When you go out with friends, you probably don’t mind a place with loud music where you have to spend several minutes trying to make eye contact with the bartender just so you can order. But for drinks with clients, you need a bar that’s a little more mellow, and won’t make you seem like the kind of person who regularly gets home at 5am. Try one of these spots. They don’t get too loud or busy, they mostly have tables where you can sit down, and they’re ideal for when you want to have a cocktail and discuss things like deliverables while you both secretly wonder what you’re talking about.
The Workweek Guide is presented in partnership with Cole Haan. All restaurants and bars featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team.
From the outside, Bar Beau just looks like a tiny coffee shop. But head through the little hallway in the back, and you’ll find a cocktail bar with white brick walls and a skylight in the middle. It’s a great spot to show some clients that you know about cool, hidden things - and since you can reserve a table in advance, you’ll also be able to walk right in. The cocktails are excellent, and there are small plates like burrata and chicken liver mousse that you can share while you discuss some next steps.
There are a lot of offices in Soho, so you’d think there’d be a ton of places perfect for business drinks. Unfortunately, that’s not the case - but at least there’s La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels. As you can probably tell from the name, this bar is French, and has a large selection of wines (both French and otherwise). The space is as well-furnished as your average Soho loft, with a lot of comfortable chairs and little tables where you can sit with clients, and there’s a good Happy Hour you should take advantage of if you don’t have an unlimited budget.
Sel Rrose is an ideal spot to sit down with one or two people you don’t actually know too well. It’s a long room that could easily function as an art gallery if you cleared out all the tables, and there are cocktails, oysters, and various other things to eat like a kale salad and steak tartare. It also doesn’t get as crazy as a lot of other LES bars, and there’s some nice outdoor seating in the summer.
In order to get to Peppi’s Cellar, you have to enter a restaurant called Gran Tivoli, go all the way to the back, and walk down a winding staircase. At the end of those stairs, you’ll find a big, carpeted room resembling a medieval wine cellar that was converted into a jazz club. It doesn’t get too crowded down there, which makes this a great spot to share a little table with one or two other people.
FiDi has plenty of pubs for you to choose from. But if you don’t want to go to a place that’s decorated exclusively with Guinness memorabilia, try The Dead Rabbit. This place is essentially a very grown-up version of those other spots, and the bartenders take their cocktails very seriously. The ground floor has the recently expanded taproom, and there’s a more upscale “parlor” space upstairs.
You probably aren’t inviting clients over to your place - but Fairfax is a good substitute. It’s a wine bar in the West Village from the people behind Fedora and Joseph Leonard, and it looks like a tastefully decorated home, with a bunch of couches, bookshelves, and comfortable chairs.
You might not want to eat a full meal with your clients, but it’s good to have options. And that’s why we like Vini E Fritti. This Nomad bar serves a lot of very good Italian small plates, like artichokes and fried pizza dough with prosciutto, so you can always eat a few snacks if you don’t want to drink three negronis on an empty stomach and then get a little too excited about signing something your lawyer probably wanted to see. It’s walk-in only, but there are plenty of seats.
There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of The Gordon Bar, but if you occasionally go out for drinks with people who like relatively quiet spaces that feel like hotel lobbies, it’s a spot you should know about. It’s hidden up a flight of stairs in the Sixty Soho Hotel, it never seems to get too busy, and there are a lot of couches and armchairs perfect for meetings.
Aldo Sohm is cool in a Midtown kind of way. It’s the type of place you can use for a quiet drink with someone wearing a pastel sweater or some penny loafers, and the wine list happens to be exceptional. You can get a glass of something for around $15, or, if your employers don’t really pay attention to your expenses, order a bottle of white burgundy that costs more than most night school classes.
There are a lot of tall buildings in Midtown, so it makes sense that there are also plenty of rooftop bars. But if you want one where cocktails won’t cost $20 and you won’t hear anyone shouting “shots,” head over to the rooftop of the Refinery Hotel, which feels kind of like a big indoor beer garden that happens to be several stories above street level. There are plenty of tables, and you can make a reservation if you want to be sure you get seats.
If you’re OK with slightly more expensive cocktails (including a $28 martini), try Ophelia. It’s another rooftop bar in Midtown, and it’s a little more upscale than the Refinery Hotel. It has a big art-deco themed indoor area, you can make a reservation in advance, and you can sit on a red banquette with a view of the part of NYC where you happen to work and somehow spend most of your time.
Want to hang out near the Brooklyn waterfront in a place with chandeliers, sheer curtains, and marble tables? Bring your clients to Cecconi’s. They’ll appreciate the fact that it’s in the bottom of a private club (Dumbo House), and you can all have some lobster pasta and Dover sole if you get hungry. You’ll also have a view of the Brooklyn Bridge when you leave, which will probably inspire at least one person to take photos.
If you can tell that your clients are looking for a bit of a scene, try The Polynesian. It’s a big tiki bar in Midtown from the people behind Carbone and Dirty French, and you can drink a flaming cocktail here while you snack on some crab rangoon and chicken satay. Plus, they take reservations for groups of up to 15.
Late at night, the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel turns into a nightclub where you can get bottle service and possibly even catch a performance by someone you’ve heard on Spotify. But before 10pm, it’s more of an upscale lounge that’s good for a couple of drinks with people who appreciate comfortable armchairs and functional fireplaces. You aren’t going to save any money here, but you’ll give your clients something to talk about on their way home.
Primo’s is a cocktail lounge in Tribeca that hits the sweet spot between low-key and trendy. It’s filled with velvet furniture and paintings that look like they belong on the 5th floor of MoMA, but it’s not filled with people exclusively in suits, and there’s always good music that doesn’t get too loud. If you need to impress a few a clients who still occasionally go out, bring them here.
Maybe your clients are based in Williamsburg, or maybe you’re just picking up on the idea that they want a spot with a view (since they’ve asked for one a few times). Westlight, the rooftop bar at the William Vale Hotel, is an excellent option. You can (and should) make a reservation here, and there’s plenty of indoor space for when it’s too cold to be on the patio outside.
Porchlight is a big bar on 28th Street near the Hudson River, and it’s run by the same people behind Union Square Cafe and Maialino. It has some great cocktails divided into categories like “Sippers” and “Guzzlers,” as well as sandwiches and salads to snack on, and with its brick walls and hardwood floors, it feels like an upscale tavern that isn’t full of undergrads playing various drinking games. All the tables are first-come-first-served at night, but it doesn’t get insanely busy, and you should be able to find some seats.
Pier A Harbor House is a big building near the water in FiDi. It was built in the late 19th century, but today it’s mostly just place where you go to drink around a giant horseshoe bar at the end of the day. The space is enormous, and the crowd tends to be a mix of people trying to spot the Statue of Liberty and coworkers wearing business casual things that never leave their closets on the weekends. Try it for some low-key drinks when you have a big group of clients to entertain.