by Lu Daley
Downtown used to be the only option for “going out” with friends. In the mid to early 2000’s if a friend invited me to “party uptown” I knew that we were going to a house party. No longer. I’ve been out a few times in the past month, and I don’t usually venture below 96th street. It’s a new day in upper Manhattan.
Uptown eateries have increased in number so dramatically that Harlem’s Frederick Douglass Blvd (8th Avenue) between 112th and 120th streets has been dubbed ‘Restaurant Row’. Now when I party uptown, I could be heading anywhere from Camaradas in East Harlem, Mess Hall or Silvana in Central Harlem, or Heights Tavern in Washington Heights.
Spoiled for choice in a new world of options, how do you know where to go for an outstanding cocktail? Here are a few of my favorites uptown locations and the cocktail experiences you deserve.
2194 Frederick Douglass Blvd (118th Street on Restaurant Row) http://www.messhallharlem.com
You can’t limit Mess Hall to the “Bourbon Bar” title. They feature creative and artisan crafted seasonal cocktails. They also host their own “Mess Hall's Annual Cocktail Throwdown”. Stop in for a past season cocktail, or your bartender
Make sure to try:
- Campfire Manhattan – Maple Infused Bourbon, hickory smoke with a house made beef Jerky Garnish.
- Mess Hall Mash – Bourbon shaken with fresh lemon, simple syrup and orange with a red wine floater.
- Garden Party – Mess Hall Infused Citrus Vodka muddled with fresh lime and basil.
- The Ginger Pearl - Olmeca Altos Tequila, Domaine De Canton Ginger Liqueur, Triple Sec, Fresh Lemon and Lime, Agave Nectar and tiki bitters served with a cayenne salt rim. (created by Mess Hall Bartender Cheryl Mullings). According to co-owner Shanna Sharp, "It's like the freshest ginger margarita with a kick you've ever had."
They have outdoor space.
Bartender Lana Vesselova just won the 2016 Uptown Battle of the Bars (a multi-bar cocktail making competition and all around great time).
"Life is Too Short to Drink Bad Bourbon" -Mess Hall Harlem instagram.