Cocktails to Ring in the Season
Spring in Manhattan comes in myriad ways. Park Avenue’s meridian is landscaped and in full bloom, Central Park re-fills with joggers, and it’s once again hard to get a sidewalk seat at cafés. The warming weather seems to permeate all parts of city life—even the drinking culture, which adopts an emphasis on seasonal cocktails as fresh as a bouquet of flowers . . . literally so, with these four flower-based drinks.
Mum’s the Word at Shay & Ivy (39 West 24th St.)
Nestled near the lobby in Chelsea’s eco-friendly Hotel Henri, Shay & Ivy greets guests with a sign over its entrance stating, “Just be yourself, everyone else is taken.” Happily, the restaurant and bar helps diners let down their guard and do just that with its unpretentious, relaxing vibe that feels something like a secret indoor garden in the city. An outdoor patio and walls of ivy and candlelit wooden tables make for an atmosphere as fresh and light as its seafood-centric menu that uses largely organic fare and features a number of vegan options, too.
The cocktails are accordingly garden-inspired, combining unique flavors like pear, ginger, and rosemary in the vodka-based Ripple Effect, or pomegranate, cloves, and lemon in the bourbon-based Logan Alexander. As spring rolls in, perhaps the most relevant option is Mum’s the Word, a seasonal interpretation of mulled wine that turns the classically substantial drink into a light, floral elixir made of sparkling wine, vodka, and hibiscus mulling syrup. Make note that Shay & Ivy is more of a hideaway than a flashy hangout spot, making it an ideal spot for a date after a day of gallery hopping in the area.
Sleepy Rum at Angel’s Share (8 Stuyvesant St.)
Hidden East Village speakeasy Angel’s Share is now 23 years into operations and still regarded as one of the top cocktail spots in the city. Its well-regarded nature means that it’s not the insiders-only spot it once was, but what has lessened in secrecy seems to have been gained in dignified elegance. Up a flight of stairs through an unmarked door near Astor Square, the tiny bar still draws some of the most discerning drinkers to come and relax on old leather armchairs by the romantic backlit bar, admire the cherub-filled ceiling mural, and listen to jazz.
Talented bartenders, often visiting from other countries, can whip up anything you like off-the-cuff or draw from the exhaustive menu of drinks, each more delicious-sounding than the last. However, the Sleepy Rum in particular has gained quite a following and is absolutely worth a try for lovers of a sour; with lemon juice, egg white, and lavender-infused rum, it’s frothy and tart, with a hint of one of nature’s most relaxing herbs.
Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room (986 Second Ave.)
When Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room opened in 2015, it was one of the first establishments to step into the upper edge of Midtown East and redefine the drinking culture here. While neighboring Irish and sports bars boasted chalkboard signs and banners promoting wild happy hours and dollar shots, Atwood became a haven for anyone wanting to have a drink and enjoy it too, even at 4 a.m. (it stays open as late as its brethren). Accompanied by a large menu of upmarket American fare—bone marrow with g marmalade, roasted porcini ravioli—the cocktail menu is both approachable and original, sophisticated without sounding overly daring.
Some, like the tequila-based Guapo Sour, are fixtures, while others change with the season, like spring standout The Eleanor: a flirty and potent concoction of gin, rosé, lemon, fresh strawberries, and rose water. Run by the same duo behind Shay & Ivy, Atwood is again a place to come for an upmarket feel and fine fare without all the hoo-ha of a celebrity-chef venture—especially at weekend brunch, when the bi-level space fills up early with diners thirsty for a Fully Loaded Bloody or blackberry margarita.
Greenpoint at Attaboy (134 Eldridge St.)
There was once a bar on the Lower East Side called Milk & Honey, which became famous among cocktail lovers and mixologists worldwide for inventing some of the best modern-classic cocktails to date—namely the Penicillin, a medicine of Scotch, lemon, and ginger-honey syrup. Milk & Honey closed in 2013, but two of its primary bartenders stayed behind and carried on the legacy by opening Attaboy in the same space and with equally inventive creations.
Brick walls, lament bulbs, shelves of books, and New Order-filled soundtracks fill the long boxcar-like space, lending a laid-back intimacy that Milk & Honey eschewed in lieu of reservation- only and even no-flirting policies. Now, you can pop in unannounced and eye a cutie at the long bar, too. There’s no menu here, so either come with an idea of what you’d like as your drink of the night, or better yet, suggest a mood or flavor and then leave the rest to the suspenders- clad bartenders, who are sure to come up with a delicious work of genius. Or, for bonus points this season, ask for the Greenpoint—another of the now internationally known drinks invented here—which playfully embodies its Brooklynite name by twisting a classic Manhattan with green Chartreuse.