My New York City bar crawl continued in lower Manhattan with happy hour drinks at The Dead Rabbit, which was recognized as the world's best bar by The World's 50 Best Bars in 2016.
The Financial District isn't the first neighborhood that comes to mind thinking of cool places to drink innovative cocktails in NYC, but The Dead Rabbit has good reason to be here.
Founded by two childhood friends from Belfast, Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon, the Irish bar is housed in a brick building built in 1828 and takes its name from the Irish criminal gang that used to roam the same streets in the 19th century.
The Martin Scorsese movie The Gangs of New York, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, is based on the same group.
Ground Floor: The Taproom
I arrived at 4:15 p.m. on a Friday, and promptly gave my name to the host, hoping it wouldn't be too long a wait to be seated in their second-floor cocktail bar.
I was given a plastic buzzer to alert me when it was time to be seated.
In the meantime, I was able to get a spot at the bar on the ground floor, known as the Taproom, which looks and feels like a traditional Irish pub.
The Irish whiskey menu features dozens of varieties, and they claim to have the best Guinness in New York. They've got Irish coffee, too.
But, I'm not a big whiskey drinker, nor have I drank a better Guinness than the ones I had in Ireland 20 years ago.
I was more curious about the punches. The menu said they were on a mission to bring back boozy punches in the form of pre-bottled cocktails.
Of the three available, I chose Admiral Vernon's Grog ($14):
- Dead Rabbit Jamaican rum mix
- Lime sherbet
- Lime juice
Not at all something I'd typically order, but I enjoyed sipping on something different.
Flagons of punch are available for $70 (a flagon is about 2 Imperial pints or 1.1 liters).
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Second Floor: The Parlor Bar
A few minutes after 5 p.m., my buzzer went off as the host began seating patrons in the second-floor Parlor bar (dubbed "the cocktail cathedral").
I was led up the stairs to a seat at the far end of the bar. Once seated, I was presented with a robust welcome punch in a teacup.
The creative menu is in comic book form and tells "the tale of Dead Rabbit Founder John Morrissey's time traveling escapades in 1970s New York City, with drinks created around each chapter."
To start, I ordered the Kith and Kin, consisting of:
- American vodka
- Dutch Genever
- Rose Vermouth
As I enjoyed the cocktail, I talked with the woman to my left, who happened to work at The Dead Rabbit NYC.
She mentioned there had been a fire in the restaurant a few months earlier, which was why there wasn't the usual food selection available.
That explained the coasters, which say "born in a hurricane, forged in a fire," as the bar had opened after the destructive Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast in 2012.
Since my visit, the newly renovated kitchen opened, and the Parlor bar was expanded to accommodate more customers.
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I was enjoying the vibe, so I ordered a Comfort Zone cocktail as my last drink of the night:
- Dutch vodka
- Fine sherry
- Pine liquor
- Orange bitters
I liked this one, too, and made sure to take my time with it before paying my tab and heading for the door.
There's no doubt The Dead Rabbit is worth the hike to the southern tip of Manhattan, but it's also inconvenient if you're planning a night out and want to stay in the same part of the city.
Visit The Dead Rabbit
- Address: 30 Water St, New York, NY
- Hours: 12 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday to Thursday, 12 p.m. to 3 a.m., Friday and Saturday
- Dress: Casual
- To view current menus, visit the website
Update: In 2022, The Dead Rabbit confirmed several new locations are in the works, including a 170-seat bar in New Orleans' French Quarter (slated for 2023). Sean Muldoon and beverage director Jillian Vose will be opening a sister bar, Hazel and Apple, in Charleston, South Carolina.
Sadly, at least for this fan, the comic book rabbit mascot is set to be retired.