Best Place to Drink Like a Civilized Person

Budapest Blonde Wine and Martini Bar

Theatrically designed, plushly appointed, and oh-so-welcoming, Budapest Blonde straddles the line between a corner bar and your best friend's living room. Certainly, the gracious Old World appointments play a part in developing the Blonde's companionable vibe. Mostly, though, it emanates from the warm personalities of its gregarious owner-operators, Ilona Simon (pictured) and Leonard DiCosimo. It's hard to imagine more cultured playmates than these two, with their backgrounds in theater and music, and you'll rarely find more interesting conversationalists. While snacks are limited to simple noshes like cheese and crackers, there's an international wine list, with nearly 30 choices by the glass and an additional 100 or so by the bottle — most pegged at less than $40. The Blonde also offers dozens of specialty martinis, such as the suggestive Sylk Panties, a taste-teasing romp of Three Olives chocolate-flavored vodka and Drambuie Sylk Cream. The strict enforcement of the "house rules" doesn't hurt either. "There's no beer, no smoking, and no television," Simon will tell you. "If you come here, you're going to have to talk!" What could be more civilized than that?