With so many options -- from speakeasies, to rooftops, to dives, to the classics -- figuring out which of NYC's 2,000+ bars are worth going to can be seriously overwhelming, whether you're from here or not. Well today we're gonna simplify things: these are the 50 NYC bars you absolutely MUST drink in before you die (or leave New York, whichever comes first).
You’d never know this throwback-looking spot actually opened in 2006, but it totally did -- offering up the hope that there can be new bars with old vibes and great beers that still feel like real, old New York City bars.
Lower East Side
There are tons of dive bars you can end up at when you should be going home, but not all of them have disco balls, a leopard-print pool table, and dumplings at 4am. Charles Hanson’s 169 Soul Jazz Oyster Bar is indisputably both the greatest edge-of-Chinatown dive and the best place to end your night in the city.
Aka Horseshoe Bar, aka its actual name “Vazac’s” -- there’s no better place in the city for a 24oz pounder, shots, a jukebox heavy on the metal, and a bathroom that consistently smells of drying paint. If you’re more into cinematic reasons to check bars off your list, Crocodile Dundee was filmed here, which is simultaneously hilarious, nostalgia inducing, and just plain great.
Even though it doesn’t have the biggest selection of beers on tap, this part-bar, part-retail beer, cheese, and meat shop always has some of the most interesting beers available via a tight selection on tap and in fridges. You’ll get no pretension here, just good beer, knowledgeable bartenders, Guess Who?, and strong Wi-Fi in case you need something a little stronger than coffee while “working from home.”
It’s one of the best cocktail bars in the whole damn country but it’s tiny, so it can be tough to grab one of the coveted seats. Do it though and you'll be downing an expertly made cocktail that explores the world of bitters like, say, the Amaris, which is loaded with Fernet Branca, Gran Classico, Strega, dry vermouth, and Burlesque Bitters.
Angel’s Share’s Japanese-influenced cocktails and décor (note the angel mural above the bar) set it apart from the city’s more obnoxious speakeasies. Located behind an unmarked door inside a second-story East Village Japanese restaurant, it’s an elegant and intimate place where you can (and must) get a plum-salt rim on your drinks.
There is pretty much no better place on Earth. At least that’s how you’ll probably feel when you're a few deep on excellent craft beers and approaching a high score on some forgotten late-'80s arcade game like Arkanoid, Bubble Bobble, or Smash TV. It’s like you get to hang out in your friend's cool basement, except the beer’s not terrible and you don’t have to hide-sneak the empties out while his parents are away.
This is one of the first places in the city that was truly a great beer bar. Even soaking in the rising tide of great beer around the city this place still stands out. It's got more than 30 taps that always change and always have something rare, interesting, or just fucking great as an option. Oh, and the wings are on point.
Upper West Side
Too often sports bars try to get cute with all kinds of weird food, or music during commercials, or whatever else. If you’re looking for a reliably great sports bar, with delightfully greasy bar food, and a shitload of TVs, Blondies is the spot.
The science-heavy innovative cocktail arm of the Momofuku empire, this Ssäm-adjacent spot is home to some of the most creative and interestingly created cocktails you’ve ever had like, for instance, the Bee Sneeze (milk-washed gin, honey, lemon, and cracked black pepper).
Stay with us here. If you truly want the full experience of the NY nightlife scene, there’s no denying the significant number of bros and lady-bros that go out drinking. If for just one night you let go of your inhibitions and judgment and slosh through a couple be-alligatored fishbowls, you might, just might, find yourself having a good time.
It’s not in Bushwick, and it’s definitely not a country club. It’s a dive with super-cheap drinks and a huge backyard with mini golf -- but most importantly, it’s the birthplace of the pickleback -- the shot that’s been the catalyst for innumerable questionable decisions across the city.
This old-timey grog and grocer is still relatively new to the city but has quickly become absolutely essential to the bar scene. It dropped into a neighborhood in need of a great destination bar. It’s won multiple awards, including “World’s Best Cocktail Bar” this year. It’s got a surprisingly underrated beer program. And most importantly, the cocktails are God damn delicious.
Easily New York’s most influential cocktail bar, this speakeasy has spawned a 500-recipe cocktail book, as well as numerous other top cocktail spots from its alums (including Pouring Ribbons and Mayahuel). You’re going to wait outside longer than you’d like, but a Hunt & Peck (rye whiskey, mezcal, amaro, vermouth, and Campari) will make those 30+ minutes of feeling like a peasant completely worth it.
