New York
> Booker & Dax

Photo by Travis Huggett

There are those who use science to put a man on the moon, and those who use it to make sure a bottled Manhattan doesn't oxidize. Dave Arnold, the director of culinary technology at the French Culinary Institute, is the latter. Arnold has partnered with David Chang to contrive a cocktail list that will send you running for a lab coat and safety goggles at Booker & Dax, a bar with more buttons to push and knobs to turn than bottles to pour. A rotary evaporator traverses its length: Throw horseradish in one end and out the other comes a pungent concentration used in drinks such as the Lady of the Night, a mix of reposado Tequila and tomato juice clarified in a centrifuge downstairs. The result is like a silky-smooth spin on a Bloody Mary with a rosy-platinum hue and a heady, earthy horseradish scent. Then there's the Red Hot Poker: Kept at a cool 1,500ºF, it not only heats up but also caramelizes the sugars and slightly reduces the alcohol of overproofed drinks like the Friend of the Devil, a bittersweet mix of rye, Campari, sweet vermouth, Pernod and bitters. It's perfect for sipping alongside the musky ham chips, a highlight on B&D's small David Chang-orchestrated list of bar snacks.
—Chris Hallowell

Booker & Dax, 207 2nd Ave,; 212-254-3500, (reviewed W&S 04/12)

> Pulqueria
It feels a bit strange to go to a Mexican place in the heart of Chinatown. And it doesn't get any less strange when you push through an unmarked door beneath the yellow neon sign of a non-existent Vietnamese restaurant, head down a long, dingy stairway and enter a low-ceilinged basement with soft lights and a blue-green twinkle. Here, Nacxitl Gaxiola features some uncommon Mexican dishes along with the ubiquitous tacos, enchiladas and quesadillas. But what really distinguishes Pulqueria, a venture from Christopher and Heather Tierney, who own Apothéke next door, is its namesake. “Pulque,” explains beverage director Isidro Gutierrez, “is the fermented liquid of the agave cactus.” About six percent alcohol, it was originally considered a nectar of the gods and drunk only by priests and nobles; it gradually spread throughout the population until beer came on the scene. At Pulqueria, it comes straight, the slightly milky-looking liquid packing a refreshing, if unusual, wallop of flavor that recalls the fermented funk of natto and sour green melon, or in curados, Tequila-fortified drinks based on pulque infused with guava, jicama and other ingredients. Either make the odd trip to Pulqueria entirely worthwhile.

Pulqueria, 11 Doyers St.; 212-227-3099, (reviewed W&S 04/12)

> The Tippler
Hidden under Chelsea Market is New York's newest cocktail megaplex: The Tippler. This 150-year-old, 3,000- square foot storage space was recently given a 40-foot marble bar, wood detailing from reclaimed New York City water towers, a few oriental rugs and one hell of a bar program by consulting powerhouse The Tippling Bros. Here, they shed pretention in favor of “lushies”—frozen drinks like the Snow Groni, a blended Negroni, or the Wise Cold Sage, an exuberant mix of agricole rum, sage, Creole schrub and sugar cane syrup. The expansive list offers more than 20 other un-blended cocktails, with highlights like the Gin and Chronic, a wacky riff on a G&T that includes spiced lime and bittersweet hops. Though it's hard not to give in to one of the many cocktails, The Tippler also offers a savvy selection of wines by the glass (the 2009 Perroud Brouilly or 2009 Gunderloch Kabinett, for instance), 30-some beers, sake and Mexican Coca-Cola.

The Tippler, 425 W. 15th St; 212-206-0000, (reviewed W&S 04/12)

> The Wren
Restraint isn't a word that comes up much when it comes to NYC bars. But it fits The Wren, a new East Village pub that exudes delightful simplicity. Where most serious cocktail bars offer seven sections of drinks, The Wren sticks to just seven cocktails, all mixed to perfection. Make sure to try the Gamble, a tart and refreshing blend of gin, lime soda and cranberry-tangerine marmalade. And though you may not like to admit it, the Grown-Up Rum & Coke is dangerously addictive, swapping out Coke for bitter-edged, caffeine-free chinotto soda and adding a squeeze of a lemon and a cardamom-infused amaro. The Wren also happens to put out some of the most delectable pub grub in the city. Like the drinks menu, the choices are limited, but expertly executed. Whether you're drawn to the duck and prune terrine or the jar of rich, gamey oxtail marmalade, you'll forget you are sitting on a barstool the second you take a bite.

