Most neighborhoods in New York have at least three million bars, which means picking the best among them is nearly impossible -- much like choosing who's better amongst Kobe, Shaq, and that handsome devil Travis Knight. But that doesn't mean the debate around it can't be fun as hell. Here are our favorites at the moment -- let the cogitation begin, down in the comments.
This was a tough one because we love a ton of bars here (7B, Boxcar, Pouring Ribbons, Drop Off Service, Evelyn Drinkery, Alphabet City Brewing Company, and a million others), but The Wayland is the best all-around spot because of reliably good drinks (like the kale & ginger Garden Variety margarita, or the smoked-with-actual-smoke I Hear Banjos), as well as occasional live music and spontaneous secret lobster parties.
Battery Park City
There aren't a ton of spots this far downtown where you can get a great craft cocktail in a laid-back atmosphere. This is one of them.
It’s a great spot to start the night off with a happy hour, given its proximity to a ton of other cool stuff, but you don’t have to leave this tavern to have an amazing time. It’s a great spot to meet people or just take down dope cocktails, like their Wren Old Fashioned (Old Overholt rye, Punt e Mes, cherry liqueur, orange bitters), and bar eats like bacon jam & ricotta toast or excellent beef jerky.
This was another close call -- Gallow Green’s enchanted rooftop almost took it, and so did the reliable good vibes at the Half King, but honestly you just need to sit on the Southernmost stool of this spot during sunset and then you’ll get it.
Sometimes we like to get weird, so we come here, order a million picklebacks and a goddamn bowl of bacon, and it happens.
Dead Rabbit is one of the best bars in the world, so it takes the title here, but a part of us will always love Jeremy’s Ale House and its giant styrofoam cups of beer, too.
Another neighborhood with a ton of super-strong options, but this tiny cocktail bar is our move, with some of the absolute best and most original cocktails in the city that focus on bitters and amaro and other less familiar liquor-age.
In addition to having some of the best wings in the city and the country, this old-school spot has the type of NY charm that other people are always trying super hard to recreate, plus some of the coolest urinals anywhere.
So what if the only time you go there is once a year and it’s packed and crazy, they’ve actually got a pretty tight schnapps list, and once you’re there it’s always fun. Pete’s Tavern, one of the oldest bars in the city, is more of an everyday best for sticklers about "seasons".
It kind of depends on your vibe -- if you’re looking for something a little more down-to-earth and rowdy, it’s tough to beat Half Pint or Bleecker St -- but this spot’s cocktails, occasionally served in coconuts or other quirky boozeware, are superior, and always worth a visit.
In addition to being one the reasons it’s great to live Uptown, this spot rocks a great selection of craft beers, a bottomless brunch, and eats like the 1635 Burger with crispy onions, cornichon remoulade, cheese, and bacon.
It's got live music almost every night of the week, vintage album covers all over the walls, and drinks like the mango mojito and the Baron with brandy, fresh lemon, simple syrup, and sparkling wine. It’s excellent.
As much as we like underground surf bars with frozen Coronas and a sandwich filled with wonton meatballs, french fries, and cheese, Reunion couldn’t beat out one of the best beer bars in the city with its constantly changing and impressive tap list and a chill, friendly vibe.
It’s got great cocktails, great coffee, and it’s next-door neighbor has the best burger in the area as well.
Dancing, drinking, Jenga, and ‘mosas & margaritas served in a mason jar, plus bar food like wings and crispy shrimp, make this place a go-to.
Lower East Side
Yet another area with a quagillion excellent options, but this relative newcomer is the move right now thanks to amazing cocktails, like the smoky-bitter Hempen Halter, and food that has no business being as good as it is, like the amazing white shrimp po’boy, fresh-as-hell oysters, and a pastrami salmon dish that’s one of our favorite bites in the city right now.
Ping pong, giant beers, and hot people. That is all.
Another neighborhood, another amazing beer bar -- this is one of the OGs on the craft beer scene, and one of the only reasons to stay in this neighborhood past happy hour.
Just off of Times Square, this spot plies you with great cocktails while the occasional piano is played and song is belted out. You could do way, waaaaaayyyyyy worse here.
Divey, laid-back atmosphere, good pub eats, and cheap, decent beer. Win, win, win.
The Cannibal is awesome and so is Waterfront Ale House, but those veer too far into restaurant-y territory for us to be comfortable putting them on this list. Middle Branch pours reliably great drinks made by top-notch bartenders in a bi-level space that manages to feel a little like New Orleans.
Just a great bar with zero pretensions, big beers, dart boards, lots of pool tables, and Buck Hunter. Botanica, Temple Bar, and Tom & Jerry are also completely solid, but our heart is with Bleecker.
One of those spots that manages to pull off seemingly effortless quality. It's always a good time with excellent cocktails and good eats.