Upper West Side
This guy is the essential Upper West Side neighborhood sports bar. It's got tons of TVs, board games, and a wide variety of beers to choose from. If you ever need something to bond over with someone from the Upper West Side (which... sure, it could happen), go with Dive 75.
A Williamsburg dive bar that you’ll actually like every single person in (maybe because it’s enough stops off the L), Duckduck is located inside a former garage (the doors are opened in the summer!) and outfitted with mismatched vintage furniture and a random spiral staircase jutting out from the ceiling. It’s an intimate spot for after-work drinks during the week, and at 2am on the weekends it’s the place to run into everyone you’ve ever met in Brooklyn (which should probably only ever happen at 2am).
Long Island City
Pay no mind to the sketchy exterior. The cocktails at this Long Island City speakeasy put Queens on the map as a go-to place for great drinks, and helped transform the borough’s whole nightlife scene. Drinks come with metal straws and tequila shots are served in miniature Tikis.
It’s one of the city’s most historic and beloved bars, and boasts a clientele made up of people from all different walks of life -- from artists, to old-school locals, to wealthy Tribeca moms. And everyone is there in the name of a casual pint and a great burger.
A classic New York bar and one of the first to mix the speakeasy style with an actual great time, Employees Only is known for being a restaurant industry spot, because the kitchen is open until 3:30am. As a testament to how much they love working there, all the bartenders have “EO” tattoos, and the head bartender was a subject of the cocktail bar documentary Hey Bartender.
The quintessential summer-night drinking destination, the Frying Pan is a former lightship that now serves as a floating dive bar. No human being is above drinking while watching the sunset over the Hudson.
A lot of people get upset when classic bars, clubs, and cafes close in the city. And rightfully so, but this is a rare instance when the newer version is actually great and doesn’t completely shit all over the reckless, kitschy, divey vibe of the original. This is the spot if you want to go to a cocktail bar and actually party.
South Street Seaport
It’s dirty, it serves beer in Styrofoam cups, it might be the last bar in the city that has bras hanging from the ceiling/walls (RIP Hogs and Heifers), the fried food is not as bad as you think, and it’s open at 8am. TL;DR -- it’s completely great.
A reason you actually need to visit Staten Island, this German beer garden has tons of good beers on tap, actually great live bands, and enormous salted pretzels. And there’s a built-in double bucket list item: you must drink on the ferry on the way over. Otherwise you’ve failed.
Upper East Side
Located inside the iconic St. Regis hotel, the King Cole Bar is the birthplace of the Bloody Mary (which is reason enough to go here) and one of the few places on here you'll want to to dress up for. Be prepared to spend a lot on your drinks, but feel like it’s totally worth it, if only because you'll basically be New York royalty for a night (or maybe you’re already New York royalty, in which case, just go here all the time??).
This filthy, old East Village rock & roll bar is a neighborhood classic. It’s staffed mainly with badass female bartenders covered in tattoos and has a great mix of old regulars, younger people that get where the place is coming from, and East Village douchebags.
Located in the heart of the West Village, this basement speakeasy looks like it’s straight out of a date movie, seamlessly combining an essential New York experience with a sexy underground atmosphere and great cocktails in a way no other restaurant or bar can.
There are a ton of great things to do and drink (Playland, Rippers, Wharf Bar, Whit’s End, Uma’s...) in Rockaway but nothing beats catching some live music while downing a spicy michelada and grabbing a bite from one of the neighboring vendor stands. This is what people mean when they Instagram about #vibes.
The best (only?) place to take down oysters and absinthe while gawking at Williamsburg locals, Maison Premiere is modeled after the New Orleans French Quarter, and has an incredible Secret Garden-like outdoor patio that you’ll never want to leave.
Upper East Side
With its panoramic city views, the roof garden and martini bar on top of the Met is a summer drinking experience that can’t be missed. Plus, there’s nothing quite like winding through a museum once you’re a few martinis deep -- it’s a Night at the Museum-like fantasy, except so much better. Plus PLUS, you’ll suddenly feel much more knowledgeable about art.
An East Village institution that’s been around since 1862, McSorley’s will make you feel like you're instantly becoming a part of New York City history, and all you have to do is choose between light or dark beer (bonus: there's no wrong choice!).
A gruff bartender, salty regulars, sagging ceilings, original art featuring local characters, all with an air of approachability, fun, and a shuffleboard table. This is classic New York neighborhood dive bar at its classic-est.
