My love affair with Champagne began at the age of 18 while working as a hostess at one of the most romantic French restaurants on Oahu, Hawaii—Michel's. Seeing and listening to countless bottles of bubbly being popped each night simply captivated me.
For the past several years through a career of promoting wines and spirits, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling a tremendous amount from Cremant being consumed in Michelin dining restaurants in Alsace, France, to Italian sparkling amply quaffed on the slopes of Trento, Italy. I’ve seen and sipped it all. Most notably, my time spent walking the infamous wine trade show, VinExpo in Bordeaux, inspired my desire to create the New York Champagne Week.
As you might imagine, I drink a lot of Champagne, and these days my name has become synonymous with all things bubbly—at least here in NYC. Thus, being dubbed “Champagne Blaine” among other associated monikers, I have a pretty firm grasp on the top spots in NYC to get your fizz fix.
Follow along in this guide to the 10 must-hit champagne bars and restaurants in New York for your next bottle (or few bottles) of bubbly.
Without a doubt, Riddling Widow has stolen my Champagne-lovin’ heart. Just a few months new, this intimate wine den is already renowned for its bubbly-centric wine program that Beverage Director Tanner Walle, formerly of Terrior infamy, curates. The range is not just limited to Champagne but also boasts unique sparkling Rieslings, fizzy ciders, funky cavas and sexy Cremants. Walle’s list is quite expansive considering the cozy space as it must appeal to the cult-crowd following Riddling Widow has already created. As a bonus, Walle is a musician, which means the playlist is always on point.
27 Macdougal St., New York, NY
La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
Former sommelier of Eleven Madison Park, Caleb Ganzer might just be one of the most adventurous and interesting wine buyers in New York City at the moment. He’s on a single-handed mission to bring the best bottles of bubbly in front of enthusiasts, no matter what the cost. After joining this Paris-born bar’s Soho outpost last year, Ganzer undoubtedly tapped into leveraging the international renown of La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels to introduce creative pricing to his sparkling wine list. Ganzer dubs his sparkling wine menu a living thing; it changes all the time. Ganzer's items are priced so aggressively low that it encourages people to try new bottles and do so regularly. Nearly a dozen of Ganzer's 20-plus bottle of bubbly list are offered at under $175.
For a new and interesting standout, "the Fallet Prevostat Champagnes from Avize are incredible," says Ganzer. These bottles come from an 80-year old couple making wines as they've done for the last six decades. "Their base wines are held back 10 years before bottling, and there's so much depth yet freshness making these wines magnificent," Ganzer adds.
249 Centre St., New York, NY
Corkbuzz Wine Studio
Corkbuzz Wine Studio is the place to sip Champagne after hours. The reason is the "Champagne Campaign," a nightly occurrence that kicks off at 10 pm and lasts until closing in which the bar offers all of its Champagne and sparkling wine by the bottle at half off. Co-owned by the world’s first and youngest female Master Sommelier, Laura Meniac, the Corkbuzz sparkling wine list is smartly curated, as you’d suspect. My current favorite bottle for snagging around midnight is the Henriet-Bazin 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut NV, which typically goes for $135 but as part of the Champagne Campaign comes at the sweet deal of just $67.50. That’s what we call a serious sparkling score!
13 E. 13th St., New York, NY
Birds & Bubbles
Birds & Bubbles: “Where every day is a celebration.” The name and slogan of this place really says it all. As gimmicky as it can be, I’m a huge fan of the high-low trend, because it makes Champagne fun and approachable. Choosing Champagne can be a daunting task, but Birds and Bubbles’ effervescent list makes it easy for even the most novice of Champagne drinkers wittingly dividing their sparkling list into sections: So fresh, so clean; Chardonnay, the only white grape; Champagne with curves, aka Rosé bubbly; Earth, wind & chalk; Sugar Pie, Honey Brioche; The Darker the Berry; and So Vintage. Let’s be honest, no matter which way you go, a bottle of high-acidic bubbly cutting perfectly into the greasy goodness of finger-lickin’ fried chicken is the ultimate match made in heaven.
