With Valentine's Day hurtling ever closer, you may want to start thinking about how best to fete your extra-special someone. And while there's nothing wrong with spending a date night in with a bottle of Balvenie and unlimited Kevin Spacey, this town has plenty of seductive drinking spots perfect for kindling romantic flames while drowning the inhibitions. Here are a few of our favorites:
Angel's Share (via Facebook)
ANGEL'S SHARE: With its dark, soft-yellow lighting, intimate space and creative cocktails, this speakeasy's got all the makings for a romantic East Village evening. Hidden within Japanese restaurant Village Yokocho, Angel's Share doesn't allow groups of more than four, which keeps noise levels and crowding down so you don't spend the night shouting at your date. Try fruity mixology crafts like Quintessence, a citrus-heavy combo of rum, grapefruit juice, tonic and elderflower liqueur, or a steamy hot apple cider doused with apple liqueur, which run about $15 each. To really to make a night of it, there's always the aptly-named Cheek-to-Cheek, a desserty concoction made with rum, honey, berries, yogurt, cranberry juice and vincotto. It's meant for sharing, but the tall, thin glass its served in will have you and your fellow drinker sipping it with your cheeks side-by-side.
Angel's Share is located at 8 Stuyvesant Street (inside Village Yokocho) in the East Village (212-777-5415)
THE GUTHRIE INN: East Harlem's not known for harboring sexy date spots, but this relative newcomer's a pretty good neighborhood spot to bring a special someone. The tiny bar is outfitted in warm, red-accented decor, and if you can nab a spot in the cozy, plush-chaired nook in the back, you're in for an even more intimate experience. Check out cocktails like the Sharpie Moustache, a booze-y mixture of gin, rye, amaro and bitters ($12) or the vodka-and-citrus Moscow Mule ($12), and be sure to stop by neighboring Earl's Beer & Cheese for a post-drink bite.
The Guthrie Inn is located at 1259 Park Ave between 97th and 98th Street in East Harlem (212-423-9900). Follow them on Facebook.
The Vault at Pfaffs
THE VAULT AT PFAFFS: To impress a special literary lady or gent, take them to this underground Greenwich Village lounge, where Walt Whitman used to do body shots. (That is sort of true!) You two can snuggle on red couches and in fancy booths while sipping cocktails served by waitresses dolled up in 1920s dresses. The Vault's warm, bohemian-esque brick-and-mahogany decor and antique bar make for an artsy, old-school, upscale night out, and specialty drinks, while a pricey $16 each, make for some unique boozing. The Subway Rumbles, for instance, is a walloping combination of scotch, bols genever, house-made grenadine, lemon juice and fresh egg white; a Melkior's Ghost is a decadent dessert of delord armagnac blanche, crème de cocoa, crème de banana and heavy cream.
DIWINE: Astoria's first wine bar, this dimly-lit 31st Ave spot serves drinks and tapas to a late-night crowd. Grab a curtained couch-table for some real privacy and sample some of DiWine extensive wine collection—glasses are $9 each, or split a bottle for $32. They've also got syrupy cocktails like the rum-and-ginger French Storm or the strawberry-heavy Berry Martini, in addition to some draft and bottled beers. Pair your drinks with romantic small bites like beef carpaccio ($11) and bistro mussels ($12), and end the night with a creamy chocolate mousse whipped with brandy ($7).
DiWine is located at 41-15 31st Ave in Astoria, Queens (718-777-1355, diwineonline.com).
SHALEL LOUNGE: Beyond the Upper West Side's Gin Mills and Jake's Dilemmas lies this red-hot underground date spot, where melodic Middle Eastern music, piped-in incense, alcove seating and sultry lighting might push you into love affair-overload. Exotic wines run about $12 a glass, and the bar offers a solid selection of beers and classic cocktails like martinis as well. And if you're looking to spice things up, there are plenty of Moroccan small plates to nibble on, like lamb meatballs made with cinnamon ($12) and hummus and tahina served with pita ($10).
Shalel Lounge is located at 65 West 70th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Ave on the Upper West Side (212-873-2300).
The Bodega (Via Facebook)
THE BODEGA: Bodega is turning into Bushwick's go-to date spot, and it's not hard to see why. Candlelit tables and couch-ey booths amplify its intimate, sexy atmosphere, and the bar's hefty wine list—which includes a rotating selection of reds and whites on tap for $7, not to mention 30-plus bottles— doesn't hurt, either. They've also got a solid selection of bottled and draft beers that run about $6 to $8, in addition to tasty small cheese and charcuterie plates that are perfect for date-sharing, and/or feeding each other if you feel so inclined.
BLACK MOUNTAIN WINE HOUSE: If you want to feel like you're on a weekend away outside of the city, head here. The creaky wooden floors and crackling fireplace add to the small town ambiance and make it a perfect spot to have an intimate night with your date, a bottle of wine, and some fine cheeses... just off the shores of the glowing Gowanus Canal. Bottles hover around the $35 mark, with eats like the Wild Mushrooms, Gruyere & Truffle Oil Mac & Cheese costing just $10. — Jen Carlson