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A Sex and the City Guide to Cocktails and Eats in New York

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For women of a certain age, the Sex and the City theme tune was the soundtrack to our single 20s (and 30s). Although I didn’t really start watching it until I moved to Amsterdam in 2006, there were enough re-runs over the years that I felt I knew every man drama, every cosmopolitan and every killer pair of heels in the girls’ lives as intimately as my own. I’d never even been to New York when I started watching Carrie & Co., but already I felt Miranda’s pangs of dread about leaving Manhattan for Brooklyn keenly. Surely that would be like moving to Amsterdam Noord eight years ago? Unthinkable!

So when, in the 2008 Sex and the City film, Miranda crossed the Brooklyn Bridge to meet Steve having finally resolved to put the past behind them and get back together, it felt symbolic. I’ve watched that scene over and over, and it gets me. Every. Single. Time. I may be a feminist, but I’m a total sucker for romance – especially when that romance comes in the form of a feisty red-headed career woman and a, umm, cute bartender.

That’s why when a group of mates and I decided to do a girls’ weekend in New York and (shock horror!) stay in Brooklyn, I knew two things:

  1. I needed to cross the Brooklyn Bridge a la Miranda and Steve.
  2. There would be cocktails – lots of them.

sex-and-the-city-guide-to-new-york-cocktails-more

Brooklyn’s Brunches and Booze

Of course, we couldn’t only drink cocktails. Food might be necessary too: mostly in the form of brunch, tacos and oysters. Because New York, New York… The city is so huge that we barely scratched the surface of its food and drinks scene; so I won’t claim these are the best places to eat and drink in Brooklyn, because they’re merely a handful that we tried and liked. If you’re spending a long weekend in New York, however, you won’t regret staying in Williamsburg and working your way around this little lot – for starters, anyway!

Day 1: Margaritas and Mexican

We arrived in New York in the early afternoon – late evening Amsterdam time, of course. And it’s a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of jetlag must be in want of a margarita. So we headed straight to the NY-Mex San Loco, just down the road from our Airbnb apartment, for skinny margaritas* and loaded nachos. It was Happy Hour, ok? Despite declaring the margaritas to be too light on triple sec, I polished mine off within about five minutes and started demanding another cocktail before the buzz wore off. Meanwhile, the nachos were heaped with pulled beef, fresh guacamole, jalapenos and cheese. Just what the jetlag-doctor ordered.

*A note about the skinny thing: I never order skinny anything in Europe, but whenever I order margaritas in the US they’re always loaded with sugar and fake lime. Ordering skinny seems to yield a result that’s closer to my understanding of what a margarita is supposed to taste like.

  • Where to eat: San Loco
  • What to order: Skinny margaritas and muchos nachos
  • More info: sanloco.com
san-loco-brooklyn
Margaritas and nachos at San Loco, Williamsburg NYC

Still in need of that buzz-maintaining fix, after the nachos we ducked into The Tradesman for our next drink. Hipster bare-brick walls meet craft beers and cocktails at this Bushwick bar. And who was I to argue with the prospect of a New York Sour? When in Rome ‘n all that… The drink was made up of layers of Bourbon, lemon juice, syrup and a red wine topper. The evening was getting started!

  • Where to drink: The Tradesman
  • What to order: New York Sour
  • More info: tradesmanbar.com

Day 2: Bloody Marys and Brunch

And because 10 am seems like as good a time for a drink as any when you’re on holiday, the next morning called for Bloody Marys. Obvs. The Rabbithole (more bare-brick walls) serves up a horseradish-heavy Mary (which I love), but without a celery stick – which feels like a sad omission. To follow up, I ordered the Rabbithole Florentine: a take on eggs Florentine (unsurprisingly) but with slices of baguette instead of an English muffin, wilted rocket instead of spinach, and a Hollandaise sauce that riffed with cheese. Not bad – especially the seasoned potatoes it came with.

rabbithole-brooklyn
Bloody Marys for our Brooklyn brunch at the Rabbithole

That evening before dinner we found ourselves at Donna – a cocktail and taco bar in the outskirts of Williamsburg. The bar had a cosy, almost cave-like feel by night, but I imagine it would’ve been light and bright by day. We didn’t get time to sample the tacos, but we did enjoy the bar’s Aperol Spritz and Long Patrol – like spicy carrot juice but with an extra kick.

