There are countless great bars in New York City, but sometimes you want to go somewhere with a little more polish. You want a pub that smells of leather, cigar smoke and rich mahogany. Thankfully, we’ve compiled a new list of the classiest of bars in town.
These bars aren’t just classy--they’re the kind of place where you might find James Bond swilling a martini or Don Draper knocking back an Old Fashioned.
These are the classiest bars in New York.
This joint bills itself as “one of the most refreshingly civilized places to meet” and it's hard to disagree with them--assuming you think the height of civilization is described within the pages of an Ian Fleming novel. Since 1990, patrons of Hudson Bar and Books have been striding confidently through it’s doors and into the 1950’s. While other establishments were cornering off smokers into their own section and eventually banning them altogether, Bar and Books was setting up the only dedicated cigar bar in the city.
This place is a cigar smokers heaven--with literally no limits on where or how much you can smoke. Surrounded by cobblestone streets, townhouses and brownstones, this “continental style” establishment is one of the few spots a gentleman (or a lady) can sit back in a leather armchair, light up a cigar, and talk business. Order a drink from the old-timey copper bar and enjoy it on a leopard print pillow. Modeled after a high-end hotel, Bar and Books is a classic gentleman’s club mixed with a library, featuring shelf upon shelf of leatherbound reading material.
Sample from a vast selection of whiskies, with options from Islay, Ireland and even Japan. Try a classic Sazerac or a Vesper--the drink which was created by James Bond himself, and named after his lost love. This place simply oozes style and class. Sure it’s a bit pricey, but it’s well worth the visit if you want to relax in a swimming pool of leather and whiskey or impress a client on a business lunch. Just make sure you’re okay with breathing a little cigar smoke, because the other patrons here certainly are.
There are as many ways to enjoy an alcoholic beverage as there are people in the city. Do you enjoy custom cocktails, cold brews, or refined tastings? Brandy Library isn’t just an incredibly classy joint; it’s a veritable almanac of alcohol.
Slip into one of their comfy leather chairs and buckle up for a phenomenal drinking experience. Your server at Brandy Library is less a waiter and more a museum guide. These servers are gifted with a nearly-encyclopedic knowledge of alcohol and can recommend the perfect beverage to fit your mood. Before you know it, you’ll be sampling the finest drinks from around the world.
We recommend Brandy Library for anyone who wants to add some pricey additions to their home bar. It’s the perfect chance to sample that exceptional brandy before you sink a load of cash into purchasing your very own bottle. It’s also a great place to learn the ins and outs of the elite liquor world. It’s not just a great time at a bar--it’s an education!
Since it’s debut in 1955, no other establishment has personified classic New York like Cafe Carlyle. Both romantic and intimate, this Manhattan-style cabaret comes to musical life every evening. Enjoy superb food in the dining room while being serenaded by fantastic performers. Throughout history Cafe Carlyle has hosted some of the greatest talents including Eartha Kitt and Bobby Short. Even now you can see Sutton Foster, Judy Collins and even Woody Allen perform alongside the Eddy Davis New Orleans jazz band.
Located on the first floor of the Rosewood Hotel, a jacket is required for admittance. Although there is seating for 90, it's probably best to book a reservation because Cafe Carlyle is always popular. If you can’t get into the dining room, there is always the attached bar section: Bemelmans Bar. The bar is named for famed children’s author, Ludwig Bemelmans, who wrote and illustrated the timeless Matilda books. In fact, you’ll find his drawings on the wallpaper and even an original mural by the man himself. These are the only surviving Bemelmans' commissions open to the public.
The food is excellent, the drinks refreshing, and the class unlimited, so make your reservations at Cafe Carlyle today.
Way back in 1762, when our great country was nothing more than a British colony, Fraunces Tavern was founded. Very soon it became the secret hangout of a group of rebels known as The Sons of Liberty. After a tea party of some significance, a revolution finally came and the popular tavern became the secret headquarters for George Washington. Later on it was a venue for peace negotiations with the British, and eventually housed federal offices during the days of the Early Republic. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the tavern is that it’s still standing to this day, serving up beer, whiskey and incomparable food.
One of the first things you notice when you enter Fraunces Tavern is that it’s actually several restaurants and bars in one. Choose from fine fare at the Tallmadge Dining Room, or enjoy a whiskey in their leather and brass adorned whiskey bar, featuring a hefty selection of spirits from all over the world. Go a little deeper and you’ll find yourself strolling through multiple bars and dining areas, all with different menus and beer selections. There’s even private dining upstairs if you want to have a party. You can visit Fraunces Tavern as many times as you wish and you’ll always feel like you’re having a new experience.
Fraunces Tavern has endured a fascinating and turbulent history, even surviving a bombing back in 1975. You can learn all about it in their on-site museum. Whether you want to hang out where the founding fathers once did, enjoy a great fine dining experience, or simply sip from a tumbler of sumptuous scotch--this is the place to be. Fraunces Tavern has aged like a fine barrel of whiskey.