Here are some fun spots:
1. Murray Hill — Pranna: Terrific for larger groups (we had about 12) or just you and another, Pranna impressed us with their elegant ambiance, Indian flair and warm friendly (but not-too-friendly) service. The manager is an ex-Wall Street guy, so he really “makes an effort.” They have a truly delicious small plate menu and an exotic and extensive cocktail offering, including Chai’s Tea (a mixture of cognac, chai tea, sweet vermouth and vanilla liquor). Plus, they also have some tasty non-alcoholic options, like the Lemongrass Thai Basil Soda (lemongrass syrup, thai basil leaves, lemon juice and soda). If you want to stay for dinner, a beautiful and, from what we heard, delicious dining room is off to the side.
2. West Village — Little Branch: We were really taken with this West Village gem’s classy yet unpretentious vibe and out-of-this-world cocktails. The low-ceilings and candle-lit seating area mix perfectly with an old-fashioned drink, and the live jazz you’ll hear Sundays through Wednesdays puts the cherry on top. Better for a date with the husband than a drink with the girls, but once you taste the cocktails, you’ll be more consumed with what’s in your glass than who’s sitting next to you. Don’t really have an idea of what you want? Don’t worry. Just give one of the suspender-clad bartenders the flavors or liquor you want and watch as they work their magic.
3. West Village — Employees Only: Delicious cocktails is only one of the selling points for this railroad-style bar. Expect nothing short of perfection here, as they cater towards a clientele with an insider’s knowledge of the business (they originally opened as a space for other service industry workers to gather). Art Deco lighting runs across the pressed tin ceiling, making for a pretty swanky vibe. For a good summer cocktail, try the Amelia, a mix of Russian Standard Vodka and St.Germain Elderflower Liqueur shaken with pureed blackberries and fresh lemon juice. Then, switch it up with another warm-weather favorite, the Roselle made with Tanqueray shaken with house-made Hibiscus Cordial, lime and grapefruit juice.
4. Soho — Chibi’s: If you know us at all, you know we can’t get enough of dogs (the 4-legged kind, that is). That’s why we didn’t mind when our girl’s cocktail-and-a-movie night was interrupted by the portly French bulldog after which this SoHo sake bar is named. Chandeliers, framed portraits of Chibi and empty sake bottles along the window sill make the atmosphere carefree yet classy. The Chibitini aside, some edamame was to die for, and we even got in a little play time with the pup (toys for Chibi are located around the bar for her enjoyment).
5. Upper West Side — ‘Cesca: Most people think of it as one of the best restaurants on the Upper West Side, but it has a really active bar as well. Attractive people having interesting conversations are a drawing point, and, since Snoety likes it plain and simple, we think they have the best vodka martini in town. Ask for extra olives; they toss-in the biggest and the best. Plus, if your stomach starts rumbling, you can’t go wrong with their award-winning Italian fare.