Look, sometimes life is hard and the light at the end of the tunnel is actually just a giant drink. And I’m not using that term generously like I do to the guy I’m seeing—I really mean “giant” here because the kind of beverage I’m talking about is usually served in what I can only imagine is a fish bowl. If sharing a huge cocktail with six friends isn’t your cup of tea, then you must like gross-tasting tea, because what could be more fun than creating pure Instagram gold? Nothing. So, if you live in New York and want to put your money towards something that isn’t rent for a change, check out these places that understand the delicate balance of crafting a cocktail using an entire bottle of liquor that won’t kill you if you finish it. Remember, sharing is caring, so do not attempt to down the drink on your own, or you will likely die of alcohol poisoning. Ya hate to see it. Anyway, if your interest is piqued, read on for our favorite local NYC bars serving up giant cocktails you can and should split with your friends.
It may be cold af outside, but that does not mean rooftop bars aren’t an option anymore. A.R.T. SoHo is on the roof of the Arlo SoHo, which is a hotel in, you guessed it, SoHo. It is, however, so far west that it doesn’t feel like you’re in the violently crowded, loud, touristy part of SoHo. Because this place is basically in the Hudson River, the views are truly amazing. I’m not usually ~moved~ by views of the city that’s taking all of my money, but being at eye-level with the Freedom Tower is really cool.
Anyway, let’s talk about the only drink you should order here, the passionfruit and pineapple punch. I am finally over my frat house-induced fear of anything with the word “punch” in it, so I can happily recommend this cocktail that is made with 62 ounces of Hennessy and 62 ounces of rum. All I gotta say is, challenge accepted. The ingredients that make it a punch—as opposed to a 124-ounce shot—include pineapple juice, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, triple berry shrub, passionfruit syrup, and lastly, hibiscus tea because it’s classy. It’s recommended for anywhere between two to six people, but you better be two giant people if you plan on finishing this bad boy on your own.
Hey, guess where this bar is? If you guessed on the rooftop of a hotel, you are correct! Tbh I am a fan of this place on top of the Moxy Hotel because it’s a good mix of a bar and a club, which means you can talk to people or dance, whatever you feel like. You can also sit back and relax with a drink that arrives in a disco ball and serves a minimum of 10 people. A minimum! So, if you have 10 friends (quit bragging), definitely get a table and order up. The drink is called Disco Ball for All, which sounds like a fun spin on socialism, but I’m into it! It’s a red wine sangria, fruit punch mix, so if you don’t like very sweet, fruity drinks, this guy may not be for you. But if you like having fun with a creative cocktail, bottoms up!
This is another downtown haunt that looks like it was designed with Instagram in mind—and I mean that in the best way. The interiors have a very Art Deco vibe and, unlike most downtown bars, there are plenty of places to sit, which is great for five people crowding around what looks like a serving bowl filled with alcohol. The Thundergun Express is a vodka-based drink that’s also made with…milk! Look, my mom used to make us have milk with dinner every night, so if I can drink it with tacos, you drink it in a cocktail. Truth be told, you don’t even taste the milk because five entire bottles of vodka are in the Thundergun Express. Yeah, you read that right. Five. Bottles. There’s also chartreuse, pisco, lime juice, pineapple juice and the bar’s homemade version of simple syrup. One more time: there are five bottles of vodka in this drink, so do not go it alone, people.
Ah, another rooftop bar. Can you tell this is my vibe? This one is on top of Dream Hotel’s Midtown location, and the Moscow Mule is no f*cking joke. There are two versions of the 10-pound drink and both are truly delicious. They’re called Mega Mules, and one is tequila-based and the other is vodka-based. As you can guess based on the weight of this thing, it’s $185, but think about it: if you share it with five of your friends (which you should because it is 10 pounds, again), you’re each only paying 30 bucks, which is actually pretty affordable. In true mule fashion, it’s served in a giant copper mug and impossible to lift, so you’ll want to get a bunch of long-ass straws and get really intimate with the people next to you.
This place is like the Lush of restaurants. You walk in, are hit with a tsunami of smells and sparkly things to look at, and right when your sensory overload-induced migraine arrives, you’re already sitting down and ordering one of the signature Goblets. You can get them with or without alcohol, but unless you’re underage, I don’t see why you wouldn’t get the alcoholic version. There are seven varieties of Goblet, but the one that spoke to me most was Berry Bliss, which is made with strawberry rum, blueberry vodka, fresh berries and, of course, gummy berries, because let’s not forget that this place is essentially a candy store. Tbh, if you have a sense of humor, this could be a really fun place to have birthday party. Just sayin’.
