By Dane Feldman
Photo by Dane Feldman.
Let me start by saying welcome once again to Thirsty Thursday here on Dish + Drink. A few Fridays ago, I ventured to the Lantern’s Keep, a swanky bar in the Iroquois Hotel near Times Square. It was, by far, one of the greatest little spots I’ve found.
I came across Lantern’s Keep while noodling around on Yelp, which I do now and then when I’m feeling a bit tired of frequenting the same few places. I needed a place to meet up with a friend in or around Midtown, but I would have gone to Lantern’s Keep regardless of its location. The reviews and ambiance description were nothing short of everything I’ve ever wanted in a city bar (not to mention the fact that Lantern’s Keep was a 2012 finalist for World’s Best Hotel Cocktail Bar).
Lantern’s Keep is dark, but warm and intimate. It’s crowded, but not overcrowded, as well as noisy, but not so noisy that it’s distracting. The bar website describes it as a turn-of-the-century Paris salon “devoted to the art and enjoyment of great cocktails,” but more on the cocktails later. The polished dark brown walls are lined with lantern sconces and the floors are a deep, but weathered wood. The decorations are kept to a minimum — a few paintings on the walls and some candles scattered about the room. The bar itself only seats four and there aren’t too many tables either.
Yet, where the room lacks in size, the menu does not. Lantern’s Keep provides an epic of a cocktail menu, listing drinks by the ways in which they are served: shaken and served on a rock, shaken and served up, and aperitifs, to name a few.
While the cocktails cost a whopping $15 a pop, I found that it was well worth it. The bartenders here know their stuff when it comes to the art of ice as well as the art of cocktail creation. The Regal Gold Rush (bourbon, honey, lemon, shaken with a grapefruit twist, and served on a rock) was one of the single greatest bourbon cocktails I’ve yet to taste. I went in knowing one drink would set me back $15, but the Regal Gold Rush was so enjoyable, I ordered a second before I’d even finished my first. The rocks glass it’s served in is huge, as is the one large ice cube the drink is served over.
My group also ordered the Tequila Maid (tequila and lime, shaken and served on a rock with mint and cucumber) and the Trouble Maker (gin, sweet vermouth, and lemon, shaken and served tall with cucumber, strawberry, and club soda), which were both well received.
All in all, I truthfully don’t have a single complaint to make regarding Lantern’s Keep. The service was excellent, both kind and knowledgeable, the bar was immaculate, and the drinks were superb. Lantern’s Keep is a superior bar, and is certainly one of Manhattan’s best-kept secrets. I’ll certainly be returning in my Sunday best when I’m feeling superfluous and in need of a recharging.