Raise A Toast To The Season With These Autumnal Drinks
As the weather cools off, there’s no better way to warm up than with a cocktail. At some of the city’s most creative bars, here are drinks as crisp and colorful as the season itself.
Flatiron Lounge (19th St. nr. Sixth Ave.)
It may be a product of the 21st century, but Flatiron Lounge is like a step back in time to the prohibition era when cocktails were being invented left and right and nothing was more elegant than a good martini. Here, Art Deco plush chairs, tiled walls, and stained-glass lights hanging over the wood bar create a dapper atmosphere for an extensive list of imaginative cocktails, categorized on the menu by liquor type and changing with the seasons. For rum-lovers, the Nui Nui is an aromatic blend of aged rum and citrus with vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice; for something warming on a blustery day, the Highlander is the way to go, a version of a hot toddy laced with Demerara rum and Amaro. If you can’t choose just one drink to try, there’s a choice for that too: the daily-changing set of three different cocktail flights.
Crimson & Rye (54th St. at Fifth Ave.)
At Crimson & Rye, the name says it all. Inspired in part by its location in Midtown’s Lipstick Building—so deemed for its shape—Crimson & Rye is the type of rollicking lobby bar where prints of deep red lips are wont to be found on tables strewn with one too many empty cocktail glasses, which here are dedicated to the burly brown stuff —whiskey, Scotch, bourbon, and rye. But for all the fun and games that certainly take place after work on the cushy leather chairs here, the cocktails are serious business, crafted with ingredients such as kalamansi juice, orange blossom water, and house-made bitters. Rich, nutty, and smooth, the barrel-aged Spirits Dominion is not for the faint-of-heart, made with Wasmund’s unaged single malt Scotch, vermouth, Campari, and black walnut bitters. Classicists, however, will want to stick to the Manhattan, made with Filibuster Rye and orange oils.
Porch Light (Eleventh Ave. at 28th St.)
A down-home, Southern-style bar may not seem like a good fit for artsy, sleek Chelsea, but leave it to restaurateur extraordinaire Danny Meyer to make it a slam dunk anyway. Opened last year, Porch Light—what with its raw-wood fittings and indoor porch with rocking chairs—is a prime place for a cozy rest stop after a few hours roaming the Whitney Museum or galleries nearby. The food menu was designed by famous barbecue restaurant Blue Smoke’s Jean- Paul Bourgeois, and its offerings such as Louisiana craw fish fritters and smoked cheddar biscuits are sure to give a solid stomach base for a few cocktails. There are too many enticing options to only try one—a such as Creole Negroni with absinthe, the gin-based IPA-mazing with passionfruit and Other Half IPA, and a signature Porchlight Gibson with pickled onion brine. To put some color back in your cheeks after a walk on the windy High Line, though, go for the Barley Boys: Knappogue Castle 12 Year whiskey, honey, mole bitters, and roasted barley tea.
Skylark (39th St. nr. Seventh Ave.)
Even to the most seasoned city dwellers, the hubbub of Times Square can be exhausting. Thirty floors above it all, Skylark provides an alternative way to experience the city center, occupying three floors of handsome lounge space with views that stretch from the square below all the way to The Hudson River in the west and the Empire State Building in the east, as seen through floor-to-ceiling windows or out on the rooftop when weather permits. A glamorous clientele comes here post-work to sip caramelized pineapple mojitos and Tropical Lavender Sangria on suede sofas and leather bar stools, but to suit the season, the Heathrow Tonic is the cocktail of choice, with earl grey–infused Beefeater, lemon, thyme syrup, tonic, and thyme-lemon ice that adds more flavor as it melts.