- Audrey Saunders, Bemelmans Bar
35 East 76th Street, 212-744-1600
How can anyone go to Bemelmans Bar and not order a real drink? After all, a bottle of Amstel Light not only demeans the super-swanky setting but, given the availability of such a spectacular cocktail list, unequivocally marks one as a rube. Beverage director Audrey Saunders, a disciple of legendary bartender Dale DeGroff and a gifted mixologist in her own right, sweats the details—the orchid balanced precariously on the rim of a Concord Cup, the boutique bitters made by a friend—and has inspired her old-school staff to do the same. She works late and stays up later, feverishly tinkering with drinks-in-progress before they earn a place on her seasonal menu. Recent triumphs have included the delectably sweet-and-sour hot port sangaree and the bittersweet, slightly effervescent ChamPino. But Saunders’s appetite for innovation never overrides her deep-seated respect for the classics, which makes Bemelmans the perfect place for the perfect martini, too.
Best Cocktail Genius
From the 2004 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).