Hottest outdoor bar in Tribeca this summer – Grand Banks
If you're in New York City this summer - or visiting and looking for fun - one of your top priorities will be finding the best outdoor bars. In Tribeca, that means stepping – carefully – onto Grand Banks.
On a historic fishing schooner
Grand Banks is a seasonal bar/oyster restaurant that exists on the beautiful wooden schooner, the Sherman Zwicker. Hand-built in 1942, this is the last original saltbank fishing vessel in existence. Drinking on a docked boat is a pretty vacation-like experience, as the deck lists a fair share even in mild weather. The Hudson River lapping at the sides of the boat and the views of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty add to the “on holiday” vibe.
Grand Banks docks at Pier 25
Grand Banks is docked at Pier 25, which underwent an extensive renovation that was funded by Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the State and City of New York and completed in 2010. Now the multi-functional space hosts beach volley ball, a skate park, a playground with water cannons, and a mini-golf course that may tempt imbibers after a few drinks .
A restricted - but awesome – drinks menu
Being on a boat, storage space is at a premium and the bar stocks a limited supply of beers (Montauk summer ale – check!) and wines (Tavel rose – check!) The bar also mixes up an exciting, yet severely limited, cocktail list. I tried the Revolución, which was a refreshing blend of vodka, pummeled mint, fresh lime, and Angostura Bitters. My friend opted for the Fracas, a spicy, savory, smoky concoction of Blanco Tequila, Mezcal, fresh pineapple and lime, Angostura Bitters, and –intriguingly – nutmeg.
Pretty people walking the gangplank
On a warm night, you may struggle to feel the river breeze because you’ll be hemmed in by a beautiful bunch of bodies. The crowd includes lithe women in garden party dresses and espadrilles and well-groomed men in blue gingham shirts with expensive aviator glasses. In many ways, Grand Banks is an upscale version of The Frying Pan.
Grand Banks Pro tips
While Grand Banks is also a restaurant, we were disappointed to discover that we couldn’t order oysters (or any other food) at the bar. By 6:30 Wednesday night, the line for drinks was three-deep, and bartenders were mixing and serving at a breakneck pace to keep up with the clamoring demand. Scoring two wicker bar stools after only 20 minutes felt like a victory. With an hour plus wait for a table, the smart move is to concentrate on the bar, have a couple rounds of amazing cocktails, and then find another one of Tribeca’s ubiquitous restaurants for dinner. .
If you’re determined to eat oysters on a docked boat in New York, the other options are: plan well in advance to secure a reservation (there are a limited number available) or come before 5:30 p.m. or after 9:00 p.m. for the best chance to get a table.