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Five Best Places to Drink Champagne in Manhattan by Jean-Remi Barbier

Words by Jean-Remi Barbier



We are on a mission to find the best places to enjoy champagne worldwide, and evey month we catch up with a champagne expert somewhere on earth to hear their recommendations.


This month, we are joined by Jean-Remi Barbier, a champenois who has called New York home for almost a decade.


Here are his favourite places to enjoy the Wine of Kings, and the King of Wines in the Big Apple.


 

Champagne doesn’t taste the same depending on the glassware you are using, the serving temperature or also the people you are enjoying it with. In my opinion, the place is also an important variable in this equation. New York is full of endless of possibilities from trendy restaurants to neighborhood wine bars or iconic hotels.


To the question “what is your favorite champagne”, I always answer “the next one” because I am always seeking for the new breathtaking experience and memorable souvenir - always served with champagne, the wine from my native region.

 

Baccarat Hotel


When it comes to luxury, modernity and decadence, the Baccarat Hotel has it all. The entire space is dripping in crystal from the chandeliers, to the glasses, all in reference to legendary French craftmanship. It has one of the most extensive selections of champagnes: 280+ from growers to famous Houses. One page is dedicated to Louis Roederer’s famous prestige cuvee Cristal with verticals on both Brut and Rose as well as Vinotheque dating back from 1995. Their most expensive bottle is a jeroboam of Cristal 2002 Orfevre, comprising of 24-carat gold open latticework, designed by Philippe Di Meo and 100% handcrafted by 2 master goldsmiths… for the bargain of $50,000. If you don’t feel spending this amount, they have about 12 champagnes by the glass: Blanc de Blancs, Rose, Non-Vintage and even prestige cuvee – you name it.


JR’s pro-tips: For a large group, sit at the Grand Salon or at the bar for a one-to-one evening. They have food served as well but in a place like this all you need is a bit of caviar. Dress up!



 

Majorelle


This hidden gem in the Lowell Hotel in Upper East Side is inspired by Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh. It includes: The Bar “Jacques” where you can expect a very intimate moment at the bar or at a small table; the restaurant with white tablecloths and impeccable service; my favorite: the Club Room with a fireplace and a library of curated vintage books. The champagne list may not be the most extensive with names you’ve probably seen before. However, when I am there, a favorite quote of mine from Baudelaire resonates: “There, there is nothing else but grace and measure, richness, quietness, and pleasure”. And all the sudden you reached the quintessence and feels the time in the city that never sleeps just stopped.


JR’s pro-tips: Expect a lot of flowers and be ready to lower the average age. Great for a special occasion or simply to bring your in-laws. Food is delicious – French with Mediterranean influences from the Riviera to Morocco.



 

La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels



Intimate and cozy. You can feel the Sexy-Parisian-je-ne-sais-quoi kind of vibe. This is a great place to discover some of the rarest bottles from growers and geek around among 150+ cuvees, including a whole section dedicated to Special Club. They have gonne deep in sourcing a few producers, and have one of the most impressive lists of the legendary Anselme Selosse - they even have Largillier from his son, Guillaume Selosse. La Compagnie even have the disgorgement date written on the list.


JR’s pro-tips: Definitely come early and sit at the bar. Bring your best champagne buddy or a date. If you want to impress, try their Mystery Wine; if you guess the region and year correctly, you get the entire bottle for free! Don’t expect to have a 3-course meal but do it the French apero way: share a cheese board.



 


The Plaza



For more than 100 years, this hotel on Central Park South remains an iconic destination for world leaders, dignitaries, captains of industry, Broadway legends and Hollywood royalty. The Champagne Bar remains a classic and lavish setting. Great for a catch up or a business meeting, you’ll be offered mostly House champagne including 3 flights, The Plaza Platinium being 3 prestige cuvees. If you feel like experiencing the true NYC afternoon tea, The Palm Court at The Plaza is a must-go destination. The menu includes champagne as an add-on because


a meal without wine is called breakfast!

JR’s pro-tips: suit up and go to the Champagne Bar in December after seeing the Christmas lightnings and window shopping on 5th Ave.



 

Salon de Ning at The Peninsula



Located on the rooftop of the Peninsula Hotel, Salon de Ning is part of the very few rooftops open all year round and where you can smoke a cigar. During Winter, one side of the rooftop turns into a Swiss-Alps inspired bar where it feels extremely cozy and warm, yet classy. The champagne program is simple but effective, with the Brut Non-Vintage served from magnums and many prestige cuvees available by the bottle.


JR’s pro-tips: To celebrate the opening of its brand-new sister property, The Peninsula Istanbul, The Peninsula New York has temporarily transformed its Salon de Ning rooftop bar West Terrace into an outpost of alluring East-meets-West style. Until March 31, 2023, guests will be able to experience a hint of Türkiye through Turkish inspired cocktails, food, and stunning décor.



 

Aldo Sohm Wine Bar



Opened by the Best Sommelier in 2008, this eponymous bar has the standards of a 2-Michelin starred restaurant (Le Bernardin) with a more casual twist. It has a warm atmosphere whether you go after work to the bar or later in the night in their lounge. With 30+ champagne references from well-respected growers that will pair beautifully with the food which is made for sharing.


JR’s pro-tips: They have a #9PMPour everyday where Aldo Sohm selects a large format bottle of wine – sometime champagne - that is opened at 9PM and poured until it lasts. If you’re lucky you will see both Aldo and Chef Eric Ripert!



 


BONUS



Maison Close


Warm, Belle-Epoque inspired restaurant in SoHo with French cuisine from chef Geoffrey Lechantoux and lot of champagne served by the team of incredibly entertaining veterans! You need to see to believe it.


JR’s pro-tips: Reservation for weekend brunch at 1:30PM.


 

Nubeluz Ritz Carlton NoMad




Brand new hotel in NoMad, the rooftop is modern and glamorous with stylish interior. I only went there once but the 270-degree view is absolutely breathtaking, especially when you sip on Pierre Gimonnet’s Special Club 2015, offered by the glass. Menu is curated by Chef Jose Andres, Spanish native – bar food mostly.


JR’s pro-tips: Book in advance! Zaytinya, the restaurant downstairs part of the hotel is exquisite and should be on the itinerary for dinner that same night.



 

About Jean-Remi

Born and raised in the heart of the Champagne region in France, from a Dad at the helm of the industry, Jean-Remi Barbier owns the prestigious Champagne Master-Level delivered through Wine Scholar Guild. After working for few Houses and Growers both in the vineyards and in the cellars, he is now based in New York for 8 years, covering positions from Champagne specialist to Sales Manager.

Jean-Remi represents Champagne Louis Roederer in New York within Maisons Marques & Domaines, the domestic holding for the family House and their wine estates (Pichon Comtesse de Lalande, Domaines Ott*, Delas Freres, Roederer Estate, Merry Edwards, …). He works closely with the distributors sales teams to develop the market in New York and the Hamptons with key accounts such as high-end restaurants, private clubs, luxury hotels and fine wine retailers. Jean-Remi is also in charge of B2B key accounts as well as private collectors. Moreover, the Champagne-native is very proud of his region and doesn’t hesitate to promote it by curating high-end experiences for professionals or private clients, speaking at conferences or teaching for some wine programs.

Jean-Remi is also an emerging artist, painting and creating artworks inspired by neo-pop, abstract expressionism and street art. You can find some of his artworks: J-Art (jr-art.us) or in a few places in New York and Miami.

When not working, he can be found in his kitchen – cooking, always with a glass of champagne!


Connect with him on I