3 Great Bars in New York City to End Life As I Know It

PDT celebrates taxidermy
PDT's compact bar

PDT’s compact bar

Following on Lynn’s theme around vacation, my husband Johnny and I recently had what might be considered our last vacation within life as we know it. We joined family in Atlanta to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of one of our four wonderful nephews and then we headed to NYC. (We have eight fabulous nieces, too, but I digress.) NYC is one of our favorite cities and it is also home or near to the home of some of our favorite people. New York also seemed like the perfect place to end our pre-kid life. We officially entered to “matching” phase of the foster-to-adopt process while we were in New York, and knew we’d be heading home to put the finishing touches on the launch of our new kid-full life. So, dear Plenty of Ice readers, you know we had to hit some watering holes. We had a longer list than we could visit this trip, but we sure enjoyed the three we visited: Dead Rabbit, Employees Only, and PDT.


PDT celebrates taxidermy

PDT celebrates taxidermy

PDT (Please Don’t Tell) is a ‘speakeasy’ of sorts, reservations and magical phone booth entrance included. Located in the East Village, PDT is attached to Crif Dogs, a dive serving fancy, original hotdogs for every palate (even crazy vegans like me). After we waited in Crif Dogs for a while past our reservation time, we were escorted into the dark and cozy bar. Bare brick walls, taxidermy, and what appeared to be room for fewer than 50 helped us feel in a very different place for a different experience.

At PDT, we enjoyed four drinks: Benton’s Old Fashioned with Four Roses bacon-infused bourbon which added a subtle smokiness and just a hint of bacon; the Kansai Kick built around the smooth and delicious Japanese whisky Yamazaki 12 with a lovely mix of Madeira and lime juice; the Scotch-based Rapscallion (the absinthe made for a nice surprise in this rich, boozy drink); and the Left Handed Cocktail, one of my favorite rye drinks which is a perfect use of Campari with the bonus of mole bitters. We got hungry, so the bartender ordered up some tater tots from Crif Dogs and they appeared through a pass-thru from next door. Whiskey and tater tots? Now we’re talking!

Employees Only (EO)

Our Drinks at E.O.

Our Drinks at E.O.

We hit up the beautiful Employees Only in the West Village with not enough time before theater to fully enjoy it. But if we’re gonna have kids, we sure better be ready to move with speed, decisiveness, adventure, and joy, right? We had time for one round of drinks. I had the refreshing, bourbon-based Quiet Storm and Johnny had a perfect Pimm’s Cup. The place has a full food menu, too, and the salad we had was delicious. E.O. is an elegant and friendly spot. It felt like we were in the 20’s or 30’s in a really lovely way. Total class act.

Dead Rabbit

Dead Rabbit was recommended by a friend in SF who knows more than I’ll ever know about booze and bars and he was right to suggest it as the one bar we had to visit. It is on many lists of great bars and newer bars and I’d add it to the top of my own, too. Located way downtown on Water Street (south of the Stock Exchange and just north of the ferries), it’s a two story gem. The ground-floor Taproom is charming and casual, with plenty of beer on tap, a full bar, and sawdust on the floor. The Parlor on the 2nd floor was our destination. We were seated at the bar and were immediately taken by the welcoming, elegant charm of the place. Dead Rabbit has a neighborhood bar vibe and also feels a bit like you’re entering another time. There’s a deep bench of spirits at Dead Rabbit and, judging from the remarkable skills and knowledge of bartenders Bobby and Pam, an equally deep bench of folks who know what to do with said spirits. The drinks we had were glorious, sophisticated, truly fantastic cocktails. We also sat next to DJ Evil Twin and he and his buddy were a total blast. They even suggested some fun and naughty word games to keep us all going.

Dead Rabbit's Parlor

Dead Rabbit’s Parlor

Johnny started with the rye-based Lord of the Ward and I with the Scotch-based Glory Morning Fizz. Round two included he Combatant for Johnny and the Fighting Irish for me. (Hopefully the round two names aren’t omens about ornery days with kids ahead!) Both round two drinks are Irish whiskey-based. We also had a chance to sample Redbreast, the complex Irish whiskey, in both the 12 year and the (new to the United States) 21 year. Yum!

It was no surprise that New York is a leader in great bars and great drinks. If pressed, I’d say Dead Rabbit was my favorite, E.O. takes the silver, and PDT the bronze. I imagine we’ll cherish the bars we visited and the drinks we had extra. The rite of passage into parenthood is exciting and life changing I hear. I’m totally ready! Well, maybe just one more awesome cocktail please…

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