The Bar Downstairs

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85 Very Good

The Bar Downstairs is less a secret and more like elegantly discreet.

485 Fifth Ave., New York, NY, 10017


Known For

The lowdown

Sometimes it feels like practically every unmarked door in the city leads to a secret bar, but the perfectly lit Bar Downstairs — which, yes, is accessed through a hotel lobby, down an out-of-the-way staircase, behind a minimalist placard — is less a secret than it is merely elegantly discreet. If you’re in the mood to sprawl, aim for the clutch of low leather banquettes just inside the door; otherwise settle into the wooden chairs that line the rows of communal tables. If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself sitting at the bar — two bars, really, each a 14-foot slab of cross-sectioned walnut polished to a high shine, on the other side of which mixologists banter with chefs, guests, and one another while shaking up original (but classically minded) cocktails like the Devil’s Right Hand (Rittenhouse rye, Aperol, mezcal, carpano antica, mole bitters, and a Lagavulin rinse), and the aptly named Mexican Firing Squad (Herradura Blanco Tequila, lime, pomegranate molasses, and Angostura bitters). The Iberian-influenced food menu of shareables leans toward cocktail nibbles — aged cheeses, fancy hams — but deepens into more serious dinner territory with garlicky prawns a la plancha. Best of all is a grilled skirt steak doused in chimichurri, so tender and flavorful that it almost outshines the cocktails.

What you need to know

DrinksFull Bar

Noise LevelCivilized