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)

> Silver Lining
The latest from Milk & Honey and Little Branch luminaries Sasha Petraske and Joseph Schwartz, Silver Lining is a subterranean cocktail haven in a 155-year-old TriBeCa townhouse. To find it, exchange a pleasantry with the doorman and head down the chandelier-lit stairs: at the base is a room of exposed brick walls, white linen-covered cocktail tables, a richly lacquered bar and a jazz quintet humming along under candlelight. Don’t be put off by the cocktail menu, which looks somewhat ordinary; it’s the waiters and bartenders who are extraordinary here, just as improvisational as the musicians playing an arm’s length away. Go in craving a Dark and Stormy, leave with a sumptuous New Orleans Fizz; say “daiquiri” and you might be thoughtfully ushered to a frothy flip. One recent evening, the team even managed to sway a patron who may have had one too many to order a non-alcoholic ginger and cucumber concoction rather than the boozy rum cocktail he’d requested. It arrived with the same attention to detail as any other drink, with a chilled metal straw and a linen cocktail napkin. These guys know nothing but class, even when dealing with an occasional less-than-classy patron.

Silver Lining,75 Murray St.; 212-513-1234 (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)

> Lani Kai

Photo by Francine Daveta

Cocktail maven-about-town Julie Reiner calls Lani Kai an homage to her Hawaiian heritage and her current home, New York City. Apparently, this means a surplus of rum, inventive drinks and mouthwatering food. A favorite pupu—escabeche "tacos" with a lively red snapper-cabbage filling and crisp-tender wonton-skin shells—shares much in common with Reiner's approach to a cocktail: a delicate balance between sweet and sour, with a little bitter and lots of acid. The Last Luau makes a fine example: White and aged rums, falernum, ginger, lime and Angostura bitters make sweet and boldly tangy grilled pineapple savory with spice and earthiness. Extra bonus: Lani Kai is open for brunch.
—Chris Hallowell

Lani Kai, 525 Broome St. (btw. Sullivan & Thompson Sts.); 646-596-8778, (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)

> Vandaag
Vandaag offers some of the most distinctive cocktails of the year. Katie Stipe, a protégé of Julie Reiner, focuses on genever, akvavit, digestifs and wine and beer cocktails at this sleek Northern European-inspired restaurant. Like many of the combinations here, the Didly Fizz—a combination of Flemish sour ale, Bourbon, cherry Heering, Punt e Mes, lemon and egg white with a beet garnish—is the liquid equivalent of an Ikea table: sturdy but sleek. The wine list is also strong—a tight collection focused on Germany and Austria—but Stipe's cocktails are so good you may want to stick with them when Phillip Kirschen-Clark's dishes arrive on the table. There aren't many things you can do for under $30 that are quite as enjoyable as Vandaag's pickle pot and lamb sweetbreads with an akvavit/Cynar/sparkling grüner cocktail.
—Chris Hallowell

Vandaag, 103 2nd Ave. (at 7th St.); 212-253-0470, (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.

> Chanterelle
Chanterelle in New York's Tribeca is not the kind of place one goes to sit at the bar, order a Cognac and light up a matador. Karen and David Waltuck's elegant eatery doesn't even have a proper bar, for that matter. But that doesn't stop Master Sommelier Roger Dagorn from stocking an impressive inventory of aged and rare Cognac, Armagnac and Calvados (not to mention 5,000 bottles of wine). The big names are accounted for - Remy, Hennessy, Martell, Hine, Delamain, Larressingle - at XO or better status for the Cognacs and vintages for the Armagnacs and Calvados. Check your credit limit before ordering the sublime La Fontaine de la Pouyade Grande Champagne Premier Cru Cognac for $150 a glass, or the Domaine Baraillon 1900 Calvados for $250 per pour. On the esoteric side (read: affordable, too) are the Marcel Ragnaud Fontvieille Cognac ($20), Laubade Armagnac 1963 ($35), and R. Giard Calvados 1965 ($35).
- Anthony Giglio
Chanterelle, 2 Harrison St., NYC; 212-966-6960;