We’re gonna cheat here and lump both of the hotel’s bars together -- the one in the restaurant is still completely legit, but the bigger, newer one around the corner makes amazing cocktails, sometimes big enough for eight people, and rocks a seriously excellent burger and an incredibly rich, flaky, and amazing chicken pot pie.
We would have picked Milady’s but it left us too soon, so we’re going with another simple, old-school bar instead, and this one has the bonus of having a good burger too.
This long, dark, beautiful bar can get crowded, but it’s worth it for the good times, bespoke cocktails, and house cocktails like the barrel-aged Illegal Negroni with mezcal, Campari, and sweet vermouth aged in new oak.
Upper East Side
The Upper East Side isn’t all Irish bars and frat bars anymore (they still have great versions of those, though), but the Gilroy doesn’t go too far in the other direction either -- it's just a neighborhood bar that’s really stepped up its cocktail game and also delivers good bar eats, like three cheese mac & cheese with bacon and bison sliders.
Upper East Side
One of the best sports bars in the city. Period.
Top-notch beers like Bell’s Expedition Stout, SingleCut Bon Bon 2X TNT Double IPA, and Westbrook One Claw are paired with burgers and 10 types of wings, like cider BBQ, chipotle blueberry, and Buffalo at this way-uptown beer bar.
An amazing beer selection, good food, and knowledgeable staff/customers in a no-fuss atmosphere -- this is what a beer bar wants to be.
1. The Wayland700 E 9th St, New York
2. The Black Hound301 S End Ave, New York
3. The Wren344 Bowery, New York
4. Colicchio & Sons85 10th Ave, New York
5. Whiskey Tavern79 Baxter St, New York
6. The Dead Rabbit30 Water St, New York
7. Amor y Amargo443 E 6th St, New York
8. Old Town Bar45 E 18th St., New York
9. Rolf's281 3rd Ave, New York
10. ZZ's Clam Bar169 Thompson St, New York
11. The Grange Bar & Eatery1635 Amsterdam Ave, New York
12. Shrine World Music Venue2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York
13. The Pony Bar637 10th Ave , New York
14. Dyckman Bar221 Dyckman St, New York
15. Black Crescent76 Clinton St, New York
16. The Standard Hotel848 Washington St, New York
17. Rattle N Hum14 E 33rd St, New York
18. The Rum House228 W 47th St, New York
19. Lion's Head Tavern995 Amsterdam Ave, New York
20. Middle Branch154 E 33rd St, New York
21. Bleecker Street Bar56 Bleecker St, New York
22. Mother's Ruin18 Spring St, New York
23. The NoMad1170 Broadway, New York
24. Broome Street Bar363 W Broadway, New York
25. Ward III111 Reade Street, New York
26. The Gilroy1561 2nd Ave, New York
27. Blondies212 W 79th St, New York
28. Buddha Beer Bar4476 Broadway, New York
29. The Blind Tiger281 Bleecker St, New York
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.
Black Hound's a contemporary speakeasy featuring drinks that are inspired by drunks... err, we mean writers like Hunter Thompson, Oscar Wilde, and Ernest Hemingway.
Given its proximity to Washington Square Park, The Public Theater, The Standard, and a number of other downtown points of interest, there's never a dull moment at this inviting bar on Bowery. Artisanal cocktails -- like the Wren Old Fashioned, made with Old Overholt rye, Punt e Mes, cherry liqueur and orange bitters -- work alongside sophisticated bar bites to keep the energy up at this venue, long after happy hour's over.
From the founding chef of Gramercy Tavern and judge of Top Chef comes this double-winged restaurant offering a taproom with a view at the front, and high-end American fare in the back. The indulgent tasting menu features the likes of roasted spanish octopus with avocado and poached farm egg with pancetta, while a dizzyingly long wine and beer list guarantees you have an excuse to stay for a while and enjoy the sunset streaming through the massive taproom window.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
ZZ's Clam Bar does just what you'd expect New York to do to a tiny seafood kitchen: make it exclusive, extravagant, and exceedingly expensive. A bouncer out front enforces the reservations-only policy, which are not so easy to come by considering there are only 12 seats in the brick-walled space. The kitchen turns out high-end, mostly raw seafood that goes far beyond the namesake raw bar clams: you can expect a changing lineup of small plates like fruit-topped snapper fillet and trout roe on toast. The cocktails are as well-made as they are high-priced. Don't even think about slipping the pearl-handled utensils in your purse.
It's up in Harlem, but this neighborhood resto is a great place to get fresh food with top-notch cocktails, craft beers, and wine.
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.
The Pony Bar on 10th Ave traffics in American craft brew-- that means no bottled beer, except for Budweiser and Bud Light ("We believe draft beer is craft beer," its website proclaims); no imports (go USA!); and selections from only the finest producers in the country. The quirky, casual pub atmosphere is a great spot to indulge in your inner-beer-geekdom. While situated smack dab in the midst of the Hells' Kitchen clamor, The Pony Bar itself is rather chill -- an under-the-radar gem you'll want to keep all for yourself.
