clothing line. Most of the stuff sold here is meant for guys, but it’s the kind of guy stuff girls want to borrow. They stock these amazing fish hook bracelets from Miansai, and I’m addicted to their Baxter candles."

NOT SO MUCH

Sephora – "I think Sephora is great for times when you know exactly what you want and are able to just grab it and go. But when I need a new product, having too many choices isn’t a good thing. Unless someone whom I know and trust (which is never the case at Sephora) is helping me, I’m not able to figure out what I need. I just get frustrated and leave empty-handed. Shopping for beauty products should also make you feel beautiful. That’s just impossible in a chaotic, super-saturated environment like Sephora. Go to Space NK Apothecary instead. They have an expertly curated collection of the best of the best in beauty housed in a posh, minimalist boutique."

NYC vs LA: The Thompson Concierges

Keeping up with what’s new and trendy as well as checking in with old favorites is the balancing act that is the job of a hotel concierge—after all, the buzziest restaurant in town may mean a long wait and lousy service, which translates to unhappy customers who would have been happier with a tried-and-true standby that still offers them a taste of the city. We went bicoastal find out what the pros at the Thompson Hotel Group are recommending these days. This is what Kelsey Wilson, a lead concierge at the Thompson Beverly Hills in LA, and Paul Salvatore Petersen, head concierge at 60 Thompson in NYC, had to say:

Favorite bar for cocktails?

LA: My favorite bar for cocktails would have to be SUR Lounge.  SUR has a separate lounge/bar area attached to the famous SUR Restaurant, located in the heart of West Hollywood.  The feel is trendy, sexy and elite, and the décor is absolutely stunning, as is the clientele.  

NYC: I love Death & Company in the Lower East Side. More and more bars are popping up where the cocktails have been elevated to an art form. Death & Company was one of the first places in NYC where these mixologists brought elegance and craftsmanship back to the cocktail. Not to mention how cool it is inside!

 What’s the best dish you’ve had this year?

LA: As I can think of several, I would have to say my absolute favorite dish has been the Miso Cured Alaskan Butterfish at Asia de Cuba.  The dish features Cuban black beans, edamame salad and tempura shishito peppers. I have had some amazing food but this was on a whole new level of delicious!  The plate was colorful, had amazing texture and totally surprised my palate.

NYC: I am going to say it was the Braised Lamb Shank at La Promenade de Anglais. It’s a new restaurant in Chelsea that is a great mixture of European cuisines, popular with the gallery crowd.  Their Lamb Shank, braised perfectly and placed in a bed of their amazing Polenta, makes this Italian-American a very happy person!

What’s the toughest door in town right now—and how can I get past it?

LA: The toughest door is Los Angeles is at Sayers Club, right in the middle of all the Hollywood action. Sayers is ultra-new, ultra-exclusive and ultra-glamorous—don’t be surprised when you see celebrities here. Table reservations are always a good idea to guarantee entry and at Sayers, it is well worth it!  

NYC: Formerly The Boom Boom Room, and now called Top of The Standard. Even the guests of the Standard are typically turned away. Best way to get in is to go early. I can reserve you a table up until 10PM, but after 10PM it’s doorman’s discretion. It’s not 100% impossible to get in after that, but if you don’t know the owners, you better be dressed well and be nice to the doorman!

Where’s the best boutique to pick up a last-minute gift?

LA: If you need a last minute gift, definitely check out The Lemon Tree Bungalow in West Hollywood.  It has a lot of different gift options and is very well balanced whether you are looking for a housewarming gift, a holiday gift, or something bigger like an anniversary gift. The very friendly staff is helpful and also great at recommending the perfect item!  

NYC: It’s definitely MXYPLYZYK in the West Village. For years I have been going there for all sorts of gifts. They have fun and unique items for every room in your house or apartment. They also have books, kids toys, and even fish bowls made to hang on your wall. MXYPLYZYK really has a little bit of everything. Best part is it’s all affordable!

What’s your personal favorite room in the hotel, and why?

LA: This is easy, my favorite room in the hotel is the lobby! This isn’t just the obvious answer because I spend so much time here, but because I love the modern furniture and trendy feel.  We also just opened a brand-new restaurant that is connected to our lobby, Caulfield’s. It is a beautiful space with large windows that add some great natural light to complete the welcoming feel that any lobby should have.

NYC: Well the Penthouse of course! And if you have to ask why, then you need to come here and check it out. Call me and I’ll give you a tour.

