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The bar at Prime Meats
The bar at Prime Meats
Daniel Krieger

15 New York City Restaurants That Know How to Make a Mean Cocktail

Not all restaurants make bad cocktails. Here's where you're guaranteed to get a well-made drink along with dinner.

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The bar at Prime Meats
| Daniel Krieger

Earlier this month, Pete Wells railed against the state of restaurant cocktails, which he complains are too often over-thought and poorly made. But Eater critic Ryan Sutton (and many readers) begged to differ — or at least point out that there are more good restaurant cocktails out there than Wells would have you believe. So now, pulled from that discussion over on the forums, here is a list of 15 New York restaurants with excellent cocktails programs, all vetted by Eater readers and editors. Whether in search of something elaborate or classic, here's where to get a good drink with dinner.

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The NoMad Restaurant

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Even Pete Wells endorses the cocktails that mixologist Leo Robitschek has created for the Nomad. The Eleven Madison Park team's classy restaurant in the Nomad Hotel earned the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program this year, for its menu of elaborate house cocktails, and with good reason. [Krieger]

Betony's general manager, Eamon Rockey, is also the mastermind behind its cocktail program. His menu includes many riffs on classics, and sometimes involves elaborate preparations. Take, for example, the milk punch, made crystal clear through a complicated clarification process, or the gin and tonic, made with gin that's been house-infused to order. [Adam Lerner]

Empellón Cocina

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The cocktail menu at the most refined of Alex Stupak's three Mexican restaurants is concise, and focuses exclusively on tequilas and mezcal. You can't go wrong with just a classic margarita, but other options include a mezcal mai tai and a tequila lemongrass collins. [Photo]

Momofuku Ssäm Bar

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The drink menu at Ssam Bar isn't as extensive as the one at Momofuku's adjoining cocktail lounge, Booker & Dax, but the offerings are on par. There are always a few classics, a few Momofuku standbys, and a few seasonal specials to choose from, which right now range from a classic penicillin, to a drink with mezcal, Aperol, pineapple, lime, and chia seeds. [Photo]

Del Posto

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The cocktail menu at Del Posto is surprisingly extensive, with a strong focus on the classics. Ryan Sutton makes note of the "A+ Vesper martini," and for those on team negroni there's an excellent barrel-aged version. Plus, the full dinner menu is available at the bar. [Facebook]

Prime Meats

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Bar director Damon Boelte is enough of a cocktail aficionado to host his own radio show about the subject on Heritage Radio Network. His menu for Prime Meats is a mix of classics and originals, with a focus on darker spirits, and a budget-friendly $5 punch option that changes regularly. [Krieger]

Maison Premiere

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Maison Premiere functions as much as a bar as it does a restaurant, so it's reasonable to expect the drinks here to be good. Besides the lengthy list of well-crafted, Southern-leaning cocktails, what sets Maison Premiere apart is the separate menu devoted exclusively to absinthe concoctions, like an "absinthe colada." [Jenny Adams]

The cocktail menu at Andrew Tarlow's Williamsburg mainstay is only around five drinks long, but all are consistently well-made. Expect straightforward cocktails, like the Black Manhattan made with rye, amaro, and Lillet, or the Double Standard, made with rum, vanilla, orange, and lime. [Krieger]

Walker Stern and Joseph Ogrodnek offer interesting and well-crafted cocktails at the newer (and larger) of their Carroll Gardens restaurants. Right now the options range from the Granny's Daisy made with tequila, apple shrub, and celery bitters, to the Black Strap, made with rye, black strap rum, nardini amaro, and absinthe. [Krieger]

Minetta Tavern

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The classic cocktails are the way to go here, all the better to match Minetta's historic, old school steakhouse dining room. Expect balanced versions of drinks like a sidecar, a boulevardier, or a tom collins. [Krieger]

Barman Kevin Denton, who also creates the excellent cocktails at Wylie Dufresne's soon-to-close flagship, wd~50, has put together a solid list for Dufresne's more casual East Village restaurant. They're simple but interesting, ranging from the Suffering Fools, made with bourbon, juniper, ginger, and honey, to the Tip Top, made with reposado tequila, smoked vermouth, and Cappaletti. [Krieger]

Carbone

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Unlike at the Torrisi team's newest restaurant, Dirty French (which is also serving some worthwhile cocktails), the menu at their pricey red sauce restaurant consists exclusively of classics. Those range from a manhattan to a margarita to a mai tai, and all have been tweaked slightly by master barman Thomas Waugh, but are nonetheless excellent. [Krieger]

Wallflower

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The cocktail program at this tiny West Village restaurant is helmed by Xavier Herit, formerly the head bartender of Daniel. His cocktails are mostly complex creations, like a negroni made with Campari, Byrrh, Cynar, verjus, lemon sorbet, and sparkling wine. [Krieger]

Bâtard

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Just because the restaurant is named after a wine, doesn't mean it can't serve great cocktails. Drew Nieporent's newest serves excellent drinks that lean toward the classics. There's a straightforward aviation and a vieux carre, plus a new-school milk punch, clarified and individually bottled. [Adam Lerner]

