New York City is a drinking town with an abundance of happy hour specials, hipster bars, rooftop terraces and lively pubs where sporting rivalries are stoked by fans enjoying the latest basketball, football or baseball games with a cold draft beer in hand. Last rounds are called just before 4am; this really is the city that never sleeps.
Opened in 2015 (and still near-impossible to get a reservation), The Polo Bar is Ralph Lauren's first foray into the hospitality game. As one would expect, the wait staff is stylishly dressed, there's an equestrian motif, and an air of preppy entitlement fills the air.
Hidden bars are a 'thing' in NYC. Hidden behind storefronts or innocuous diners, these modern speakeasies are open only to those who know where to knock. Some of the best: Bathtub Gin, The Back Room, Angel's Share and Employees Only. At Please Don't Tell, look for an old-fashioned phone booth. Press the buzzer and cross your fingers that the wall of the booth will open, sesame.
During the warmer months, New Yorkers, perhaps anticipating the long, cold winter ahead, make the most of the balmy weather and fill the city's many rooftop bars. From Times Square, where the Hyatt's Bar 54 offers unbeatable views, to the downtown chic of Jimmy at The James hotel, and out to Queens and Brooklyn, rooftop bars flourish from May to September.
There's an artisanal movement afoot in Brooklyn. Handmade is the flavour of the moment, with small-batch everything – chocolate, pickles, whiskey – produced and consumed in record numbers. For craft beer, go straight to the source at the Brooklyn Brewery, or bar-hop along Williamsburg's Bedford Avenue. When it comes to wine and spirits, Brooklynites again lead the independent charge. Visit Brooklyn Oenology on Wythe Avenue to enjoy New York wines, whiskies, gins, bourbons and ciders. In Astoria, Queens, the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden serves an extensive menu of craft beers (and tasty Czech and Slovak bites).
Drink your way through a history of NYC at landmark bars. Soak up classic New York glamour with cocktails at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel; raise a glass to gay-rights activists at Stonewall Inn; and join the esteemed legions of presidents, celebrities and business leaders who have shared confidences and built empires over dirty martinis at 21 Club.
The question: where to find the morning heart-starter, the cup of coffee equivalent to a Sydney or Melbourne barista's flat white or long black? Perhaps follow the antipodean trail. While many have lamented the poor quality of NYC coffee, they have rejoiced in the wave of Aussie-style cafes springing up all over the city. Try Little Collins, Bluestone Lane, Brunswick and Toby's Estate Coffee.