1. Tanner Smith’s
Pretty much every part of Tanner Smith’s is a win—great drinks, great food (if you’re into that), and decor that is pretty without being overwhelming. Since the upstairs can get a little packed, take your dates through the red door to the cocktail bar downstairs—it’s much more intimate, with sexy lighting and even sexier bartenders (in case your date turns out to be a dud). Also, if you don’t like whiskey but always wanted to pretend you did, order the Brown Eyed Girl—it’s so delicious you won’t care what kind of liquor you’re drinking, and you’ll look and sound like even more of a badass for ordering it.
2. Library Bar at Hudson Hotel
This is a perfect date bar for a few reasons: it’s quiet, which means you won’t be awkwardly screaming your hometowns at each other; it’s sexy without being trashy, since it’s basically a place of learning (library, duh); and it’s so spread out that you’re absolutely guaranteed privacy in whatever plush armchairs/couches you choose. Since the entrance is lightly difficult to find, you get the bonus of seeming like a quintessential New Yorker as you lead him to this secluded spot—and it goes without saying that the cocktails themselves are amazing too.
3. Dear Irving
While the speakeasy theme has been done to death in New York, Dear Irving is one of the few places that really pulls it off. This means that “hidden entrance” isn’t code for “unmarked door with rude-ass bouncer”; the outside just looks like the entrance to a fancy brownstone, and then it opens up into a bar so gorgeous that you should probably go with friends a few times first and rid yourself of the need to ‘Gram it to death. This spot just off Union Square is both conveniently located and 10 times as classy as anything else in the area—the only downside is that there can be a bit of a wait if you don’t make a reservation, so maybe save this one for someone’s who’s commitment-friendly enough to actually call and set a definitive time to meet.
4. PHD Terrace Midtown
Midtown PHD is basically like going to a downtown club on a night when it’s reserved for a private party. Since it’s not packed with
versions of you on a Saturday night the trash you’d find in Meatpacking, you can actually notice how pretty it is, not to mention actually find seating and enjoy the stunning views of the city. This spot is on the pricier side, so come here a few dates in when you’re feeling confident enough that he’s not the kind of guy who will make you split the check roll his eyes at the vibe (notably, the neon pink “it was all a dream” sign at the entrance), then enjoy making out in a corner with the world’s best skyline behind you.
5. The Roof
While this is ideally saved for summer so you can enjoy the outdoors (one of the best rooftops in the city, and never overly packed), the old-school bar and leather couches inside are still cozy and old-New-York enough to merit a visit year-round—and the floor-to-ceiling windows won’t disappoint on view no matter the season. While small (and also a little pricey), this bar on top of the Viceroy Hotel is blissfully tourist-free and once again, something you wouldn’t really know is there unless you’d been before, giving you another opportunity to impress your date with your insider tour of the city. It’s an absolute must for any European Hinge matches in town for 48 hours, and (like every bar on this list, because I’m amazing), everything about the vibe just makes you feel sexy. Basically, it’s the perfect place to split a bottle of champagne and fall in love with New York all over again.
For what it’s worth, you should always remember that it’s perfectly acceptable to fake a work emergency in response to a “where are we meeting” text until they take the hint and pick a place themselves. But since they’ll probably pick a shitty sports bar that you judge so much you end up cancelling, I’d go ahead and just start suggesting these spots instead—even if the guy sucks, you’re basically guaranteed to have a good night. Also, please do me a favor and coordinate what nights you go here; I’m not trying to find a new set of places where the bartender knows my name.