Hushed tones and high art might rule the day, but at night, many of New York’s museums transform into great places to socialize. From tastefully crafted aphrodisiac drinks at The Museum of Sex, to lavish 8-course meals at MoMA and epic dance parties at the Guggenheim, New York museums offer some of the most unique nightlife in town. Here’s a breakdown of the cultural institutions that perform double duty as fun spots to unwind over cocktails.
K2 Nights at Rubin Museum
150 W 17th St., New York, NY 10011
Hours: Fridays, 6pm – 10pm
Every Friday night, the Rubin Museum’s Serai Restaurant morphs into the K2 Lounge, serving cocktails and Asian tapas. Admission to the galleries is free from 6-10pm, and you can stroll the museum’s Himalayan-themed exhibits while DJs spin accompanying tunes. The museum hosts special curated exhibits, film viewings and live music performances. Come early for the 2-for-1 drink specials offered from 6-7pm.
OralFix Aphrodisiac Bar at the Museum of Sex
233 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10016; 212-689-6337
Hours: 2pm – 9pm (Sunday – Thursday), 2pm – 10pm (Friday & Saturday)
OralFix offers hefty helpings of aphrodisiac delights concocted by people who make it their business to know best. The bar at the Museum of Sex offers small plates, artisanal cocktails and even candy colored jello shots, all of which are “specifically prepared for your personal experimentation and pleasure.” It’s the perfect way to start (or end) your museum date.
Target Saturdays at Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn NY 11238
Hours: 5pm – 11pm
On the first Saturday of every month, the Brooklyn Museum hosts Target Saturdays, an evening of special events and drinks. On certain nights, the museum (and back parking lot) is transformed into a DJ-thumping, bodies moving, wild and crazy dance party. The museum’s dance parties are on hiatus this winter, but you can enjoy live music, special programs, and access to all of the museum’s exhibits.
Art After Dark at The Guggenheim
1071 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10128
Hours: The first Friday of most months; 9 pm–midnight
$18 guests and general public (credit card only at the door); cash bar
At its Art After Dark program, the Guggenheim transforms into a cocktail-driven, DJ-studded, fashion-forward event designed to introduce the masses to the museum’s art collections without the formality of daylight. The DJs change frequently and often bring a highly loyal fan base with them. Lines can be long, so it’s best to arrive early.
Warm Up at MoMA PS1
22-25 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, NY
Hours: Saturdays in the summer; 12-9pm
$15 for all adults except MoMA members and/or Long Island City Residents with proof of residency can be purchased online until 12PM; after tickets are cash only, first come first served.
The hottest place to be in the summer is MoMA PS1’s Warm Up. For the past 15 years, party goers and art enthusiasts have flocked to Long Island City to experience the museum’s selection of experimental live music, DJs and performances. The party is hosted in PS1’s courtyard and special installations, such as last year’s temporary architectural structure Wendy, provide visual stimuli for audiences. There’s food and drink and, of course, non-stop dancing. Tickets, which include admission to all exhibitions, sell out quickly, so make sure to purchase in advance.
For the Foodies
The Modern at The MoMA
9 West 53rd St., New York, NY 10019; 212-333-1220
Hours: 12pm – 10:30pm (Monday – Thursday), 5:30pm – 11pm (Friday & Saturday)
It’s easy to see why The New York Times awarded the Museum of Modern Art’s restaurant, The Modern, with three stars and Michelin gave it their one-star seal of approval. Headed by Alsace native Gabriel Kreuther, The Modern marries traditional Alsatian cuisine with modern American fare in stunning ways. For a decadent foodie experience, try the Chef-tailored tasting menu, an 8-course meal that can be paired with wines by one of the onsite sommeliers. Reservations recommended.
The Wright at The Guggenheim
1071 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10128; 212-427-5690
Hours: 11:30am – 5pm (Monday), 11:30am – 3:30pm (Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday), 11:30am – 5pm (Saturday), 11am – 5pm (Sunday)
Winner of the 2010 James Beard award for restaurant design, The Wright is a fine-dining restaurant that will erase any childhood memories of the bland cafeteria-style lunches you ate on school field trips. The restaurant serves small plates and classic and modern cocktails. Seating is limited, so reservations are recommended.
Roof Garden Café and Martini Bar at The Met
1000 5th Ave, Fl 5, New York, NY 10028; 212-535-7710
Hours (May through late fall, weather permitting): 10am – 4:30pm (Tuesday – Thursday & Sunday), 10am – 8pm (Friday & Saturday), Closed Monday (except Met Holiday Mondays)
Perched above Central Park on The Met’s fifth floor, the Roof Garden Café and Martini Bar is unpretentious and family-friendly, yet chic and romantic enough to kick off an evening on the town. The best part, of course, is the view; it offers a peaceful and panoramic look at the city’s skyline across Central Park. The Martini bar opens at 5:30 on Friday and Saturday nights, and if you time it right, you can catch the sun’s thumb print dragging over Manhattan before night falls.
Robert at The Museum of Arts and Design
2 Columbus Ave., New York, NY 10019; 212-299-7730
Hours: Lunch 11:30am – 3pm (Monday – Friday), Brunch 11:00am – 3pm (Saturday & Sunday), Small plates, Desserts, Coffee & Cocktails 3pm – 5:30pm, Dinner 5:30 – 10, 11, or 12pm (Sunday; Tuesday; Wednesday – Saturday)
Located atop the Museum of Arts and Design, the Robert is the type of sexy, low-lit restaurant where you expect to see stars. And you can definitely see the astrological kind. With tables facing the windows, the restaurant overlooks Columbus Circle and offers a magical view of the city. As the winner of the 2012 OpenTable Diners Choice Award for Best Scenic View restaurant (a vote that compared over 15,000 restaurants), the Robert stands apart as the place to get lost in the lights.
A Step Back in Time
Café Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie
1048 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10028; 212-288-0665
Hours: 9am – 6pm (Monday & Wednesday), 9am – 9pm (Thursday – Sunday)
Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner brings a taste of Austria to the Upper Eastside in this Viennese-inspired coffeehouse. The café, like its European inspiration, is elegant and cozy; perfect for a post-art discussion. Try the quark spatzle or the wiener schnitzel and follow with a sampling of decadent Viennese pastries. Wash it down with a cold crisp glass of Gruner Veltliner, Austria’s classic (and omnipresent) white wine. Lunch reservations are available for Neue Galerie members only; dinner reservations are open to the public.
The Dingle Whiskey Bar at the Fraunces Tavern Museum
54 Pearl St., New York, NY 10004; 212-968-1776
Hours: 11am – 2am
Housed in the oldest standing structure in Manhattan, the Dingle Whiskey bar was initially built as a lavish residence for a merchant in 1719. It was later sold to tavern-keeper Samuel Fraunces and soon became the most popular tavern of its time. It’s not hard to see why. The bar is small and intimate with a roaring fireplace and a large selection of whiskeys. Like the museum, it’s designed to take you back in time, so you can drink the night away worrying whether the British are coming.