  • Where to drink: Donna
  • What to order: Long Patrol cocktail
  • More info: donnabklyn.com

Day 3: Southern-style and Shopping

Another day, another brunch… this time at cool, minimalist Egg – a Brooklyn breakfast institution that required a bit of a waiting list. Once inside, we ordered drip coffees (because cappuccinos are, like, so 1996 that they didn’t even offer them – sadly) and got down to the serious business of stuffing our bellies. The pancakes were a popular choice, as was the French toast; but me being a savoury lady, I went for the biscuits with country ham and cheesy grits. For those of you who don’t speak Southern, biscuits = savoury scones; grits = wet polenta. (Ok, I know that’s an approximation – don’t kill me.)

On our official “shopping day” (because no trip to New York would be complete without taking the credit card out for a spin), we stopped to giggle at this awesome sign:

#Hipsters4Hillary
#Hipsters4Hillary

…only to look up and realise we were standing just a hundred meters or so from the Whythe Hotel, famed for its rooftop cocktail bar. Well, it would’ve been rude not to, wouldn’t it? Our IDs were checked (yay!) before we were allowed to get into the lift and ascend to the roof. Once there, we scored a perfect al fresco table and considered a morning mimosa… but nah. There was a sexy little number known as the “Brooklyn View”, comprising gin, Velvet Falernum, grapefruit and prosecco, which clearly had our names on it. Yes, it has an $18 price tag, but tips are included at this place, so at least what you see on the menu is what you end up paying.

Day 4: Bagels with a View

Speaking of rooftop terraces, our own Airbnb apartment had one too. So for breakfast the next day, we popped into The Bagel Store down the road in Williamsburg and ordered a bunch of lox and cream cheese bagels. Oh, and one rainbow bagel monstrosity filled with blueberry cream cheese – as one of my friends said, it was like eating a smurf. The savoury bagel, however, was well made, satisfying and cheap (which isn’t to be underrated in the land of $12 glasses of wine).

  • Where to eat: The Bagel Store
  • What to order: Lox and cream cheese bagel (or the rainbow bagel, if just to show your kids!)
  • More info: thebagelstoreonline.com
bagels new york
Bagels with a view!

And a couple of spots in Manhattan, because we couldn’t leave New York without crossing Brooklyn Bridge…

Yup, it’s yet another stop for tequila and tortillas! Molé – a Mexican bar and restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village – was the perfect pick-me-up after walking the High Line. With a fairly spacious but neatly cordoned off pavement terrace, Molé serves up a cracking spicy margarita – complete with jalapenos and chilli-lime salt. Their guacamole also comes in a giant pestle and mortar, having been freshly made to order; there’s a lot of it so it’s handy that they’ll bring you free refills of tortilla chips, too.

  • Where to eat: Molé
  • What to order: Margaritas, chips and guacamole
  • More info: molenyc.com
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Happy Hour oysters are $1 each at Sel Rrose!

Day 5: Oysters and Bubbles

After all these cocktails, by the time we reached Saturday night I was missing my usual alcoholic friend: wine. We’d ended up avoiding it after the first night as it seemed to be impossible to get away with spending less than $50 a bottle, even in a simple pizza joint. But Saturday night was officially a celebration: our last night in New York, and we’d invited all our local friends (who many of us hadn’t seen in years) to join us. At Sel Rrose, in a particularly buzzing corner of Soho, we kicked off the festivities with a round of Proseccos and a dozen or so oysters – only $1 a shell during Happy Hour. We tried four different types – all from the East Coast but each with distinctly different characteristics, from briny to sweet and from large and juicy to small and flavourful. Peak decadence had been reached and our trip was complete.

  • Where to eat: Sel Rrose
  • What to order: Oysters and Prosecco
  • More info: selrrose.com

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