We’ve all been hit with the dilemma of where to bring out-of-town guests. Your favorite spot if often the obvious choice, but there are occasions when the coolest joint isn’t the right fit. Perhaps you’re with folks who aren’t into wine–who might better appreciate a certain atmosphere or “gimmick”. Or maybe you want to impart a message, one that suggests to your guests your relationship with New York. Considering a few possible traits, occasions, or types, I’ve compiled here a list of ten wine bars in the city–some of which have been reviewed on Imbibe New York, others which have not.
Clo Wine Bar is an obvious choice for many. It’s on Central Park and Columbus Circle, which is all aglow with holiday lights. And though it’s not the sort of place to kick back for the night, Clo does have an impressive selection, accompanied by funky presentations that will impress any technophile, including projected touch-screen menus and an eno-tasting system, from which you can purchase a 4 ounce glass.
Looking to impress your guests with the diversity of New York? Take them to Xai Xai, a midtown bar that’s devoted entirely to the wines of South Africa. It’s a cozy sweet reprieve from most things midtown, with selections that include Pinotage–an inky wine with aromas of black fruit and sometimes tar–and Ostrich Tatar.
If it so happens that you can’t drag your guests from the tree at Rockefeller Center, Sak’s, or Saint Patrick’s, save your soul by heading to Morrell Wine Bar, where you can choose from 150 wines by the glass, enough to toast your disgruntlement at having to be in the midst of this tourist mess.
If your guests are the deserving type, who behave well and are fully aware of the cost of real estate in New York, then head down to Bar Jamon on E. 17th Street, where elbow room ain’t free. It’s Old World and charming, with succulent tapas and Spanish wines; but be prepared to stand if you arrive with the after work crowd.
Some family members, and fewer friends, cannot live without strip-malls, and so Vintage Irving was born with them in mind. With an interior that suggests a pre-fab suburban pub, Vintage Irving at least serves more than Chardonnay and Bud.
For those who enjoy Bar Jamon, Gottino is another Old World spot that belongs on your cool-guests’ tour-guide map. With an awesome chalkboard listing of hard to find Italian wines, Gottino also serves cheese, charcuterie, and impeccable small plates.
Terroir needs no introduction. Save this spot for your serious oenophile pals in town. The size of a suburban walk-in closet, Terroir has a wine list that’s a visual work-of-art in a binder with selections, explanations, and ruminations that run pages long.
If you’re crossing Houston with the same said lover, hit Ten Bells, which everyone but me has written about.
Still cruisin’ around the East Village with your posse (or parents), looking to get your drink on (or not)? Hit In Vino, score a table in this cavernous space, and fill your buds and belly while drinking from a bottle (or two) of one of the many lovingly selected rustic Italian wines.
The last time I wrote about tini, it was still called tini, and not home/made, which is tini–relocated in Red Hook, and renamed on Van Brundt. I go here every time I’m on the waterfront. With nearly 50 wines by-the-glass, what better to explore the city with guests than hopping a water taxi to one of NYC’s coolest neighborhoods.
My list is far from conclusive, so if you have any favorites for holiday, out-of-town guests, please give a shout!
Happy Thanksgiving! May you drink well.