King Cole Bar Lounge
2 E. 55th St., nr. Madison Ave.; 212-753-4500
Mixological lore has it that the so-called "Red Snapper" came over from Harry's New York Bar in Paris and eventually morphed into the Bloody Mary, King Cole's signature cocktail. You won't find avant-garde concoctions here, just perfectly balanced renditions of the classics, served in a perfectly civilized atmosphere.
27–24 Jackson Ave., at Dutch Kills St., Long Island City; 718-383-2724
The wooden booths, robber-baron-era cocktails made with hand-cut ice, even the ragtime band playing in the sawdust-strewn back lounge—all will be familiar to anyone who has drunk at one of owner Sasha Petraske’s rapidly proliferating cocktail bars. But there’s a game-changing difference here: The drinks are $9 (as opposed to $13 to $15 at Little Branch or Milk & Honey), so you can try a few of the Queens-themed libations.
20 Seventh Ave., at Leroy St.; 212-929-4360
Milk & Honey is Sasha Petraske's best, but this spinoff provides nearly the same cocktail quality without the secret reservation number. Name your favorite liquor and they’ll give you an encyclopedic list of old-fashioned cocktails that incorporate it.
304 E. 6th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-253-5888
Mayahuel is about as close to your average Cancún cantina as a Oaxacan goat-head taco is to what you get at Chipotle. The latest East Village cocktail joint from the increasingly confident Death & Co. team (Philip Ward and Ravi DeRossi) has instantly made mescal the booze of the moment. All of this without a piñata or a sombrero-ed frog in sight.
113 St. Marks Pl., nr. First Ave.; 212-614-0386
This snug, sexy speakeasy with a twist can only be accessed through a vintage phone booth within Crif Dogs. Once inside, Jim Meehan offers up oddball concoctions (an old-fashioned made from bacon-infused bourbon and maple syrup) and delicious infusions (buttered-popcorn rum) with equal skill.