two martini cocktails

Top Martini Bars in NYC: Where to Find the Best Martinis in the Big Apple

There’s something about a martini that feels extremely elegant. Maybe it’s the tall, slim glass, or the fact that it’s almost entirely booze. Or perhaps it’s the garnish, perched ever-so gracefully against the rim with a toothpick, or floating wistfully in the glass. Whether you’re sitting in the poshest of clubs or the most divey of haunts, a martini just feels proper. The history of the martini is a bit muddled (cocktail pun intended), but one thing is certain: The martini is the perfect cocktail, no matter how you choose to sip it. 

In New York City, the perfect martini isn’t necessarily hard to come by, but it does require a bit of searching. I’ve compiled a list of some of the best spots in New York City to find one, based on online reviews, suggestions from fellow New Yorkers, and first-hand tippling as a martini lover living in the city. Some bars offer classic versions while others offer signature twists. Many spots stick to the classic garnish, nothing more than a twist of lemon or an olive, while others offer beverages that are part martini, part snack, and all divine. Wherever you choose from this list to enjoy your next martini, you’re bound to enjoy each sip.

Temple Bar in NoHo

salt & pepper martini

Inventive cocktails fill Temple Bar’s menu, but it’s the martini that reigns supreme. Temple Bar’s martini menu boasts recognizable names, like the dirty vodka martini and the Vesper, as well as signature creations. Plus, you can add a caviar bump to any martini, making this not only a special experience — but a downright decadent one.

Temple’s olive oil martini is made with a ratio of two parts gin to one part olive oil-washed dry and blanc vermouths for a delightful mix of sweet and briny flavor. The Summertime Sadness, made with vodka, Cocchi Americano, elderflower, and cucumber, is a light, sweet sip that positively oozes summer flavor. The star, however, is the salt and pepper martini, made with gin, Manzanilla sherry, blanc vermouth, piment d’espelette, saline, and celery. Add caviar to this cocktail and you’ve got yourself a diabolical meal in a glass to rival any Bloody Mary you’ve ever had.

templebar.co

332 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

Bemelmans Bar on the Upper East Side

Martini at Bemelmans Bar

Bemelmans Bar, located inside The Carlyle, is an Upper East Side cocktail treasure trove. Before sidling up to the bar to order a drink, look around, because this is a place to see and be seen. Past the crowd of socialites, politicians, and the occasional movie star, the walls that surround Bemelmans Bar are adorned with murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, the bar’s namesake and creator of the “Madeline” children’s books.

Now to the reason you’re here: the martini. A martini at Bemelmans will set you back a pretty penny, but I can assure you that the cocktails at this spot are more than worth it. Start with a crisp gin martini, served with a lemon twist. For round two, it’s time to shake (or stir) things up. Elaine’s Smokey Martini is made with Roku gin, Noilly Prat dry vermouth, and a Lagavulin 16 single malt scotch rinse. For a savory twist on the classic Gibson, try Bemelmans’ version, made with Procera Blue Dot gin, Cocchi Americano vermouth, umami bitters, pearl onions, and nori dust.

rosewoodhotels.com/en/the-carlyle-new-york/dining/bemelmans-bar

(212) 744-1600

35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10075

Overstory in the Financial District

The Last Frontier at Overstory

Shannon Sturgis/Overstory

The Financial District isn’t typically thought of as a nightlife destination. Among the fast casual lunch spots and upscale steakhouses, is there room for a craft cocktail bar to hold court? On the 64th floor of 70 Pine, you’ll find the answer. For stellar martinis and a 360-degree view of the New York City skyline, Overstory is the spot to visit. 

The cocktail menu at Overstory is anything but traditional. To satisfy your craving for a martini with a little something extra, go for The Last Frontier. This spirit-forward martini is the brainchild of Bar Director Harrison Ginsburg, and is made with gin, sherry, mandarin, bee’s wax, and Yellow Chartreuse. Enjoy your cocktail with a side of cheddar, chili, and lime popcorn or a plate of fresh, briny oysters topped with buttermilk, horseradish, yuzu, and cucumber.

overstory-nyc.com

(212) 339-3963

70 Pine St, New York, NY 10005

The Clover Club in Carroll Gardens

Dirty martini at The Clover Club

Shannon Sturgis/The Clover Club

There’s something positively cozy about The Clover Club; a combination of plush seats, dark wood, and excellent cocktails without a hint of stuffiness makes this a cocktail destination for all. The menu is divided into several different parts, so you’re bound to find a beverage that you love. For martini lovers, make your way to the “stirred and spirit forward” section of the menu and prepare to be astounded.