100B Forsyth St., New York, NY
In keeping with the high-low trend, I’d definitely suggest popping into King Bee in the heart of NYC's East Village. Enjoy Acadian (Canadian-Cajun) and “Nawlins”-inspired bites such as gumbo z’herbes, grilled oysters and Louisiana crawfish dip. Then wash all that Deep South deliciousness down with a bubbly from the French-heavy wine list. I’m going to go ahead and say I’d be willing to splurge on the Fleuron, 2006 Pierre Gimonnet Blanc de Blanc Brut and opt for a second round of those grilled oysters, too.
424 E. 9th St., New York, NY
Michelin-starred restaurant Pearl & Ash introduced us to its little sister, Rebelle, last spring. A wine-focused, “bistronomy” concept restaurant (that means French casual fine dining), Rebelle offers an 81-page wine list, and being French-forward that means a whole lot of bubbly. We’re talking more than 120 sparkling wine selections by the bottle and about 80 of them being real Champagne. There's a sparkling option for everyone here, be it Tarlant Extra Brut Cuvee at a reasonable $125 or a baller bottle of Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1975 at a steep $1,595. Everything about this list makes has me feeling frisky.
218 Bowery, New York, NY
The NoMad Hotel Library Bar
If the aforementioned Riddling Widow is my second home, The NoMad Hotel’s Library Bar is my second office. I spend countless hours there working away on my laptop with an espresso or cup of tea in hand until my watch hits Champagne o'clock. Then, I happily order a glass or bottle (depending on the company I’m keeping) of Champagne Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut, NoMad Selection. That’s right, Champagne Billecart-Salmon struck a private label deal with NoMad Hotel back when they opened a few years ago. This particular cuvée can only be found at The NoMad Hotel and at Moulin Rouge in Paris, making it an extra special treat for any friends and colleagues that I invite for an afternoon meeting at this haute hotel. The NoMad Selection can also be found at the Elephant and NoMad bars. But make no mistake, Champagne Billecart-Salmon is not the only sparkling star at The NoMad. They actually have the largest bubbly selection on this entire list. We're talking about more than 250 bottles of Champagne.
1170 Broadway, New York, NY
Vin Sur Vingt
I personally credit owner and sommelier Sebastien Auvet of Vin Sur Vingt, Vin Sur Vingt NoMad and The Vin Sur Vingt at the Plaza Food Hall for really initiating the popularity of adventurous wine menus in NYC. Auvet began introducing unique, hard-to-find wines through his complimentary "Wine Degustation Mondays" which he launched immediately after opening his inaugural West Village location in 2011. I always feel transported to France in the company of Auvet’s all-French staff and a bottle of Duval Leroy Brut Rose perfectly paired with a tartine de brie au miel (Melted brie, honey and toasted baguette). Need I say more?
201 W. 11th St., New York, NY
The Champagne Bar at The Plaza Hotel
If aiming for an uptown fix, get your posh on at The Champagne Bar at The Plaza. The iconic hotel was renovated not too long ago and delivers even more decadence than ever before with Champagne Bar views of Fifth Avenue and Central Park’s Pulitzer Fountain. Unlike its predecessors on this list, The Champagne Bar’s menu mostly offers big brand names such as Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, Ruinart and Perrier-Jouët all primed to splurge on and to enjoy with Caviar service for two, or with the more modestly priced cheese and charcuterie platter. Bathe your inner baller with some classic uptown lifestyle, at least for a day.
768 Fifth Ave., New York, NY
We’ve pretty much established that Champagne is good with just about any type of food and can be enjoyed just superbly on its own as well. But I can’t dream of a much sexier (read: aphrodisiac) combo than oysters and Champagne, and Maison Premiere is just the spot to fill that fix. Though mostly known for their Absinthe drip, Maison Premiere’s Champagne and sparkling wine list is also on point. Boasting a 1920s and '30s vibe and romantic date-worthy appeal, you can’t go wrong with lazing Sunday away in the garden with a bit of raw bar and bottle of bubbly.
298 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY
Last but certainly not least, in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill you’ll find Grand Army. On the corner of a charming tree-lined street, Grand Army is quite possibly one of my favorite new spots that debuted over the summer. Splurge on the literal Grand Army here—a grand plateau of raw bar items including littleneck clams, shrimp cocktail, king crab claws and, of course, oysters. And wash all that raw bar down with a bottle of Champagne Duc Du Romet Prestige Brut, Champagne Roger Coulon Brut Blanc de Noirs, or both while taking in the prestige scene and all around hip vibe of Grand Army.
336 State St., Brooklyn, NY