Drinks, but not a club scene.
My husband and I are in town for anniversary. Already have great restaurant spots. Looking for some cool places to have cocktails. We are in our early 50's and would like classy, hip....but, not the wait in line type of places. Appreciate any suggestions!
Many of the well-known, artisanal cocktail lounges in NYC would fit your requirements. However, many have strict capacity limits because they don't allow standing inside. This makes for a calmer environment inside, but also means you may arrive after dinner or on a Friday / Saturday and have to wait a while to be seated.
Some take reservations but most do not. PDT takes me only same day via phone at 3pm and it's tough getting through. Lani Kai takes them on OpenTable, but the space is fairly large, so you may not necessarily need one. Milk & Honey takes reservations but IIRC non-members cannot get them before 1am on weekends, etc. Raines Law Room takes reservations only on off/on-weekend nights.
What restaurants are you planning to visit? Many of the cocktail lounges have locations south of 23rd St.
What time and day of the week do you plan to have a drink? Earlier (pre-dinner) and om an off night (Sun-Weds) is usually a better bet for the downtown locations, but some places closer to Midtown will get a big afterwork crowd, for example.
Ward III in Tribeca might be just the kind of place you're looking for. Great cocktails, no pretense.