The Best Cocktails NYC Bartenders Are Slinging Right Now

We like to think of ourselves as adventurous eaters, and yet when it comes to drinks, we all too often default to the same old gin and tonic or sauvignon blanc. So for inspiration, we asked around to find the most refreshing, surprising and gorgeous drinks in the city right now—and suddenly we can’t wait for 5 o’ clock.

17 Things to Eat and Drink in NYC This August

1. The Jungle Bird At Jungle Bird

This retro tropical bar is named for a classic cocktail invented at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton in the ’70s. Naturally, it’s on tap here and as colorful as its name suggests—particularly if you order it as a punch bowl for the table. Made with rum, Campari, Contratto Aperitif (an Aperol relative that gets its hue from beet and carrot extracts), pineapple and lime, this summer sipper is tiki-esque without being too sweet.

174 Eighth Ave.;

best cocktails nyc oxomoco watermelon margarita
Courtesy of Oxomoco

2. Watermelon Margarita At Oxomoco

Michelin-starred Oxomoco may be renowned for its wood-fired tacos and other creative Mexican fare, but we’re secretly here for the drinks. With watermelon, blanco tequila, elderflower liqueur, lime and agave—all wrapped up in a bright-pink swirl—the frosty marg almost makes these sticky summer days bearable.

128 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn;

3. Las Tres Hermanas At Salinas

This Spanish spot boasts moody, date-night ambience, a garden with a retractable roof and some pretty excellent cocktails. Before you dig into croquetas and paella, order this uber-refreshing blend of Alacrán mezcal, Torres orange liqueur, lime and sea-salted honey.

136 Ninth Ave.;

best cocktails nyc intersect by lexus kakigori
Courtesy of Intersect by Lexus

4. Champagne Kakigori At Intersect By Lexus

Technically, the Japanese shaved ice known as kakigori is a dessert, but we had yet to try it in boozy form until last month when the auto-sponsored rotating restaurant space opened a pop-up dedicated to the frozen treat, open through August 11. Choose from two combos: Champagne Brulée and Strawberry Margarita. Both are available sans alcohol during the day and then spiked in the bar after 5 p.m.

412 W. 14th St.;

5. Seasonal Goose Smash At The Crosby Bar

OK, the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but the drink sure does: The Crosby Street Hotel’s lounge offers a rotating Grey Goose cocktail, and this season’s iteration is basically summer in drink form, with vodka, mango, blueberries and basil. We don’t have a photo, so we’ll leave you with a pic of the dreamy garden instead.

79 Crosby St.;

lemons rooftop bar wythe hotel nyc
Courtesy of Lemon's

6. Boozy Popsicles At Lemon’s

The first thing you need to know about the new bar in the Wythe Hotel is that it has a lovely rooftop that includes both a terrace and a sun-drenched interior. The second thing you need to know is that it serves boozy ice pops, courtesy of Oddfellows. Choose from rosé or Aperol spritz, then ’Gram like your life depends on it.

80 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn;

best cocktails nyc mace vanilla
John Shyloski

7. The Vanilla V.2 At Mace

Leave it to this East Village bar—which consistently churns out some of the most interesting drinks we’ve ever tasted—to keep us guessing with its summer menu, which highlights ingredients in eponymous drinks ranging from Cinnamon to Parsley to Ants (!). But nothing is as simple as it sounds: Take the Vanilla v.2, with brioche rum, peanut butter and rectified strawberry cream. PB&J in drink form? Yes, please.

505 E. 12th St.;

best cocktails nyc estuary sunset spritz
Courtesy of Estuary

8. The Sunset Spritz At Estuary

Unlike the Times, we’d never begrudge the classic Aperol spritz—but for a change of pace, we love the riff offered at the new waterfront brasserie at ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina. Gin and prosecco get amped up with a raspberry-balsamic shrub and rosemary for a sip that’s acidic and slightly savory (but no less refreshing).

159 Bridge Park Dr., Brooklyn;

purewow author


From 2016-2019 Carolyn Kuang-chen Stanley held the role of Editor covering food, travel and all things nyc.