You probably shouldn't tell your parents that you're going out in Alphabet City, because they will either think it's still 1986 and assume you're doing heroin, or they are much cooler than you and already live there, and then you might run into them at 7B and that'd be totally embarrassing. FOR THEM. Point is, there might not be a neighborhood in the city with a better range of low-key dives, cocktail havens, and everything in between. Here're the 15 best. Come get some.
Best sports bar: Croxley's Ale House
28 Ave B
The craft beer selection is above par, but it’s the super-cheap wing nights and the crazy number of screens that are worth coming for. It's kind of like a TGI Fridays (it’s one of six locations around the Greater New York area), but with less flair, and more Ave B locals screaming at the Jets.
Best for picking someone up: The Summit Bar
133 Ave C
A top-flight cocktail bar with a crowd that's always down to get down, Summit's a relatively quiet spot, which makes shmoozing the babe sitting on one of those velvet banquettes easier. That and the daily 5:30-7:30pm oyster happy hour. Because oysters make people horny! God it's so true.
Best beer bar: Alphabet City Beer Co.
96 Ave C
Owned by Thrillist’s very own beer contributor Zach Mack, ABC's got 12 rotating taps (and growler fills to-go), plus a bottle shop in front with 350 craft varieties. If that's underwhelming to you, 1) maybe you'll be swayed by the homemade “brown bag” daily lunch specials with a fresh-made sandwich and chips, and, 2) you need to tell us about the bar with 351 craft varieties. Also: free Internet!
Happy hour: Drop Off Service
211 Ave A
The nightly $3-5 craft beer happy hour goes until 8pm, and from Stuy Town suits to local weirdos, there’s always a fantastic mix of people at this local stand-by.
Best for dates: Lovers of Today
132 1/2 E 7th St
You have to walk through a mass of garbage cans to get there because it’s downstairs behind neighborhood classic Niagara, but we promise the inside is actually really romantic. This is mostly because the space is so tiny you have no choice but to get real close, but also because there’s good music, great cocktails, and very little of the attitude one might expect from a secret intimate basement cocktail lounge hidden behind trash.
Best bar games: Ace Bar
531 E 5th St
With two pool tables, two dart boards, pinball, Big Buck Hunter, and, most importantly, skee ball, there is so much room for activities, except if 600 other people had the same evening plans as you. They might.
Best karaoke bar: Sing Sing Ave A
81 Ave A
It’s quite a bit smaller than its East Village cousin, and although the decision to go there is not a bad one, once you’re in that private room with a belly full of sake and all the Jordin Sparks in the world, all bets are off.
Best for live music, cocktails, and the finest damn BLT you've ever had in your life: The Wayland
700 E 9th St
This bar is the best of the Best Bars of Alphabet City. Confused? You won’t be once you try the exceptional cocktails, or the double-smoked, slow-cooked bourbon and maple syrup pork belly BLT, or experience one of their secret magical lobster parties. Plus, lively bands are here four nights a week, almost every week.
Best for outdoor seating, giant steins, and pretzels: Zum Schneider
107 Ave C
Head here for big ol' steins of beer, a constantly festive atmosphere even when everyone isn't wearing lederhosen, and authentic Bavarian schnitzel, spätzle, and wursts. When it's nice out, those rickety tables are in high demand, so you'll have a much better chance of scoring one when it's cold, if you don't mind wearing one of their blankets.
Best for dirty grind dancing: No Malice Palace
197 E 3rd St
DJs spin a mix of hip-hop, R&B, '80s, funk, and soul on Fridays and Saturdays, so in theory, NMP is excellent for dancing, but sometimes it’s so packed that you can only really shuffle in place. But those nights also come with a shot and beer special, so who's to say you'll know the difference?
Cheapest drinks: The Library
7 Ave A
The two-for-one happy hour goes until 7pm, but even after that the 24oz Tecates are still frighteningly cheap. They show weird old VHS movies, and the bathroom, which seemingly hasn't been cleaned since people regularly watched VHS movies, is basically not to be used.
Best cocktail bar: Pouring Ribbons
225 Ave B
Head barman Joaquin Simó is a straight-up pro, concocting you drinks based on where your palette lies on a matrix menu that goes from "refreshing to spirituous, comforting to adventurous". The door to the second-level bar is kind of hidden, so just keep an eye out for the yellow liquor store awning.
Best wine bar: Il Posto Accanto
190 E 2nd St
It’s a tiny place with a very global wine list and the occasional live jazz band. The reasonably priced Italian fare is legitimately incredible but no sweat if you get there after hours -- there’s a late-night menu for when the kitchen closes.
