Bars come and go in New York City. Best can change to worst and back again between happy hours. A bad place can have a good night, and a good place can have a bad night, and most will have both over the course of a weekend. The qualities that make a place a can’t-miss for you might add up to a can’t-stand for your doppelgänger. And once you’ve been here long enough, your hard-won favorite will close or simply change, and you’ll need to find a new personal best.
There are thousands of bars across the five boroughs. And there are really only a few ways to do the thing: Real dive, dive-themed dive, neighborhood staple, Old New York throwback, bucket-list spot, pseudo-speakeasy, buzzy hotspot, grandpa bar, molecular something something, untouched classic, Old New York revival, oldest this or that, sex bar, unlikely city sports bar, a place with an unexpected or simply forgotten gimmick that’s impossible to get into for a few years before it turns into a Panera, or a boat. They all have alcohol.
So, why are so few so good? The best bar of all time is the one where you can get a seat, get an occasional buy-back, and get home from with relative ease. Here are some good ones, too.
Ophelia is for appointment drinking. It’s in a luxury building on a luxury corner of an antiseptic luxury neighborhood. Nearly half of its cocktails break the $20 mark that separates spirits-lovers from wanton gourmands. It’s as theatrically appointed as every other highly branded bar to open in the past few years, and of course, it’s all plenty beautiful. Colorful cocktails are poured into lovely glasses in a space that splits the difference between Marie Antoinette’s chambers and the Joker’s apartment as conceived by Tim Burton circa 1989. View’s nice, too.