Some of New York City’s most storied taverns are located just a stone’s throw from 88 & 90 Lexington Avenue. For those luxury condo residents who relish the neighborhood’s layered sense of history, these three historic bars offer superb cocktails and beers on tap—along with an authentic glimpse into Gramercy’s elegant and fascinating past.
Pete’s Tavern | 129 East 18th Street
Pete’s Tavern, the oldest operating saloon in New York City, was established in 1864 and just happens to be the place where O. Henry penned his famous short story, “The Gift of the Magi.” During prohibition in the 1920s, Pete’s survived as a speakeasy by disguising itself as a florist. Having outlasted Tammany Hall, the stock market crash of 1929, and countless other New York adventures, Pete’s continues to serve classic Italian food and well-mixed cocktails while providing a welcoming, neighborly atmosphere.
Molly’s | 287 3rd Avenue
Though there are plenty of Irish bars to be found throughout the boroughs of NYC, not all of them offer what you might call an authentic Emerald Isle experience. Molly’s on 3rd Avenue, though, comes pretty close. Guests here will find a shingled roof, door lanterns, and a sawdust-covered floor, a wooden bar, wrought iron chandeliers, and – of course – Guinness on tap. The bartenders even have lilting accents to match. Molly’s has been lauded by New York’s food and drink press, so it gets plenty of tourist traffic, but it deftly welcomes newcomers while making neighborhood regulars feel right at home. The food is traditional Irish pub fare like shepherd’s pie and steak that’s best approached with a hearty appetite. On a crisp fall evening, the wood-burning fireplace and robust selection of Irish whiskey are warm and welcoming. “This is the center of coziness,” says Time Out New York, “and the center is holding.”
Rose Bar | 2 Lexington Avenue
If you’ve been re-reading The House of Mirth and find yourself craving a little taste of New York’s horse-drawn carriage days, you’ll find elegant sanctuary at the Gramercy Park Hotel’s Rose Bar. An inviting mix of historic and contemporary is always on tap here thanks to an elaborate marble fireplace and coffered ceilings alongside décor by Julian Schnabel and a very of-the-moment cocktail list. The Gramercy Park Hotel is steeped in New York cultural significance, having housed the Kennedy family, David Mamet, and Bob Dylan as well as out-of-town members of the original Saturday Night Live cast. Late Show music director emeritus Paul Shaffer even lived at Gramercy Park Hotel for sixteen years. Impressive yet inviting, Rose Bar is a favorite neighborhood stop that will remind you why so many long to call Gramercy home.
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