Planning a major milestone in New York City is not for the faint of heart or indecisive of mind. On the plus side: There are so many great places in this town to celebrate any occasion! On the negative side: There are so many great places in this town to celebrate any occasion! How can you choose just the right spot for that next birthday, anniversary, or visit from old friends from out of town? It can become overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve found a way to simplify everything—just read the below!
The Wild Birthday
The Broken Shaker, the stylish rooftop bar at the Freehand Hotel on the edge of Gramercy, feels like a colorful slice of Miami in NYC. That means beautiful people, potent drinks with a bit of a juice factor, and a chic outdoor vibe. (Albeit with better views—sorry, Miami.) The party escalates quickly here—especially if you order the cocktails built for two or five, the latter of which is called…B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe. If it rains, simply go downstairs to the clubby wood-paneled George Washington Bar. Hint: If you’re planning to host 15 or more people, be sure to reserve.
The Casual (Smallish) Birthday
Mimi, the tiny Greenwich Village bistro that kind of fell off the map after its multistarred chef moved to L.A., once again feels like a charmed secret. Line up a few of your friends along the banquette and tuck into a daily menu that might include smoked duck rillettes, French onion soup, and a côte de porc brushed with a savory caramel—or opt for the $65, five-course prix fixe so no one gets snippy about splitting the check. A few bottles of Morgon, a classic dessert, and suddenly being another year older doesn’t feel so bad.
The Significant Anniversary
Sometimes it’s best to celebrate milestones in four-star restaurants that don’t make you feel dated (or uncomfortable). Eleven Madison Park manages to have all the elements of a top-tier restaurant while staying completely modern and fresh. You can dress up as much as you want, be treated like royalty, consume an extravagant, exorbitant meal, and actually have a great time. This isn’t a museum, it’s a museum-quality performance piece—one that can provide just the right amount of distractions should you not have that much to say to each other for eight to 10 courses.
The Kid’s Birthday
Morgenstern’s ice cream parlor recently added “ice cream fantasyland” to its locations. The new LaGuardia Place flagship will have a sundae bar counter with 10 seats. Like the original Nolita shop, you can book a private party for a two-hour block. The fee does not include ice cream, but having the place to yourself? Priceless.
The Big Promotion
Nowhere in New York feels like you’ve made it in, well, New York like The Grill. The former Four Seasons restaurant has been restored and revitalized, maintaining its status as a center of power. Whether you suit up for a martini and a bite beneath the bar’s shimmering chandelier or perch yourself on a Mies van der Rohe chair as you await the prime rib trolley and your choice of eight potato options (all indulgent), you will surely feel as if you have arrived—and will pay accordingly.
The New Apartment
Congratulations! You finally closed! Better start shopping. Not only is Le Mercerie a wonderfully celebratory spot—those plush blue banquettes surrounded by Emily Thompson’s exotic flowers; an ambitious yet comforting French menu—it also happens to be part of the home store created by design stars Roman & Williams. (See: Gwyneth Paltrow.) If you still have any money left, you can shop their furniture designs, as well as their curated selection of tabletop goods, linens, and more.
The Office Party
Holy Ground looks like trouble. Echoing classic New York steakhouses, the wood-and-red-leather-boothed Tribeca speakeasy also adds cocktail bar and smokehouse to its list of specialties, ensuring that everyone on your team will be happy. Mad Men may no longer be around, but that doesn’t mean you and your colleagues can’t enjoy a little time travel.
The Polynesian looks like a very polished ’50s tiki lounge, albeit on way-west 42nd Street. For a New Yorker, that might be too cheesy (or too far), no matter how well done the space and menu might be. But really, sipping a Smokin’ Sarong (which contains highly potent coconut tea–infused scotch, cinnamon, chipotle honey, and tropical juices), or sharing an Exotica Bowl (coriander and curry-infused rum!) with five visiting friends after the theater is actually…so much fun! Add some jerk chicken satay and coconut shrimp, and you might find yourself sneaking back solo.
Where to go to make budding adults feel grown-up without boring them to death and that won’t drive the grandparents nuts with all that noise? Flora Bar strikes that hard-to-achieve balance between uptown fancy and downtown stylish, with a sleek, acoustics-friendly dining room tucked into the basement of the Met Breuer; room for large tables; a cool, young staff; and creative, modern food that isn’t too challenging. Afterward, the grown-ups can hit Bemelmans for a martini and a hankie.