FrontRunners: Midtown Exclusive
In a city filled with famously “secret” bars, Rarities (www.raritiesnyc.com) is the genuine article. Hidden on an upper floor of the Villard Houses—a mansion designed by McKim, Mead, and White that is part of the New York Palace Hotel—the mahogany-paneled refuge consists of just 25 deeply upholstered seats, available by reservation only. The interiors are intended to evoke the era when the financier Henry Villard frequently hosted salons in his home, and the menu is filled with bottles of rare spirits and wines that certainly encourage long and lively conversation. Selections by the glass include Hannisville Rye ($125), an American whiskey distilled in 1912 and bottled in a demijohn in 1922; an 1875 Barbeito Malvasia Reserva Madeira ($200); and The Macallan 60-year-old in a Lalique decanter ($2,835). The wine list offers aged bottles at their prime, such as a 1990 Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne ($4,300) and a 1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet ($7,000).