Times Square has long been synonymous with Broadway shows, from its shining marquee lights to the legendary stars who have graced its stages, but the amazing lineup of plays and musicals in recent years has given us even more reason to make the pilgrimage to the Theater District.
However, when it comes to finding a preshow drink destination, it can be challenging to find a spot worthy of your time and patronage. That’s why we’ve assembled a list of our favorite bars in the area.
Old-school as can be, Sardi’s has been the talk of the town for more than 90 years. The 44th Street restaurant has appeared in countless films and TV shows, from “The Country Girl” to “Frost/Nixon” and from “Seinfeld” to “Glee,” and it’s even been referenced in the books of J.D. Salinger and Saul Bellow.
While the food is pleasant and the drinks are consistently great, what really makes Sardi’s so special is the décor. The walls of the space are adorned from floor to ceiling with hundreds of caricature drawings of the stars who’ve eaten there over the years, many of whom were once regulars. There’s Lucille Ball over one table and Arthur Miller sitting stoically over another, and even the new king of Broadway, Lin-Manuel Miranda, makes an appearance. Naturally, Sardi’s is also the very place where the idea of the Tony Awards was conceived, over a big plate of pasta in 1946.
234 W. 44th St., 212-221-8440, sardis.com
The Times Square EDITION
Opened earlier this year, Ian Schrager’s new Times Square hotel follows the success of EDITION properties around the world (and one just 25 blocks south). The modern yet infinitely inviting space features a number of venues that are perfect for a preshow drink, or even dinner.
For those in search of a casual but chic cocktail, head to the Lobby Bar, and nestle into one of its all-white tufted leather armchairs while you sip on a Code of Silence — cognac, cold brew liqueur, absinthe and cacao bitters. If it’s sumptuous luxury you’re after, go upstairs to the bar of 701West, the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant. You’ll be immediately transported to old-world glamour while lounging on the room’s blue- and chartreuse-colored velvet banquettes and drinking one of the bar’s delicious cocktails or partaking in the signature Champagne bar cart. There is also The Terrace, where Broadway-themed cocktails, like The Angel of Music and Speed the Plow, are served over an unparalleled view of Times Square.
701 7th Ave., 212-398-7017, editionhotels.com/times-square
The Polynesian is the perfect escape from the commotion of Times Square as you make your way toward your theater. The Tiki-themed cocktail bar sits on the third-floor rooftop of the Pod Hotel on 42nd Street and is the ultimate ode to the tropics. With an expansive outdoor terrace and four different indoor spaces, The Polynesian is ideal for creative cocktails and a quick bite. It’s also the sort of place where Captain Hook and his pirate friends might just be hiding behind an oversized palm tree and sipping flaming, rum-filled drinks from carved mugs and fish bowls. Settle into a bamboo chair or blue velvet booth while enjoying tequila-based Rita Hayworth or a rum-heavy Chief Lapu Lapu, and let your euphoric surroundings take you away from the hustle and bustle of New York, even if just for a short while.
400 W. 42nd St., 212-254-3000, thepolynesiantiki.com
In an era when speak-easies in New York are about as rare as Starbucks, Lantern’s Keep somehow feels special. It’s authentic and welcoming, despite there being no signage or indication of its entry outside the Iroquois Hotel. The bar was designed with 19th century Parisian salons in mind, as demonstrated by the blue velvet and white marble and the ubiquity of Degas prints.
The cocktail list at Lantern’s Keep is perhaps what makes this spot a convincing replica of an old-world treasure, with classic concoctions served alongside a well-rounded and sophisticated snack menu of escargot, cheeses and chicken-liver crostini.
49 W. 44th St., 212-840-3080, iroquois.com/lanterns-keep
Dear Irving on Hudson
Following the success of Dear Irving and Raines Law Room, mixologist Meaghan Dorman expanded to Manhattan’s upper half with Dear Irving on Hudson. The hip drinkery is spread over two floors of the Aliz Hotel and boasts four balconies and stunning views.
The bar is sexy, to say the least, with sleek leather stools throughout and a seemingly never-ending black bar in the back. The space is large but somehow feels cozy, as if you’re going up to the apartment of a much cooler, much more successful friend for a nightcap. The menu includes a section called Ode to the Empire State, the venue’s own love letter to the great city below it, and New York-made spirits take center stage. There are also a number of classic cocktails on offer, alongside a selection of beer and wine and sharing plates.
310 W. 40th St., dearirving.com/dear-irving-on-hudson
A pre-theatre institution since it opened in 1965, Joe Allen is coated in Broadway history, albeit of the ill-fated variety. In the restaurant’s first year, the cast and crew of the very short-lived show “Kelly” (it closed after just one performance) gave Allen the poster to display, and he has since lined all the walls with an exhibition of Broadway’s biggest failures and flops. The 46th Street spot, known for serving top-notch comfort food, has played host to legends such as Mel Brooks, Al Pacino and Chita Rivera, and it’s still an obvious choice for theatregoers near and far. Whether you’re biting into the signature juicy burger at a table or stopping by the bar for a quick cocktail, a visit to Joe Allen is the quintessential way to start your night on Broadway.
326 W. 46th St., 212-581-6464, joeallenrestaurant.com
Perfect for the colder months, Haven Rooftop is a fully enclosed oasis situated on the top of the Sanctuary Hotel on 47th Street. With views of the Manhattan skyline and a menu full of contemporary American bites and craft cocktails, it’s really impossible to go wrong here. Sink into the wooded space and enjoy a tropical Safe Haven — a blend of mezcal, pineapple, agave, bitters, and tajin — or a sweet and tangy Solar Flare, made from Makers Mark, peach liqueur, pineapple juice and lemonade.
132 W. 47th St., 212-466-9000, havenrooftop.com