NYC’s 5 Best 2011 Cocktail Bar Openings

December 22, 2011 5:00 PM

Credit: Lantern’s Keep

This year in NYC, the cocktail cup runneth over as a slew of bars made their debut. Midtown saw an influx of classy tippling holes, piano and jazz bars became trendy again, and a number of bartenders opened their own bars, creating casual hangouts with stand-out drinks. The list could go on and on, but here are the top five bars that helped make NYC a better place to drink this year. By Selena Ricks-Good.
maison premiere NYCs 5 Best 2011 Cocktail Bar Openings

Credit: Maison Premiere

Oyster lovers and absinthe drinkers met their match made in heaven when this New Orleans-inspired cocktail bar opened its doors in Williamsburg earlier this year. The cocktail program by head bartender Maxwell Britten offers an impressive selection of strong tipples, including the Frenchmen Roulette (Old Overholt Rye, Wild Turkey 101, maraschino liqueur, absinthe and Creole bitters).  Happy hour here is borderline ecstasy-inducing, featuring $1 oysters from 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays.

tippler4 NYCs 5 Best 2011 Cocktail Bar Openings

Credit: Handcrafted PR

Filling a much-needed void on the Meatpacking District/Chelsea border, The Tippler has been a smashing success since opening this fall in the basement of Chelsea Market. Sporting cocktails $13 and under created by all-star cocktail consultants the Tippling Bros., concoctions include the Dizzy Oaxacan (Sombra Mezcal, Averna Amaro, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, ginger beer and chile) and a selection of “lushies,” or frozen cocktails, such as the Snow Groni (Beefeater Gin, Campari and sweet vermouth).

vault at pfaffs NYCs 5 Best 2011 Cocktail Bar Openings

Credit: Vault at Pfaff's

Named after a poem Walt Whitman wrote about the original 1850s-era Pfaff’s at Broadway and Bleecker, the Vault at Pfaff’s is a cozy cocktail bar tucked below street level keeping the speakeasy vibe alive. Past an unmarked entrance, you’ll find a Pre-Prohibition scene featuring ragtime music and vintage cocktails such as Subway Rumbles (Ballantine’s Blended Scotch, Bols Genever, house-made grenadine, lemon juice and egg white) or the Twain’s Thyme (Brugal White Rum, house-made falernum, lemon juice, lime juice and fresh thyme).

the lanterns keep NYCs 5 Best 2011 Cocktail Bar Openings

Credit: Lantern's Keep

Midtown’s cocktail scene blossomed this year, and Lantern’s Keep at the Iroquois Hotel became one of the most alluring haunts for imbibers in need of a quiet retreat from Times Square. Featuring drinks created by head bartender Meaghan Dorman of Raines Law Room, the turn-of-the-century Parisian-inspired bar offers cocktails such as the Honeymoon (apple brandy, Cointreau, Benedictine and lemon juice) to help visitors forget the madness outside.

the rum house NYCs 5 Best 2011 Cocktail Bar Openings

Credit: Rum House

Revamped earlier this year by the team behind Ward III, the once-dusty Rum House has been polished for a new crowd of imbibers while retaining its vintage charm. Classic cocktails such as Sazeracs and Manhattans are served while live pianists perform most nights, adding to Midtown’s sophisticated nightlife revival.

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Selena Ricks-Good writes about drinks and produces events as The Dizzy Fizz.

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