Booze, Breasts, & Bartenders: Welcome to Portland Cocktail Week

Imagine being a huge sports fan, and Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, and Wayne Gretzky all walked into a bar together (which actually could happen in Portland thanks to Nike’s headquarters nearby). The bartender equivalent of this is how Portland Cocktail Week began, with Dale DeGroff (the Granddaddy of the craft cocktail), Simon Ford (top international brand ambassador), Misty Kalkofen (one of the top female bartenders in the world), Jason Littrel (New York’s finest from Death & Co), Ali Tahsini (San Francisco powerhouse from Bourbon & Branch), and Tony Conigliaro (the best mixologist in the world) all ponying up to a little Portland bar called Rum Club.

Why Portland? How did this little city draw some of the biggest bartenders in the world for a weekend of seminars, parties, and imbibing? Portland is like a good friend who never manages to keep down a job, but always manages to leave at the end of the night with the hottest girl in the bar. Some places just seem to have that kind of mojo, and Portland, for one reason or another, has it.

image (Jeffrey Morgenthaler Bartending at Mary’s Strip Club)

Portland Cocktail Week isn’t anywhere close to the scale of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic or the standard-setting Tales of the Cocktail, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in enthusiasm. There’s just something about Portland that drives people to drink, and the intermingling of bartenders from around the country for spirits, seminars, parties, and strippers, seems like it’s always been pre-ordained. And yes, we said strippers. Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other state in America, and they are as big a part of the drinking scene as craft cocktail bars, dive bars, and pubs (but more on that later).

Less than ten years ago, it would have been almost unfathomable for someone to say they wanted to be a career bartender. Bartending was something you did to pay your way through school, or because you couldn’t get a job in your chosen field. With the craft cocktail revival, bartending has re-emerged as a culinary career and has gained some of the same kind of respect and support we give to great chefs. As such, modern bartenders are very interested in expanding their knowledge base through learning new crafts and better techniques, and one of the reasons they go to events like Portland Cocktail Week is to hone their craft.

Some of the topics covered at Portland Cocktail Week included understanding how taste and smell work with an Absolut Vodka Sensory Experience; deconstructing one of the most iconic of cocktails, the Martini, with Tony Conigliaro; making beer cocktails with Jacob Grier, the guru of beer cocktails; and, technical freepouring with 22-year bartending vet Tobin Ellis.

The blockbuster session of Portland Cocktail Week was one called "Half Way To Bar Smarts." Bar Smarts is a national bartender education program that travels to cities across the country to help educate and train bartenders. It’s staffed by some of the biggest names in the industry, and for this session in Portland it featured Dale DeGroff (legendary Rainbow Room bartender), Misty Kalkofen (Drink, Boston), Eric Alperin (LA’s The Varnish), and Jacques Bezuidenhout (Partida Tequila Brand Ambassador). The session covered some of the basics of identifying and tasting spirits as well as techniques, including Dale DeGroff making one of his famous Bloody Bulls, a riff on the Bloody Mary using beef broth.

image (Denver bartender Michelle Baldwin performing as Vivienne VaVoom)

With the learning done, Portland Cocktail Week focused on what bartenders do better than almost anyone in the world—party. I’ve had the opportunity to party with movie stars, rock stars, and bartenders, and of the three no one parties harder, better, or longer than bartenders. Portland Cocktail Week’s signature event was the DonQ Rum Yacht Rocking party, which was an odd fusion of nautical theme and 80’s culture with a live karaoke band and burlesque. Breasts pop up everywhere at Portland Cocktail Week.

Another Portland Cocktail Week party pitted bartenders against drink-making robots in a mano-y-mechanico smackdown. While the robots made a fairly good showing, it was the bartenders who showed that they have the finesse (and sense of taste) to outmatch a drink-making robot.

image

The final day of Portland Cocktail Week could easily have been labeled "Rack Day". They key event of the day was Speed Rack, a head-to-head competition of the top female bartenders in the region. Speed Rack pitted them in timed heats where they were scored both on speed and on the quality of their drinks. The judges panel included such luminaries as Audrey Saunders (Pegu Club), Charlotte Voisey (Company Mixologist with William Grant & Sons), Misty Kalkofen, and Portland celebrity drag queen Poison Waters. In addition to being a competition, Speed Rack was charity event to raise money for local breast cancer charities.