You can trust that you’ll actually have a great time if you hit up this local hotspot, because it’s got great music, cool staff, terrific drinks, drinking Jenga (drinking semi-optional), and room to break it down on the dance floor.
A fire in 2015 couldn't keep Black Crescent down -- the Lower East Side raw and cocktail bar came back with a thirst for sating yours. Notable on the corner of Rivington and Clinton for the serpentine mural that covers the building's edifice, the spot is low-key on the interior, with simple wood and chrome accents. Oyster happy hours are made happier by strong riffs on classics, like a take on the Negroni called the Hempen Halter, with hickory-smoked Italian vermouth, sweet vermouth, Campari, and gin.
A biergarten, a pizza garden, the High Line, Meatpacking, the Standard Grill, Le Bain... this hotel has so much to do, you'll probably never want to leave.
For an all-inclusive beer experience, head to midtown's Rattle N Hum, where beer flights, 40+ rotating beers on tap, and specialty bottles will satisfy any and all beer lovers. Foodwise, the menu of bar bites like lobster mac ‘n cheese, baby lamb sliders, and IPA French fries will soak up all of that alcohol-induced hunger.
A piano, a multi-lantern chandelier, and red leather banquettes set the tone for this classic cocktail joint located in the Theater District. Serving up masterful, brag-worthy takes on your liquor go-to's, The Rum House is a cocktail purveyor through and through. Food isn't a focus here, so take your hunger to Hell's Kitchen and come back here for a most-sophisticated nightcap.
Lion's Head Tavern offers everything you'd want in your neighborhood bar: lots of TV screens, cheap beer, and first-class tater tots.
You might not expect to find an A-list cocktail bar tucked inconspicuously into a two-story town house-esque spot on 33rd St, but it’s there, and the pedigreed team behind it (Little Branch, Milk & Honey…) is slinging amazing cocktails that include both bespoke options and originals like the rum-based Island Old Fashioned. The exterior is decidedly nondescript, with nary a sign announcing the bars presence, while the inside is adorned with embossed wallpaper, exposed brick and dark woods all under a pressed-tin ceiling. Cocktails are reasonably priced for Manhattan and don't even sacrifice the chiseled ice or ingredients added with eyedroppers.
Bleecker Street Bat -- widely considered a dive bar by New Yorkers -- is pleasant, spacious, and packed with respectable beer options. There are pool tables, an entire section reserved for playing darts, and both tables & booths where you can actually hold audible conversations. Its exterior is unassuming, but this bar (located right off the 6/B/D/F/M subway stop) pulls out all the stops for a great, no-frills experience.
Mother's Ruin offers a variety of inventive, ever-revolving cocktail slushies (especially during the warmer months). Past creations have included peanut butter and jelly with rye whiskey, dragonfruit, bourbon chocolate milk, and cucumber and honeydew. This comfortable, neighborhood bar/lounge also offers a number of standard libations, which must be paired with the Old Bay-seasoned waffle fries.
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.
A decades-old classic dive, Broome Street provides a quaint, rugged contrast to the swankiness of Soho. The beers are cheap, the tables and wooden bar are predictably well-loved, and the inexplicably wrapped-in-a-pita cheeseburger is just as delicious as ever -- and at $8, it's one of the best deals in the neighborhood.
Ward III is a brick-walled, velvet-curtained saloon rigged with wrought-iron Moroccan gates, a back bar made from Singer sewing machines and black high-backed couches reclaimed from Wakiya. This spot is run by Tribeca bar vets (Odeon, Macao, Grace), offering a double shot of service: not only will they craft "bespoke cocktails" tailored to each patron's ill-to-well-informed desires, but they'll also keep that recipe on file under your name. You picked your poison, and now it’ll be ready when you return and request, "fix me that drink from that time with that stuff.”
If you thought the negroni -- that ethereal combination of gin, Campari, and vermouth -- couldn't be improved upon, you might be right. But The Gilroy will at least expand your notion of what the drink can be. The Upper East Side bar serves no less than nine variations on the classic: the White Negroni is made with White Pike whiskey, Suze, and Lillet Blanc, while the Old Oscar features bourbon with chili liqueur, Campari, and chocolate bitters. Cheese plates, flatbreads, and approachable small plates like burrata and sliders complement the cocktails.
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.
Head all the way to Washington Heights to achieve brewlightenment at this growler-friendly global beer bar serving up the likes of Ommegang Seduction, local Mary's Maple Porter, and Delirium Tremens, plus eclectic street-food-inspired bites (w/ ingredients pulled from their rooftop garden) including Korean fried chicken, deep-fried pizza, skewered cow hearts (!), and house sausages, also a directive you will most certainly follow.
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.