Sometimes in New York you have to venture off the avenues for the real finds. Bea, an inviting Hell’s Kitchen cocktail lounge, is just such a spot, and it makes a great refuge on your next romantic night out. Impress your date right at the illuminated sign outside as you nail the pronunciation (“BE-a,” after a beloved grandmother). You may be on 43rd Street, but as you come in you’ll feel miles from 42nd, with a friendly, laid-back staff that greets every guest with a smile. The squared-off island bar beckons. Exposed bulbs light your way as you check out the artisanal cocktail array.
Bespoke beverages are available, but you can’t go wrong with a house signature like the Lavender Monk, a smart blend of infused vodka, chartreuse, citrus, and a double helping of ginger (in beer and candy form). Take a moment to admire the attention to detail at Bea, as your ice comes from an antique hand-cranked grinder. Retire to a cozy banquette, or maybe a candlelit café table in the small courtyard. Potted plants lend a homey touch, and there’s some arty flair in the films projected on the rustic white-brick walls.
Date night is all about trying new things together, and the global small plates here are perfect for sharing. Enjoy the spicy kick of lamb meatballs, or a hearty order of filet mignon with sliced tomatoes and thyme-roasted potatoes. If you’re feeling comfortable with each other, maybe you’ll push things a little for your next round. There’s a homemade Romanian liquor in the house, Vișinată, that’s made with sour cherries, sugar, and grain alcohol. It’ll be just the fortification you need should you have to cross Times Square to get home.
Photo by Gabriel Amadeus