Sip, New York
Guest Blogger: Megan O'Neil - A great bartender and a few killer drinks made for one hell of a New Year's Eve in New York City. Sip Bar at 998 Amsterdam in Manhattan certainly paved the way for a memorable first night in 2008.
Both of us thirty-something women, my friend and I decided on Christmas Eve that one more boring New Year's Eve at home was going to make us crazy. On that whim we decided to book a couple of hostel beds in the Upper West Side of Manhattan and headed to New York City for New Years.
I realize that this review is a little late after New Year's Eve, but I thought a bit of time to ponder ... actually, it took me three weeks to beg, plead and finally bribe Darcy into letting me write an article for The Art of Drink. I thought a review section would be interesting and it would also give me an excuse to travel for drink as well as food. And with all of his complaining about the stress of creativity, I thought an outsider writing the occasional article would give him a bit of break. But back to the review ...
Pretty much as soon as we arrived in New York, my friend Anna and I decided that Times Square was not the place we wanted to be. We did a bit of sleuthing, actually reading brochures at the check in desk of the hostel, and were encouraged by the clerk to try Central Park for the midnight celebration there. One of the brochures caught our attention with the big, bold "NO COVER!" written across the top, and we decided right then that Sip would be our bar of choice for New Year's Eve.
The best word I can use to describe Sip is intimate. It's not a large place, but all the Patricks (Patrick from Melbourne, Patrick from Ireland, and Patrick from Queensland), my friend and I, and a good number of others were drinking happily at 10:00pm on New Year's Eve. Sip has an amazing atmosphere, very artsy and relaxed. The metallic prism'd tabletops all gleamed, and the red leather bench we sat on was flashy and comfortable. The menu we looked at was humorous; it included a wine list that named the choices as "Cheap", "Good", and "Better", plus a note about the reserve list. There was also a good cocktail list, and from that I chose my personal favourite and a good test of a bartender - the Mojito, and Anna chose Sip's Very Berry Martini.
The Mojito was excellent, and I have had a few mojito's in my time. It was a double, like every drink I had in New York, and it was a perfect balance of rum, mint, and lime. The lime was real, the mint was real, the ice was hard, and the rum fine - it all added up to a fantastic drink. If I had to pick a complaint about it at all, the only thing that irritated me was that the mint was stemmy. But on the grand scheme, I was pretty darned happy to have real mint to complain about.
The Very Berry Martini was a mixture of Stoli Blueberry, Chambord, and bar sours. The Martini was also fantastic; The sours rounded out the sweetness of the Stoli and the Chambord so the drink was completely balanced between the two flavours. There was some ice floating in the Martini itself, which Darcy could possibly frown on, but overall it was the best Martini I have ever tried.
Matt the bartender was awesome; he had a great sense of humour, was a little crabby to a whiney customer (I appreciated that - dude was annoying), but was quick to get over it. He and the waiter, Sirius, were sincere about warning us off of Central Park, and even encouraged us to go to a bar they knew at Riverside instead.
We did go to Central Park, at any rate, and I think it was the place to be. The fireworks, the midnight four mile road race (in costume), the DJ - it was quite a night. And the best part? We skipped Auld Lang Syne, and sang Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" instead.
Megan O'Neil is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to Living Magazine. If you're ever looking for Megan, she's that girl in the back corner of the library, sneaking a beer and simultaneously reading a trashy romance and a Satre play. You can email Megan at email@example.com