I thought the bougiest part of this place was its name, but then I visited their website and I stand corrected! If you can believe it, Clover Club is not in Midtown, but rather, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Just based on the way it looks, CC seems like the kind of place Trey MacDougal would hang out pre-Charlotte. The walls are cherrywood panels, the booths are burgundy tufted leather, and the lights are barely on. Contrary to how I’m making it seem, I actually really like this place because it has a very Old New York feel to it. The only element that feels very now are the punches, which is served in what I can only assume is an antique crystal bowl with scalloped edges. I mean, is this not the most beautiful way to drink punch? There are also slices of fruit floating atop the concoction, which just makes me want to photograph it instead of drink it, honestly. There are two kinds of punches here: the harvest punch, which is made with rum, cognac, mulled cider, Licor 43, Jamaican rum and lemon; and the nice pear punch, which is made with Pisco, pear eau de vie, pear liqueur, lemon, Moscato d’Asti, Aromatic bitters. Seriously, yum.
Images: A.R.T. SoHo courtesy of ArloSoHo; Clover Club photo by Daniel Krieger; thesugarfactory, phdterraceny, misterparadisenyc, magichourny / Instagram; Unsplash
One of the good things about Instagram (or the bad, depending on how you look at it) is the advent of doing things for the ‘Gram. Like, it’s great when you’re taking a photo of your hot dog legs on a beach and showing off to your 400 Instagram followers, but it’s annoying when anyone else who isn’t you does the same exact thing. Well, too fucking bad for everyone else, because I’m here to give you your Instagram bucket list: Miami edition. Whether you’re at Art Basel this weekend, planning your spring break, or just going because you want to live out your Will Smith tour of the U.S. (just me?), these are the places you need to go to—for the ‘Gram, of course.
All your friends’ basic avocado toast Instas have nothing on Leynia, the Argentinian grill located inside South Beach’s famed Delano hotel. First off, the seating is outside (because, hello, you’re in Miami), so the natural lighting cannot be beat. In the background of your Instas may be the Delano’s pool, where the famous Proviseur chairs, originally from Le Jardin St. Payl in Paris, sit. Second, and most importantly, you will not find these brunch foods on any menu anywhere else. They have an El Tucamano egg Benedict that sits on top of a fucking empanada. The smoked salmon Benedict rests on a potato pancake. The French toast comes with a guava dulce de leche, and will make you a believer in sweet breakfast foods, if you’re not already (aka me before I had this French toast). If you manage to take any pictures before you shove all the food in your mouth because it looks amazing, and tastes even more amazing, your pictures will get triple-digit likes, guaranteed.
^No filter needed on this.
Beaker & Gray
For your brunch Instas that are bougie but in a more rustic, hipster, less in-your-face way, head to Beaker & Gray in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. Once again, this is not your run-of-the-mill eggs Benedicts that you’ve eaten at every place in NYC. To quote the great Stefon, “This place has everything”—from spicy chilaquiles with chicken that practically disintegrates in your mouth to a sweet and savory waffle panini with pork belly rillette and maple mustard to a guava skillet cookie. I had a croque madame—a slab of crunchy yet chewy sourdough spread with oxtail, smothered with gruyère and topped with an egg. If I didn’t know any better, aka study abroad in Paris, I’d have thought Beaker & Gray invented it—and it was leagues better than any croque I ate in France. Je ne suis pas désolée.
This is where you and your friends will want to take those not-not candid group photos. This cute little spot has floor-to-ceiling wallpaper in that chic palm leaf print you’re seeing literally everywhere, plus a giant neon sign that says, “I’m never gonna dance again, the way I danced with you…” that’s just begging to be posed underneath of. The DJ booth also has a retro-looking neon sign in the shape of lips, which is another solid option. And you won’t even want to bother the DJ in between snaps to ask him to play the new Taylor Swift (please don’t be that person), because the music is on point. They play a mix of ’80s and ’90s throwbacks and current hits, and you really can’t argue with it. If all that’s not enough for you, they have a gif photo booth inside the bar for your Boomerangs.
