Robb Report Vices

Manhattan on the Rocks

An earnest cocktail includes four essential parts—the liquid, the glass, the garnish, and the ice—and a well-trained bartender understands that the details of each are what separate a standard libation from an exceptional one. On the topic of ice, New York’s magicians behind the bar have long taken note of its complexity. The three establishments we spotlight here are known for their attention to detail and their commitment to ice as an essential cocktail component.

Má Pêche – David Chang’s Midtown offshoot may best be known as a den of noodles and pork buns, but it also features an impressive loft-style bar upstairs, one that is operated by the same bartending staff that trained alongside the veterans at Momofuku Noodle Bar and at Booker and Dax. Order a spirit on the rocks and you’ll notice your glass filled with perfectly chiseled cubes (we hear they use a laser-cutting ice machine for the utmost precision).

Rye House – By the name of this Union Square establishment, it’s easy to guess that whiskeys and bourbons are given preferential treatment. We recommend taking a glance over the establishment’s extensive menu of classic and creative brown-spirit cocktails, but you should also take notice of your glass. See those pristine-shaped ice cubes chilling your Hancock’s President’s Reserve? They’ll keep their body and texture long after the glass is placed in front of you, even after an impassioned conversation with the bartenders about the merits of blended Scotch whisky.

The Jimmy at the James – The rooftop views of downtown—along with the James Hotel’s retro architecture and interior design—likely will steal your attention away from the cocktail menu. But don’t let your eyes stray for too long; that menu has been known to include some memorable concoctions, like one composed of Knob Creek, maple syrup, and muddled red shiso that’s accented with cinnamon-flavored ice cubes.