The Wren, 344 Bowery; 212-388-0148, (reviewed W&S 04/12)

> Amor y Amargo
Amor y Amargo (Love and Bitters) is the invention of DeRossi Global, the cocktail gurus behind East Village bars Mayahuel, Death and Co. and Cienfuegos. Teaming up with Bittermens, the artisanal bitters makers, they focus here on the joys of bitterness, whether in the herbal edge of beverage director Mayur Subbarao's homemade sweet vermouth poured from tap or in the pungent bite of habañero schrub doled out by the drop from hand-labeled medicine bottles. Spanish-inflected small plates such as fried garbanzo beans with morçilla or an almond and artichoke salad provide a good base from which to contemplate different takes on the Negroni; or delve directly into the depths of bitterness through a tasting of bitters and chocolate. The team also regularly offers classes on vermouth, amari and bitters.

Amor y Amargo, 443 E. 6th St.; 212-614-6818, (reviewed W&S 04/12)

> Cienfuegos
Cienfuegos, named after the Cuban sugar cane capital, is the latest installation by Ravi DeRossi, the cocktail slinger of Death & Company. Made to look like a timeworn, sun-stained Havana apartment, this is your go-to destination for all things rum. DeRossi breaks his drinks down by temperature, strength and seasoning, including a refreshing category called "light & fizzy." It's there we found one of 2010's most inspiring cocktails—A Moveable Feast. Powered by Mount Gay Silver, Dolin Blanc, lime, Reagan's bitters, dry cider and nutmeg, it combines rum's succulent sweetness and body with orchard fruit, spice and Sherry-like oxidative tones. It's delightfully brisk, and delicious with the down-and-dirty Cuban food supplied from sister sandwich shop, Carteles.
—Chris Hallowell

Cienfuegos, 95 Ave. A (btw. 6th & 7th Aves.); 212-614-6818, (reviewed W&S 04/11)

> Forty Four
The Cocktail Collective—a roving band of mixologists including Misty Kalkofen from Drink in Boston and Eric Alperin from Varnish in LA, has put together one of the most exciting bar programs in the city at Forty Four, on the ground floor of the Royalton Hotel. A Prohibition-era-style jazz band provides atmosphere; the bartenders do the rest, turning out everything from classics to punches served tableside for up to 20. The most exciting cocktails, however, are the bartender's originals—drinks such as The Other Word, a blend of mezcal, organic lime, organic agave nectar, yellow Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur. It's smoky, mineral and palate saturating, a fine match to the place's upscale bar food, like pork belly tacos and a lobster-and-scallop version of fish and chips.
—Chris Hallowell

Fourty Four, Royalton Hotel, 44 W. 44th St.; 212-869-4400, (reviewed W&S 04/11)

> Aureole
Aureole was never known for its cocktails, but with the cocktail Renaissance in full swing, even Upper East Side stalwarts like Charlie Palmer's flagship restaurant are now offering mixed drinks that tempt a detour from the wine list. Mixologist Ektoras Binikos peppers the summer cocktail list with fresh flavors and seasonal ingredients that mimic the dining menu; in fact, Aureole offers a five-course tasting menu paired with his cocktail creations ($150). For summer, Binikos reaches for the white goods-not just vodka, but rum, pisco and gin-then punctuates the spirits with fresh mint and bright citrus like yuzu and verjus. "I also use a lot of figs because growing up in Greece, that was the summer fruit. And fresh herbs like verbena also find their place in the cocktails," says Binikos. His Valparaiso cocktail is reminiscent of a mojito, but it's more aromatic with Aba pisco from Chile. Served in a thirst-quenching portion, this drink gives pinot grigio some serious competition when the heat is on.
-Jeffery Lindenmuth
34 East 61st St., New York; 212-319-1660;
4-5 mint leaves
2-3 drops of orange bitters
1 1/2 ounces Aba Pisco
1/2 ounce fig purée
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce verjus

In a mixing glass, muddle the mint leaves with the bitters. Add ice and remaining ingredients and shake thoroughly. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice.

