1.Bemelman’s Bar – NYC
Theoretically, one of the best places to take a date would be anywhere that has semi-private corners in which the smitten can rendezvous. However, if it’s romance you’re after then Bemelman’s, ensconced in the Upper East Side’s Carlyle Hotel, is leagues apart. Enjoy the warm throwback to a time when waiters wore dinner jackets, tables were bedecked in individual lamps and renditions of Porter and Davis wafted from a nearby Steinway grand. The flattering amber lighting will make both you and your date look even more alluring, and the decibels of jazz ensure your sweet nothings are heard, not overheard.
2. Sky Garden – London
There is scientific evidence to show that being up high can put people in a state of heightened arousal (not that kind). Let science do the hard work for you and venture 34 floors up at 20 Fenchurch Street. The Sky Garden is a three-tiered array of landscaped African and Mediterranean plants; observation decks; two restaurants; and, most importantly of all, a bar. The breath-taking views of London at such a height are difficult to comprehend until you are actually up there. Being up in the clouds (well, almost) in a garden (well, nearly) makes for one heck of an arousing date.
3. Birdland Jazz Club – NYC
Everyone knows jazz is the music of choice for the intellectual. Want to show your date just how erudite you are upon your first encounter? With a history stretching back to the ’40s, Birdland is now the flagship venue for the resurgence of jazz in Midtown and a hotbed of talent. The moody vibe combines with performances by musicians at the apex of their respective careers; a superb wine list perfectly complements a surprisingly varied menu. Even if, unbeknownst to your date, you’re not quite as erudite as you’d like, the soft jazz wafting over your cosy corner will do more than its fair share of the heavy lifting for the two of you.
4. The South Bank – London
Geared up for a more active date? Why not don your walking boots and take in the capital’s most iconic landmarks, from the London Eye to the concrete behemoth that is the National Theatre? Peruse Borough Market, one of the oldest food markets in London and now an Eden for the modern foodie. Impromptu changes of path will have you pass musicians, entertainers, sand sculptors: the South Bank is both culturally dynamic and wonderfully serene at its quieter spots overlooking the Thames. Note: actual walking boots not required.
5. Westlight – NYC
Want to woo your crush at a height but live Stateside? No problem. Whilst not quite reaching the heights of the Sky Garden, the rooftop bar that is Westlight, atop The William Vale, Williamsburg, offers panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, mesmerising at any time of day, any time of year. The drinks selection is characterised by numerous rare spirits and craft beverages. If the date is going well, why not stick around to sample from a menu of sumptuous dishes influenced by global street food?
6. Gordon’s Wine Bar – London
You meet at the entrance. You descend the steps. You enter a candlelit cellar, cavernous, Dickensian. You sit far too close, lock gazes, settle into a bout of intense seduction, punctuated only by infrequent trips to the little boys’/girls’ room, contingent on how rapidly you imbibe from your chiselled champagne flutes. Gordon’s is dark enough to set the tone, but not as formal as a traditional bar. Lost in your date’s gaze and disoriented by the absence of natural light, it is easy to lose track of time down in the subterranean depths of London’s oldest wine bar.
7. Met Museum – NYC
A date in a museum? Hold your horses – it’s not all arcane archives and dusty documents. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the US, and a hotspot of some of the most spectacular artwork the world has to offer. If, for you, a relationship is inextricable from a love of all that is history and culture, test your date’s acumen – do they know their sarcophagi from their stelae? Their Meissen from their majolica? If they pass these checks, grab something light, whilst enjoying sweeping city views at the Cantor Roof Gardens Bar.