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[A martini being poured at '21' Club]
[A martini being poured at '21' Club]
Daniel Krieger

15 Terrific Martini Bars in New York City

Where to score a perfect martini.

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[A martini being poured at '21' Club]
| Daniel Krieger

Whether shaken or stirred, a classic martini remains one of the world's most perfect cocktails. Some say the martini was invented in New York City, but like all cocktail origin stories this one comes tainted with drunken oral history. Regardless, here's where to taste New York's finest gin (and vodka) martinis — up, neat, cold, and dry or dirty. (Note: Bars are listed in alphabetical order.)

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21 Club

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One of Midtown Manhattan's classic restaurants makes a mean martini ($17) that's best neat, and some say, with a burger. The standard is offered with Plymouth Gin or Ketel One Vodka, though diners are welcome to request the vodka or gin of their choice. [Photo: Krieger]

Angel’s Share

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Though it's been around for 21 years, walking into Angel's Share still feels like a great secret. There's no martini on the menu, but when requested an extremely dry, extremely cold glass will present itself ($15). [Photo: Facebook]

Bemelmans Bar

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There is arguably no more elegant bar in Manhattan, and no more elegant martini. When you order a martini at the signature bar at the Carlyle Hotel, the bartender will offer you a choice of vodkas or gins, each with their own price (from $17 for Beefeater to $25 for Stolichnaya Elite). A petite ice cold glass will come filled to the rim next to a miniature carafe on ice with the remainder of your drink from the bartender's shaker. The price of each martini is the cost of the vodka or gin plus $3.75 but the live piano music, high society scene, house-made spicy cheddar crackers, fresh potato chips, and mixed nuts are free and unlimited. [Photo: Bemelmans Bar]

Charlie Palmer at The Knick

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One of the martini's many origin stories goes like this: In the early 1900s, John D. Rockefeller used to frequent Times Square's Knickerbocker Hotel. He always ordered his drinks from the house bartender — whose name was Martini di Arma di Taggia — and the drink he always ordered was a mixture of dry vermouth and gin. True or not, Charlie Palmer's new spot on the fourth floor of the Knick honors this legend with a house martini made from Tanqueray 10, dry vermouth, rouge vermouth, and orange and citrus bitters ($16). [Photo: The Knick/Official]

Clover Club

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The house martini at this Cobble Hill bar known for its craft cocktails is worth a taste. Served very cold and very neat it comes made from Gordon's gin (unless otherwise requested) and starts at $12. [Photo: Krieger]

Fort Defiance

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St. John's martini (named for the proprietor) is the house martini at what might be Red Hook's favorite modern American restaurant. It's a crisp combination of Plymouth gin, dry vermouth, and orange bitters, garnished not with an olive but with a twist ($12). The breakfast version mixes gin with Cointreau, lemon, and orange marmalade. [Photo: Instagram]

Henry Public

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Henry's martini is a straightforward combination of Old Tom gin, dry vermouth, rosso vermouth, and orange bitters, garnished with an olive ($12). Consider ordering the restaurant's juniper pickles ($4) as a snack on the side. [Photo: Krieger]

King Cole Bar

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A tiny jewel box of a bar tucked inside the lobby of the St. Regis hotel, the King Cole Bar's claim to fame is either the Maxfield Parrish mural of Old King Cole that hangs behind the bartenders or the legend that a bartender there invented the Bloody Mary. Either way, the bar knows how to mix a cold martini. The shaken or stirred blend of Hendrick's gin, Martini Rosso vermouth, and Nonino Amaro is garnished with burnt orange peel ($25) and perfumes the whole bar when it's made. [Photo: Foursquare]

Maison Premiere

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An ode to the martini at the King Cole Bar, Brooklyn's most popular oyster bar makes its version table-side: A shaken mix of Old Raj gin, Dolin Dry vermouth, and orange bitters is garnished with (the best part?) as many Castelvetrano olives as you want. It's a full $5 less than the one in Manhattan at the King Cole Bar, but there's a two-drink limit. [Photo Krieger]

Pegu Club

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There are arguably more interesting, more thoughtful things to order at Audrey Saunders' Pegu Club than a martini, so consider the one made with Earl Grey tea-infused gin. It's not a classic martini (there is sugar and and egg white in addition to the gin) but it's just the right amount of smooth. [Photo: Pegu]

It might feel wrong to order a gin martini here, so give into the pressure and consider the caviar martini, a vodka infused with cucumber and dill served with a tiny spoonful of caviar ($15). [Photo: Foursquare]

Russian Vodka Room

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Stay away from the flavored, colored, sweetened martinis on the list and go for the Filthy Russian, a dirty martini made with vodka and garnished with stuffed olives ($16). [Photo: Instagram]

Keens Steakhouse Pub

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Though New York City's best steakhouses generally serve better Manhattans than martinis, Keen's does a solid job at both. Pick from among a dozen different gins and vodkas; the martini here is very dry unless otherwise specified ($14-$17). [Photo: Krieger]

The Campbell Apartment

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It's a sad fact that you can't get a great gin martini elsewhere in Grand Central Terminal except at The Campbell Apartment's bar. Pick your gin (or vodka) and ask for it very cold ($15). [Photo: The Campbell Apartment]

The Odeon

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There's something beautiful about sipping on a martini ($14) at The Odeon's bar just as the sun begins to set across downtown Manhattan. It's a nice accompaniment to a half dozen Island Creek oysters or the steak tartare.