Breasts were center stage at Portland Cocktail Week’s closing party "Stripperoke". Hosted at Portland’s Devil’s Point strip club, Stripperoke had top bartenders serenading the intoxicated crowd on a stage accompanied by strippers doing what they do best. Stripperoke was an event that showed that no matter what Portland Cocktail Week’s ambitions are, it didn’t take itself too seriously.

Portland Cocktail Week may not be the biggest cocktail week nationally, but in its second year it showed why Portland tends to achieve things that should generally be beyond its reach, and why this Cocktail Week is one to watch.

The Best Happy Hour Cocktails

Simple enough to explain to a bartender, complex enough to stand out from the crowd — that’s what we like in a cocktail. Created by some of bartending’s biggest names, these are a combination of old friends and new favorites that we’d recommend for any occasion.

Dark & Stormy Created by Maura McGuigan, Bar Pleiades at The Surrey Hotel

● 2 oz Brugal Añejo Rum ● .75 oz fresh lime ● .75 oz ginger syrup ● Splash of soda water Shake, strain over ice in a Collins glass. Float 1 oz. of Cruzan Black Strap Rum. Garnish with lime.

Perfect Gin Martini Created by Jason Littrell (formerly of Death & Co and Dram) JBird Lounge ● 1 oz. Nolet’s Silver Gin Pour the gin into your mixing glass and add large ice cubes. Keep the ice just above the gin line so there is a good ratio of surface to liquid so as not to water down your drinks. Hold your barspoon like you would hold chopsticks and gently twist it with your fingers through the spirit. Technique is key here — it’s all in the circular stirring motion of the fingers along the ridges of the spoon handle. Keep your arm and wrist steady and be gentle so as not to bruise the botanicals in the gin. If done correctly, you can stir without hearing a sound from the ice or spoon. Stir for 30 to 60 seconds. Use a Hawthorne strainer to strain into a chilled martini glass. Slice the rind of a lemon and squeeze about 15 centimeters away from the glass at a 45-degree angle to perfume the glass and drink. Twist the lemon.

Fedora Honey Badger Created by Brian Bartels, Fedora’s Restaurant ‘ ● 1.5 oz Rittenhouse Rue ● .5 oz Combier liqueur ● .5 oz fresh lime juice ● .75 oz honey water ● Beef Jerky Bitters Combine and shake, and strain into champagne coupe. Top with 4 dashes of bitters.

Highlander Created by Eben Freeman, Marea

● 1 oz. blended scotch whisky ● .5 oz Drambuie liqueur ● 1 oz Pama liqueur ● 5 oz ginger beer ● Dash of lemon juice Combine, shake, and pour.

Siesta Created by Katie Stipe, Vandaag

● Ice ● 2 ounces silver tequila (100% agave) ● .5 ounce Campari ● .5 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice ● .5 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice ● .5 ounce simple syrup ● Grapefruit twist Combine tequila, Campari, juices, and simple syrup over ice in a cocktail shaker, then shake and strain into a cold glass; garnish with a twist.

[Image via Judy Kennamer/Shutterstock]

NYC: The Best Bars to Entertain Holiday Visitors

The holiday season means higher-than-usual tourist density in New York City, and naturally, that spike in traffic is due in no small part to your own eager friends and family, who descend on the city for an authentic, fairy-lighted experience of the Big Apple in winter. But after a day at Macy’s, an evening at Rockefeller Center, and a dinner somewhere “New York-y,” as per their request, where do you, their trusty tour guide by default, take them for a night on the town? Here are a few crowd-pleasers that will still earn you some street cred, whether that crowd involves your boyfriend’s distant Uncle Larry, Mom and Dad, long-lost friends who’ve emerged from the woodwork, hard-to-impress rubberneckers, or your old high school mates. A comprehensive list of the best yuletide boîtes to celebrate the new year – and the best of NYC.

Bars with Games Good For: Who doesn’t like to indulge in the nostalgia of old-school games, especially this time of year? Whether you’re with a raucous bunch of old friends, have a score to settle with your Mom over ping pong, or need to take the focus off a conversation with relatives you barely know, these bars offer distractions and can make for a festive time. Bar 675: Basement rec room goes for casual chic with Jenga, cards, and board games. Earn extra points from sceney friends, who will be thrilled to tell the folks back home that they hung out in the Meatpacking. The Diamond: Brooklyn bound? Beer makes shuffleboard so much more fun at this Greenpoint joint. SPiN: Table tennis for mom, and the fact that it’s owned by Susan Sarandon will appease cousin Name Drop as well. Barcade: Are your friends from the Midwest looking for “authentic Brooklyn?” Watch their wide-eyed wonder as they take in skinny-jean gangs playing thumb-cramping faves like Frogger and Tetris for an authentic 25¢ a pop. Ace Bar: Skee-Ball bar pleases the kiddies and anyone else who likes bare-bones décor sprinkled with bits of pop-trinket nostalgia from your childhood. V Bar: Siding with the gaming snobs of the world, this spot is best for your Princeton-alum brother (who happens to be a chess genius). Café and wine bar stocked with NYU grad students, chess and Scrabble battles, and a nice selection of beer and wine.

