This week’s #BirthdayBucketList is New York City’s favorite oyster bar. Where to score the best oysters in the Big Apple is debatable, but as far as ambiance goes, it’s downright impossible to beat Grand Banks Oyster Bar—and that’s because it’s hosted on a revitalized mid-century wooden ship known as the Sherman Zwicker.
Watching a sunset sink its fiery skin into the ocean from the New York City waterfront should be—and likely is—on everyone's bucket list. In the warmer seasons, is there a better way to appreciate the good life than toasting your friends or family with a rich blend of grand colors before you and the greatest city skyline ever behind you? No, probably not. Plus, there’s a cocktail menu and oysters!
So imagine a sea breeze rolling over the Hudson and its picturesque harbor as you float by, sipping a Strawberry Airmail, their refreshing rum cocktail crushed strawberries, lime, honey, and sparkling wine, or a Coo-ee Special, a gin concoction with house-made almond syrup, lemon, and absinthe. Otherwise, equally tasty cocktails, craft beers, and fine wine by the glass or the bottle can cleanse your palate before scooping up another bite.
Inspired by the floating "oyster barges" that lined Manhattan's waterfront in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Grand Banks Oyster Bar is “as close to being on vacation as any native New Yorker can possibly feel,” according to Condé Nast Traveler. Even Bon Appétit claimed, "There’s no better way to start the weekend than oysters and rosé at Grand Banks."
Their oyster selection changes daily and their weekend brunch brings the locals. Choose from lighter fare, such as heirloom tomato and watermelon salad, or go big with a lobster roll that includes fennel and comes with spiced chips. Don't worry if you can't make brunch, because their small plates menu is awfully familiar and it’s served all day.
The ship itself is historic, not to mention gorgeous. Hand-built and christened in 1942, the Sherman Zwicker is actually the last original saltbank fishing vessel in existence. It’s also the largest wooden vessel in New York City. As slick as it is rustic, the schooner drums up sailor dreams that only get heavier the more you explore the cocktail menu.
The best part is that you can rent it out. Hosting any and all, from corporate events to weddings, Grand Banks has an epic location that gives you a special kind of changing view—and that’s before you get to the superior service and elevated cuisine. It's an unforgettable experience for you and up to 198 others.
So you can see why Grand Banks has won award after award from publications like The New York Observer, The Village Voice, Time Out, and Tasting Table. The floating It Spot been hailed by local magazines as the "Best Oyster Bar in NYC" and the "Best Outdoor Dining in New York City."
Finally, Grand Banks has a strong partnership with the Maritime Foundation. Together, they host maritime history exhibitions, organize lectures covering topics such as nautical culture and aquatic sustainability, and raise money for ecology-focus nonprofits. Just by drinking there, you’d be supporting respected eco-friendly organizations such as Waterkeeper Alliance, Save Our Stripers, Harbor School, and Riverkeeper.
So do yourself and your closest loved ones a favor: Eat, drink, and be merry on your birthday. You deserve it. Plus, at Grand Banks, your birthday party could help save the ocean. Wasn’t saving the ocean on your bucket list too?
Venue + Photos: Grand Banks Oyster Bar