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At NYC’s Hottest Bars, Order These Sleeper Hits Instead of Their Most Popular Cocktails

New York has a lot of famous cocktail bars. And famous cocktail bars usually have a drink for which they are best known. Most people who visit these bars for the first time (or the second or that third) will order this drink, because that’s just what’s done — that FOMO instinct is human nature. But that habit unfortunately leaves a lot of good drinks lonely in the shadows.

Instead, next time you visit that bar, maybe try what’s behind Door No. 2. These undersung cocktails may not be as well known, but I can promise you they’re just as good, if not better than their oft-ordered counterparts. Here’s a guide to which cocktails you should actually get at some of the city’s best drinks destinations.

Dante: Garibaldi Over Negroni

Credit: Steve Frehon

Who can resist a Dante Negroni? This mecca of Italianate drinking makes one of the most reliable versions of Italy’s greatest cocktail, and it is the bar’s best-seller. But once upon a time, back when Dante opened in 2015, the cocktail to drink was the Garibaldi, an obscure highball made of Campari and “fluffy” orange juice and topped with an orange wedge. The Garibaldi has since lost ground to the Negroni, Aperol Spritz, and Espresso Martini, but it remains a solid selection, no less good for no longer being the bar’s golden child.

Attaboy: Gordon’s Cup Over Penicillin

One of the most internationally recognizable modern classic cocktails, the Penicillin was invented by Sam Ross at Attaboy back in 2005, when it was called Milk & Honey. So naturally folks will want to try the drink where it was first created. But try digging a little deeper into the address’s deep bench of great drinks and order a Gordon’s Cup. Created in 2002 by Toby Maloney — the first bartender Milk & Honey founder Sasha Petraske ever hired — this spring-like gin refresher involves muddled cucumber and lime, brightened by a pinch of salt. You have my word that the bartender will know how to make it.

Bar Goto: Plum Boulevardier Over Sakura Martini

Credit: Bar Goto

The Sakura Martini, with its delicate mix of gin and sake and its eye-catching cherry blossom garnish, is the star at Bar Goto, the popular Lower East Side bar with an outpost, Niban, in Brooklyn. But unjustly undersung is another Japanese-style riff on a classic, the Plum Boulevardier. It’s made with bourbon, sweet vermouth, Campari, and two Japanese plum liqueurs. If the Sakura leaves you feeling airy and light, this drink will keep you rooted to your barstool wanting another.

Clover Club: Green Giant Over Clover Club

Credit: Daniel Krieger

First-timers at this venerated Brooklyn cocktail bar feel honor-bound to order the namesake drink, a frothy, raspberry-flavored sour invented in Philadelphia before Prohibition. But how about honoring the bar by ordering one of its homegrown favorites? The Green Giant was created by former head bartender Tom Macy in 2012. Seeing it return to the menu every springtime is the cocktail equivalent of spotting your first robin. The muddled snap peas and tarragon leaves give this Old Tom Gin Gimlet riff a verdant glow.

Dear Irving: Whiskey Business Over Gibson

Credit: Eric Medsker

Dear Irving is justly renowned for its take on the Gibson, which is adorned with a vivid pink pickled onion. But just as popular — though not as publicized — is the Whiskey Business, a Whiskey Sour made with rye, Ancho Reyes chili liqueur, lemon, cinnamon, and bitters. It’s been around since the bar opened in 2014 and is ordered whether it’s on the menu or not. The drink is as kicky as the Gibson is gentle.

Jac’s on Bond: Manhattan Manhattan Over Caprese Martini

Jac’s culled some early raves for its Caprese Martini, an olive oil, tomato, and basil-infused take on the classic. But those who like their classic cocktails classic may want to try the newly added Manhattan Manhattan. It’s made with Great Jones Bourbon, which is distilled just down the street, along with Carpano Antica vermouth, and bitters. As advertised, it’s simply a Manhattan, but somehow more so.

Leyenda: Sonámbula Over Margarita

Credit: Megan Rainwater

Leyenda serves a great and classic Margarita — I don’t know of a better one in the five boroughs. But they have classic originals as well, including the Sonámbula, which has been on the menu of the Brooklyn bar since day one. Owner Ivy Mix invented it when she was working at nearby Fort Defiance (now closed). Some people like to think of this mix of jalapeño-infused tequila, lemon juice, chamomile syrup, and bitters as a Margarita riff, but Mix calls it a spicy tequila sour. History has shown it’s not going anywhere, so give it a try.

Long Island Bar: Pendennis Club Over Boulevardier

Credit: Robert Simonson

Long Island Bar is famous for its Boulevardier, which is made with two kinds of rye and two kinds of vermouth, and widely regarded as the best version of the cocktail in town. But the Cobble Hill bar also boasts what is probably the top local rendition of the Pendennis Club, a more obscure cocktail associated with the Louisville private club of the same name. Calling it the Improved Pendennis Club, they goose the usual mix of gin, apricot liqueur, lime juice, and Peychaud’s bitters with some apricot eau-de-vie. If Phil Ward is bartending, ask for the Improved Improved Pendennis Club, which is topped with Champagne.

Maison Premiere: Pimm’s Cup Over Old King Cole Martini

Credit: Eric Medsker

It’s hard to resist the Old King Cole Martini service at this New Orleans-flavored Williamsburg cocktail bar. Who doesn’t want the undivided attention of not one, but two employees as they prepare your over-strength Old Raj gin Martini tableside? But Maison Premiere is just as proud of its unending march of Pimm’s Cup variations. (The bar is on No. 45 at this point.) The most recent is made with Sweet Gwendoline Gin, Granier Menthe, and spiced pear. Whatever the Pimm’s Cup du jour is when you walk in, it will always be different, and it will always be good.

PDT: Paddington Over Benton’s Old Fashioned

Credit: Eric Medsker

The must-order drink at the famed East Village speakeasy is the Benton’s Old Fashioned, and has been since bartender Don Lee invented the bacon-fat-washed bourbon cocktail in the bar’s early days in 2007. But on the menu almost nearly as long — it’s just one year younger — is the Paddington, created by David Slape. This delightful rum sour is enhanced by touches of Lillet Blanc and orange marmalade. See if you can drink one in the barstool under that forbidding stuffed bear, also named Paddington.

Temple Bar: Rome Royale Over Any Martini

Credit: Temple Bar

The new Temple Bar is known for what the old Temple Bar was known for: Martinis. And there are a lot of iterations for you to choose from, including ones with olive oil, olive brine, anchovy, absinthe, and sherry. But why not, for a change, ignore the whole Martini section and get a Rome Royale. It’s a sparkling improvement on co-owner Michael McIlroy’s modern classic, Rome With a View, topping the usual Campari, dry vermouth, and lime juice with some Champagne. It’s a riff worthy of a Martini-level toast.

The article At NYC’s Hottest Bars, Order These Sleeper Hits Instead of Their Most Popular Cocktails appeared first on VinePair.

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