A huge part of New York City history lies out in Queens at Neir’s. Not only was Goodfellas filmed here -- allowing you to live out some of your Scorsese-NY fantasies -- it was also opened in 1829. You can’t really say you’ve drank in New York until you’ve drank in a truly old-ass bar like this.
The drinks are some of the best in the city, occasionally come in what look like massive vases, and the space is straight-up beautiful. The clincher? Some of the best damn bar food around -- it’s like a mix between going to a world-class bar and a world-class restaurant, actually that’s exactly what this place is.
Before you moved to NYC (or before you could drink), if you pictured yourself in a big bustling New York bar, this is likely what you were picturing. The ceilings are high, the mirrors distressed, and everything feels classic. And if you’re into this kind of thing, the urinals are no slouch either, as far as urinals go.
Located inside Crif Dogs on St. Marks, and accessed via a phone booth, PDT is a can’t-miss-experience bar. It somehow manages to be actually cool without trying to prove that it’s cool, which is likely due to the fact that it’s inside of a hot dog joint (which you can order from WHILE you’re at the bar).
Lower East Side
Everyone in Pianos thinks they’re the coolest person in Pianos and you will too, but that’s why it’s great -- it seems like every New Yorker has a “Pianos story," and only like, 65% of them are regrettable tales (if you have one of those, blame it on the super-strong margaritas).
There are probably better places to sing karaoke, there are definitely cleaner places to sing Karaoke, but there’s no place to sing karaoke that has more character (or zebra-print couches, actually mostly zebra-print couches) than Planet Rose. Just a suggestion, but "Unbreak My Heart" always brings the house down.
Come during the day, the earlier the better so you can stake out some space for your group, then proceed to house steins, take down sausages, and enjoy the stylings of whatever gypsy marching band is roaming through this massive beer hall that day.
If you’re going to choose just one secret bar to visit in New York (which you’re obviously not going to, because that would be dumb), it should be Raines Law Room. There are two locations -- one inside The William in Midtown East, and the other in Chelsea -- and both are serving up insanely good, original cocktails, like the Gershwin, made with gin, ginger, and rosewater. The Midtown location even has an entire menu dedicated to Old Fashioneds, so maybe go to that one first?
Beer is served in goblets the size of your face (or close to it... we don’t know how big your face is), hard rock blares from the speakers, you can sit outdoors, and there’s the most flawless mix of slightly strange old bikers and entitled 20-somethings that seems to perfectly capture the current scene in Williamsburg.
If you don’t go here early on a December day, score a seat at the bar, order some eggnog, explore some schnapps, and leave a generally more festive person, you’re doing it wrong.
This is not only one of the best dive bars in New York, it’s one of the best dive bars in the entire country -- one that's notably keeping the fragile dive bar scene in New York alive. All you need to know is that you get free hot dogs with your drinks, and there is an only-slightly-terrifying pig mascot outside. Whether or not said pig is Rudy himself may be one of the greatest mysteries of our time.
Located in the former Black United Fund Plaza community center, the Shrine is loaded with Harlem history. It's decked out in records, African art, and purple/pink lighting, and offers great live music every single night without any cover. Throw in cheap drinks, laid-back vibes, and delicious food, and no one will be complaining about the trip Uptown.
Spring Lounge manages to do what so few bars can -- it's just a regular, normal bar that doesn't feel like a dump, but would never in a million years be pretentious. The crowd is just the right mix of locals and post-Lombardi's tourists, plus there's a great craft beer selection, and free hot dogs on Wednesdays. It's also sometimes referred to as "Shark Bar," which is undeniably cool. And because everyone should experience drinking in New York at an ungodly hour at least once, it's open bright and early at 8am. Or, you know, you could just go at a normal time.
Sunny’s is a champion. It survived being completely wrecked by Sandy, managed to get itself back to how it once was, and now serves as an iconic Red Hook neighborhood spot. The crowd is insanely friendly, the drinks are cheap and strong, and there's great live music.
The most delightfully weird bar in the city, from its borderline-speakeasy entrance (a bizarre gecko skeleton notifies you where it is), to its faintly anachronistic Art Deco decor, carpeting, and pay phone, to its actually on-point cocktail and food program. I defy you not to enjoy yourself here.
Before dark, it's a great rooftop bar with fantastic city views. After dark, it transforms into an insanely hot club with an always-attractive crowd. You may not want to admit it, but you always have a good time here. Enter the hot tub downstairs at your own risk, though.
