Where to Drink NYC Edition: BlackTail Bar
We spent our anniversary cocktailing our way through the Big Apple and this week we’re taking you along for the highlights and tips on where to imbibe in New York City.
Today, we’re talking about BlackTail Bar. It was started by Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, the guys behind the Dead Rabbit, which was voted the World’s Best Bar. In 2015. And in 2016. So you can see why we had to try BlackTail. Located in Battery Park, about as close to the Statue of Liberty as you can get without trekking to Liberty Island itself, BlackTail is on the upstairs of the Pier A building, gloriously lit up at night, holding it’s own on what is otherwise a completely empty park in the dead of winter.
We love a bar that embraces its locale and a piece of cocktail history, and BlackTail does just that, commemorating how New Yorkers responded to the onset of Prohibition: by hopping on planes and heading to Havana. Aviation was taking off, and Communism was still several decades from being in full swing; so if you couldn’t make it to Harry’s New York Bar in Paris for your drinking fix, Cuba was a lot closer and a lot warmer.
BlackTail has a menu that reads like a book, and to appreciate its beauty and the depth of offerings, you really should sit down to read it. The packed bar and busy scene make that difficult, but not impossible. Helpfully organized by the type and strength of drink you’re getting –highball, punch, on the rocks, etc– the menus offers some classic creations that you’ve probably never had.
What We Ordered
Arawak: rum, sweet vermouth, Campari, Pedro Ximenez sherry, coffee, cocoa nib, vanilla, absinthe
Coronation: gin, Italian bitter, apple, almond, lemon, cinnamon, elderberry, egg white, bitters
What We Thought
The Coronation, as was the case with all of their punches, was served in an enormous, long-stemmed wine bowl, with a single giant cube of ice, a presentation as fun and whimsical as a sudden flight to Cuba for a drink. The lemon and cinnamon, which came in the form of fresh shavings on the top of the egg white foam, dominated the flavor, together creating a nice, spicy-sour mix. The apple was subtle, and to the extent it was present served to support the citrus sour; it was, thankfully, more tart Granny Smith than smooth and sweet red delicious.
We loved the rich bittersweetness of the Arawak, with its layer upon layer of dark flavors. For a drink with Campari, it was remarkably smooth, the combined impact of the rum, vermouth, and sherry toning down Campari’s bracing bitterness. The vanilla and the absinthe played small supporting roles. This was a drink of smooth, dark spice. If you like single origin dark chocolates, you’ll like this cocktail.
Tips if you go
They now take reservations, and you should definitely make one. The bar is small and, as you’d expect on a Friday night, crowded. You’ll want to try several drinks; so you might as well order some food. Voila, you’re eligible to make a reservation. Plus, you really want to be able to sit down to read the menu tome.