So you want to imbibe, and you want the atmosphere to be exotic, tranquil, lively, remote, romantic, zen, chaotic or a combination. It's asking quite a bit but in New York, people try to fulfill their every wish.
Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle
Bemelmans, named for Ludwig Bemelmans who created the classic Madeline books for children, mixes jazz with socialites, politicians, movie stars and moguls just inside the Carlyle Hotel at 35 E. 76th St. on Madison Avenue. We slipped inside one weekday night, and a waiter almost whispered that the cover for a table is $25 per person. Restored in 2002 by designer Thierry Despont, the interior sports chocolate-brown leather banquettes, nickel-trimmed black glass tabletops, a black granite bar and a 24-karat gold leaf-covered ceiling. If you want to relax for a tete-a-tete, go here; $30 per person cover at tables on weekends; www.rosewoodhotels.com 212.744.1600.
Boat Basin Café
You'll be in good company with others seeking a circular open-air restaurant with a view. Head to the patio or the rotunda area with its limestone arches. To find this place, walk as far west as possible on West 79th Street, cross Riverside Drive, and look for a green highway overpass bridge. Walk underneath the bridge to the staircases on both sides that lead to the café; www.boatbasincafe.com; 212. 496.5542.
Once a leather wholesaler's warehouse, this space has been transformed into an eatery and bar that accommodates more than 200 people.
At 80 Spring St. between Broadway and Crosby, it captures the essence of SoHo. A bit of clatter contributes to the downtown atmosphere that many crave. A good late-night spot; www.balthazarny.com; 212.965.1414.
If you're looking for wine, food, and music head to City Winery, 155 Varick St., for just the right mix. There's wine making as well as the Barrel Room, a 30-seat tasting room and restaurant featuring 11 wines on tap . The main venue space opens two hours before a musical performance; daily hours including a Sunday Klezmer Brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; www.citywinery.com; 212.608.0555.
Downstairs from the restaurant Blue Smoke in the Flatiron District at 116 E. 27th St. between Park and Lexington avenues, you'll find Jazz Standard, where world-class jazz meets barbecue. Classic jazz to blues, funk, and soul meld with American barbecue ? ribs, chicken, brisket, pulled pork, wings. Try specialty cocktails, wine or beer during weekend evening sets at 7:30, 9:30 and 11:30; Sunday through Thursday nights sets at 7:30 and 9:30. Cover charge ranges from $20 to $35 per person per set; www.jazzstandard.com; 212.576.2232.
Overlooking the Fifth Avenue lobby at The Plaza Hotel, hear jazz every Wednesday and Thursday night in The Rose Club. It's situated where the legendary Persian Room once hosted Bob Hope, Kay Thompson, BobFosse and Liza Minnelli. Sample the Raspberry Rose, a mix of gin, green tea, fruit juices, fresh raspberries with a splash of soda or another cocktail. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily; www.theplazany.com 212.546.5311.
Slip into an altogether different decade at Hotel Chantelle on the Lower East Side, where the décor and the cocktails hark back to the glam 1940s. If you can find the unmarked entrance at 92 Ludlow, you can chill in the stylishly dark lobby or make your way to the rooftop. Brunch is a specialty, and often features live musicians as well as $0.92 cocktails, or the White Sangria Punch Bowl that serves 10-12 people, or fewer. Concocted from white wine, Don Q rum, peach puree, pineapple and orange liqueur, it's a winner. www.hotelchantelle.com. 212.254.9100.
You wouldn't necessarily think that a place known for pickles would also be a place known for cocktails. But this newish Upper West Side joint has got "craft" down to a science, and their Southern-style drinks-with-a-twist go perfectly with their homemade pickled veggies, biscuit sandwiches and updated comfort fare, like catfish tacos and mushroom mac and cheese. For the ultimate summer drink, served in Mason jar to boot, taste the Rosemary Vodka Lemonade.; 509 Amsterdam Avenue. www.jacobspickles.com. 212.470.5566
Newest Beer Hall
Houston Hall just opened this winter, bringing a bit of the outer boroughs' massive beer hall magic to Manhattan. The Village spot has been transformed from an old garage, and the cavernous inside can get loud and crowded, but there are plenty of tables and waitresses to navigate the throngs. The best part of this place, aside from their specially-brewed beers from Greenpoint Brew Works, is that beers are all offered in three sizes, from $5 for a small. There are also Milk Truck sandwiches and tasty apps like Chicken Tikka Masala Wontons to facilitate more beer drinking. 222 W. Houston Street. www.houstonhallny.com. 212.675.9323.
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