Above: A table at Chapel Bar, Manhattan

An Insider’s Guide to Manhattan Cocktail Bars

A table at Chapel Bar, Manhattan

It’s no secret that New York has one of the world’s best cocktail bar scenes. But on my most recent visit, I decided to try venues that are, in fact, a bit of a secret. I’m still a sucker for a speakeasy, despite complaints by some that the trend has worn on long enough. Having drinks at any of the three bars below will surely make you feel like an insider.

In addition to these suggestions, I also recommend the jewel box of a speakeasy inside Hotel Barriere Fouquet’s New York, in Tribeca (read our review here). You can find the door to the Titsou Bar between the built-in bookcases in the lobby-lounge (make reservations in advance if possible).

Chapel Bar

The interior of Chapel Bar

Part of the Fotografiska photography museum in the Gramercy Park neighborhood, this atmospheric and exclusive-feeling bar is true to its name, occupying a vaulted former chapel dating from the 19th century. It used to be members-only, and even many New Yorkers familiar with the place think that it still is. In fact, it’s easy for nonmembers to make reservations online nowadays; tables open up two weeks in advance.

The cocktail menu hews to classics. We ended up ordering a Vieux Carré and Last Word, both of which were expensive but well mixed. We spotted someone who appeared to be Daniel Radcliffe at a neighboring table, and that encouraged us to order a second round. I asked our waitress whether they could make an off-menu drink, a Boulevardier. To her credit, she immediately recognized the somewhat lesser-known cocktail and said it would be no problem. Indeed it was not; the drink was a fine example of the classic.

I recommend reserving a table earlier in the evening. At 8:30 p.m. on a weeknight, the music was at a reasonable volume, but by 10 p.m. we were shouting at each other to be heard. Closed Sunday.

Above: A table at Chapel Bar, Manhattan

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