Like any good New York City cocktail bar, there’s a Manhattan. But this isn’t just any Manhattan; the Clover Manhattan is made with Wild Turkey Rare Breed bourbon, house sweet vermouth, cherries, and Angostura bitters and is served with a side of aged Gouda for maximum indulgence. The martini section of the menu is short but oh-so-sweet, and includes the best possible upgrade to a standard dirty martini: A Little Pickle. It’s made with cornichon-infused gin, vodka, dry vermouth, and a house-made pickle brine for a boozy, flavor-forward martini unlike any you’ve had before.

cloverclubny.com

(718) 855-7939

210 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Death & Co in the East Village

Star Map martini

Erik Medsker/Death & Co

Death & Co has been at the forefront of the New York City cocktail movement since opening in 2006. Since then, it has become an award-winning cocktail destination where talented staff continue to frame the cocktail offerings around seasonality and the latest trends, while also harkening back to the classics. The menu is broken up into several sections, from “light and playful” to “bright and confident,” and much more in between.

Martini lovers will find great solace in the “elegant and timeless” section of the menu with the Star Map, a beverage comprised of Bimini coconut gin, Gamle Ode Dill aquavit, coconut, and Lustau blanc vermouth. This tropical twist on the classic is the best way to enjoy your Death & Co experience.

Reservations are offered via Tock, but primarily, the bar is first come, first serve — and there’s no standing room. As you sip your cocktails, rest assured there will be nobody elbowing their way to the bar or reaching over you to order a drink.

deathandcompany.com/location/death-and-company-new-york

(212) 388-0882

433 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

Caviar Russe on the Upper East Side

ALB Vodka Martini with caviar

Food Story Media/Caviar Russe

Caviar Russe is both a premier purveyor of caviar and a Michelin-starred restaurant and bar on the Upper East Side. While any hour at Caviar Russe is bound to be an enjoyable one, it’s the Martini Hour you should come for. Take advantage of cold martinis and hot appetizers, like milk bread with caviar butter and caviar baked potatoes, Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.

For the tippling, start with something light and fruity like the Perfect Pear martini, mixed with pear vodka, ginger, and lime juice, then lean into some more floral flavors with the “Caviar”tini, made with vodka, Lillet, elderflower, and pomegranate. My favorite is the ALB Vodka Martini: a classic vodka martini paired with a caviar coronet. It’s one my favorite caviar tastings in the city and comes with a great martini to boot.

caviarrusse.com/pages/new-york-about

(212) 980-5908

538 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022

American Bar in the West Village

Pornstar martini at American Bar

Dillon Burke/American Bar

The “right” bars in Manhattan can sometimes feel stuffy and exclusive, but not American Bar. It’s designed like an old-world private members’ club, but it doesn’t have the members-only mantra. And in true clubby fashion, the martini reigns supreme on the drinks menu. This bar manages to highlight the classic cocktail while also offering fun, delightful twists.

Each martini is served extra cold and is an example of the pure simplicity that makes the martini so iconic. The American Bar martini is the most traditional option; it’s made with gin or vodka, vermouth, and bitters. Once you graduate from that, try the Lychee martini or the Espresso martini for a more flavorful upgrade. My favorite, however, is the friskily-named Pornstar Martini, which is made with vodka, vanilla, passion fruit, and prosecco. It’s bubbly, effervescent, and a youthful twist on a classic drink. 

americanbarnyc.com

(212) 370-4600

33 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10014

Nobody Told Me (Multiple locations)

Clarified Dirty Martini

De Graux Imaging/Nobody Told Me

Ordering a martini is fanciful enough on its own, but when you order it surrounded by celebrities? It takes on a whole new level of fancy. At Nobody Told Me, which has a location on the Upper West Side as well as the small-but-mighty Dumbo neighborhood in Brooklyn, you’ll find a cocktail menu is broken up into house cocktails and “kinda classic” beverages, many of which are martinis.

Martini options here include a Pornstar Martini, an espresso martini, a Black Manhattan, and a Clarified Dirty. All the martinis on the menu are priced relatively inexpensively, which is impressive for a buzzy hotspot in a trendy New York City neighborhood. Pair with just about any beverage with some of the raw bar selections, including a tower of oysters, shrimp cocktail, aguachile, ahi tuna tartare, and caviar, or keep it simple with a BBQ snack mix made with peanuts, pretzels, and corn Chex.