> 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

> Eugene
Come to dance, stay to eat. Or come to eat and stay to dance. Or just pop the cork on some bubbly and take in the scene. This hip lounge space has recently re-opened its restaurant under the steady hand of Sam DeMarco (First, Merge, District), in an art-deco room that draws in the main space's finger-snappin' cocktail vibe, albeit at slightly lower volume. Dishes from DeMarco's simple but clever menu are available either for one or for four or more; sharing is the name of the game. And the well-chosen wine list offers unexpected gems like a Lorca Pinot Gris from Monterey or a Nicolas Joly Savennières, all at level-headed prices. Special cool plus? DeMarco's decadent first-date menu, five courses with paired champagne at $100 per couple. Guaranteed to - well. You get the idea.
- Ray Isle
Eugene, 27 W. 24th St., NYC; 212-462-0999

> Gonzo
Gonzo joins Fresco and Scopa as the newest and most neighborly eatery from chef Vincent Scotto and his sister Donna. Here, the compact, casual bar scene is abuzz with giant Fumoso Martinis, which bar manager Bill Murphy says raise eyebrows every time he makes one. "Its name is Italian for 'smoky,' and it's meant to have that smoky flavor that single malts have." And it does. Murphy adds an ounce of Glenfiddich to five ounces of Ketel One over ice, stirs - "not shaken," he says with faux hauteur - and strains it into a martini glass with a slice of lemon. The drink, he says, gets customers talking about Scotch, which often leads to a nightcap of The Macallan.
- Anthony Giglio
Gonzo, 140 W 13th St., NYC; 212-645-4606

> Hole In One
Hole In One takes subtlety to new levels, beginning with the entrance: a tiny brass nameplate next to a door buzzer. But behind that anonymous exterior and up a flight of stairs, owner Koichi Hiraiwa stocks more than 300 single-malt whiskies, from the affordable and familiar to the exotic and wildly expensive. If you've been hunting, for instance, for the absurdly rare Black Bowmore, this is one place you can get it - albeit at $780 for a two-ounce dram. Newcomers may balk at the $35 cover charge; Hiraiwa's regulars (many of them Japanese) know that it's a small price to pay for absolute serenity in the midst of brawling Manhattan, courteous, pitch-perfect service, and the kind of Scotch list you rarely see outside of your dreams.
- Ray Isle
Hole in One, 1003A 2nd Ave., NYC; 212-319-6070

> Kloe
Kloe may sound like the name of the perfume chef Erica Miller's grandma once wore, but these days this mahogany-floored former speakeasy smells more like success than eau de toilette. And while Miller and partner Nathan Foreman have transformed this historical space into a swank-but-homey-feeling eatery, imbibing is the common thread, found in the spirits of the politicians and prizefighters who once drank here, and in barman Tosh Marks, who created the "Tunny Manhattan" in honor of a long-gone heavyweight. The connection? "Tunny liked brandy, so I replaced the cherry with Hardy XO-soaked cranberries," says Marks. Dare I say it? It's a knockout.
- Anthony Giglio
Kloe, 243 West 14th St., NYC; 212-255-5563

> Link
Link is the hipster haunt of the Irving Plaza crowd looking for pre- and post-concert imbibing, and also entertainment. Enter Julie Reiner, a master mixologist hired by owner Shaul Natan to dazzle diners and loungers alike, all within view of the island bar. "I hired bartenders to play around and dance and perform, so they're not just pouring," says Reiner. Such conviviality naturally leads to flirting in all directions, which inspired Reiner's Flirtini, made with Stoli Razberry, simple syrup and cranberry juice. Though the drinks aren't free, the entertainment is.
- Anthony Giglio
Link, 120 E 15th. St., New York, NY; 212-995-1100

> M&R Bar and Dining Room
M&R Bar and Dining Room has been reincarnated by owners Michael Howett and Richard Bach; the original on Elizabeth Street disappeared when its lease expired in January 2003. Now in a basement space on the Bowery, the antique bottles and art school oil paintings will look familiar to denizens of the old M&R, and the speakeasy feel is heightened by the dark wood interior, salvaged from a 1903 Pennsylvania German singing club in Allentown, PA. The bartenders also like their drinks decidedly on the dark side, like their improved Cosmopolitan made with Maker's Mark ($11), and a near perfect Manhattan with Jim Beam Rye and Campari ($10). The food-small bites like grilled haloumi skewers with walnut and roasted pepper dip and fancy panini-may seem out of place with the Old New York vibe, but that's one compromise we're willing to make.
- Jeffery Lindenmuth
M&R Bar and Dining Room, 356 Bowery, downstairs, New York; 212-260-1890