It’s one of the best dive bars in the country, where drinks are served in huge Styrofoam cups that you used to be able to get to-go, but as of late have to (sadly) be consumed legally indoors. Either way, Turkey’s Nest is the perfect no-frills bar that somehow has never gotten too Williamsburg-y.
Feel free to disagree with us here but this is perhaps the perfect bar. It’s feels well designed and cool without being unwelcoming, it makes badass, amazing cocktails without being pretentious about it, and the food is inventive and interesting without being precious. This place just hits the sweet spot for us.
Still the premier spot in the city to get weird and eat tater tots.
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1. 124 Rabbit Club124 MacDougal St, New York
2. 169 Bar169 E Broadway, New York
3. Vazacs Horseshoe Bar / 7B108 Avenue B, New York
4. Alphabet City Beer Co.96 Avenue C, New York
5. Amor y Amargo443 E 6th St, New York
6. Angel’s Share8 Stuyvesant St, New York
7. Barcade388 Union Ave, Brooklyn
8. The Blind Tiger281 Bleecker St, New York
9. Blondies212 W 79th St, New York
10. Booker and Dax207 2nd Ave, New York
11. Bushwick Country Club618 Grand St, Brooklyn
12. The Dead Rabbit30 Water St, New York
13. Death & Company433 E 6th St, New York
14. Dive 75101 W 75th St, New York
15. duckduck161 Montrose Ave, Brooklyn
16. Dutch Kills27-24 Jackson Ave, Long Island City
17. Ear Inn326 Spring St, New York
18. Employees Only510 Hudson St, New York
19. Frying Pan205 12th Ave, New York
20. Holiday Cocktail Lounge75 Saint Marks Pl, New York
21. Jeremy's Ale House228 Front St, New York
22. Killmeyer's Old Bavarian Inn4254 Arthur Kill Rd, Staten Island
23. King Cole Bar & Salon2 E 55th St, New York
24. The Library7 Avenue A, New York
25. Little Branch20 7th Ave S, New York
26. Low Tide BarBeach 96th St Boardwalk, New York
27. Maison Premiere298 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn
28. The Met Rooftop Bar1000 5th Ave, New York
29. McSorley's Old Ale House15 E 7th St, New York
30. Nancy Whiskey Pub1 Lispenard St, New York
31. Neir's Tavern87-48 78th St, Woodhaven
32. The NoMad1170 Broadway, New York
33. Old Town Bar45 E 18th St., New York
34. PDT113 St. Marks, New York
35. Pianos158 Ludlow St, New York
36. Planet Rose219 Avenue A, New York
37. Radegast Biergarten113 N 3rd St, Brooklyn
38. Raines Law Room48 W 17th, New York
39. Rocka Rolla486 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn
40. Rolf's281 3rd Ave, New York
41. Rudy's Bar & Grill627 9th Ave, New York
42. Shrine World Music Venue2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York
43. Spring Lounge48 Spring St, New York
44. Sunny's Bar253 Conover St, Brooklyn
45. Temple Bar332 Lafayette St, New York
46. Le Bain848 Washington St, New York
47. The Turkey's Nest94 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn
48. The Wayland700 E 9th St, New York
49. Whiskey Tavern79 Baxter St, New York
While this may not be the easiest bar to find in Greenwich Village, it is certainly one of the best. This underground bar serves over 70 imported beers to locals looking to escape the busy city streets and down some German and Belgian brews. The interior is dimly lit and gives off a grunge vibe thanks to a combination of tattered walls and artsy chandeliers.
Drenched in colored light and decked out in palm trees,169 Bar may read a tad tacky, but that’s because it is. It’s earned that right after being around since 1916 (when its original name was the “Bloody Bucket”). Striptease dancers perform on a tiny platform alongside worn red booths as a funloving crowd guzzles cheap beer, frozen cocktails, and oyster Bloody Mary shooters (yes, they have a raw bar, but expect to be served on paper plates). A leopard print billiards table lives in the small back room, just don’t be shy about asking patrons to move for that winning shot.
Vazacs Horseshoe Bar, also known as 7B, is an East Village staple with a star-studded history. The arched castle-like doors and rough brick exterior served as the façade of the Life Café in the movie Rent, and the interiors were used for The Godfather, Part II and Marvel's Jessica Jones. To East Village/Alphabet City locals, it's known as the perfect dive to meet your friends and throw back some cheap beers.