RECOMMENDED:  The History of Brazilian Steakhouse

nobodytoldme.nyc

Multiple locations in New York City

Lobby Bar in Chelsea

1884 Martini at Lobby Bar

Erik Medsker/Lobby Bar

The Hotel Chelsea is a 23rd Street icon; it’s both a designated landmark and spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Since it first opened its doors in 1884, it’s seen an array of celebrity clientele, including Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Patti Smith, who made the hotel their regular hangout spot. In 2022, the Hotel Chelsea upgraded from rundown hotel to luxurious, boutique destination, and the Lobby Bar just added to that opulence.

The martinis at Lobby Bar are as iconic as the hotel itself, starting with the 1884 martini, made with gin, cedro lemon, Vetiver, and Spanish olive oil. If you skip down to the tribute section of the menu, you’ll find Dukes martini, an ode to Dukes Hotel in London. This martini, made with ice-cold vodka or gin, a vermouth rinse, and a Meyer lemon peel, is simply exquisite. Pair any of these with the dirty martini oysters, which are topped with gin, manzanilla olive ice, and lemon. For a fully indulgent martini experience, opt for the caviar service, which comes with 30 grams of Ossetra caviar, accompanied by potato chips and crème fraîche.

hotelchelsea.com/dining-and-bar/lobby-bar

(212) 483-1010

226 W 23rd St, New York NY 10011

Maison Premiere in Williamsburg

Old King Cole martini

Erik Medsker/Maison Premiere

If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting New Orleans, a city steeped in French culture and known for good food, music, and great cocktails, you can get a pretty good feel for it when you visit Williamsburg’s Maison Premiere. The freshly-shucked oysters, caviar service, and Maine lobster roll, among other bar snacks and dishes, are all inspired by the French culture and cuisine of The Big Easy. And, they’re absolutely begging to be accompanied by a cold, crisp martini.

The cocktail menu at Maison Premiere is opulent in every sense, but the Old King Cole martini is the real standout. This drink, stirred tableside, is made with Old Raj gin, orange bitters, and plump Gordal olives for a complex and unforgettably-flavored martini experience. Pair this martini with something briny and fresh, like a dozen oysters, littleneck clam toast, or steamed Hollander mussels. You can also order a side of caviar to complete your martini.

maisonpremiere.com

(347) 889-5710

298 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Dante in Greenwich Village

bartender pouring martinis

dantenewyorkcity/Instagram

Dante has gone through a lot over the last 100 years. What started as a café in a predominantly Italian neighborhood in 1915 transformed into a celebrity hot spot by 1971 — and has been going strong ever since. Taking influence from global trends as well as cocktail tradition, the martini menu is a love letter to New York City and the people who made Dante what it is today.

Start off with a classic: New York’s Aperitivo. This drink is essentially the poster child for what a martini should be; it’s made with a 50/50 ratio of Martini Noilly Pratt vermouth and your choice of gin or vodka. Upgrades to the original, like With a Twist, made with citron vodka, gin, dry vermouth, and essence of grapefruit adds a bright, tart note to the classic. If you want something even more decadent, go for the caviar martini with vodka, toasted rye, white peppercorns, vermouth, bitters, and, of course, caviar. 

If you like a deal, you might consider stopping by Dante every day from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. for Martini Hour. This happy hour features an affordable, pared-down martini menu that will keep both your tastebuds and wallet happy. 

dante-nyc.com

(212) 982-5275

79-81 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012

Sharlene’s in Prospect Heights

tshirts hanging above the bar at Sharlene's

sharlenesbar/Instagram

The vibe at Sharlene’s, located on Flatbush Avenue at the intersection of Prospect Heights and Park Slope in Brooklyn, is low-key and chill. Although the neighborhood has changed over the years, Sharlene’s has remained a dimly lit, casual watering hole for anyone who needs a respite from the constant storm of daily life. Sidle up to the bar or find yourself a comfy booth, and let this local spot be your new favorite martini bar.

