400 5th Avenue, The Setai Hotel, New York, NY, 10018, United States
Tel: +1 212-613-8660
Website: View bar's website
Style: Restaurant bar
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: High-end
Images By: diffordsguide.com
Ai Fiori sits on the first floor of the Setai Hotel on Fifth Avenue in Midtown, just up a curving flight of stairs from the hotel's reception desk (and lobby bar, which is unaffiliated). Eben Freeman runs the beverage program at all of celebrity chef Michael White's Altamarea Group of restaurants, and his trademark creativity is on display in the cocktail list. Freeman has designed the list to go well with the Italian menu, and amari, fortified wines, house-made syrups, and Italian sodas are all frequent ingredients. The marble bar with soft chocolate-leather barstools is a comfortable, convivial place as the restaurant fills up, and the long communal table near the bar encourages conversation.
The Fumo e Fiori went down easily and combined blended Scotch, grapefruit, hibiscus, and chinotto soda in a smooth bittersweet concoction, served up by affable yet quietly impeccable bartenders. We also greatly enjoyed an as-yet-unnamed drink with bourbon, Ramazzotti, vanilla syrup, Madeira, and orange bitters. The long finish invited contemplation and would make for a nicely complex substitute for dessert.