By Jillian Abbott
Before you hop on the number seven train and head into Manhattan in search of a good cocktail, consider taking a second look at the hidden gems in the neighborhood. As Downtown Flushing continues to grow as a bustling commercial hub, it makes perfect sense that a bar and cocktail culture should develop to serve our young, vibrant neighborhood.
Determined to prove that you can get a good cocktail in the nabe, I conscripted my son, Alex Abbott Boyd, founder and CEO of Cocktail Crate, a craft cocktail mixer company started in his Queens kitchen, to help me find the best cocktails in Flushing.
Located near Prince Street, The COOP Restaurant and Bar describes itself as a hip gastropub, and the description is accurate. If you are looking for a great, casual venue to catch up with friends, eat some fabulous chicken wings, and drink an outstanding cocktail, this is the place!
The Tai Chi Ginger Margarita is a well-balanced, flavorful drink with fresh juices and a strong ginger taste. The Red Sangria is also superior. The COOP boasts that theirs are the best Korean chicken wings in Flushing, and you won’t be disappointed. Crisp and delicious on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, these wings are hands down the best, and excellent with the COOP’s impressive cocktails.
The decor is industrial chic, and the food and drinks simply fabulous. The service is also good enough that I could tell Alex was planning to return.
133-42 39th Avenue, Flushing | Mon-Wed, Sun: 12pm-2am, Fri & Sat: 12pm-3pm
The Oo Bar and Lounge is the rooftop bar of The One Boutique Hotel. The view from this large comfortable bar takes in the slow-moving commuter traffic as it snakes its way along Northern Boulevard. With the grand Manhattan skyline in the background, patrons get a sense of escape and respite. This bar offers several signature cocktails, with the waitress’s recommendation, the Moscow Mule, being a winner. Served in a traditional copper mug, it was strong, well balanced, with the taste of the lime and ginger coming through, leaving a light, fresh aftertaste. It’s only one of many awesome drinks offered at this chic location.
127-72 Northern Blvd, Flushing | Sun-Thurs: 5pm-12am, Fri & Sat: 5pm-2am
Amid the energy of Downtown Flushing, Leaf Bar and Lounge on the Hyatt Place Hotel rooftop at One Fulton Square, is a small, intimate bar with terrific views of Central Queens and the spectacular winter sky. In the summer, the outdoor patio comes to the fore. The ambience of this bar is definitely geared towards intimate rendezvous.
Leaf Bar lays claim to being the first craft cocktail bar in Flushing, and is rightly proud of its botanical inspired cocktails. The Chrysanthemum Old Fashioned is tasty, with the herb flavor prominent against the whiskey. The orange zest garnish brought the enticing freshness of orange scent to the nose. There are no bad cocktails in this well imagined, upscale lineup with other highlights including Barrel-Aged Negroni and the seasonal Hot Toddy.
133-42 39th Avenue, Flushing | Mon-Thu: 5pm-1am, Fri & Sat: 5pm-2am, Sun: 5pm-12am
Not everyone seeking a cocktail in our vicinity is an under 35-year-old hipster. Those looking for a cozy neighborhood experience with a touch of history and a mature crowd should head for Millard Fillmore’s Tavern. This tavern has been in continuous operation for 102 years, getting through prohibition by masquerading as a grocery store. Named after the 13th President of the United States, it’s a good place to come for traditional bar room comradery, or to enjoy a meal with friends and family.
Fillmore’s boasts an impressive list of dessert cocktails such as “Chocolate Cake” made from vanilla flavored vodka, Frangelico, Crème de Cacao, and rimmed with cocoa powder. Traditional cocktail drinkers might prefer Fillmore's Old Fashioned made with Angostura and Orange Bitters, and sugar. This is a good, straightforward cocktail, nicely balanced, with the orange bitters and garnish giving it a nice citrus finish.
166-02 65th Avenue, Fresh Meadows | Mon-Thu, Sun: 11am-2am, Fri & Sat: 11am-4am
Murray Hill, whether on Northern Blvd, or along 162 Street has seen numerous bars and karaoke joints open up. It is a quieter part of Flushing and easy to find parking - making it a great choice for a drink, or an evening out with friends.
Zurang Restaurant and Bar offers Korean cuisine and American cocktails, either at the bar or table. It offers a full list of traditional cocktails, however, their most popular drink by far is their Lychee Soju, made with whole, not puréed lychees. Soju, a clear distilled Korean spirit, is often compared to vodka, although far from tasteless and neutral, it is sweet and gently alcoholic. This cocktail is perfect to accompany the delicious Korean cuisine served here.
Their Long Island Iced Tea had a pleasant, spicy, rum flavor, however, the inclusion of peach schnapps in this and many other cocktails make this bar great for those who love their cocktails on the sweet side.
The depth, complexity, and sophistication of cocktails found in Flushing is impressive!
41-14 162nd Street | 718-445-2947 | Mon-Sun: 5pm-4am
Jillian Abbott is an award-winning writer. Her features and op-ed columns appeared in Newsday, NY Daily News, The Washington Post, and more. She teaches writing at CUNY and has lived in North Flushing (Whitestone) for over 10 years. Connect with her: @themindfulmouth on Instagram, and @Jannabbott on Twitter.
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