What could possibly be more alluring than a craft beer store that doubles as a bar? With some 350 varieties of suds, Alphabet City Beer Co. is a beer nerd's paradise. Inside the cozy, clubhouse-like spot, you'll find a dozen tap beers available on a rotating basis and an extensive selection of bottles in the refrigerators lining the walls. Food is minimal and strictly falls under the bar food category (Sigmund's pretzels, grilled cheese, and meat plates), but it's just enough to entice you to stay for a cold beer, even if you only came to pick up a six-pack.
You won't find any mixers, sugars, or juices in this tiny, tile-covered sleeve -- just a bitters/amaro-heavy focus on truly classic, uncorrupted cocktails. Head-man-behind-the-rail Sother Teague also peddles everything you need to stock your home bar and make the same exact drinks he does (but probably not as well!).
A Japanese speakeasy lives next to the unassuming, second-floor restaurant Village Yokocho: walk up the stairs, turn left and through an unmarked door you'll find a small but comfortable room with a dark wood bar, regal wallpaper, and a large mural depicting the namesake angelic cherubs. Long lines betray Angel's Share's secret since the place has been catering to cocktail enthusiasts for decades, so arrive early -- and with a small group. The formally dressed bartenders craft impeccable, Japanese-tinged takes on classic American cocktails that make it worth the wait.
This arcade-themed bar (the first outpost of four) offers a vintage lineup ranging from Donkey Kong to Asteroids to be played while sipping craft beers from countless taps. While there's no kitchen, there is a binder full of local restaurant menus, so you can get food delivered if you work up an appetite.
Arguably the epitome of a New York City craft beer bar and a true pioneer in the NYC craft scene, Blind Tiger’s been doling out a fine selection of the top tier libations since it opened in 1995. It’s the go-to spot to meet folks from your favorite breweries who happen to be swinging through town, and the tap takeovers are legendary to say the least. Sip from 28 taps, two casks and a staggering list of microbrew bottles.
Blondies has all the fixins of a quintessential sports bar: big screen TVs, cheap happy hour drinks, and all-you-can-eat-wings on Monday nights. The Upper West Side spot is usually packed with Big 10 alums cheering on their respective alma maters.
Hailing from the same culinary genius that begot New York City's most renowned bowl of ramen, Booker and Dax serves classed-up cocktails with innovative twists. Look for this creative spirit in the simplest of cocktails, like the Banana Justino, which is prepared via a centrifugal spinning process that separates the flavors from the solids that deliver them. The just-large-enough space keeps party groups at bay, so you can properly focus on your milk-washed tea vodka and all its complex, lemon-ey goodness.
It’s not quite in Bushwick, and it’s definitely not a country club. This Williamsburg tavern has super-cheap drink specials and a huge backyard. Its off-kilter atmosphere is decked out with pinup art, red-velour airplane seats, a Jim Beam-and-Coke slushie machine, and an old-school photo booth. To its credit, Bushwick Country Club actually does have a mini golf course (and the windmill is made of PBR boxes). BCC’s greatest claim to fame is the pickleback shot, born and raised at this joint (and undoubtably the catalyst for many-a-time 3am make-outs in the photo booth).
The Dead Rabbit is a cocktail sanctum, taproom, small-plates resto, and "grocery." This Irish-American-inspired duplex in the Financial District -- boasting vintage saloon-like vibes and decor -- will make you feel as if you've traveled back in time. The taproom, which is located on the ground floor, is a traditional Anglo-Hibernian pub, where you can order craft beers, bottled punch, and a variety of whiskeys. If you walk upstairs you'll find the parlor, with an ambiance equally as charming as the pub, but with a heavier focus on communal punch and cocktails. The small "grocery" is actually a corner in the taproom, where they sell an assortment of dry goods, but most notably Irish and British imports that are otherwise hard to find.
Death & Co. is a high-end, dimly lit sanctuary for both the casual AND professional mixologist/cocktail enthusiast. Responsible for launching the careers of many of New York's most prominent bartenders, this speakeasy has produced a 500-recipe cocktail book and enough top-notch drinks to keep both locals and newcomers ready for the wait, and insatiably eager for another visit. Martinis are served in 5oz glasses with the remainder in an iced carafe, and Old Fashioneds are reinvented with reposado tequila, mezcal, and a flaming orange. While the decor is certainly reminiscent of Prohibition-era times, the drinks remain cutting-edge.