While you won’t find any groundbreaking signature cocktails on the Sharlene’s menu, that’s not a problem. A classic martini here — gin or vodka, dirty or dry, with an olive or with a twist — is bound to give you the same smile it would anywhere else, and in a far less intimidating environment than many of the upscale cocktail bars sprinkled around New York City.

instagram.com/sharlenesbar

353 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Carousel Bar in Bushwick

martinis and champagne flutes

kyliesmith/Instagram

Carousel Bar in Bushwick offers a comfortable and casual ambiance with little added New York City nonsense. The 4,400 square-foot interior, with its sparkling disco ball hanging from the ceiling, vinyl booths, and giant conversation pit, are just a few of the highlights. There’s also a lounge and pool table too, as well as a glass-enclosed courtyard for smoking.

Carousel Bar may come off as just a local neighborhood dive, but the cocktail menu tells a different, more dynamic story. Classic offerings, like an old fashioned and a Corpse Reviver No. 2, are ready and waiting, but the espresso martini is undoubtedly our go-to. This drink is certainly more about the flavor than the frills and is undoubtedly a martini worth celebrating, especially if you’re lucky enough to book a reservation for the conversation pit.

instagram.com/carousel_bk

36 Wyckoff Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237

Holiday Cocktail Lounge in the East Village

martini at holiday cocktail lounge

holidaycocktaillounge/Instagram

St. Mark’s Place is one of those stretches of the East Village with a reputation for its vibrant nightlife. It’s stacked with restaurants and bars all catering to New York City’s nightcrawlers, which makes it home to some of the city’s best noshes and sips. The Holiday Cocktail Lounge has called St. Mark’s Place its home since 1835, and despite its slightly kitschy atmosphere, it’s dedicated to crafting unique and impressive cocktails. It’s in the name, after all.

The signature cocktail menu is an impressive one, albeit a bit over the top. I recommend flipping over to the staff favorites section, which is entirely made up of classic cocktails. I recommend the gin martini, made with Tanqueray gin, Carpano Bianco vermouth, and orange bitters. Enjoy alongside an order of Wagyu corn dog bites and extra fancy deviled eggs to enhance your Holiday experience.

holidaycocktaillounge.bar

(212) 777-9637

75 St. Mark’s Pl, New York, NY 10003

The Long Island Bar in Cobble Hill

outside of The Long Island Bar

longislandbar/Instagram

The Cobble Hill stretch of Atlantic Avenue has a little bit of everything: cute restaurants, boutiques, an excellent karaoke bar, and most importantly, a memorable cocktail bar. Holding court on the corner of Atlantic and Henry, is the Long Island bar. The metal doors and fluorescent signage give off a casual, retro, all-are-welcome diner-meets-neighborhood-dive vibe — which makes it a perfect martini destination.

All the cocktails at The Long Island Bar are relatively inexpensive, but it doesn’t sacrifice quality or quantity for it. The A Martini introduces sake alongside gin, blanc vermouth, and a house-made bergamot pomelo tincture for a floral upgrade to the classic. The Long Island Gimlet is light and just a little tart thanks to the gin, lime-ginger cordial, and fresh lime juice. Order a bowl of nuts and the fried cheese curds with French onion dip, and have yourself the best possible time.

thelongislandbar.com

(718) 625-8908

110 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Tigre on the Lower East Side

Interior of Tigre

Erik Medsker/Tigre

Tigre’s martini menu poses two questions. Vodka or gin, and how much? While having a fully-fledged martini menu is a delight for those of us who like to be presented with ready-made options, Tigre simply presents a variety of vodka and gin options — Chopin, Grey Goose, and Menaud, just to name a few — and a list of ratio options. You can start with a ratio of 1-to-0, or opt for a drink made with up to a 16-to-0 ratio. This leaves the strength and flavor of your martini completely in your hands. 

If building your own martini isn’t quite your style, Tigre does have two house-made martinis. The Perfect, made with Thomas Dakin’s Red Cole gin and Mauro Vergano’s Luli, or the Cigarette, made with Empirical Spirits’ Charlene McGee, Truman vodka, and Cap Corse Quina, are excellent options for those who want to leave the alcohol ratios to the professionals.

tigrenyc.com

(646) 951-2780

105 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

Methodology

Person straining martinis

Lara Hata/Getty Images

I compiled this list using online reviews, suggestions from friends and colleagues who live in New York, and more so than anything else, first-hand experience, which I always pay for myself. For locations I haven’t been to in-person, I chose them based on commentary and reviews about the vibe, the staff, and the diversity of the cocktail menu, with special focus on signature martinis.

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