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Harlem's best smoky drinks, and where to find them

Updated: Mar 16, 2020

The smoky Marie Laveau at Harlem's Sugar Monk

There's no drink better suited for Halloween than the smoky cocktail. Looking like something from an underworld cauldron, it's bound to put you in an appropriately eerie mood.

Happily, Harlem has some truly fantastic versions, crafted with the kind of creativity and care that rewards patience. Ready for your very own cocktail in the mist? Here's where to find the best:

2292 Frederick Douglass Blvd between W 123rd and W 124th Sts

One of the most creative new bars in the city, this four-month-old spot surprises with intricate cocktails inspired by history, music and art. Here visitors are asked to be seated at all times, so find one of the plush chairs and order the Marie Laveau, a smoking concoction named after the 19th century Creole Voodoo queen (see above; photo via Sugar Monk). Think bourbon laced with amaro, cardamom and orange bitters enveloped in applewood smoke.

The Smoke and the Grapefruit at ROKC in Hamilton Heights

3452 Broadway between W 140th and W 141st Sts

This ramen-and-oysters spot makes seriously beautiful cocktails (thankfully it's expanding), including two that are perfect for a Halloween-adjacent cocktail hour. Order the Smoke, a hazy twist on the Old Fashioned, and marvel as the bartender lifts the fog-filled dome. Or opt for the Grapefruit, a playful take on the margarita that comes in a Day of the Dead Sugar Skull mug, complete with a smoking stick of palo santo incense.

The Honey Well's smoky Monk Fashion

Photo: The Honey Well

3604 Broadway between W 148th and W 149th Sts

A fun, late-'70s suburban basement vibe envelops you at The Honey Well, but don't let the decor fool you: This is one of the best cocktail bars around. Try to sit directly in front of head bartender/magician Marcio Ramos and order the Monk Fashion, a mix of scotch, bitters and chartreuse misted with the essence of peat and infused with smoke under a bell jar.

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