When The Hill first opened, people speculated that Heidi and Spencer Pratt of The Hills were behind the venture. That was just a rumor. The spot actually takes its name from its neighborhood, not the Los Angeles reality show. Now that the initial mystery surrounding The Hill has lifted, the pub has become a neighborhood go-to for catching the game while sipping drinks and devouring philly sliders, baskets of crispy tater tots, and pots of fondue.
A Reflection of Murray Hill
As New York Times reporter Jeff Vandam explains, Murray Hill is a hard neighborhood to pin down. Quiet rows of brownstones and apartment buildings contrast with a lively pub scene geared toward the 20-somethings who have recently become more of a fixture in recent years. Like the neighborhood it calls home, The Hill has somewhat of a split personality. From afternoon to early evening, it is predominantly a sports bar, with more than 25 high-definition televisions broadcasting live games in the bar and upstairs lounge. As soon as the action wraps up, though, things start to get interesting. Candlelight replaces the flickering glow of television screens, and the bar transforms into a stylish lounge for Murray Hill?s sophisticated set.
An Upscale Pub Setting
The Hill welcomes postcollegiate fans to cheer on their alma maters in a setting that's far more refined than that of a typical sports bar. Chandeliers glimmer overhead, and leather cushions line long booths. Polychromatic planks of wood line the walls on both floors, giving guests something interesting to admire when the bartenders take a break from stirring lemon-drop martinis or pouring glasses of watermelon sangria.
This cocktail hotspot takes more than just its name from Frenchman Paul Verlaine, a 19th-century poet and notorious hedonist. The drink menu is carefully orchestrated to indulge almost any fancy—libations range from dozens of small-batch and single-barrel whiskeys to sake and cocktails that have a distinct South Asian flair. Lychee sweetens the popular Hanoi Martini and black raspberry sake adds subtle notes to the exotic Saigon Bellini. Vietnamese flavors also inspire the eclectic tapas menu, which features several vegetarian-friendly options. Lemongrass sauce sweetens a stack of pancakes, and chicken or shrimp bulks up coconut curry. At Verlaine, there's no flashy décor to distract from the craft food and drink. Instead, the vibe is sophisticated and subdued, with dim candles set along the length of the bar and local artwork lining the walls. The artsy theme is alive and well at occasional poetry readings, which pay homage to the bar's literary namesake.
It should come as no surprise that the bartenders at Manhattan Proper know how to make a proper manhattan. They start with Basil Hayden’s small-batch bourbon and an exact blend of sweet and dry vermouth. After mixing in a dash of bitters, they add the finishing touch: a bourbon-soaked cherry. The care with which this drink is crafted finds its reflection in the bar’s impeccably designed interior, where lofted ceilings and minimalist, industrial-chic decor create a space that can accommodate huge crowds without feeling too packed. The extra elbow room is fortunate, since guests arrive in droves on the weekends to feast on burgers, catch live sports games on the bar’s flat-screen televisions, and obsessively count the buttons on the dining room’s tufted leather sofas.
At Kiosk, Chef Mounir Najd draws on his childhood in Casablanca to create traditional Moroccan food featuring organic produce and fine cuts of meat. However, the food is not the only thing that makes the restaurant authentically Moroccan. With hookahs billowing smoke late into the night, hand-painted murals by artist David Ort, and belly dancers weaving around the café, Kiosk celebrates the culture of Morocco every day. The menu starts with traditional appetizers such as baba ganoush and tabouleh, followed by a main course of kebabs, kofta, and couscous. Hookahs come in many forms such as single-nozzle pipes, and the tobacco selection often includes fresh fruit to feed the genie trapped in the bottom. Live music fills Kiosk regularly, with acts such as Brazilian jazz quartets or traditional Moroccan tunes, and bartenders stir mixed drinks every evening.
Behind Brownstone Lounge's doors, exposed brick, neon lights, and thumping beats underscore patrons' bubbly conversations over plates of tapas-style fare and ice-cold drinks served straight from a chilled drink dome. On comfy couches scattered throughout the restaurant, diners nosh on small plates ranging in style from Latin or French fusion such as mango fish tacos with chipotle sauce and sautéed mussels in white whine sauce, to comforting pub grub such as buffalo chicken wings and mac 'n' cheese wedges. Beer, wine, sangria, and cocktails complement meals, and all of the lounge's vodka flows straight from a drink dome chilled to negative 32 degrees, the precise temperature of a broken heart. The space is also decked out with jukeboxes, allowing guests to express musical preferences without climbing onto the bar and belting out their favorite showtunes.
Far more than a local institution, The Duplex has served as a stepping-stone for world-renowned artists such as Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand at various points in its more-than-50-year history. The 70-seat venue continues to play its part in star-making, hosting a regular schedule of performances by esteemed composers and cast members of off-Broadway shows.
Its mission to entertain influences everything that goes on behind Duplex?s glitzy fa?ade, which conceals both the theater and an intimate piano bar. While pianists field song requests from memory or provided sheet music, bartenders sing along and catch swooning guests before they fall into the piano. Take a look around the crowd, and you might recognize some Broadway stars looking to informally flex their vocal cords between shows.