Re-Crafting the Cocktail: 3 Must-Visit NYC Mixology Masters

by April Stamm

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday October 17, 2017

From resurrected and perfected classics like sazeracs and manhattans, to libations that tell a tale, to high tech, mind-blowingly creative concoctions, the New York City cocktail scene is stronger than ever.

There's a cocktail-centric spot for every palate, as exemplified by these three exceptional venues that are shaking, stirring and pouring some of the city's best libations.


Where: Battery Park City, Pier A "Overlooking" the Hudson River

Who: Owners Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry of The Dead Rabbit, Head Bartender/Bar Manager Jesse Vida

What: Cuban Sexy meets Prohibition Era Clandestine Glamour
Must have libation: The Ventriloquist: A luscious slightly sweet, but perfectly balanced combo of some interesting characters: cognac, sherry, sotol (a Mexican spirit made from the sotol crafted similarly to Mezcal), carrot, lemongrass, lime and chickpea (which whipped lightly lends delicate foam a la egg whites).

As you sit, with a refreshing, perfectly sweet/tart daiquiri in your hand, feeling the gentle breeze from the gigantic ceiling fans, dreamy bartenders sporting colorful guayabera shirts transport you to another time and another place. Hidden away behind wooden shutters, outside could easily be the strife and seduction of Cuba during the U.S. prohibition and rum-running days. However, if you lifted those shades, a shock of reality would burst that bubble of ambiance as the Statue of Liberty and the mighty Hudson loom large.

Boasting the "Best New American Cocktail Bar" Spirited Award for 2017, BlackTail's just done themselves one better and overhauled their cocktail menu. "While some drinks may sound familiar, like the Mojito and the Pina Colada, they have been thoroughly reconceived in our inimitable BlackTail style and taken to a whole new level," says managing partner Jack McGarry. "We are also reprising signature cocktails like our Rum & Cola, Daiquiris and El Presidente." The storied ambiance, the dangerously delicious drinks, the opulent yet sexy atmosphere, and the clever and cool story it all tells completely seduces.

22 Battery Place
Pier A Harbor House
2nd Floor


Where: Heart of the West Village

Who: Owners Emil Stefkov of Dominique Bistro, Olio e Piu, Omakase Room by Tatsu; Cocktail menu crafted by Anthony Bohlinger of Maison Premire

What: Classic French Bistro done BIG

Must have libation: Boucherie Sazerac: A smartly crafted take on the Absinthe classic with Rittenhouse Rye, Pierre Ferrand 1840, Vieux Pontalier , Peychaud's Bitters, Madagascar Vanilla and Lemon Oil

Nestled in the heart of the West Village, Boucherie does French extraordinarily well and extraordinarily large. In the expansive space that formerly housed Circle Repertory Theater, this 320-seat space boasts a formidable bar, seats at the butcher counter in front of the wood-burning grill and a more intimate second-floor gallery.

Drinks are classic, honoring the Belle Époque era, and oh, so French. Cocktails are minimally adorned but expertly crafted, with a special place on the menu and in the heart of mixologist Anthony Bohlinger, who hails from Maison Premier in Williamsburg. Absinthe takes center stage and Bohlinger capitalizes on the spirit's lore. "There are three vital and equal components of a great cocktail - aesthetics, aromatics, and the story. We celebrate French culture here, with each cocktail's name telling a little bit of that history," says Bohlinger of his approach.

Whether you've staked your place at the expansive bar for a sip from a bygone era or take your cocktail at a table with a big ole piece of meat cooked over the wood-burning grill, you will feel decadent like only the French can make you feel.

99 7th Avenue South


Where: Hamilton Heights, hidden just a few steps below street level

Who: Owner and Beverage director Shigefumi Kabashimi, formerly of Angel's Share

What: Japanese "neighborhood" bar and eatery featuring culinary technology and Instagram-worthy cocktails
Must have libation: Anything and everything the mixologist/owner Shige shakes up...

Not exactly where you'd expect to find a tiny, super cool, Japanese spot featuring ramen, oysters, buns, and imaginative cocktails complete with smoke, fire and the occasional mirror, ROKC sits unassumingly and almost hidden uptown in the heart of Hamilton Heights.

At the helm of the bar, Shige crafts cocktails with a creative and slightly mad scientist vibe made famous by chefs Grant Achatz, Ferran Adria and Wylie Dufresne. No simple martinis here folks.

While a list of classic crated cocktails is available such as a Hemmingway daiquiri and corpse reviver no. 2, the house cocktails are the way to go.

Simply listed menu items like Bee/Honey reveal intricate ingredients and preparations. (In this case chamomile gin, limoncello, dill, lime, lemon, egg white, and tonic.) Shige makes full use of fun tools like the "smoking gun," packed with wood dust, dried herbs and flowers and more to shoot smoke into food or drink. The drinks vary from sublime - the afore mentioned, beautifully complex yet balanced Bee/Honey - to the somewhat esoteric, such as the Truffle, loaded with truffle honey offset by a little citrus and served alongside truffle cheese. The tiny bar, with a dozen or so seats, becomes an intimate arena to watch Shige serenely concoct his masterpieces, where oohs and ahhs billow from guests amid his captivating theatrics.

3452 Broadway

April Stamm is a lifestyle and food writer and chef based in Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY.