The early favorite for Cool Dad of the Year has to be JCT_UCB, who wants to treat his soon-to-be-21-year-old daughter to her first legal drink.

Forget about fratty dives—he’s looking for a classy scene and custom mixology, “a fun thing that she will not be able to afford on her own very often.” Did we say he’s a pretty cool dad?

Hounds see this as the perfect occasion for a downtown cocktail destination like Pegu Club, Please Don’t Tell, or Death & Co, but they also warn that these are still hot spots where you’d better arrive early—like right when they open—to get the kind of mixologist face time that JCT’s after. “The bartender will be less busy and you’ll be able to get a seat at the bar,” observes kathryn (at Pegu, she adds, get there at 5 and ask for Kenta). MsAlyp‘s picks are Pegu, in part for its Asian-leaning small plates, and PDT, for well-made beverages but also the speakeasy-style access through the fake phone booth at Crif Dogs (and the specialty hot dogs you can order once inside).

At Death & Co, you might run into Silverjay at the short end of the bar, where he enjoys the attentive service and close-up view of “the behind-the-bar scene of cocktail making.” There’s a long drink menu, but the bartenders are also happy to chat with you and come up with something unique. You’ll find similar improvisation, time permitting, at nearby bitters specialist (and cocktail college) Amor y Amargo, Little Branch, and Employees Only, among many other places. At The Mulberry Project, opened this year in Little Italy, sheio asked for something with ginger and got a marvelous concoction of Laphroaig, ginger, lemon, and a hint of cinnamon—”exactly the drink I would’ve ordered if I’d seen it on a menu.”

markiank recommends a river-crossing to Brooklyn and Clover Club, where he’s found first-rate cocktails and tasty small bites, too (deviled eggs four ways, anyone?). And David W suggests a different kind of trip: into the ageless art deco past, in the black marble and gold leaf surroundings of Bemelmans Bar at the Hotel Carlyle.

All fine for some people, says famdoc, but he’s not one of them. “I’m sorry to go against the grain here, but wine is a far more sophisticated drink than a cocktail,” he argues. “Make it part of a wonderful meal. Perhaps lunch at Del Posto, Jean Georges, or Le Bernardin,” the just-renovated high-end seafood house. “In any case, you’re to be saluted for trying to make her day special.”

Finally, janeh offers an important practical tip: “Make sure to remind your daughter to bring I.D.—otherwise, all will be frustratingly for naught!”

Pegu Club [SoHo]
77 W. Houston Street (between West Broadway and Wooster Street), Manhattan

Please Don’t Tell [East Village]
113 St. Marks Place (between First Avenue and Avenue A), Manhattan

Death & Co [East Village]
433 E. Sixth Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A), Manhattan

Amor y Amargo [East Village]
443 E. Sixth Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A), Manhattan
No phone available

Little Branch [West Village]
22 Seventh Avenue South (between Grand and Hester streets), Manhattan

Employees Only [West Village]
510 Hudson Street (between Christopher and W. 10th streets), Manhattan

The Mulberry Project [Little Italy]
149 Mulberry Street (between Grand and Hester streets), Manhattan

Clover Club [Boerum Hill]
210 Smith Street (between Butler and Baltic streets), Brooklyn

Bemelmans Bar [Upper East Side]
In the Carlyle Hotel, 35 E. 76th Street (at Madison Avenue), Manhattan

Del Posto [Chelsea]
85 10th Avenue (between W. 15th and 16th streets), Manhattan

Jean Georges [Upper West Side]
1 Central Park West (near W. 61st Street), Manhattan

Le Bernardin [Midtown]
155 W. 51st Street (between Sixth and Seventh avenues), Manhattan

Discuss: Need a recommendation for a bar for daughter’s first legal drink

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