20 Prince St., nr. Elizabeth St. 212-966-5073
Though it’s hardly downtown’s first underground bar, few lairs can match the mixological pedigree of this cozy haunt beneath Jacques Brasserie. The Contemporary Cocktails crew, who helped design the lauded drinks lists at the Breslin and Forty Four at the Royalton, have created a beverage menu inspired by the year 1534—when French explorer Jacques Cartier took his first voyage to North America. Seasonally shifting punches and cocktails all nod to various French Colonial incursions—cachaça references South America, tearjerking pepper-infused gin and lemongrass syrup allude to Vietnam. And, in keeping with the theme, the food globe-trots from harissa-licked lamb meatballs to Polynesian-style tuna ceviche.