Best Cocktails Above 96th Street
Posted on August 20, 2016

Bohemia Blog by Agent Lu Daley

If you had asked me some years ago, I don't think I could have named any options above 96th Street because the only place to go out with friends was to Midtown / Downtown Manhattan. Now, I rarely have to venture below 96th street these days, which back 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.

Since then, uptown eateries have increased to the point that Harlem’s Frederick Douglass Blvd. (aka 8th Avenue) between 112th and 120th streets has been dubbed Restaurant Row. Now if I party uptown I could be heading anywhere from Camaradas in East Harlem, Mess Hall or Silvana in Central Harlem, Heights Tavern in Washington Heights or Kazza in Hudson Heights. If it’s left up to me, I’m probably going to choose the location closest to my house, but that’s also because I Iive along restaurant row. But most people might prioritize food, music, the atmosphere or cocktails. Here are a few of my favorite Uptown locations and the cocktails that you should try.

Melba’s


300 West 114th street (114th Street on Restaurant Row)

This Harlem restaurant, legendary for it’s Southern comfort food, is actually in the process of expanding on its current location. The emphasis is usually placed on the food here, but the drinks are more than a worthy sidekick.

[caption id="attachment_6911" align="alignleft" width="260"]Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 9.06.32 PM Melba's Harlem Iced Tea[/caption]

MAKE SURE YOU TRY -

"Melba’s Harlem Iced Tea" - Sweet Tea Vodka, Rum, Tequila, Gin, Triple Sec, Sour Mix, Coke

"Rose in Harlem" - Alizé Rosé, Tequila, Triple Sec, Sour mix

"Mango Martini" - Vodka, Mango juice

NOTABLES - Thumbs up to the Sangria + Chicken N’ Waffles, Short ribs + Mac n Cheese is an automatic win for your stomach, Bartender named Champ works weekends and he makes a mean Rose in Harlem.

Mess Hall


2194 Frederick Douglass Blvd (118th Street on Restaurant Row)

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 can whip up a creative creation for you.

[caption id="attachment_6910" align="alignright" width="260"]Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 9.06.23 PM Mess Hall Mash[/caption]

MAKE SURE YOU TRY - 

"Campfire Manhattan" – Maple Infused Bourbon, hickory smoke w/house made beef Jerky Garnish.

"Mess Hall Mash" – Bourbon shaken w/ fresh lemon, simple syrup & orange with a red wine floater.

"Garden Party" – Mess Hall Infused Citrus Vodka muddled w/ 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."

NOTABLES - They have an 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   

Maison Harlem 


341 St Nicholas Ave (Between 127th and 128th Streets)

Word has it that Owner Samuel Thiam wanted to create a blend between Harlem and Paris. Word also has it that this dude knows what he’s doing. There’s are a wide selection of great food but let’s get to the drinks.

[caption id="attachment_6912" align="alignright" width="218"]Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 9.06.44 PM Maison Harlem - Bloody Mary[/caption]

Make sure to try these Summer List Favorites:

"Paotini" - Grey goose orange, Bicardi pineapple, Chambord and Lime Served-Up (in a Martini glass)

"Mondaine" - Grey goose citron, Gran Marnier, Creme Yvette

"Dumas" -  Hendricks Gins, Muddled Cilantro, Muddle Cucumber, and Pavin. Served with Tonic.

NOTABLES - Group cheese or meat platters; They have an outdoor space; Rave reviews for their Oysters & Risotto; They are across the street from the ABCD trains’ 127th St. entrance.

There you go. You could say the M’s of Harlem Have it - Melba’s, Mess Hall and Maison Harlem - are 3 of Harlem’s best spots for cocktails above 96th street.

Have a boozy brunch. Sip outside while listening to live music. Try a new drink with friends. Enjoy it all Uptown. The added bonus is that if you live close to any one of these three then you can walk home. I personally add that as a notable for all of them.

Honorable Mentions


Sylvia’s, The Cecil, Silvana, Londell’s, Harlem Food Bar, Lido, L Lounge, The Grange, Red Rooster/ Ginny’s Supper Club, Angel of Harlem,67 Orange, Camarada’s El barrio, Harlem TavernHeights Tavern and Kazaa. And last, but certainly not least, Bier International. They’re next door to the Bohemia Realty Group office.