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First Stop


The Clarkson
225 Varick St., at Clarkson St. 212-675-2474
The high polish of the massive U-shaped bar at this Francophone-style bistro was inspired by the ship that owner George Forgeois (Café Noir, Bar Tabac) sailed on from Senegal to France at the age of 6, and the cocktail program (designed by Employees Only co-founder Dushan Zaric) bears an international influence as well: The Mata Hari ($14) combines chai-spice-infused sweet vermouth with cognac and pomegranate juice, while a classic whiskey sour ($13) is given a float of dry red wine for an intriguing finish. If you’re hungry, a braised-rabbit sandwich on a housemade potato roll ($7) from former ’inoteca chef and Chopped winner Rebecca Weitzman or a dozen oysters from the raw bar will fortify you for wherever else the evening may take you.


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