by Christopher Wallace, 07/30/2013
The bar at the Mercer Hotel. Photo: Francesco Tonelli
Martinis and More
For a drinking town with a tendency toward the odd fad, NYC has always remained incredibly faithful to the old martini. And the perfect martini bar, often low lit, with three portions of character and a splash of class—so difficult to find but sublime when discovered—is especially venerated in these parts. Witness the 6pm crowd of professionals at Raoul's, an old-timey French bistro toward the western end of Prince Street. These are not just happy-hour devotees at the watering hole, nor is there high ceremony to the libations—it's just ladies and gentleman enjoying a drink, and maybe a dozen oysters, the perfect bar steak, perhaps, but definitely the drink. More modern, though no less enthralling, the MercBar, adjacent to the Mercer hotel, is another institution in the making. This former playground of models and the millionaires who love them survived its deafening popularity upon opening to become something of a standby for martini aficionados. The bar does offer a slew of progressive, multi-ingredient mixes, but celebrates—indeed, takes pride—in its rendition of the old faithful.