Now that summer's almost here, we thought we'd compile the best of the best in Manhattan as a quick-caffeination reference guide for tourists and locals alike.
'Soho' on Serious Eats
Eben Freeman gained acclaim as a cocktail man at wd-50 and later at Tailor, his work regarded as innovative and boundary-pushing. He's now the director of bar operations for Michael White's restaurant empire, the Altamarea group. And in that role, he's the man behind the cocktail menu at Costata, which opened last week.
The experiment is an interesting one which seeks to formalize the concept of the "regular" cafe patron, within an unusual setting. For $25 a month, members of the cafe are entitled to free coffee daily—that's brewed coffee, cappuccino, espresso, you name it (and name it as many times a day as you like)—from their full-service coffeebar.
Since we were already conveniently parked at Parm for their nightly specials, it was only right to get acquainted with the cocktail list. Order one from a red swivel stool at the bar or with dinner ($12 each drink). All of them are playful yet thoughtfully constructed, and oftentimes boozier than they taste.
At Lafayette Espresso Bar and Marketplace the Green Lemonade ($4.95 small/$6.45 large) is a refresher that couples elements from three popular summer drinks: lemonade, green juices, and ice cold ginger tea. A tart, fresh lemonade is the base, and it's blended with raw spinach leaves, apples and apple juice, and finally a spicy dose of grated ginger.
Soho Park is a bit of a tourist trap, but with its ample outdoor seating, I have trouble resisting. In hot weather, I always order the Soho Park Iced Tea ($4). It's a freshly brewed batch of bold Ceylon tea sweetened only with a berry puree.
The strict "no takeout" coffee policy at Nespresso in Soho may come across as a bit haughty, but do yourself a favor and slide into one of their deep, cushy chairs. We're here for a little break—and an Iced Vanilla Caffe, a summertime favorite for when the Soho heat and the sweaty crowds become unbearable.
There are quite a few bars in New York that offer complimentary bar snacks at certain hours. But when I've had a few glasses of wine, I don't want a few dainty olives or crackers; I want warm, substantial polenta cakes or pizza sliced into tiny slivers, perfect for sharing and nibbling. That's what you get at Emporio on Mott Street in Soho, where between 5:00 and 6:30pm, snacks are laid out on the bar aperitivo-style for the taking.
The Iced Chocolate ($4) from Francois Payard Bakery is a contender for the richest, thickest cool concoction in town. When I ordered it, the woman at the register asked, "Are you sure? It's very thick."
House-made milk chocolate syrup serves as the foundation for hot chocolate ($3) at Ground Support in Soho. Coffee and sandwiches may be the main draw at this breezy cafe, but the hot chocolate is wonderful.
All guests are welcome to sample, for free, the tea of the day as well as one of their own selection—a treasure of an experience for anyone looking to expand their tea knowledge.