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 first thing you notice about Genese DeBeaux is that she’s a people person. We’re at Monarch Rooftop in Midtown Manhattan, where DeBeaux is the executive mixologist, overlooking the city with the Empire State Building in the background and DeBeaux is talking a mile a minute.
She tells me her abbreviated story — about how she moved to New York from Southern California when she was 19, got a job as a cocktail waitress despite only drinking vodka cranberries, learned bartending by watching, and worked her way up to where she is today — in about two minutes. But DeBeaux is something special in New York. Not many people work with the same company (Ric Addison’s Addison Hospitality Group) for 10 years.
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Her career has given her an unparalleled look into nightlife in Midtown. Here are her suggestions for the perfect night out.
Where to eat
“If it’s before midnight, I’m at Landmarc,” DeBeaux tells me. There are two locations, but she usually heads to the one near Columbus Circle, where she loves the steak and wine.
She also suggests The Liberty on 35th Street, and a panini and wine at Il Bambino, which also has a location by where she lives in Astoria, Queens. In Astoria, DeBeaux loves Shady Lady for brunch, and Sanfords for any time of the day.
For late nights in Manhattan, there’s one place DeBeaux can always rely on: L’Express, a 24/7 French bistro spot.
Where to get a casual drink
“I live for the Frying Pan,” DeBeaux says. “It’s casual and it’s just so easy — you’re drinking a Bloody Mary out of a plastic cup.”
Rock & Reilly’s is another option, as well as Refinery.
When DeBeaux goes out, she likes to look at a specialty cocktail list, but she doesn’t always trust that the drink won’t be a waste. Her go-to drink? “Hands down, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or Sancerre. You know what you’re getting.”
How to find the best rooftops in NYC
“Go to all of them,” DeBeaux says. “You should vet all of them out and see which ones speak to you. People are a lot of times afraid of Midtown because they’re like ‘eeeehhhh,’ but there’s a lot of good places.”
First thing’s first, though: Do your research and find out when happy hours and drink specials are. Monarch will announce promotions on social media, and it’s one way to get drinks at a price that you normally couldn’t.
The new places to go to
DeBeaux is most excited about Lovage Rooftop, a new place 37 floors above 40th Street where you can see the entire city from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building.
“It’s a really up-and-coming place and it’s nice to get into those places now because you can go on a Thursday happy hour and still enjoy it before it’s crazy packed,” DeBeaux says. “You’re always looking to find the gem before it’s big and bold, and that’s the gem.”
What to get at Monarch
The majority of people who go to Monarch ask for the cocktail menu to check out the specialty cocktails — which is just fine with DeBeaux.
“You have to be able to produce a really great cocktail that’s not basic, but in great volume,” DeBeaux says. “It’s a hard line to walk. You have 300 people here, you can’t take four minutes a drink, but you have to make it complex enough that it’s interesting, you can’t just do a strawberry mojito every year.”