Manhatta to Reopen With a Focus on Drinks

Manhatta, the sky-high restaurant that the restaurateur Danny Meyer closed at the beginning of the pandemic, will reopen on March 17. But the sprawling space on the 60th floor of 28 Liberty Street in the financial district, with its breathtaking views of the city, will serve only drinks and bar food, at least at first.

It is the latest lofty perch to become a drinking destination on par with the best street-level cocktail bars. The Panorama Room, at the top of the Graduate Roosevelt Island hotel on Roosevelt Island, opened in August. The same month, Overstory opened on the 64th floor of 70 Pine Street. (That bar is visible from Manhatta.)

Mr. Meyer said the idea for the unusual reboot was born on Manhatta’s last night of service in March 2020, when the bar was five deep with locals even as the pandemic loomed. His memory, he said, was “of the best back bar in the city, because the back bar is the city.” He added, “It was exactly what we created the bar to be.”

Cameron Winkelman, who has worked at Mace, Dante and the Polynesian in New York, is the new head bartender. The bar area, which seats 100 and overlooks uptown, will be open seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Mr. Winkelman brings a culinary approach to the cocktails, which are meant to evoke aspects of Gotham history. A section of the new menu is devoted to updated versions of drinks named after New York neighborhoods, both classic (the manhattan, Astoria and Brooklyn cocktails) and modern (the Red Hook and Little Italy cocktails). Look to the Cookie, an aquavit drink with coconut milk and a whole egg, mimics the flavor and appearance of a black-and-white cookie.

Mr. Winkelman said he learned of the position from a Facebook post, and before taking the job, “asked how weird would they be willing to get with the cocktails.”

Manhatta’s restaurant will return, but not until later this spring, and under a different chef, still to be named. Jason Pfeifer previously ran the kitchen, which focused on French food.

“It was like ‘Cats,’ in that it never got a great review, but was packed every night,” Mr. Meyer said. “There was a deep affection for the restaurant.”

A bar-food menu, devised by a chef from the Union Square Hospitality Group, which runs the restaurant, includes oysters, a burger, fried chicken and a pretzel version of an everything bagel.

Mr. Meyer is not new to the bar world. He opened the Manhattan bar Porchlight in 2015, followed by Cedric’s at the Shed and Anchovy Social, a rooftop bar in Washington, D.C.

The new Manhatta stays true to the vision Mr. Meyer had when it opened in the summer of 2018, that of a down-to-earth restaurant with an exceptional view.

Mr. Meyer said he wanted to lead the reopening with the bar, which he considers the heart of Manhatta. “If we’ve learned anything during this time,” he said, “it’s the worth of doing things layer by layer.”

Manhatta, 28 Liberty Street, 60th floor; 212-230-5788,