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Bar Tour - Mid Town

Good afternoon all (well, it's actually morning where you are but i digress). I work for Woodford Reserve Bourbon and about 3 times a year we invite a load of bartenders from the UK to check out the best bars NYC has to offer. On the Saturday we do E. Village etc and go to or have been to (deep breath.......)

Death & Co
East Side
Little Branch
Brand Library

So, we're cool and the gang on Saturday, it's the Friday i struggle with. We stay in midtown like good little tourists and we've been to the following:

AVA Lounge @ The Dream
Mandarin Oriental
Campbell's Apartment
W Hotel @ Lexington
Algoquin Hotel

Where else can we go? There are around 10 of us, so restaurants with bars aren't really an option and neither are Morgan Hotels. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,


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  1. Woodford Reserve -- lucky man! Do you get free samples?

    Gingerman, a bit south of midtown in the E. 30s, has an excellent beer and whisky/whiskey/Scotch/bourbon selection.

    For something a little more upscale, look into the bar at The Modern Bar Room. It does adjoin the Bar Room restaurant, but it's a decent-sized space and could fit a group of 10. I'd call ahead to ask and possibly reserve. They have good cocktails, though nothing as good as Little Branch or Pegu. Decent selection of wines by the glass.

    1. The St. Regis Hotel's King Cole Bar is legendary. It's located on 55th St., b/t 5th & 6th Avs.


      Keens is a steakhouse which has been in its 36th St. location, b/t 5th & 6th Avs., since 1885 and, thus, has unmatchable Old NY ambiance. The bar room is a totally separate space from the restaurant. Above the bar, a huge portrait of Miss Keens in all her glory looks down upon the happy imbibers.


      1 Reply
      1. re: RGR

        Keens also offers scotch flights.

      2. You might also want to check out the Oak Bar at the Plaza, though I've not been since it reopened.

        1. The rooftop bar at The Peninsula would be pleasant, assuming the weather cooperates. It can get busy (not sure if crowds have abated in the current recession) so you may want to call in advance to see if there's any chance to reserve a table for your party.


          The bar at the Four Seasons hotel might be another option. Actually, just having looked at the website it seems that they've done away with the one in the restaurant area and it's only a lounge now in the reception area now.


          Brasserie 8 1/2 might work. I haven't been in several years but, while it's a restaurant, the bar area was spacious enough to accommodate larger parties, if I recall correctly.


          5 Replies
          1. re: uwsgrazer

            does the peninsula have the best rooftop bar?

            1. re: kevin25

              um, I guess it depends on what you consider "best". I like it, though I haven't been yet this year. I find it an easy midtown escape of sorts on a nice spring / summer day. It's arguably filled with a certain type, so depending on what you're after you may or may not like it. Drink prices are definitely on the steep side. Accordingly, the crowd tends to be fairly well-heeled.

              1. re: uwsgrazer

                I'm not looking for any certain type. Just a cool outside spot to have a drink with 2 couples. Any other outside rooftops you would recommend? I guess I'd replace best with cool

                1. re: kevin25

                  Here's a thread on some rooftop bars:


                  I think there are others, but my search skills are limited. Of the limited number of rooftop bars I've visited, The Peninsula would be top of my list.

          2. While you're in the East Village, I'd also give Mayahuel a try.

            1. Try the Aspen Social Club in West 40s...and for a true taste of old Times Square, seek out Jimmy's Corner...a favorite of boxers throughout the decades.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Will4Food

                I've read about the Aspen SC, it seems to be more of a restaurant than a cocktail lounge.Agree about St Regis, love it there, in fact i heard a whisper that they had opened/where opening a roof top bar? I haven't tried the Peninsula, but a roof top bar in August sounds like a winning combination! What's Brassiere 8 1/2 like? Again, it seems like more of a restaurant.

                Thanks for all the suggestions guys.


                1. re: Englishman in NY

                  Yes, Brasserie 8 1/2 is a restaurant. It's part of the huge Patina Restaurant Group (East and West Coasts).


                  1. re: Englishman in NY

                    Brasserie 8/2 has a beautiful bar that opens into a huge lounge area with lots of space and very comfy large chairs and tables. Arranged nicely to accomodate many groups. It's beautiful and quite a nice scene -- separated from the restaurant by a few steps and a little distance. Good drink snacks, too!

                2. Keens is a must. Like RGR said the ambiance is fantastic. But even apart from the ambiance, the scotch list is absolutely great. If you reserve in advance Sakagura has an incredible sake list, I've never done a big group there but I imagine you could reserve 10 bar seats.

                  1. as far as midtown goes, i'd definitely second the oak bar. incredible cocktails. or try king cole at the st. regis. though i'd say its hay day is over, the hudson hotel makes for some great people watching and they have a couple of bars to choose from. a little higher up (76th) is bemelman's bar at the carlyle hotel. just went before a met party last night and it's tres cool. if you want fun, old school (little more casual) new york try billy's gay nineties is another tried and true establishment.

                    if you can make a brief detour to soho on the e.village day, i would add tailor to the list.

                    have fun and oh, ... can i be a +1? :) make sure you ask for a st. germain cocktail. my friend created it.