One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.
There have been many significantly more talented writers than me that have written a multitude of poetic words to describe New York.
Personally, I believe that most visitors have a personally chosen phrase that he would forever associate to the city:
Melting pot. Yellow Cabs. Lady Liberty. The NYPD. Sex and the City. Tiffany’s.
For me, however, I think of two words whenever I think of the place: food and cocktails.
The moment some* friends and acquaintances heard about our 75 hour stay in Manhattan (a total injustice, I say), I was bombarded with an incredible amount of restaurant suggestions… It was everything from lining up to get a gyro from THE Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th, to exploring The Plaza Food Hall en route to getting Eloise souvenirs (I’ve been a big fan of Kate Thompson since Funny Face, and I planned on bequeathing her Eloise books to our future daughter).
But, as always, I was more excited about exploring the drink side of the city.
I considered myself lucky enough to be friends with one of the best Filipino-American bartenders in New York, Francis Balbarin (we’ve featured him in a previous post) who took us to a few spots for a good tipple:
Tsurutontan (21 East 16th Street)
It’s the ultimate place to get Udon and a few of Francis’ original cocktails. I highly recommend coming to the restaurant and get him to suggest a cocktail, but Autumn in Osaka (with bulleit bourbon, ginger liqueur, yuzu sake, fresh lemon juice, angostura bitters, pear nectar, and amarena cherry) and Matcha on the Moon (with Hendrick’s gin, St. Germain, fresh lemon juice, egg white, and matcha) are definitely not to be missed.
Employees Only (510 Hudson Street)
Where else should a drink-phile (yes, I invented a word) hang out in New York but in a bar that features some of the best, multi-awarded bartenders in town? There were so many good cocktails to choose from, but I got myself a West Side (a vodka based drink with lemons and mint, because the evening just wasn’t cold enough). I also made a mental note to try the lavender infused Provençal in a return trip.
Angel’s Share (8 Stuyvesant Street)
You have to really be in the know to know about this speakeasy. Located behind a discreet door in the back of a Japanese restaurant, it boasts of being one of the top-rated bars in the US**, and with good reason: Their cocktails were amazing. I’ve never had a rose infused cocktail before, and theirs was just wonderful.
The wildcard: Rolf’s (281 3rd Avenue)
Our godfather (yes, my husband and I have a godfather in New York, how cool is that?) insisted on taking us out to dinner, followed by a couple of pints in “a place where it’s Christmas most of the year” (a huge claim, considering we live in a country which celebrates the holiday four months in a year). The German bar was indeed a quirky explosion of sparkly Christmas decorations (in March!), and is also one of the best places to get good German beer.
All in all, having spent 75 hours in the city that never sleeps was incredibly insufficient… But even if our visit seemed like a nanosecond, we felt at home. There’s definitely more to see in a future trip.
With that in mind, let us know your favourite hangouts in the city. Cheers!
Special thanks to Francis Balbarin and our godfather Joe for making us feel at home in your part of the world
*I rarely announce travel plans, and the moment I checked into JFK my Messenger was bombarded with messages of friends wanting to see me (including my favourite East Coast wino, Tristan, who was willing to take a train from Philly just to see me). This post is dedicated to (the surprising amount of) friends we have in the East Coast. We will be back sooner than you think!