Next: Cozy Fireplaces

Cozy Fireplaces Good For: Catch up time with people who came to really enjoy holiday spirit in the city. Rose Bar: Have friends or family more interested in being around artists than actual art? For example: I once took someone here who fawned over what he thought was a Warhol (he read about it in a city guide) loud enough so that he was sure Neve Campbell, seated a table away, could hear. It was a Haring. Rubber-necking friends aside, the velvety banquettes and giant fireplace are a cozy departure from the winter weather courtesy of Ian Schrager and Julian Schnabel. The Lobby Bar at the Bowery Hotel: Wood paneling, stuffed animal trophies, and twin oils of hunting hounds give off an English-manor-library vibe. Can be a headache to get a good spot, which are usually reserved for “hotel guests,” monied travelers, and pretty hipsters. Try eating at Gemma first and brown nose your server for a spot by the fireplace. The Back Room: Semi-secret spot for those wishing it was still Prohibition. They’ll get a kick out of drinking their $11 cocktail from a mug. Employees Only: High-class weirdness, with a gypsy psychic at the door and stellar mixologists to determine your fate. The smell of the fireplace and the sight of all the handle bar mustaches will really transport your visitors. Highlands: Décor is pub-meets-hunter’s-lodge, with stuffed deer on brick walls and salvaged woods. Cozy, and it exacerbates that whole “New York Melting Pot” idea. Savoy: A townhouse in the middle of Soho with a fireplace as the festive cherry on top. Shoolbred’s: Scottish pub parlor warmed by actual fireplace. Ten brews on tap. Scotch, natch. It’s Highlands for the East Side set, with a low key (NYU students) crowd.

Next: The Oldest Bars in New York

The Oldest Bars in New York Good For: Skip these precious spots if you’re with a crew that couldn’t care less about anywhere that doesn’t have a VIP list. Otherwise, impress friends and family with the storied, often quirky backgrounds of some of New York’s oldest watering holes. Bridge Café: Opened in 1794, old but not musty. Looks like the site of a nautical murder mystery and is rumored to be haunted by ghosts of sailors and whores, like your parents’ bedroom. Ear Inn: Classic New York-on-the-waterfront feel, minus Marlon Brando, but with plenty of coulda-been contenders. I’ve seen a Soprano in here. McSorley’s: Born in 1854, and perhaps the most renown bar amongst the younger members of the Historical Society, this beer-chugging joint sees tanked fratboys, the cirrhosis crowd, and, after a court order, a few ladies (in other words: no women were allowed until 1970). Sawdusted floors, dust-encrusted wishbones, and loads of cats make this a very special place, indeed. Delmonico’s: Quenching your bloodthirst since ’37 -1837, that is – your parents will appreciate the air of refinement this joint still exudes, not to mention the supposed hauntings. Mahogany wood dining room with glowing chandeliers is the ideal noir-glam setting for steakhouse staples and a bustling bar separate from the dining room.

