New York City’s best bartenders don’t have a lot of time off. But when they do get a chance to go out, they know the best bars, the best places to eat, and all the late-night spots. In VinePair’s new Night Out series, we’ll be speaking with some of the top bartenders in the city to learn what they do when they aren’t hard at work. Consider this your guide to the perfect night out.
The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in the Financial District of Manhattan is one of the most influential bars in the world. It’s been named the No. 1 bar by Drinks International magazine, and it attracts some of the most talented bartenders in the country. And behind the award-winning cocktail menu is beverage director Jillian Vose.
Vose is casually all-knowing. At a corner table on Dead Rabbit’s second floor, she tells me about her past and her extensive travels. At 18 years old, she moved from Boston to Phoenix and started working at Four Peaks Brewing Company. She stayed there for five years and learned how to work behind a bar. But she wanted to be “more of a bartender instead of a beer pourer and a shot maker.”
She moved to fine dining at Jade Bar in Paradise Valley, Arizona, the bar at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain — celebrity chef Beau MacMillan’s restaurant.
From there, Vose says, she “hit a ceiling and said, ‘Listen, I’m a little homesick. It’s been eight years since I’ve been away, let’s move back to the East Coast.’”
She moved to New York, started working as a manager at Clover Club, and learned how a cocktail bar runs in the city. She worked at Death and Co. for three and a half years, then joined the team at Dead Rabbit as the bar manager and beverage director three years ago.
Here’s how she suggests you have the perfect night out in New York City.
Where to eat
“I’m a total pizza person,” Vose says, but she tries not to eat too much gluten. Luckily, she lives near Rubirosa, an Italian restaurant with gluten-free pizza that’s her favorite neighborhood spot for pizza.
She also suggests Zuma, a Japanese restaurant, and the NoMad. For a simple bowl of ramen, she heads to Minka.
If Vose doesn’t have work that day, you can find her at Mogador, a Moroccan and Mediterranean cafe in the East Village, with simple Mediterranean food and a decent glass of wine.
Where to get a drink
“A big part of my job is tasting, but sometimes the last thing I want when I go out is a cocktail,” Vose says. But when she does go out for cocktails, she’ll often head to Death and Co. She also suggests Mother of Pearl, a tiki bar in the East Village, and BlackTail, a Cuban-themed bar the Dead Rabbit team opened at the tip of Manhattan.
BlackTail is “the only bar in NYC that you can walk in and be like, ‘wow,’ other than the Nomad,” Vose says. “You don’t have a lot of these grandesque bars with lots to look at like how London does hotel bars.”
She also suggests Basik, Maison Premiere, and Fresh Kills. The Growler and Ulysses are good for more casual drinks, as well as the Underdog, the cocktail bar underneath The Growler.
When she’s in the mood for exploring something new, she goes to the old-school bars in the South Street Seaport.
Where to get a good bottle of wine
Before Vose was into cocktails, she was into wine. She’ll often have a couple bottles at home for a relaxing after-work drink in the comfort of her own home. Her favorite wine shops are Discovery Wine in Alphabet City and Uva in Brooklyn.
What to get at Dead Rabbit
The Dead Rabbit menu has 30 cocktails ordered from more subtle cocktails (like a Gin Sour with egg white) to aperitif style drinks like Martinis, to darker spirits and heavier options like a homemade eggnog.
Or you can ask the knowledgeable staff behind the bar — just give them some direction on what flavors you like best.
“If I pour my favorite drink, you’re going to get a shot of applejack and a Guinness,” Vose jokes.
At the moment, she’s really into Dead Rabbit’s Scotch tiki drink called Holy Smoke, made with fresh curry leaf, vanilla, lime juice, pineapple, Plantation overproof rum, and Ardbeg and Glenmorangie Scotch.