21 Club

One of Midtown Manhattan's classic restaurants makes a mean martini ($17) that's best neat, and some say, with a burger. The standard is offered with Plymouth Gin or Ketel One Vodka, though diners are welcome to request the vodka or gin of their choice. [Photo: Krieger]

Angel’s Share

Though it's been around for 21 years, walking into Angel's Share still feels like a great secret. There's no martini on the menu, but when requested an extremely dry, extremely cold glass will present itself ($15). [Photo: Facebook]

Bemelmans Bar

There is arguably no more elegant bar in Manhattan, and no more elegant martini. When you order a martini at the signature bar at the Carlyle Hotel, the bartender will offer you a choice of vodkas or gins, each with their own price (from $17 for Beefeater to $25 for Stolichnaya Elite). A petite ice cold glass will come filled to the rim next to a miniature carafe on ice with the remainder of your drink from the bartender's shaker. The price of each martini is the cost of the vodka or gin plus $3.75 but the live piano music, high society scene, house-made spicy cheddar crackers, fresh potato chips, and mixed nuts are free and unlimited. [Photo: Bemelmans Bar]

Charlie Palmer at The Knick

One of the martini's many origin stories goes like this: In the early 1900s, John D. Rockefeller used to frequent Times Square's Knickerbocker Hotel. He always ordered his drinks from the house bartender — whose name was Martini di Arma di Taggia — and the drink he always ordered was a mixture of dry vermouth and gin. True or not, Charlie Palmer's new spot on the fourth floor of the Knick honors this legend with a house martini made from Tanqueray 10, dry vermouth, rouge vermouth, and orange and citrus bitters ($16). [Photo: The Knick/Official]

Clover Club

The house martini at this Cobble Hill bar known for its craft cocktails is worth a taste. Served very cold and very neat it comes made from Gordon's gin (unless otherwise requested) and starts at $12. [Photo: Krieger]

Fort Defiance

St. John's martini (named for the proprietor) is the house martini at what might be Red Hook's favorite modern American restaurant. It's a crisp combination of Plymouth gin, dry vermouth, and orange bitters, garnished not with an olive but with a twist ($12). The breakfast version mixes gin with Cointreau, lemon, and orange marmalade. [Photo: Instagram]

Henry Public

Henry's martini is a straightforward combination of Old Tom gin, dry vermouth, rosso vermouth, and orange bitters, garnished with an olive ($12). Consider ordering the restaurant's juniper pickles ($4) as a snack on the side. [Photo: Krieger]

King Cole Bar

A tiny jewel box of a bar tucked inside the lobby of the St. Regis hotel, the King Cole Bar's claim to fame is either the Maxfield Parrish mural of Old King Cole that hangs behind the bartenders or the legend that a bartender there invented the Bloody Mary. Either way, the bar knows how to mix a cold martini. The shaken or stirred blend of Hendrick's gin, Martini Rosso vermouth, and Nonino Amaro is garnished with burnt orange peel ($25) and perfumes the whole bar when it's made. [Photo: Foursquare]

Maison Premiere

An ode to the martini at the King Cole Bar, Brooklyn's most popular oyster bar makes its version table-side: A shaken mix of Old Raj gin, Dolin Dry vermouth, and orange bitters is garnished with (the best part?) as many Castelvetrano olives as you want. It's a full $5 less than the one in Manhattan at the King Cole Bar, but there's a two-drink limit. [Photo Krieger]

Pegu Club

There are arguably more interesting, more thoughtful things to order at Audrey Saunders' Pegu Club than a martini, so consider the one made with Earl Grey tea-infused gin. It's not a classic martini (there is sugar and and egg white in addition to the gin) but it's just the right amount of smooth. [Photo: Pegu]

Pravda

It might feel wrong to order a gin martini here, so give into the pressure and consider the caviar martini, a vodka infused with cucumber and dill served with a tiny spoonful of caviar ($15). [Photo: Foursquare]

Russian Vodka Room

Stay away from the flavored, colored, sweetened martinis on the list and go for the Filthy Russian, a dirty martini made with vodka and garnished with stuffed olives ($16). [Photo: Instagram]

Keens Steakhouse Pub

Though New York City's best steakhouses generally serve better Manhattans than martinis, Keen's does a solid job at both. Pick from among a dozen different gins and vodkas; the martini here is very dry unless otherwise specified ($14-$17). [Photo: Krieger]

The Campbell Apartment