Next: Mixology Bars

Mixology Bars Good For: The mixology trend is widely known across all towns and townships, so let your slightly underage cousin Timmy learn firsthand just how delightful muddling, zesting, and spicing can be. Just about anyone who doesn’t limit themselves to wine coolers will appreciate the craftsmanship and ambiance. Apotheke: For those who want the back alley as much as they want the absinthe, welcome to Albert Trumer’s quirky school of cocktail science – this former opium den has been transformed into a medieval apothecary by the Austrian mixologist. Bonus: it’s in Chinatown. The interior is antique-sexy, with warm lighting and super-friendly bartenders. PDT: Oh, this is good. Through a hot dog joint you’ll go, and then through a phone booth, where you’ll have to say some secret something-or-other (though they’ve grown lenient in their older age) before you take your dumbfounded guests back to a room with a diagonal slat ceiling, de rigueur taxidermy, and a glowing bar. Note: Make a reservation earlier to get a good seat and smooth entry. Little Branch: By far the most talked-about speakeasy, this West Village spot boasts no signage unless you count the line out the door during peak hours. Retro cocktails served with cool swizzle sticks by tall drinks of water. Go on the early side of a Sunday night to chat up the mixologists and catch some jazz. Mayahuel: The cocktail connoisseurs at Death & Co. built an agave altar. Intimate confessionals, stained glass, and communal pews evoke a Mexican mission. All tequila, all the time, with all the bells and whistles to render previous tequila blow-outs null and void. Death & Co: Dark and polished, this cocktail den packs in a lively crowd. Bartenders in suspenders and vests serve up expert cocktails, and clearly love what they do (they don’t take of their vests when they get home). Great spot for just about anyone who can appreciate such a scene. Cienfuegos: Cuban rum bar from Mayahuel/Death & Co vet seduces with pink couches and sugarcane.

Next: Impressive Hotel Bars

Impressive Hotel Bars Good For: If your guests really “wanna see stuff,” like mine usually do, guiding them to impressively-designed hotel bars around NYC—usually the crown jewels of the hotels themselves—will go over well. Here are a few that leave a lasting impression. Bemelmans Bar: It’s classic New Yawk! Located inside the Carlyle, this timeless upscale New York City bar near Central Park draws bold-faced names, many of whom your out-of-towners could care less about. They will enjoy the classic cocktails and gilded ambiance. Hudson Bar at Hudson Hotel: If your guests approach things like rock music, sushi, and democrats with trepidation, this bar on acid may not be the place for them. Shrek-green lights illuminate the escalator, there’s a chandelier the size of a Volkswagen, the floors glow, the chairs seem to float—except for the tree stumps—and the whole thing makes you feel like you’re living in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s that cool. The Waldorf Astoria: Ah, the sprawling impressiveness of the Waldorf – the stuff salads are named after! Three bars, four restaurants, and Jazz Age overindulgence. A certain spirit abides, especially during the holidays. Jane Hotel and Ballroom: This place is for your visiting sorority sisters – leave the parents at home. Dual bar spaces decked out with Edwardian charm, as befits the hotel’s 1908 origins. Posh couches, leafy palms, tortoise shell ceilings, and an ancient disco bar all made better by the creatively-dressed PYTs. Plunge Rooftop Bar + Lounge at the Gansevoort Park: This hotel bar sort of looks like the New York in the Sex and the City movies. It’s slick and arty, with shinning angles and scrumptious views of the Empire State Building. Stoke your vertigo with windows in the terrace floors that look straight down on distant midtown traffic. Your guests will feel so very modern. The Standard Hotel: So this is the place with all the naked people? Depending who you’re with, I’d say a stroll around the grounds with a stop at the bar in the hotel’s Standard Grill will be enough. Unless you’ve got some young model/socialite family members, why waste family time on rubbernecking at Boom Boom? The Ace Hotel: It has a curious cheeky quality to it without being a tourist magnet. The Lobby Bar is reminiscent of an all-American library, with Ivy League reading-room tables, a bar serving up Old Fashioneds and the cult favorite Porkslap Pale Ale, a vintage-style photobooth, and a massive, tattered American flag on the wall. Bring people—not sheeple.

Next: Editor’s Picks

Editor’s Picks Our editors are often tasked with selecting the perfect place for their cousin Sarah’s college roommate’s mother, who’s coming to the city for the first time. Here’s where they like to bring their special holiday guests this time of year. Chris Mohney: Pegu Club. Great place to take any out-of-towner who likes a good drink. Still some of the finest cocktails in the city, and now that it’s been around a while, almost always chill enough to easily find a spot without worrying about crowds. Ben Barna: Fatty Cue. It’s good for anyone, really. Except maybe vegetarians. It’s got the kind of vibe you can only find in Brooklyn, and the kind of unique cuisine you’ll only find in New York. Also, it’s a restaurant meant for sharing, so that’s fun. And the drinks are as good as the food. I’d like to just bring my bros, but it’s expensive, so I take my parents as well. Megan Conway: The Good Fork in Red Hook. I’d like to take my parents to visit this historic, less-trodden waterfront neighborhood. This cozy restaurant offers inspired grub in one of the more unique pockets of the city. Nadeska Alexis: The Dove. It’s a well rounded place that’s chill enough for friends, and I’ve been there with adults and have not been embarrassed. Fun cocktails too. Victor Ozols: Rudy’s. It’s a really lasting, authentic experience that stays with someone. Cayte Grieve: Oyster Bar at Grand Central. For New York newbies and friends and family who haven’t spent a lot of time in the city, the Oyster Bar is one of those bars-slash-attractions that sort of kills two birds with one stone. Grand Central? Check. Getting Grandma drunk? Check. All done with old-style glamour.