All of the restaurants in Gabe Stulman's Little Wisco empire get high marks for their cocktails, but Fedora has the most extensive menu of the bunch. Divided into categories like "Elevator Music" and "80s Playlist," the drinks range from a gin and tonic with sage liqueur, to one made with tequila, Branca Menta, honey water, and lime. [Krieger]

The NoMad Restaurant

Even Pete Wells endorses the cocktails that mixologist Leo Robitschek has created for the Nomad. The Eleven Madison Park team's classy restaurant in the Nomad Hotel earned the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program this year, for its menu of elaborate house cocktails, and with good reason. [Krieger]

Betony

Betony's general manager, Eamon Rockey, is also the mastermind behind its cocktail program. His menu includes many riffs on classics, and sometimes involves elaborate preparations. Take, for example, the milk punch, made crystal clear through a complicated clarification process, or the gin and tonic, made with gin that's been house-infused to order. [Adam Lerner]

Empellón Cocina

The cocktail menu at the most refined of Alex Stupak's three Mexican restaurants is concise, and focuses exclusively on tequilas and mezcal. You can't go wrong with just a classic margarita, but other options include a mezcal mai tai and a tequila lemongrass collins. [Photo]

Momofuku Ssäm Bar

The drink menu at Ssam Bar isn't as extensive as the one at Momofuku's adjoining cocktail lounge, Booker & Dax, but the offerings are on par. There are always a few classics, a few Momofuku standbys, and a few seasonal specials to choose from, which right now range from a classic penicillin, to a drink with mezcal, Aperol, pineapple, lime, and chia seeds. [Photo]

Del Posto

The cocktail menu at Del Posto is surprisingly extensive, with a strong focus on the classics. Ryan Sutton makes note of the "A+ Vesper martini," and for those on team negroni there's an excellent barrel-aged version. Plus, the full dinner menu is available at the bar. [Facebook]

Prime Meats

Bar director Damon Boelte is enough of a cocktail aficionado to host his own radio show about the subject on Heritage Radio Network. His menu for Prime Meats is a mix of classics and originals, with a focus on darker spirits, and a budget-friendly $5 punch option that changes regularly. [Krieger]

Maison Premiere

Maison Premiere functions as much as a bar as it does a restaurant, so it's reasonable to expect the drinks here to be good. Besides the lengthy list of well-crafted, Southern-leaning cocktails, what sets Maison Premiere apart is the separate menu devoted exclusively to absinthe concoctions, like an "absinthe colada." [Jenny Adams]

Diner

The cocktail menu at Andrew Tarlow's Williamsburg mainstay is only around five drinks long, but all are consistently well-made. Expect straightforward cocktails, like the Black Manhattan made with rye, amaro, and Lillet, or the Double Standard, made with rum, vanilla, orange, and lime. [Krieger]

Dover

Walker Stern and Joseph Ogrodnek offer interesting and well-crafted cocktails at the newer (and larger) of their Carroll Gardens restaurants. Right now the options range from the Granny's Daisy made with tequila, apple shrub, and celery bitters, to the Black Strap, made with rye, black strap rum, nardini amaro, and absinthe. [Krieger]

Minetta Tavern

The classic cocktails are the way to go here, all the better to match Minetta's historic, old school steakhouse dining room. Expect balanced versions of drinks like a sidecar, a boulevardier, or a tom collins. [Krieger]

Alder

Barman Kevin Denton, who also creates the excellent cocktails at Wylie Dufresne's soon-to-close flagship, wd~50, has put together a solid list for Dufresne's more casual East Village restaurant. They're simple but interesting, ranging from the Suffering Fools, made with bourbon, juniper, ginger, and honey, to the Tip Top, made with reposado tequila, smoked vermouth, and Cappaletti. [Krieger]

Carbone

Unlike at the Torrisi team's newest restaurant, Dirty French (which is also serving some worthwhile cocktails), the menu at their pricey red sauce restaurant consists exclusively of classics. Those range from a manhattan to a margarita to a mai tai, and all have been tweaked slightly by master barman Thomas Waugh, but are nonetheless excellent. [Krieger]

Wallflower

The cocktail program at this tiny West Village restaurant is helmed by Xavier Herit, formerly the head bartender of Daniel. His cocktails are mostly complex creations, like a negroni made with Campari, Byrrh, Cynar, verjus, lemon sorbet, and sparkling wine. [Krieger]

Bâtard

Just because the restaurant is named after a wine, doesn't mean it can't serve great cocktails. Drew Nieporent's newest serves excellent drinks that lean toward the classics. There's a straightforward aviation and a vieux carre, plus a new-school milk punch, clarified and individually bottled. [Adam Lerner]

Fedora

All of the restaurants in Gabe Stulman's Little Wisco empire get high marks for their cocktails, but Fedora has the most extensive menu of the bunch. Divided into categories like "Elevator Music" and "80s Playlist," the drinks range from a gin and tonic with sage liqueur, to one made with tequila, Branca Menta, honey water, and lime. [Krieger]

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