1. Brandy Library
25 North Moore St # 1, New York, NY (Map it)
This burnished boite is a literal library of dark spirits, bottles of which line shelves along the walls. Settle back into a clubby leather chair to scope the drink menu, a veritable card catalogue of spirits with an emphasis on rare and hard-to-find pours. Novices can train palates with a tasting flight ($35 to $88), which includes a mystery tipple, plus the chance to create your own blend. Sophisticated hors d’ouevres (mac & foie, rack of lamb) are in keeping with the classy vibe.
2. Weather Up
159 Duane St., New York, NY (Map it)
Step foot into this year-old hot spot, and there’s no more question where Tribeca’s beautiful people hang out. And thanks to Weather Up’s low-key, egalitarian vibe (this is most definitely not a club), it’s easy to be one of them for the night. Perch at the long bar or grab a wooden booth and dive into the cocktail menu, which specializes in vintage-inspired, boozy quaffs, heavy on the bitters and Italian liqueurs. The menu of small bites is better for snacking than trying to make a full meal; don’t miss the raw oysters with green-chili paste.
3. Terroir Tribeca
24 Harrison St., New York, NY (Map it)
The owners of tiny Terroir wine bar in the East Village opened a larger branch of their popular vino-and-small-plates spot in 2010. Knowledgeable barkeeps can guide you toward something to drink in the sprawling hodgepodge of a wine list, perhaps a glass of the Gotham Project Riesling Pfalz, served on tap. Small bites designed by the spot’s other partner, Marco Canora (who once headed up the kitchen are Tom Colicchio’s Craft) as as much as draw as the drinks — don’t miss the Funky Beef Ball (fried meatballs) or the calamari salad.
4. Silver Lining
75 Murray St., New York, NY (Map it)
So-called “speakeasys” are common enough in New York these days, but there’s something genuinely Jazz Age about this basement level drinkery from the owners of always-mobbed Little Branch in Greenwich Village. Vest-wearing ace bartenders work just as well from the menu or off it, fashioning cocktails with true artistry (if in doubt, try the dark and stormy). Vintage photos line the brick walls, while vintage jazz sounds from speakers or a baby grand. There might be a line on weekend nights, but there’s no cover.
5. Ward III
111 Reade St., New York, NY (Map it)
The vibe here is more neighborhood bar than precious boite, with that classic TriBeCa lofty look (brick walls, high ceilings, lots of wood). But a glance at the cocktail list suggests this isn’t your average local – there’s a menu of serious drinks, and, most popular among the cocktail crowd, the option to design your own. On the “bespoke” menu, budding mixologists can select a spirit, “texture,” “spice,” fruit, and “flavor of choice. If your creation is “spirit-forward,” refined bar bites like devils on horseback (bacon-wrapped dates) should take the edge off.
Jenny Miller is an editor at New York Magazine’s food blog, Grub Street New York.