Register your details for regular updates, competitions and for guest list opportunities

Register Now

The Dead Rabbit

View Website

30 Water Street, New York, US

By Jaq Bayles

New York’s financial district has long been affiliated with animals – the bull, the wolf, the Gekko – but the creature of the moment is undoubtedly the Dead Rabbit, hitting top slot in The World’s 50 Best Bars after two years of eyeing the crown from second place.

Sean Muldoon, who co-owns the joint with fellow Irishman Jack McGarry, has always said: “I just want to be the best.” And his industry peers have agreed he deserves the accolade for unwavering pursuit of drinking perfection.

But the Dead Rabbit is more than the sum of its liquid parts, fusing as it does colourful historical references to the city’s 19th-century Water Street rough-neck pub set and Lower Broadway’s genteel cocktail imbibers in an atmosphere of Irish-American hospitality. Today, Wall Street traders jostle suited elbows with tourists and local residents in the famously sawdust-strewn ground-level Taproom over craft beers, bottled punches and world whiskies, while upstairs the sumptuous surroundings of the moody Parlor lend themselves to a rather more restrained drinking experience.

And it’s here that Muldoon and McGarry’s perfectionism is illustrated in their menu of 72 historically accurate cocktails – expanded from last year’s 64 and including 30 new libations – diligently served by gracious, attentive ’tenders and accompanied by a selection of food plates that far transcend any dietary requirements of our eponymous hero – Baby Field Green Salad notwithstanding.

The drinks menu itself is a growing library of a bound, graphic ‘novel’, telling the story of John Morrissey, leader of the Dead Rabbit gang that roamed the locale in the mid-1800s – and has become a collector’s item, not least with members of the global bar fraternity, who are liberally referenced throughout the tome in an insider’s nod to their achievements.

It’s flourishes such as this, the Wednesday night ivory tickling by ragtime maestro Terry Waldo, the plush décor and the serenity of the staff that has punters downstairs queueing to score one of the alarms which, when they spring to vibrating life in your hand, herald that access has been gained to the upstairs oasis.

With the award for the cottontail firmly tucked into their poacher’s pocket, Muldoon and McGarry have turned their sights to new quarry with the Cuban-themed Blacktail bar, which opened this summer at nearby Pier A. A name to get into a tailspin over in next year’s list?