Dive 75 is more than just the Upper West Side's favorite dive bar. This is the place to go when you feel like drinking some good beer AND challenging a friend to an intense game of Connect Four. The beer menu here is also extensive and constantly updated, and the food menu is full of non-dive bar foods (poutine, anyone?).
With mismatched furniture and an open, airy, converted-garage setting, duckduck radiates a strong East Williamsburg vibe. There's a wide variety of craft beers on tap, as well as seasonal cocktails and cheaper beer and shot combos. Open seven days a week from 4pm to 4am, the bar gets especially loud and lively with DJs spinning every weekend.
First things first: Dutch Kills is unquestionably the best cocktail bar in Queens. The space is modest with low, moody lighting, and the bartenders really know what they’re doing. Opt for the bartender's choice by suggesting a base spirit and letting them work their magic, or order from the list of handcrafted mix drinks. The owners operate a custom ice shop too, so depending on the cocktail, you'll also receive a specially hewn piece of ice harvested from a single 300lb block.
More than a century ago, this SoHo watering hole was a hotspot for sailors waiting for their ships to dock. The Ear Inn is a designated landmark of the City of New York, and the cheeseburger is a designated bar burger of the City of New York (designated by Thrillist, of course). The prime sirloin number topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion is something you absolutely have to check off your NYC burger bucket list, whether you're from here or not. It’s big, it’s juicy, and it goes perfectly with a pint.
This dimly lit industry bar/restaurant/lounge is tucked away from the busy streets of the West Village but inside, there's a bustling social scene and warm, welcoming ambiance. EO’s mixologists are constantly creating new and serving old-time, all-time favorite cocktails. Try the Billionaire Cocktail -- a bourbon drink made with lemon, EO’s own grenadine, and Angostura bitters. You’ll feel right at home with a staff that acts like a family, bonded by a shared love of EO (and they’ve all got the “EO” tattoos to prove it). Be sure to chat up the head bartender, who was a subject in the documentary Hey Bartender.
Located at Pier 66 in Chelsea, the Frying Pan is quite literally a bar on a docked boat. The boat is a historic 1929 lightship, and the outdoor bar juts far out into the pier thanks to a long barge. A center bar and grill serves up beer and bar bites like Pat LaFrieda sirloin burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and garlic fries. There's a dance floor at the end of the barge, which gets more and more crowded as the sun sets on happy hour.
Back in the day, the Ramones and Frank Sinatra used to kick it at Holiday Cocktail Lounge, but it closed in 2012 and New York diehards feared it was lost forever. BUT NO! The mogul who spawned Pirate's Booty (yes, the snack) bought the East Village dive and gave it an overhaul (while still not daring to remove that signature red awning). The real action takes place by the horseshoe-shaped bar, where Long Island Iced Teas are made on the gun and drinks like the Los Hollywood (whiskey, Fernet Branca, bitters) are dreamed up by ace cocktail brothers, Michael and Danny Neff.
This South Street Seaport-adjacent ale house offers serious brews (in 32oz Styrofoam cups) and old school charm. Open for over 40 years, Jeremy's remains a longstanding local favorite due to its lack of pretension; generous pours; and fresh, affordable seafood menu (where else in New York can you eat a lobster roll for under $10?). Well-worn bras hanging from the ceiling and nautical, vintage bric-a-brac accentuate the dive bar decor.
This beer hall has been serving the people of Staten Island since 1892 with dozens of brews and hearty German fare. Don't leave without trying the potato pancakes with apple sauce.
Tucked away in the St. Regis hotel, The King Cole Bar is full of warm décor and expertly mixed drinks.
This East Village rock & roll bar is a neighborhood classic. It's staffed mainly with badass female bartenders covered in tattoos and has a great mix of old regulars and younger people looking for a dive bar. The Library's jukebox is known for its punk rock jams and the best thing about its beer is how cheap it is.
Stashed in a hard-to-locate, speakeasy-style basement where the bartenders wear suspenders and the standup piano encourages jazz trios, Little Branch is a Prohibition-style bar doing cocktails like Sidecars and Aviations. The space is dark and candlelit, and if you don't want to squint at the menu in a dark corner feel free to have the bartender whip up something customized for you.