Next: Around Rockefeller

Around Rockefeller Good For: Sometimes you just gotta give the people what they want: A Disney-fied version of the most wonderfully commercial time of the year! While your skating, shopping, and taking photos around The Tree, you might as well ease your sensory-overloaded nerves with some family vodka time. Rock Center Café: Tourist magnet, priced accordingly, and you will wait accordingly—yes, even the early birds. Perhaps it’s best to skip the food and opt for a toast instead. Perfect before, during, or after a spin around the rink. Watching wipe-outs with the fam never felt so corporate. The Modern: Danny Meyer’s unabashed flamboyance for air-kissing culture whores. It’s at the MoMa, kids, so take only those who desire such a scene. If you’ve got yourself a crew outfitted in suits and ties longing for a culture cocktail, here’s your promised land. 21 Club: It’s so famous! Free parking if you show up before 6:30pm, if that tells you something about the demographic, but only the locals and culture snobs will take note. Skip the steaks and head for the scotch with the people who’ve read about the place or heard about it in hip-hop songs. Morrell Wine Bar & Cafe: Here’s a cozy place to get warm after running with the masses around Rockefeller. Please remember that other people longing for a night cap will also be directed to this wine bar, which boasts over fifty well-chosen wines by the glass and 2,000 bottle choices on the menu.

Saturday Night Mixology @ Elsa

Alphabet City cocktail joint Elsa was a pleasant surprise this past Saturday night, the usual bullshit kept to a minimum while still putting on a bit of a show. People can’t call a place “theirs” unless it has some kind of buzz attached, and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s nice to write home to mom about sitting next to Leonardo Dicaprio from time to time. But isn’t it lovely to alleviate that crick in your neck from all the rubbernecking, pop into a place that doesn’t require lists or ropes, and still feel rather discerning about where you’ve chosen to spend your Saturday night? Elsa wasn’t a waste of time or an outfit.

As four friends who’d spent the day drinking and I wandered up Avenue B, I cringed to see that Elsa had a doorman. I was quite certain our plans were about to be derailed, but the doorman wasn’t a doorman, in the sense that he didn’t ask us about our 50:50 ratio, or utter the bemoaned “not tonight” catch phrase (a favorite among “clandestine” bars). He was a sweet, accommodating employee who was outside trying to work crowd control. “Just waiting for a table to get up and we can get you seated right away,” said the non-doorman. “The bartenders are just getting a little backed up.”

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One minute later we were seated at a little white table inside the whitewashed, candlelit bar. The rustic space seems for a country restaurant, and the vibe is just as friendly. There were subtly-stylish pockets of people who took to table-hopping, the groups melting into one another and talking closely in dimly lit-corners. It’s easy to see why the bartenders were in the weeds: the main event of the place isn’t the rigmarole of getting in, but rather, the meticulously crafted cocktails. While they’re very good, they’re also not very intimidating – entry-level mixology for patrons who haven’t yet picked a nightlife major. We ordered the flavorful Black Book cocktail (how appropriate!) which included fresh jalapeno, bourbon, honey, lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. At $10 a pop, it’s certainly a reasonably-priced selection considering the company a place like Elsa keeps (Death & Co., Mayahuel, PDT). Overall, it was an aspirational mixology den for a younger, more enthusiastic, downtown crowd, whose shining warmth left the space void of many of the pretenses you’d find in lounges of a similar makeup. A comfortable place where you can dress up if you’d like, and let seep into your Saturday night.

Overheard: “I wouldn’t necessarily call David Lynch a feminist.” “I can’t believe the Gators lost to LSU.” Waitress Doppleganger: Marion Cotillard dressed as Wednesday Adams. Cocktail: The Black Book Price Range: $$ Undernotes: Trivial pursuit buffs rejoice: cocktails with names like Picnic at Hanging Rock, and The Passenger, reference film. Invitation to a Beheading is the name of a Russian novel, while the Maddow Swizzle seems to be a pop culture reference. Try to connect them? Perk: Reasonably priced bottles of wine.

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