Drinking is easy. Finding the right bar, not so easy. We’re here to help. As a public service to all of you thirsty wanderers, every week we highlight the best bars in America and tell you what makes them so damn great. This week we’ve got a bar that’s so special it’s nominated for Best New American Cocktail Bar in the 2015 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.
LOCATION: Upper East Side, New York City
MUSIC: Deep house; weekly live bands play jazz and folk
WHAT TO ORDER (NEWBIES): No Say cocktail: Ilegal mezcal, Aperol, lemongrass, lime, coconut and pineapple; mutton burger
WHAT TO ORDER (REGULARS): A shot of mezcal and a can of Montauk summer ale; mutton burger
WHY WE LOVE IT: Seamstress started with a move to the Upper East Side. “My partner Josh and I both live in the neighborhood and were talking about a lack of venues close to home,” co-owner Steve Laycock says. “A lot has changed on the UES and there are a ton of people here with great taste, but there was a lack of serious restaurants that maintain a casual vibe.”
So Laycock and his partners built their own. Seamstress is Americana all the way: giant wooden tables, fireplace, all-American wine list, classic American cocktails and heritage American fare. The name comes from the abundance of tailors and dry cleaners in the area. One of the partner’s mother was a seamstress, too. “It sort of framed the moment in time we were trying to capture,” Laycock says. They also built a nearby mercantile store, which is stocked with Pendleton blankets and Lotuff leather bags.
The cocktail menu—designed by creative director Pamela Wiznitzer and consulted on by cocktail scholar David Wondrich—celebrates U.S. history with drinks like the Wiz Fizz, an egg-white swill made with root beer. “Cocktail culture was invented and then reinvented in this city,” Laycock says. “We are making the best of 200 years of American cocktail culture accessible to the everyday bar or restaurant patron. We have been very fortunate to have customers that have high expectations and consistently expect the best. The venue evolves as people use it. They are what give us character.”
Alyson Sheppard is the resident hangover specialist at Playboy.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amshep