Employees Only Miami
Employees Only has an outpost in New York, but if you’ve never in your life managed to get a seat there because it’s always so packed (same), the Miami location has a more spacious interior, plus outdoor seating. It’s a speakeasy, so the drinks taste and look incredible. They serve dinner, if you’re not a rager, but if you are, there’s an insane late-night food menu. Ever had a craving for buttery bone marrow poppers at three in the morning? Me either, but you can make it happen at Employees Only Miami. (They’re actually known for their post-3am chicken noodle soup. Don’t know why, it just is.) Not to mention, it’s located on the Washington Park Hotel property, so after getting (responsibly) drunk off fancy af drinks, you can stumble back to your room, mere steps away.
Step into Byblos, with its eye-catching artwork that depicts ancient mediterranean scenes, accordion-style fabric-wrapped panels, plush turquoise and yellow couches, and gold and silver mirrored statement bar, and you’ll feel like you’ve landed somewhere in the Mediterranean. Settle in with an earthy cocktail like the Ottoman Cartel, a melange of Avion silver, spiced barberry reduction and carbonated beet juice, decorated with edible marigold flowers. Or try their cold tea service—tea infused with spirits and served for two or four in a luxurious ritual reminiscent of a classic eastern mediterranean tea ceremony. The most difficult part of eating at Byblos is going to be putting down your phone long enough to take a bite. The food tastes as gorgeous as it looks—the canoe-shaped Wagyu Lameh Pide houses vibrant Turkish paste made in-house, creamy fior di latté, garlic-y toum, and basil cress. The melt-in-your-mouth, Spanish octopus is perfectly prepared with biber chili vinaigrette and a hint of lemon. Also, Drake eats here. That is all.
BRAVA by Brad Kilgore
It’s hailed as the best restaurant in Miami, and for good reason. Helmed by celebrity chef Brad Kilgore and located inside the Ziff Ballet Opera House, this locale will provide some of your most enviable Instas. Unlike other spots, the lighting in BRAVA is perfectly suited for your iPhone camera—and so is the food. The heavenly, marigold-colored lobster risotto is adorned with some sort of classy gold flake that I’m still trying to explain to people. The black-and-white pecorino cheese-filled gnudi are topped with an airy foam. And the pastry-encrusted short beef Wellington is served with a peppercorn demi-glace that the server pours gently over it. This is where you’ll want to break out your fanciest outfit and spend all your money, because you’ll feel sophisticated af. Again, doing it for the ‘Gram.
The Salty Donut
Sweet and savory food lovers alike will moon over The Salty Donut’s confections. Flavors run the gamut from tangy and creamy Guava and Cheese to rich Nutella and back again. These pillowy, small-batch craft donuts pack tons of flavor, and they look just as gorgeous as they taste. This place sells out before closing every day, and you’ll see why if you take just one bite.
Set in the courtyard of South Beach’s historic Hall Hotel, this open-air space reminiscent of an outdoor tiki bar boasts larger-than-life table games like giant Jenga and oversized Connect Four. Food items like mini empanadas and bite-size ceviche can provide a different perspective to your pics; cocktails like Batida de Maracuja offer a unique twist on your favorite go-tos.
I saved the best for (second-to) last, because the Wynwood Walls are your number one Instagram destination. I would say that they were basically invented for IG, except that there’s a really rich artistic history behind them, and I’m not a total idiot. A short history is that Wynwood used to be an unsafe area artists eventually moved into because housing was affordable—think like every New York City neighborhood on the cusp of gentrification. Different city, same story. In 2009, real estate developer Tony Goldman bought up a lot of Wynwood and created a series of open-air art murals that are today called the Wynwood Walls. Graffiti and street artists are invited to paint a mural at the walls, and there are new murals every year. So now you have this whole neighborhood that’s got graffiti art everywhere—and I’m not talking like, your shitty bubble letter graffiti. This shit is the real deal. Get a tour with Wynwood Art Walk before you go see the walls, so you actually know what you’re looking at and aren’t just an annoying tourist. Then go out and be basic and have a full-on photoshoot in front of your favorite murals—you’ll come out with one-of-a-kind pictures…except for everyone else who took the same photos in front of the same walls.
Washington Park Hotel
Located within a five-minute walk to the beach, Washington Park Hotel is an Insta-worthy hotel that even non-influencers can afford. The exterior of each of the hotel’s four buildings are done in the retro art deco style that’s been preserved since the early 20th century. Inside, the chic retro rooms are decorated in an updated art deco style with modern photographs by artists and influencers including Jason Peterson, Ryan Parrilla, Stephen Vanasco and 13thWitness. The hotel bar, Swizzle, makes oversize tropical drinks adorned with local flora, and the frontside pool is an ideal location for lounging and snapping.