The Best Bars In Nomad
photo credit: Björn Wallander
If there’s one neighborhood where the hotel bar has claimed supremacy, it’s Nomad. This probably has something to do with the inordinate number of hotels in the area, many of which are relatively new and geared toward folks who consider a $20 martini a reasonable expense. For drinks before a Broadway show, post-work cocktails, or a fancy date night, there are plenty of nice options (not all of which are attached to hotels). But there are also a few normal pubs, in case you just need a beer.
If you want to sit in a small room inspired by Italian villas and have a drink brought to you by a server in a velvet tux, the only appropriate choice is The Portrait Bar. Hidden behind the lobby of a luxury hotel on 28th Street, the place is filled with couches, armchairs, mirrors, and wood-paneling. You’re going to pay over $20 for your cocktail, but it’ll be inventive and well-balanced, and you can pair it with some very good bar food. Try the dry-aged burger, and don’t forget to make a reservation.
This is less of a place you just pop into, and more of a spot where you make a reservation, then hang out for a few hours, preferably with a date. The Jazz Age-inspired spot on the ground floor of The Evelyn has plenty of tables covered with white tablecloths, in addition to a few couches and a single stuffed ostrich mounted on the wall. Be sure to try the bar snacks from the Wildair team. The steak sandwich is tiny, but delicious, and the oysters pair wonderfully with the mignonette martini.
At Nubeluz, you can sit in front of some massive floor-to-ceiling windows and enjoy a view of downtown Manhattan that looks AI-generated. You’re going to pay a premium for that view, but, seeing as how this place is on top of The Ritz-Carlton, that’s to be expected. From José Andrés, who also runs a few restaurants (The Bazaar, Zaytinya) at the hotel, this rooftop bar has a pink-and-teal color scheme, an abundance of sofas, and elaborate cocktails and snacks, like a tiny cone with cream cheese and salmon roe. Have your next birthday (or bachelor party) here.
There’s nothing casual about The Ivory Peacock. This place specializes in gin, serving over 180 different kinds, and it’s essentially three different bars under one roof. There’s the Victorian-themed front area, the upscale Emerald Bar where you can eat oysters with a flight of gin, and a downstairs area with couches, a disco ball, and weekend DJ sets. The place is huge, and it feels like a clubstraunt, so keep The Ivory Peacock in mind for any group outings that call for a South Beach sort of energy.
During the day, Patent Pending is a coffee shop. But once the sun sets, and people stop caring about coffee, they open their hidden bar in the back. These people take their cocktails very seriously, serving a seasonal menu of complex signature drinks which tend to be strong, fascinating, and in the $20-$30 price range. The bar is mostly walk-in-only (with limited prix-fixe reservations), and there are only around 10 bar seats and a couple of booths in the dark, dungeon-like space, so anticipate a wait.
Some bars have a subtle theme, maybe something nautical or sports-related. Oscar Wilde, on the other hand, looks very much like an Irish mansion that was airlifted in from the 1880s. It has chandeliers, stained-glass windows, fancy columns, and even a few fireplaces. Despite all of this, the bar is actually pretty casual. It’s a good place for a post-work drink, and it’s big enough for large group gatherings, with a menu of fancy pub food for anyone who’s hungry. Just be aware that it can get pretty crowded on weekends.
Despite being surrounded by significantly taller buildings and therefore having a very unimpressive view, the roof of Tavern 29 is still a nice place to drink when it’s warm out. For the colder months, there’s a two-story indoor area with a few chandeliers and your typical pub decor. It’s nothing fancy, just a place to eat a burger, have a few pints, and watch some sports on TV. For discounted drinks, try the Happy Hour that runs until 7pm on weekdays.
Throughout the afternoon, the cavernous Ace Hotel Lobby is filled with remote workers feeding on free wifi. After the workday is over, however, people start drinking, and the place turns into a big group hang. There are lots of couches and comfortable chairs, and it tends to be dark, loud, and just the right level of crowded. Stop by when you’re looking for a nice bar where you don’t have to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with people and shout for your drinks.
The Churchill isn’t an especially remarkable place, but it does have its charms: It’s casual, it occasionally smells kind of funny, and it does a very good impression of a normal English pub. If you’re looking for a place to drink with your coworkers and don’t want to have to pay $20 per cocktail, come here. They serve a lot of food like shepherd's pie and chicken curry, and there’s a late-night menu with typical bar snacks that you can order until 3am every night.
Vin Sur Vingt has many locations around the city (and one in Sag Harbor), all of which have the same cookie-cutter Parisian bistro ambiance. Expect burgundy bar stools, glowing lamps, and dishes like duck confit and steak tartare. The wine list is extensive and very French, with bottles and glasses in every price range and a few natural options tossed in for anyone who only drinks wine that has a cool label. Consider this your default option for first dates in the area.