The Vault at Pfaff's
643 Broadway, at Bleecker St.; 212-253-5421
This plush bar, located in the cavelike space beneath Corner Shop Cafe, opened last fall amid little fanfare—good news for the kempt crowd that’s started congregating here. Inspired by Pfaff’s, the 1850s beer cellar where Walt Whitman drank, the dimly lit, brick-walled Vault is sleek and spacious: A 150-year-old white-oak bar runs the length of one wall, club chairs are dispersed throughout, and menus disguised as newspapers detail expert cocktails. Prices are steep ($16 for a Smoking Revolver, made with dark rum, char-roasted jalapeños, and ginger liqueur), but the portions are generous (coupes are as big as cereal bowls). And unlike bourgeois hotel bars or PDT and other arbiters of cool, the vibe is decidedly unpretentious: not too sceney, not too cocktail-geeky.