Six places for spirits suitable for celebrating the season
Emerging from winter hibernation spent in the far recesses of dark watering holes, the city has catapulted into its annual era of reinvigoration and endless potential. Spring brings with it an unmistakable aura of electricity and excitement, filling teeming taverns with those in search of everything from scoring a phone number to something good to drink. Only that sounds so pedestrian. Here then, are places one can go to find the cocktails, libations and spirits suitable for celebrating the season and unlocking its power of possibility.
Cuba (222 Thompson Street bet. West 3rd & Bleecker Street; 6 train to Bleecker Street or A/B/C/D/E/F/M to West 4th Street station)
Our little journey could begin and end here, this place and its drinks are so good. Convivial, festive and inviting in the heart of Greenwich Village, the welcome embrace of the Mojito Clasico or house-made sangria — both just $5 during Happy Hour (4-7 p.m., M-F) — will be enough to make you very happy. If you are lucky enough to be there when the impossibly friendly Eduardo is tending bar (Sunday-Friday), be nice and maybe he’ll share with you his signature Flor de Jinebra. This blend of gin, lime juice, simple syrup, and St. Germain topped with champagne and an orange peel will have you walking on air, or dancing in your seat. Last (on the menu, too) but certainly not least is the Cuba Colada. This perfect marriage of Malibu banana and coconut rum, pineapple juice and coconut cream tastes just as dreamy as it sounds.
For fantastic mojitos and the like in other parts of town, Guantanemera (939 8th Ave bet. 55-56th Street; C/E train to 50th Street) or Cabana (1022 Third Avenue bet. 60-61st Street; N/R train to Lexington Avenue, 4/5/6 train to 59th Street) are outstanding choices.
The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog (30 Water Street between Broad Street and Coenties Slip; N/R train to Whitehall Street or 1 train to South Ferry or 4/5 train to Bowling Green)
A more serious place is befitting a more serious drink, albeit one exceptionally Spring in nature. One need not be at Churchill Downs to sip a Mint Julep at this wonderful speakeasy, which is off the beaten path but completely worth finding. You could also jump on the bandwagon and have the Julep a la Thomas, a drink people cannot stop raving about. If those don’t sound good, no doubt you can find something to merit this time of year among the more than 70 other mixed drinks and cocktails on the impressive menu at this award-winning bar.
Zio (17 West 19th Street bet. 5-6TH Avenue; N/R to 23rd Street; 1 train to 18th Street; F/M to 14th Street; L train to 6th Avenue)
One sip of an Aperol Spritz and you’ll get the sensation of sitting on a veranda overlooking the Amalfi coast. But since Manhattan will have to do, savor this traditional Italian cocktail which screams Spring. For just $12, the best one in town will come your way in a giant glass filled with ice, Aperol, soda and Prosecco. This gem of a restaurant also gives you the entire Prosecco split so you can replenish the spritz to suit your liking.
Another fabulous place for this or other similar drinks is Uva (1486 Second Avenue bet. 77-78th Street; 6 train to 77th Street). Sit at the bar or chill in the back garden where it always feels like Spring.
And finally, if you will just be stumbling into the nearest pub and prefer something more subtle, ask for the drink affectionately known as the Remy. Though you’ll likely need to tell the bartender what’s in it (Pinnacle Whipped vodka, pineapple juice and club soda), this eponymous creation is delightful, refreshing and quite honestly, enchanting.