So you're a high-powered executive, and your whole day is spent on a top an immense glass skyscraper in midtown. After work, you want a stiff martin, right? You have it coming, right? Well, here's where to go.
I know that people come here for the food, but to me that's crazy. This is possibly the greatest sake bar in the city, if not the country, and the only purpose for the (admittedly fine) food is to keep you from ralphing. I'm sorry, but it's true.
Reviewing 21 is like reviewing Mount Rushmore; it doesn't matter what you say, because it's a national monument. The last and greatest of the great speakeasies of the 1920s, it morphed into one of the supreme power scenes of midcentury New York and still has much of its old power. The food is much better than you might expect, and if you want a definitive martini, this is the place to have it.
Maybe the defining mid-century New York restaurant, The Four Seasons continues to be a gathering place for the most powerful and wealthy of Manhattan grandees. The food, as always, is an afterthought, but there is no better place than the Grill Room bar to have a martini.
An urbane and reliable french restaurant that is always there for you: solid, well-executed food, a great bar, and comparatively good value for the neighborhood have kept it going lo these many years.
Tucked away inside Grand Central Station, The Campbell Apartment is a dark, stylish, busy, and grown-up place to have a drink -- even if you aren't going anywhere.
Any establishment owned by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter is bound to have an A-list crowd, and that, rather than the middling cocktails or unexceptional food, is the point of Monkey Bar and restaurants like it.
South Gate is a little too posh for some New York diners, but it's not overly formal and the food is absolutely first-class. The view of Central Park is radiant.
Though it has moved from its East Side townhouse and chef Charlie Palmer is long gone, Aureole still has much of its old authority as one of the preeminent exemplars of the so-called New American Cooking. Now that everybody does it, Aureole has responded by becoming more global and eclectic -- after all, it began with originality and originality drives it still. The room, it has to be said, is unmistakably sterile and corporate. Go anyway.
Maze is a more casual, swankier, and less buttoned-down adjuct of Gordan Ramsay's eponymous restaurant at the London hotel. Which is just what you need, given the former's characterless poshness and stratospheric costs.
When French megachef Alain Ducasse first came to New York, he meant to overawe us with the haute-est of haute cuisine, and his restaurant at the Essex House was met with crickets and yawns. So he came back a bistro of purest pedigree and it's been a big hit. It's not exactly cheap either, but it does very traditional French comfort food about as well as it can be done, and in an environment unmistakably French.
This classic-looking New York hotel bar is the perfect place to meet someone for a drink in midtown. It feels like it's been there forever, and somehow has managed to capture the essence of midcentury Manhattan.