> Dylan Prime
Dylan Prime is a fine steakhouse, no question there, but for many people the real scene belongs to the next-door lounge. Step in off Tribeca's warehouse-dominated streets and you're wrapped in various shades of dark, with mahogany accents gleaming here and there. Yes, it's one of those places that hums the word cocktail like mood music. Sure, there must be people drinking beers here, or wine - there may even be a few lunatics partaking of Dylan Prime's modestly named 48-ounce Ultimate Martini, or the equally imposing Massive Mojito. But for purists, Dylan Prime says Manhattan; cocktail-wizard Michael Waterhouse, the man behind the drinks list here, will be more than happy to mix you one of his own design.
- Ray Isle
Dylan Prime, 62 Laight St., NYC, 212-334-4783;

> Dos Caminos
Dos Caminos' buzz has everything to do with co-owners John McDonald (Merc Bar, Canteen) and Steve Hanson (Fiamma, Blue Fin, Ruby Foo's), who've joined forces to combine PR flair and hipster design sense in this cavernous, 250-seat space. The action-packed bar is the right place to taste the silky guacamole and sip beverage director Greg Harrington's icy treats, such as his tangy-sweet strawberry-basil margarita, or the frozen Prickly Pear Cactus, made with El Tesoro Silver, triple sec and fresh fruit juices.
- Anthony Giglio
Dos Caminos, 373 Park Ave. South, New York; 212-294-1000;

> Mermaid Inn
Mermaid Inn may sound like a tacky waterside clam bar, but it's really the hippest bar-restaurant the East Village has seen since New York was New Amsterdam. Owners Danny Abrams and chef Jimmy Bradley (Red Cat, The Harrison) dish out North Atlantic seafood that's perfect with a bevy of East Coast beers, including Geery's London Style Porter from Maine, Dogfish Head Pale Ale from Delaware, and Otter Creek Pale Ale from Vermont. Where does the Hitachino Nest White Ale from Japan fit in? "Who eats more fish than the Japanese?" asks Bradley. Good point.
- Anthony Giglio
Mermaid Inn, 96 Second Ave., NYC, NY; 212-674-5870;

> Pegu Club
Pegu Club is not a library, though it would be wise to remember your reading glasses given its cocktail book collection; neither is it a laboratory, though the bartenders focus like pharmacists as they count dashes of bitters and droplets of tinctures to make drinks like the Pegu Club Cocktail, a keepsake from the original Pegu Club, where British officers congregated in colonial-era Rangoon. Audrey Saunders, formerly at Bemelmans, joined the folks behind NYC's Flatiron Lounge to open this dark, Indo-Chinese-themed lounge secreted two floors above West Houston Street just days before Hurricane Katrina bombarded the Gulf Coast. Saunders, an activist cocktailian and protégé of Dale DeGroff, rallied the troops: By mid-September the armed forces of mixology, including New Orleans treasure Chris McMillian, were mixing up relief in the form of Sazeracs, Ramos gin fizzes and brandy milk punches, with proceeds going to relief funds. On less dramatic nights, head bartender Toby Maloney winds up as if on the pitcher's mound to shake up cool-weather combinations, such as the Cognac-and-Calvados-based Tantris Sidecar and DeGroff's minty Whiskey Smash.
- Sara Roahen
Pegu Club, 77 W. Houston St., New York, NY; 212-473-PEGU;

> Russian Samovar
Roman Kaplan, founder of Russian Samovar in midtown Manhattan, is a former professor from Russia who began using information culled from 19th-century texts to infuse vodka with esoteric flavors such as cherry, tarragon, coriander and ginger back in 1986. Now, with the flavored spirits craze in full swing, Russian expats as well as Theater District artists, dancers and singers flock to him for a taste of authenticity. Most flavors are sipped neat ($5/shot), though his fiery horseradish vodka does find its way into a Bloody Mary; garlic vodka is prescribed for a cold. Kaplan offers traditional accompaniments like caviar, herring, house-made pickles, blini and even salo, an appetizer of pork lard on small toasts with mustard. Purists can choose from about 25 international vodkas served au natural.
- Jeffery Lindenmuth
Russian Samovar, 256 West 52nd St., New York, NY; 212-757-0168;