Vodka has never been shunned at Employees Only, because the crew behind this beloved West Village bar includes alums of the Russian-inspired Nolita lounge Pravda. One of New York’s first bonafide speakeasies, Employees Only is also a pioneer in illuminating quality craft cocktails. Alongside such favorites as the Billionaire Cocktail (Baker’s bourbon, fresh lemon juice, EO grenadine, absinthe bitters) and the Ready Fire Aim (mezcal, fresh lime juice, house-made honey pineapple syrup, Bittermens Hellfire bitters) a few vodka ones pique guests’ interest. After all, a few of the bar’s co-founders—Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas—launched the vodka Aylesbury Duck as part of their 86 Co. spirits collection.
THE DRINK TO DRINK:
The summery West Side, uniting Charbay Meyer Lemon Vodka with fresh lemon juice and mint, goes down easily, and the bright Amelia, with Aylesbury Duck Vodka and St-Germain elderflower liqueur, gets a lift from pureed blackberries and fresh lemon juice.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Cocktails are typically what draw people to Employees Only, but it behooves one to show up hungry because dinner, including steak tartare and skate paprikás with spaetzle, are among the specialties of the Eastern European–inflected kitchen.