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Sep 2, 2011 09:07 AM

Classic Retro Cocktail Bars

Just moved to NY (from SF) and am looking for some classic cocktail bars - something that calls up the 20's through 50's feeling. I've been to the Campbell Apartment and loved the room and decor but it was SRO and, I thought, overpriced for standing in a tiny spot on the floor being bumped by the waitstaff and commuters/tourists packed in. I've also found the Monkey Bar - great murals - but was turned off by the red & white checked tablecloths which looked like a diner. I was at the Oak Room at the Plaza years ago, too, and enjoyed the ambiance...don't know how it is now.

Any suggestions for something sophisticated, non-touristy, with background music low enough to have a conversation? In SF I was a fan of Original Joe's (before the fire), Tadich Grill, the Redwood Room at the Clift (before its modernization), and Bourbon and Branch. Thanks very much for your insights and suggestions.

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  1. Just FYI - the Oak Room Bar is currently closed due to some litigation. Don't know if they fit the bill but you can check out Death and Company, Employees Only, The Beagle, Bemelman's Bar.

    Employees Only
    510 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

    Death & Co.
    433 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

    Oak Room
    10 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

    Bemelmans Bar
    35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021

    The Beagle
    162 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

    1. The Raines Law Room struck me as pretty retro. And you will not be bumped or jostled, since there's no standing allowed (or there wasn't when I was there last, anyway). I'm also a longtime and passionate fan of Temple Bar.

      Temple Bar
      332 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

      Raines Law Room
      48 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011

      5 Replies
      1. re: small h

        Seconding Raines Law Room.

        Raines Law Room
        48 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011

        1. re: gort

          I also agree with Raines, but Pegu is really good and totally retro cocktails in Soho

          1. re: taboo

            Retro as in emulating a 1880s British Gentlemen's club in Burma though. It's a great place but don't try to go on weekends, when it's super loud and crowded.

            1. re: kathryn


              I assume this comment is meant for Pegu, right? Because I've been to Raines Law Room on a Saturday night and they really limit the size of the crowd so that it's not loud or crowded. Just wanted to make clear for folks who might get confused.

              Raines Law Room
              48 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011

              1. re: ml77

                Correct - Pegu Club is modeled after a British Gentlemen's club in Burma and gets loud and crowded on the weekends.

                Pegu Club
                77 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

      2. Weatherup (Tribeca + the original in Brooklyn). Ward III. Little Branch. Milk & Honey. PDT.

        Little Branch
        22 Seventh Ave South, New York, NY 10014

        Please Don't Tell
        113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

        Milk and Honey
        134 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

        Ward III
        111 Reade St, New York, NY 10013

        Weather Up
        159 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

        1. Silver Lining, the new offering from the people that brought you Little Branch fits your needs.

          Little Branch
          22 Seventh Ave South, New York, NY 10014

          Silver Lining
          75 Murray St, New York, NY 10007

          1. Maybe fit in a drink at Minetta Tavern or a few fingers of scotch at Keens' bar?

            72 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018

            Minetta Tavern
            113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

            1 Reply
            1. re: kathryn

              You can't hear yourself think at Minetta (now, the old place was reliably empty except for a few pro's at the bar...) Agree with Keene's and you should consider the 21 Club...and the bar at the Sheraton Russell Hotel on Park and 37th is quiet, calm, strangely removed from bustle of the area...

              21 Club
              21 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019