True to its name, Just Grapes Lounge focuses on wines, with more than 30 vintages poured by the glass and 18 more varieties sequestered on a reserve bottle list. Microbrews, champagnes, and ports round out the lounge's full bar, complementing a Mediterranean-tinged tapas menu. Small plates, ranging from hummus and crostini to stuffed baked clams, are ideal for smothering appetites or boosting a tiny table's self-esteem. Three styles of rustic pizza artfully pair tomatoes with cheese, whereas molten fondue, served in a bread bowl, comes in varieties including gorgonzola and double-cream brie.
Spherical lights seem to drift in smooth bubbly spirals up toward the ceiling of Flûte Bar & Lounge’s Gramercy location. Conversation bursts effervescently off walls and artwork in a palette of rosé pinks and prosecco tans. Myriad champagnes and sparkling wines, including Perrier-Jouët gran brut and a range of cavas, form lacelike crowns of bubbles in an atmosphere that aims to blend the French art de vivre aesthetic with a dash of NYC nightclub. Patrons can select single flutes or bottles, or they can sample several flights that showcase different grapes, a single producer, or the patience of a waitress willing to help you pick out all the bubbles. Cocktails lean heavily on sparkling wines and include bellinis, a blend of prosecco and fruit puree, which pair nicely with small plates of cheese and fruit or foie gras terrine.
Flûte now operates locations in Midtown, Gramercy, and Paris. In Midtown, visitors descend a short flight of stairs before sinking into intimate booths or plush benches. The original Midtown location celebrates its speakeasy roots with fiery jazz nights every Saturday, complete with performers and guests alike dressed in period apparel.
Perhaps it’s the slow, bluesy chords flowing from the guitarist in the corner that compel the customer to put down her drink, pick up a stick of chalk, and scrawl a wistful message on the bar. Or perhaps it’s the flicker of candles––their golden halos staving off the city night––that has inspired this misty-eyed inscription. Far from being annoyed at the graffiti now adorning his workspace, the bartender leans over to read the patron’s message, smiling knowingly at the freshly penned late-night bulletin. With a grin and a poured glass of wine, he coaxes a smile from her as she swipes her words from the board.
Such intimate, inviting evenings are a regular occurrence at Sweet Grapes Wine Bar, where a vast collection of vinous libations and snacks keep guests chatting and laughing into the wee hours of the morning. The chalkboard-topped bar affords customers a blank expanse to fill with favorite quotes or high-school locker combinations, while an ever-changing lineup of musicians floods the space with live tunes on a regular basis.
Fusing the best parts of a posh New York nightspot and a low-key Moroccan hideaway, Disiac Lounge graces nightly crowds with a menu of falafels, paninis, and cheese plates to pair with a panoply of sumptuous cocktails. Plush red stools line the neon-lit bar, where tenders whip up a host of chocolate-liqueur-infused libations, stir signature martinis in 16 flavors, and pour spirits aged in the choicest of camel humps. Bedecked with hints of crimson and gold, the intimate lounge plays host to a daily happy hour, and can be reserved in advance for private parties. Profilers from New York magazine praise the laid-back lounge for its mesmerizing interior, and maintain the bar's real draw lies in "pleasant patio […] laden with lanterns and Moroccan-style poufs for perching." Readers also chimed in with an almost-perfect 9 out of 10 review, only previously achieved when Roger Ebert reviewed the film adaptation of Ebert: An Autobiography.
Like any good basement, Cellar 58 is full of secrets. Hidden in the back of the East Village eatery is a wine-tasting room—recently described as "elegant" by New York magazine—that shelters more than 150 varietals hailing from such overlooked countries as Greece and Bulgaria. Two-dozen wines can be poured by the glass, including several culled from the vineyards of Italy, France, and similarly eminent regions.
There also lurks a surprising treasure in the front dining room. Marble-topped tables play host to entrees and small plates prepared by chef Fabio Bano, who comes to Cellar 58 from the ultra-private Soho House. Using cooking methods that he learned and perfected in Italy, Bano handcrafts pastas and inventive desserts, which, like top-secret memos, melt satisfyingly upon entering the mouth.
La Barrique's Belgian chef sustains a 60-year tradition of classic French bistro cuisine upon the polished tables of a café heralded by commanding crimson banners. Rich French recipes guide his hands as he bastes escargot in garlic and parsley butter or a plate of mussels with one of four homemade sauces. Paneled in dark wood and accented by red drapes, napkins, and seat cushions, the romantic café glows with light reflecting from the bar's tin ceiling and displays filled with a curated selection of organic French and international wines. The European dining destination—located near Times Square, Bryant Park, Penn Station, and Midtown's theater district—is snugly nestled between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in New York's fashion district, making it a prime spot for people watching or literally romancing a skirt.