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Classic cocktails near Lincoln Center

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Hello. I'm hoping to find a bar near Lincoln Center that:
1. Is open by 5pm
2. Has a relaxed, not too cramped atmosphere
3. Has good cocktails (eg isn't all about vodkas or infusions--knows about good things like gin and classic cocktails like Manhattans--if not variations like Red Hooks).

If I had time I'd be downtown at Death & Company or the like but need it to be near Lincoln Center. I was thinking there must be a hotel with something like this... Any great hotel bars?

Thanks for yr suggestions!

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  1. The only classic bar that I can think of is the one at Cafe des Artistes, and I usually have a glass of champagne there. There's also the bar at the Mandarin Hotel.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      spent some time at the mandarin bar after a sunday lunch at per se. it's a decent room with excellent views. it never worked for me. i won't be back.

      is the oak bar open?

      1. re: steve h.

        Good question. I enjoyed drinks earlier this year at the Champagne bar at the Plaza, but it's less of a bar and more of a lounge/lobby bar.

    2. Definitely not a hotel bar, but I wonder if Shalel Lounge @ 65 W 70th St might work for you. It's more a "Welcome to the casbah" atmosphere. Downstairs, many kinda dark rooms, comfy banquettes, but I've had some very good Manhattans there. May have hit the right bartender at the right time, but it seemed to me they knew what they were doing.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JoanN

        haven't been to bar boulud (broadway and 63rd?). maybe it works.

      2. Bar Boulud is much more about the wine, I think.

        If it's not too out of the way for you, Grayz on 54th St. between 5th and 6th has excellent classic and more innovative cocktails.

        PJ Clarke's has a good selection of whiskey. I've never had a cocktail, there, but they have some of the means to make a good one.

        1. Go to the Hudson Hotel - they have a few different bar areas, all of which are very classy. The drinks are not cheap, but you can walk around with your drink and check out all the different areas before deciding where to sit down (I love the library room - book, couches, a pool table, etc).

          1 Reply
          1. re: RussianGirl

            RG, it's possible that you may need a room key card to access the Library Bar (the only time I've been was with a friend who was staying at the hotel). Do you know for certain that non-hotel guests can walk in?

          2. I stayed in this area a couple of times this year and also went to the Mandarin oriental and won't be going back also. I thought it was expensive for not much. I preferred having a drink at my hotel (6 Columbus) in the blue ribbon restaurant. The bartenders are nice and they make great drinks. Keith makes the best margarita and dirty martini.

            3 Replies
            1. re: cricri7

              Thx everyone. Thought I should report that I wound up in the Blue Bar at the Algonquin and was sorely disappointed. I ordered an undrinkable Manhattan (that costs $18) and had to return it. We wound up getting just scotch because the mixing there was obviously not good. The bartender also tried telling us that the Buffalo Trace on his shelf was a whisky when we first asked about it, until he pulled it and we all read about its being from Kentucky...

              1. re: rammeyers

                oi, sorry it wasn't a good experience, but thanks a LOT for reporting back. i'll add blue bar to my list of places to avoid.

                (did you like the buffalo trace though? it's not a bad bourbon!)

                1. re: cimui

                  I was nursing my resentment at the place by focusing only on my Knob Creek--my husband had the Buffalo Trace, and didn't get a report, but want to try it myself...