> 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

> Parea
Parea brings Cleveland chef Michael Symon to a Flatiron block already thick with excellent wining and dining options, including Gramercy Tavern, Veritas and Flute. He and executive chef Jonathon Sawyer are holding their own with artisanal Greek food, like house-cured pork, lamb and sausage, as well as an array of spinialo, a Greek take on ceviche. To match, the wine list ranges the Mediterranean but focuses on Greece's best, like an array of assyrtiko that can stretch easily from grilled fish to the saffron sausage and beyond.
- T.Q. Thomas
Parea, 36 E. 20th St., NY; 212-777-8448

> 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

> Punch & Judy
Punch & Judy is an exemplary wine bar conjured up by Constantine Mouzakitis and Giacomo Turone, two twenty-something wine salesmen with a great idea. The cozy room may feel like a hipster lounge - replete with dim lights and kick-ass tunes - but the service is perfectly grown-up, with Riedel glassware and an anything-but-ordinary selection of 100 or so wines, including a stunning Spy Valley Gewurztraminer from Marlborough and a luscious Baron de la Magna "Dignus" from Navarra. A light menu offers insanely great food, too. I want to die here.
- Anthony Giglio
Punch & Judy, 26 Clinton St., NYC; 212-982-1116

> 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

> Silverlining
Slip some silver Tequila into that clichéd cosmopolitan and you get the Rude Cosmopolitan, the Cosmolita, or even the Platinum Cosmopolitan, created by bar consultant George Delgado, using the all-agave El Tesoro Platinum Tequila. Delving further into cocktail semantics, Delgado observes, "You know how I view it: The cosmo is a vodka margarita with a splash of cranberry, so this is the drink going back to its rightful place." In this drink, vibrant blanco Tequila seems right at home with old compatriots Cointreau and lime, which enhance its green, herbaceous flavors. Despite its color de rosa, the drink has popped like a piñata at Mexican standards like Zona Rosa in midtown Manhattan, where a top-shelf margarita by any name, or color, is as sweet. Delgado's Platinum Cosmopolitan combines 1 part El Tesoro Platinum Tequila, 2 parts cranberry juice, 1/2 part Cointreau and 1/2 part fresh lime juice in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a wedge of lime.
- Jeffery Lindenmuth
Zona Rosa, 40 W. 56th St, NYC; 212-247-2800

> Suba
Suba sounds sort of like S.C.U.B.A., and you'll draw the same conclusion when you see how much water there is all over this tri-level Latin-Spanish hotspot, including a dining island surrounded by a shimmering reflecting pool. The menu by Stephane Buccholzer is Franco-Spanish-Latin, with a tapas repertoire ranging from goat cheese Colombian arepas to bacalao-stuffed pimento de pequillos. The wine list follows suit, almost exclusively Spanish and South American, including Trapiche Malbec, Muruve Toro and Ramirez de la Piscina Rioja Reserva.
- Anthony Giglio
Suba, 109 Ludlow Street, NYC; 212-982-5714

> The Double Seven
The Double Seven resides in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, an area so trendy that it now has its own corporate sponsor, Delta Air Lines' Song. But with this latest venture, the nightlife impresarios that brought us Lotus add real depth to the breadth of choices sprouting from the cobblestone byways. With stylish accents like leather banquettes and suede ceilings, it looks like the typical Meatpacking district club, but it's free of the thumping bass, resulting in a place that embraces the lost art of conversation over a cocktail. The cocktail list, created by Sasha Petraske (Milk & Honey, Little Branch), displays 14 nightly selections, like a classic French 75 or No. 12 Red, made with gin, red currant jam and lemon, culled from a master list of 80 signature drinks. Each cocktail ($16) includes details like hand-chipped ice, steel straws and a suitably paired chocolate from Debauve & Gallais. The house Spiked Warm Apple Cider is partner Monica Chiang's favorite winter pick-me-up: Spicy and sweet, it's perfect for cold-weather sipping. And the accompanying Earl Grey ganache is reason enough to order a second round.
- Jeffery Lindenmuth
The Double Seven, 418 W.14th St., New York; 212-981-9099