This unassuming beach bar is the go-to spot for scoping sets while enjoying tap offerings of brew (all michelada-able for a buck) and kombucha. Run out from their boardwalk beer garden to catch a wave before returning for theme nights, which range from Fridays filled with SoCa/West Indian beats and shark & curried bean sandwiches, to reggae Sundays, for which a sit-down dinner of North African fish couscous is prepared for 48hrs by "world traveled" cooks, one of whom literally walks around doling out pro massages, then goes home and obviously never gets laid, ever.
This cosmopolitan city-inspired oyster bar and cocktail den is a classy Williamsburg spot where you can enjoy a stocked raw bar, and lounge outdoors on its greenery-filled patio. We suggest bringing a first date here, as the swank and intimate atmosphere & delicious menu will be sure to wow them.
Situated on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum, the aptly named Met Rooftop Bar offers sweeping views of Central Park and beyond that can be enjoyed with wine, cocktails, and light bites. It's only open when the museum is and it is oftentimes overflowing with tourists, but the scenery and the special atmosphere make it well-worth the limited hours and lines for drinks. Try to come on a weekday when the crowds have thinned. If you can make it on a weekday.
Opened in 1854, McSorley’s is the oldest still-running saloon in NYC, and was one of the last “Men Only” pubs in NY (until 1970). When you visit, you’ll truly feel like you’ve stepped into a bit of city history -- after all, you'll be sitting at the very same counter Abe Lincoln and John Lennon did. McSorley’s also keeps it real with just two beers -- the house ale, light or dark, and nothing else.
This Tribeca dive has been serving up burgers, whiskey, and shuffleboard games since 1967. It's consistently named one of the best dive bars in the city, likely for its sub-$5 drinks and decidedly charismatic bartenders who'll serve your hot fries with a wink and smile.
Neir's Tavern is a great stop in Woodhaven with live, local music, hearty pub food, and a list of house cocktails to back up their beer selection. Johnny Cash rules the jukebox, Mae West's visage looks out at the bar where she once performed, and they filmed part of Goodfellas inside.
Housed in a historic arts building, The NoMad hotel is a stylish, Parisian-inspired luxury hotel with hardwood floors and handmade rugs. Inside the hotel is a bi-level library, an opulent lounge with a mahogany bar, and an upscale restaurant. Around the corner from the hotel is the much-lauded NoMad Bar (10 W 28th St), serving refined cocktails and upscale pub fare in a hip, lively space.
While many other bars are trying to create it, old-school New York charm comes naturally to this institution, which has been slinging drinks since 1882 (then known as Viemeister’s). The charm, however, is not the only anachronism that makes it so popular: Old Town also boasts a mahogany bar, distressed mirrors, a dumbwaiter, and high, tin ceilings.
Formerly one of New York City's best-kept secrets, this hidden speakeasy has become world famous thanks to its meticulously crafted cocktails and balance between swank and back-of-a-hotdog-joint status. Enter through a phone booth in Crif Dogs and get transported to a sexy hideaway where you can post up with inventive takes on Old Fashioneds and Sazeracs alongside waffle fries nestled in foil. Although the name insists you "Please Don't Tell," the secret's clearly out so it's best to make reservations; call to snag a spot when the lines open at 3 PM daily.
Live indie acts, DJs, and musical groups of national renown regularly pack this bi-level bar and music venue, which occupies a former a piano store. Before, during, and after shows, guests can imbibe in either of two rooms: the upstairs lounge with tile bar, or the tropically decorated main room. Though Brooklyn twenty-somethings and Lower East Side locals stop by for the entertainment, the bar menu doesn't disappoint either, with excellent takes on classic bar eats, including fried pickles, nachos, and buttermilk fried chicken strips.
This East Village karaoke lounge will give your night a solid dose of diva kitsch. Complete with lipstick red walls, zebra print furniture, and plenty of overconfident tone-deaf singers, Planet Rose is the answer when you're looking to spice up your usual Saturday night routine. The drinks are relatively cheap, but your best bet is to come early for the two-for-one happy hour. Planning a big group night out? The entire place can be rented out for an evening of liquid courage-fueled entertainment.
Radegast is a massive Polish/Slovakian drinking hall in Williamsburg, complete with retractable roof panels, a grill station that kicks out an endless stream of brats, venison sausages, kielbasa & weisswursts, and, of course, a bar where they're pouring massive steins full of brews.
