Tanner Smith’s Pays Homage to Old New York

Tanner Smith’s Pays Homage to Old New York

New NYC bars and restaurants normally generate buzz in a couple of different ways, and let me share the most common equation. The situation normally goes a little something like this: a 9-to-5er walks by new spot, interest is peaked, they then go back to the office and tell their coworkers who, in turn, tell everyone else. Later, a bunch of work friends go to the new destination, curious passersby see a large gathering and decide they also want to check it out.

I can’t say with the utmost certainty that’s how Tanner Smith’s picked up a pretty impressive list of patrons when I visited this past week, but I wouldn’t doubt it. The new cocktail lounge opened in Midtown West—near Carnegie Hall and the southern portion of Central Park—in April. When I visited on a Wednesday night, the place was jumping with a happy hour crowd of business executives and creative types that work in the area.  

Every NYC venue has a story, and Tanner Smith’s is no exception. Not just a marketing gimmick or the name of the owner, Tanner Smith is an NYC historical figure. The reformed gang leader’s Irish Paddy Gang ruled Greenwich Village around the turn of the 20th century and the man also worked as a longshoreman on the Hudson docks. It’s fitting that this new cocktail lounge is also housed in a historic building. The two-floor space is the former home of a member of the Singer family, famed for their sewing machine empire, and several elements from the building’s original interiors are visible today.  

Styled as an early 20th century drinking house, with exposed brick walls, intricate tile flooring and rustic accents, the large venue boasts several rooms, alcoves, nooks and crannies. Any spot—be it the bar, main dining room or one of the lower-level areas—is the perfect place to grab a seat and try Tanner Smith’s extensive offerings.

First and foremost a cocktail lounge, the array of elixirs run the gamut and pair interesting combos (think gin-infused beverages with raspberry liqueur, rum concoctions topped with ginger beer, and vodka with refreshing cucumber syrup). While at the watering hole, I tried the Hudson Duster, the venue’s take on a New York Whisky Sour, with Templeton rye, amaretto, fresh lime juice, house-made clove syrup and Boston Bitters; and the Brown Eyed Girl, with Woodford Reserve bourbon, apricot liqueur, passion fruit purée and fresh thyme. I also tried an offering from the Stevedores portion of the menu, a slew of barrel-aged, smoked cocktails that give a shout out to Smith’s time as a stevedore at the Hudson docks. I opted for The Winona, Tanner Smith’s take on an Old Fashioned, featuring Old Forester Bourbon, maple syrup, and Jerry Thomas bitters. The drink menu also includes plenty of wine and local craft brews.

Although Tanner Smith’s is a bastion for booze, it’s always best to have something to soak up the alcohol. At this Midtown West destination, that something comes in the form of a menu with an eclectic mix of sharable plates—street food meant to be eaten with one hand while you hold a drink in the other, naturally. The extensive menu of international eats includes everything from Thai deviled eggs and beef lemongrass skewers to buffalo chicken spring rolls and Brussels sprout hash. I paired my beverage selections with the surprisingly light and tangy house-prepared beef jerky, eggplant chips—a bowl of fried goodness with clover honey and sea salt, the melt-in-your-mouth smoked pork bun, and a heaping portion of beef skillet nachos. Nearly all food selections are made on premises and other popular items include the grilled meatball lollipops, stuffed olives and steamed vegetable dumplings.

Fans of brunch should also check out the spot for its list of “not quite breakfast, not quite lunch” fare, including New York-style poutine, smoked pork Benedict, and skillet-baked pancakes. Best part? You can sleep in on Saturday and Sunday, as brunch is served seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you’re looking for a new spot in Midtown West, check out Tanner Smith’s. You can tell all of your coworkers about it at the water cooler tomorrow.


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