Best dive bar: Vazacs Horsehoe Bar / 7B
108 Ave B
The bar scene in Crocodile Dundee was filmed here, probably because it's the epitome of a dive bar with its metal jukebox, tall boys, Big Buck Hunter, and just enough Alphabet City grime.
Best place to meet a stranger sitting next to you at the bar: Boxcar Lounge
168 Ave B
"Civilized" is not typically used to describe an Alphabet City bar, so it won't be used here, either. But Boxcar Lounge is notably tame and friendly. That might just be because the weeknight happy hour lasts until 10pm, though.
1. Croxley Ales28 Avenue B, New York
2. The Summit Bar133 Ave C , New York
3. Alphabet City Beer Co.96 Avenue C, New York
4. Drop Off Service211 Avenue A, New York
5. Lovers of Today132 1/2 E 7th St, New York
6. Ace Bar531 E 5th St, New York
7. Sing Sing Ave A81 Avenue A, New York
8. The Wayland700 E 9th St, New York
9. Zum Schneider107 Avenue C, New York
10. The No Malice Palace197 E 3rd St, New York
11. The Library7 Avenue A, New York
12. Pouring Ribbons225 Avenue B, New York
13. Il Posto Accanto190 E 2nd St, New York
14. Vazacs Horseshoe Bar / 7B108 Avenue B, New York
15. Boxcar Lounge168 Avenue B, New York
One of a handful of locations in the greater New York area, the East Village's Croxley Ale delivers beer and wings in a dark tavern space complete with mounted TVs. Croxley might be a sports bar, but don't expect typical sports bar beer (read: Bud, Miller, or Coors). Instead, you'll find an expansive and rotating roster of craft beer from near and far, bottled and on tap. The food menu sticks to the bar food canon (that's a good thing) with sauce-covered Buffalo wings, crispy mozzarella sticks, and mounds of nachos.
With a top-flight cocktail bar, The Summit Bar is a fun, but relatively quiet spot, which makes shmoozing the babe sitting on one of those velvet banquettes easier. That failing, just hit up the 5:30pm-7:30pm oyster happy hour that happens every damn day.
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.
Drop Off Service has delicious meat pies, awesome beers on tap, and they let dogs inside. So basically, it's the ultimate adult playground.
You have to walk through a mass of garbage cans to get here because it’s downstairs behind Niagara, but we promise the inside is actually really romantic. This is mostly because the space is so tiny, you have no choice but to get real close, but also because there’s good music, great cocktails, and very little of the attitude we’ve come to expect from an intimate basement cocktail lounge.
Ace Bar has been serving up cheap drinks to East Village locals since 1992 and is known for its laid-back atmosphere and excellent arcade game collection. The bar stretches two huge rooms and offers plenty of seating, as well as two pool tables, two dart boards, pinball, Big Buck Hunter, and Skee-Ball. It also has a special projection TV system for games and 12 beers on tap.
Sing Sing Ave A, the karaoke and drinks bar, is quite a bit smaller than its East Village cousin. While the decision to go there is not a bad one, once you’re in that private room with a belly full of sake and a Jordin Sparks jam on deck, all bets are off.
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.
The OG of NYC beer gardens, this German spot is a go-to if you're looking for an authentic German beer and brat session. Though the space isn't typical for a beer garden (as in, there's no garden), the Alphabet City spot has sidewalk seating and communal tables inside.
DJs spin a mix of hip-hop, R&B, 80’s, Funk, and Soul on Fridays and Saturdays here, so in theory, NMP is excellent for dancing. But sometimes it’s so packed that you can only really shuffle in place. Those nights also come with a shot and beer special, though, so who's to say you'll know the difference.
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.
This cocktail lounge, tucked into a wood-paneled, second-floor space, brings an upscale-meets-gentlemen's club feel to Alphabet City. Expert bartenders mix drinks like you’ve never tasted before, like a coconut Tiki martini and an old-fashioned with bourbon, apple brandy, and rum. The bar bites menu, created by the folks at Beecher’s Cheese, is heavy on the cheese and charcuterie.
Where this intimate Alphabet City bar lacks in size, it makes up for in offerings. Il Posto Accanto boasts a global wine menu alongside affordable Italian fare and late-night bites. And just as important as the food and drink is the bars genuine, old-school NYC vibe: it's dimly lit, unfussy, and hosts a great rotation of jazz artists.
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.
Boxcar has happy hour deals every night of the week for you and your friends to enjoy. They also have an awesome backyard patio that can be enjoyed in the summer or winter via their retractable awning.