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Where would you go after dinner at Per Se?


John Rosevear
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The situation: A group of old friends, all serious foodies and all from out of town, in NYC together for an evening. They have early reservations for dinner at Per Se (and will be dressed accordingly). They want a great old-school-cocktail bar or two to go to after dinner. They could cab down to someplace like Death & Co or PDT, but if there are similar (or better) options closer by the restaurant, they'd like to know about them.

Being 40something-year-old people of some sophistication, they'd prefer to stay away from the hip-and-loud places. They will probably want to be back at their hotel (in midtown) by midnight-ish as they'll be flying out early the next day. It's a weeknight. Where do they go?

Edited by John Rosevear (log)

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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There's nothing remotely like D&C near Per Se (or if there is, it's way under the radar). In a 2-3 block radius of the East Village, you've got D&C, PDT, and Mayahuel, each of which is fantastic in its own way. And not too far afield of those three, you've got Pegu Club. By their nature, most of the great cocktail bars don't have massive capacity (Pegu being the leader size-wise, for sure), and once you talk about arriving at 9 or later, you're taking your chances with getting in without a substantial wait.

Christopher

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You may not be in the mood for cocktails or anymore food or wine after a meal at Per Se, even if you have an early reservation. Perhaps, you can continue your evening in the Salon at Per Se for after dinner drinks and such.

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sethd: Yes, very true. But I'd like to be prepared for the possibility... I don't get to the city very often these days, and I want to get my evening's worth of it.

Christopher: It sounds like a cab to the East Village will be the way to go if we decide to do this. Thanks very much.

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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On prime nights, PDT reservations are ridiculous to get; I've literally spent half an hour straight mashing redial just to get through. You'd probably have an easier time getting a table at M&H. Though the flip side is, if you're already at Per Se, the marginal benefit of going to M&H for drinks is lower than that of going to PDT, given style of drinks and all.

Although I find it quite amusing that these places are referred to as "old school", given how new they all are.

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There is a pretty good whiskey bar, I believe at the corner of Central Park South and Seventh Avenue. It is not, of course, a cocktail bar, but that is where I would go for a drink nearby after Per Se, assuming (which is unlikely) that I was in the mood for any more alcohol after that big meal.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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The lobby bar at the Mandarin Oriental, attached to Time Warner, is quite good. It's not on the level of the downtown places but has a better view -- one of the best in town -- and is good enough for all but the pickiest cocktailians.

Also pretty good, in Time Warner, is the bar at Porter House.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The lobby bar at the Mandarin is quite good but a bit over priced. If you were willing to venture down to tribeca there is a great place called The Brandy Library which is very nice. Its on north moore and verick.

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The lobby bar at the Mandarin is quite good but a bit over priced. If you were willing to venture down to tribeca there is a great place called The Brandy Library which is very nice. Its on north moore and verick.

I would say that the Brandy Library is known more for its selection of brown alcohol rather than cocktails. That said, if you want to sample some Scotch or Brandy that is not easily accessible elsewhere then this is a great place to go.

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IMO none of the bars in the Per Se area are up to snuff for a real cocktailian. You'll get pretty, fruity, neo-fusion drinks in oversized glasses.

The problem with many of the best cocktail spots for people who are dressed for Per Se is going to be atmosphere. Really, only Pegu Club offers an atmosphere and appointments that are congruous with the atmosphere of a place like Per Se, and a comfortable fit for people dressed in Per Se-appropriate finery. I love PDT and Death & Company and Mayahuel and Flatiron Lounge and Dutch Kills (etc.), but they're not places that work all that great when you're wearing an expensive suit (and I say this is someone who has had occasion to be in most of these bars wearing my tuxedo, so I know whereof I speak).

The other logical choice would be Brandy Library -- not for the cocktails, but rather for the sipping spirits. On the other hand, if what you want is a great cognac, I'm quite sure that there are places close by Per Se that have some good sipping spirits (albeit nowhere near the depth and breadth of Brandy Library's offerings).

--

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Clearly there's nothing in the Columbus Circle area that's on par with the good downtown cocktail bars, however that doesn't mean every other bar in the city is at some equivalent low level of awfulness. For example, the last time I was at MObar (the bar at Mandarin Oriental, which I believe also puts out the lobby-lounge drinks) I had what I considered a very good mojito infused with ginger. It was pretty, neo-fusion and possibly served in an oversized glass. But it was also, to me, a terrific mojito. One person I was with had a blood-orange/lychee thing that was exactly what you worry you're going to get at one of these trendy places. The other ordered a simple mixed drink -- something like X and soda -- and it seemed to be made competently.

So I don't know. It's a balancing act. Of course Pegu is better. But if you want to have dinner at Per Se, go out for a cocktail, and be back at a Midtown hotel by midnight (per the original request), it's not the worst idea to go to Mandarin Oriental. Ditto for the bar at Porter House, where it's usually not hard to walk in even on a weekend night. While some of their drinks fall victim to the too-sweet/trendy problem, I've had some there that I think are noteworthy, especially the "1927 Ultimate Martini," which is a drink I'd wager at least some cocktailians would approve of.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Maybe I wildly underdress for per se, but I wear the same clothes to D&C, PDT, etc. that I wear to per se -- a sport coat, a cotton shirt, and cotton or wool pants -- all the time.

Of course, maybe everybody at the Cocktail Bars are secretly laughing at me.

I've even gone right from per se to one of those bars, now that I think of it. I could handle it, but my date ended up passing out from all the alcohol and other intake.

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Go to the Plaza. You won't get cutting edge drinks there, but the Oak Bar makes a world of sense if you just want traditional cocktails in a classic and convenient setting immediately after dinner. Take the short stroll down Central Park South from the Time Warner Center and you're right there in a few minutes. Wherever your friends are staying in midtown, they'll have an easy cab ride or walk back to their hotel. For whatever it might be lacking in PDT/Pegu/D&C style points, it's still drinks at the Plaza, which should be a pleasant enough way for any out of town visitor to close out a night in the city, especially after a marathon at Per Se.

That said, if you do decide to head downtown, rest assured with Sneakeater's remarks as to wardrobe as opposed to Slkinskey's.

"I've been served a parsley mojito. Shit happens." - philadining

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