Reclaiming the name of an 1896 law that attempted to ban drinking outside of New York hotels, this faux-speakeasy lays on the Jazz Age vibes thick. You have to pull a doorbell and provide a password to enter the sultry, subterranean space, and once you're inside, push on a call button and wait for servers to ferry out pre-Prohibition-inspired Gershwins (gin, lemon, ginger, rosewater) and McKittrick Old-Fashioneds (bourbon, sherry, mole bitters). Many of the aesthetic touches aren’t exactly executed with restraint, like the large ornate mirror hanging over exposed brick and boozing flappers painted on the wall, but the quality and subtlety of the cocktails make it likely that you'll get into the Raines spirit quickly.
From the team behind Williamsburg favorites Lucky Dog and Skinny Dennis, this spot (which's basically underneath the BQE) is a throwback rock bar with cheap beer, a great jukebox, and shuffleboard.
Rolf's, a true Murray Hill staple, is known for donning extravagant and over-the-top Christmas decorations for six months out of the year (think icicle ornaments, garlands, multicolored string lights, and fake ice). The menu is mostly an afterthought to this sensory overload of neon, but satisfies with the standard German offerings of bratwurst, schnitzel, and steins upon steins of brew.
Rudy's Bar is one of the oldest dive bars in New York City history, and one of the first bars to get a liquor license when prohibition ended in 1933. It's got a pretty extensive list of draft and bottled beers for a dive (all at fantastically low prices), and free hot dogs with the purchase of any drink. The staff at Rudy's is always friendly and inviting, making it a favorite among tourists and locals alike.
Before opening in 2007, Shrine was a community center called the Black United Fund Plaza -- the sign now comically reads “Black United Fun Plaza,” and the multimedia arts and culture space features live music, theater, film, and dance, fostering a positive creative environment for both artists and audiences. All ages are welcome, but you have to be 21+ to order a drink at the full bar. If you come hungry, not to worry, there's a full dinner menu as well.
There's nothing quite like getting up bright and early to toss back a couple of brews at 8am. OK, so eggs and coffee may be the more sensible route, but at least you know you have the option over at Spring Lounge. This Nolita dive has a diverse crowd, a great beer selection, and free beer-braised hot dogs on Wednesdays. The bar was opened illegally in the 1920s as a "to-go" shop and has gone through several transformations since. It became Spring Lounge in the '70s, but is referred to as Shark Bar throughout the neighborhood.
A relic of Red Hook's pre-gentrification, working class days lives on in Sunny’s bar, even if beloved proprietor Antonio Balzano, aka Sunny, died in 2016. His family has owned and operated the dark hole-in-the-wall by the river since the late 1890s, when it was one of many bars and restaurants that catered to ship builders who worked nearby. The cash-only dive now draws a mix of neighborhood locals and migrating “authenticity seekers” for cheap beer and cover-free live music.
This dimly-lit, intimate bar and lounge serves craft cocktails and creative bar food. Popular items are the gin gimlet, the Betty Draper, and the spiced pork belly buns.
On the 18th floor and rooftop of the Standard High Line is Le Bain, a sleek and ever-popular bar/nightclub. On the first floor of the bi-level space, you'll find Le Bain's most notable and distinguishing feature: a plunging indoor pool smack in the middle of the dance floor (hence the name, which translates to "the bath.") If you forget your swimsuit, not to worry -- there's a bathing-suit vending machine. Upstairs, you'll find an astro turf-covered rooftop with plenty of comfortable couch seating, a crêperie, and some of the best views of the city.
Right across from McCarren Park, Turkey's Nest is a dive bar in Williamsburg known for serving drinks in huge styrofoam cups. It has all the fixins of an actual dive: cheap drinks, pool tables, a few TVs, and a jukebox.
From a duo that spent many years bartending, cooking, and consulting in the restaurant business, The Wayland is a live-music cocktail bar in the heart of Alphabet City that aces the neighborhood watering hole game. Connected to the bar is a kitchen that specializes in small plates like raw (or fried) oysters, pork belly BLTs, and fried mashed potatoes. The cocktails reflect a DIY approach, with hours of prep work just to produce house-made radish, spiced apple, and key lime-flavored bitters.
Part of the Whiskey Town family, Whiskey Tavern is a hideaway saloon in Chinatown dedicated to bourbon, rye, and Scotch. From the family of bars responsible for pioneering picklebacks, it's also home to the signature Spicyback, a whiskey shot chased with pepper-infused pickle juice. The food menu is loaded with all the usual bar bite suspects -- think tater tots with bacon and cheese sauce, fried pickles, and saucy wings.