Where To Go When You Just Want Drinks & Dessert
When you want to skip to the good part, hit up one of these restaurants for a cocktail and something sweet.
Whether you’ve just finished dinner and aren’t ready for the night to end or are looking for a lower-stakes date night option, there are times when you want to drink a fancy cocktail at a bar and eat some dessert. Here are the best places for doing exactly that.
If there’s one thing you have to order at Claud, it’s the chocolate cake. Think: the chocolate cake from Matilda, minus the trauma of public humiliation. This cozy wine bar feels like someone's very nice apartment, which makes it the ideal setting for a second or third date. It’s pretty tough to get a reservation here, but they do hold bar seats for walk-ins, so try to snag one then get a slice of cake and ask the bartender to recommend a wine pairing.
Gage and Tollner
The two best things at Gage & Tollner are the cocktails and dessert, so we recommend you skip the whole reserving-a-table-30-days-in-advance-and-spending-hundreds-of-dollars thing and just get a walk-in spot at the bar. Caroline Schiff, Gage & Tollner’s pastry chef, is so good at her job that we recommend just ordering the whole dessert menu. Supplement this with something classic, like a Rob Roy, to drink. This place originally opened in 1879, and the space still has a very old-world feel to it.
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If sake and lava cake sounds like your idea of a good time, bookmark Kitsby for your next night out. This small dessert spot in Williamsburg is best-known for their oozing cakes in flavors like salted egg and chocolate yuzu, but you can also get things like ice cream sundaes and full afternoon tea-style dessert sets. The space is bright and casual, and they have a well-curated list of sake available by the bottle or glass.
The next time you want to pretend you’re a royal entertaining someone in your extravagant salon, get dessert at Baccarat Bar. The palatial space boasts two enormous Baccarat crystal chandeliers and an art collection worthy of the museum across the street. Drinks start at $30, but they do come with silver dishes of very good olives and spiced nuts, so it’s kind of a deal if you think about it. For dessert, we recommend the île flottante and a scoop or two of whatever ice cream or sorbet is on offer.
Ernesto's offers a modern take on Basque classics, and their creme caramel tastes like cream and lightly charred sugar with hopes and dreams on top. It’s a textbook example of the form. Like their savory options, the dessert menu here changes periodically. We actually think the sweets are more exciting than many of the large plates, so snag a bar seat, order a drink, and try as many as you can.
Themed menus based around specific ingredients often read like Iron Chef challenges. But at Chocobar Cortés—a Mott Haven restaurant from a fourth-generation Puerto Rican chocolate company—the chocolate-centric menu feels fun. You can get flights of either rum or stout paired with different chocolates, and most of the cocktails involve chocolate in some form.
In this dark, wood-paneled, and candlelit space, you'll feel like you've traveled to Europe without dealing with airport security lines or trying to sleep through an overnight flight. The perfect place to cosplay as a brooding writer, this Viennese cafe is most famous for its desserts. Go for a classic, like the masterfully done Sachertorte or Mozarttorte, and pair it with a one-ounce pour from their extensive selection of schnapps. They also serve cocktails, beer, and wine.
If you manage to get into Dante, you’d be remiss to focus only on the drinks. This historic bar attracts a fashionable crowd, and there's almost always a long wait, but the quality of the food and drinks holds up to the hype. The tiramisu here is excellent, and just a little sweet. They also work with Caffe Panna to create a rotating selection of exclusive ice cream flavors. Yeah, you’ll still have to wait in a line for them, but at least you’re waiting in line for ice cream and Dante at the same time.
The Paris-Brest at Frenchette is one of the best desserts in New York, so we highly recommend grabbing a bar seat and a glass of wine to try it. Delicate choux pastry is filled with a thick, pistachio-infused cream that’s so substantial a person with a savage sweet tooth could easily make a meal of it. The decor here is simple and elegant, and they use mirrors and candlelight to great effect at this downtown bistro.
This chic West Village cafe is the place to be if you want to sip an Aperol spritz and eat tiny, delicious doughnuts in a space that will make you feel like you're on vacation in Italy. The sidewalk seats offer a prime vantage point for people-watching, which is a major bonus. If you’re a frozen drinks person, we highly recommend trying the sgroppino, which combines lemon sorbet, vodka, and prosecco in the most delicious way possible.
photo credit: Alex Staniloff
The mango pudding at this sleek Asian restaurant next to the MoMA is the kind of dessert you won’t be able to stop talking about. It’s light, delicate, and complex, and you won't have a hard time finding an equally exciting cocktail to pair it with. The same goes for the other desserts here, which consist of modern twists on things like napoleans and nama chocolate. 53 also makes excellent mocktails, and the architectural elements of the bar, like the vaulted ceiling and balcony overlooking the downstairs dining room, offer endless conversation starters for early-in-the-game dates.