When the pandemic arrived on U.S. shores in early 2020, New York was among the first areas to be hit hard – and quickly. After the bar industry in Lower Manhattan came to a standstill, many jurors mumbled that the city’s nightlife might never be the same again. It turns out they were right. A year later, the drinks scene is better than ever before. The proof is in the slope.
Let’s start at Union Square; unofficial gateway to Lower Manhattan. It has long been a hub for good food and drink (and home to one of the city’s finest farmers markets), and it feels energetic in a special way – which is especially good from the proliferation of outdoor dining along with a host of new openings.
It is not only the streets that abound, but also the roofs. Earlier this year was the neighborhood’s newest Moxy Hotel opened the stairs to his Clear roof terrace. Dense with foliage shining under hanging lights, the space is meant to reflect a mood in the backyard of the East Village. Improving the mood is an outdoor bar served by the skyline, serving classic cocktails and frozen rosé that can be combined with tacos to order from a “truck”.
For a more elegant rooftop affair, head down to SoHo to sip the night away at JIMMY-a decade-old institution. Hotspot on the 18th floor that crowns on ModernHaus has roared back to life after the pandemic, showcased a seasonal cocktail menu by bar veterinarian Johnny Swet and lifted his food offering using Michelin-starred chef George Mendes. Its pool deck, now legendary, offers wonderful views of Lower Manhattan to Midtown. Inspired drinks like Sazerac Tonic and Red Eye to Rio suit the landscape.
“There’s something about being below 23rd Street, or really 14th Street, that has always meant that a place was more at the forefront and more likely to see an audience late at night,” notes David Rabin, founder of JIMMY. “People in that circle of fashion, art and music tend to live and work in the center, eat in the center and go out in the center. And when they come to NYC to work, they stay at The Bowery or The Mercer and selfishly / hopefully now at ModernHaus. ”
JIMMY is hardly the only established place around here that imagines itself in the wake of 2020. Death & Co, a formative modern speakeasy in the East Village, debuted sidewalk service for the first time – outside its unmarked doors on East 6th Street. Inside, the dimly lit living room is as noisy and relevant as ever.
And only two blocks north of St. Marks spills another legendary hideaway onto the streets. PDT has launched Tropical PDT, an outdoor oasis with a focus on lighter, summery sippers – like rum and juice served in coconut shells. The playful pop-up has room for guests from Friday at 17.00 for the last call on Sunday evening.
“The concept has been very popular right out of the gate,” according to PDT owner Jeff Bell. “It is as if people are making up for lost time. For the past 50 years, St. Marks Place has always been a magnet with its funkiness, especially for the younger set who want to be out and about. This is especially true these days. ”
Even the restaurants around here enjoy the power –Electric Burrito serves as a good example. Opened earlier this year, the San Diego-themed takeaway is already a fixture among late night bar-goers. They line up in droves, lured by whimsical, protein-filled tortillas that wrap the size of their forearms.
Not to be outdone, the West Side of Lower Manhattan offers its own electricity. “From my perspective, I see Downtown, especially Greenwich Village, more alive and vibrant than ever before,” says Nico de Soto Mace– an award-winning bar that recently abandoned the East Village, following a Western address. “The village has always been a vital part of NYC with all its shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants as well as cultural offerings. But outdoor seating has been an incredible silver lining of COVID. We were quick to respond with our own outdoor enclosure, which our guests really love. ”
The bar expanded its culinary offerings to include seafood dishes as well as vegan dishes. However, one of the biggest draws has been a number of eccentric frozen compositions, especially Wasabi + Cilantro – a slightly blissful setting for Miami Vice. Further west, stalwarts like Dante West Village and Katana Killing uses the same comfort for expert effect.
While there is always uncertainty, drink fans in Lower Manhattan are fully aware of – and appreciate – this golden era. “By focusing on fun experiences, we give New Yorkers a much-needed place to relax and connect,” de Soto adds. Who will not drink to it?