Where to Grab a Drink in NYC Right Now
From dreamy rooftops to charming natural wine bars.
New York City is a town of extremes. Making it through an average day—or sometimes just a subway ride—is often stressful enough to send most of us to the nearest watering hole. It’s also arguably one of the best places on Earth to dance on a table, party until dawn, forget your own name, and generally live like there’s no tomorrow. (They don’t call it the city that never sleeps for nothing.) Blame it on the work hard, play hard mentality if you wish. But every day, life here gives us plenty of things to either celebrate or stress about, which means that the Big Apple is, and always has been, a destination for bars—all kinds of bars.
If there’s one thing the past 16 months of the pandemic has taught us, it’s that while to-go cocktails are sadly no longer a thing, there are still plenty of ways to grab a drink to help us all cope with the wild times we’re living in. From cocktail bars that opened right before our world turned upside down, to newer places that debuted just in time for hot summer nights, here’s everywhere to drink in NYC right now—we’re guessing you probably need one, and definitely say you deserve another round.
With the recent debut of Bar Blondeau, the team behind the much-lauded Williamsburg brasserie, Le Crocodile, have opened their second must-try culinary destination within the Wythe Hotel. Located on the sixth floor (with killer skyline views), chefs Aidan O’Neal and Jake Leiber have again teamed up with restaurateur Jon Neidich for this French-inspired bar with the cocktail program lead by bar manager Sörine Anderson (Nitecap, Death & Co). Sip on a signature drink based on a classic with its own spin like the Martini Blond (Amalfi Coast gin, cucumber botanical vodka, amber vermouth, lemon oil) along with frozen drinks, zero proof cocktails, beers, and a natural wine list curated by beverage director and sommelier, Rafa García Febles. When it comes to sustenance, expect all of your French favorites like leeks with miso and pine nuts; mussel toast; and salmon rillettes with creme fraiche.
At this new BK bar that opened this summer, the name and the MO here is meant to encourage patrons to “steal back” all of that precious time lost drinking at bars during the pandemic—and all within a contemporary space inspired by ‘80s NYC (complete with original punk and hip hop party flyers and polaroids of the artist Basquiat). Owned by John McNulty (Swine, Katana Kitten), Thief is a culmination of his over 25 years of industry experience with a beverage program lead by head bartender Victor Everitt. Expect signature cocktails like a perfect-for-summer Friesling (yep, that’s frozen riesling), in addition to five other offerings like the Supersonic (gin, celery shrub, cucumber ice cube) and Jalisco Garden (tomato-infused tequila, carrot, cilantro). Beer and wine are also on hand, along with food options like chips and homemade dip, vegan mini corn dogs, chicken parm sliders, and weekend specials like pizza bagels made with the baked goods from Speedy Romeo.
All Night Skate
This roller-skating rink themed bar doesn’t offer actual skating—however, it does have every other essential element needed for a nostalgic night out: a cool space, retro concept, and plenty of concessions. Opened last summer by Olivia Hu (Sunrise/Sunset) and husbands Danny Waits (Brooklyn Bowl, Baby’s Alright) and Mitch McCann, head to All Night Skate for a fun time at the rink sans all that tedious physical exertion. Signature drinks include the Prom Night (mezcal, pomegranate, orange) and Green Light Go (mastiha, rosemary-infused gin, cucumber), and for sustenance, order up Japanese comfort food made by Mama Yoshi.
Temperance Wine Bar
When you’re tired of drinking subpar wine while lazing out on your couch, head to the newly-opened Temperance Wine Bar in the West Village for some highly-curated options in a 1960s-era dining room designed by the same team who formerly did De Maria. Here, owners Jonathan Rexroat and Devin Rochford offer a list of over a hundred wines by the glass created by sommelier A.J. Ojeda-Pons (The Lambs Club, Mercado Little Spain). Whether you’re looking to sip on grapes grown in the Hudson River Valley or from countries like Morocco, choose from natural wines, year-round rosés, lesser known varietals, and more while pairing them with dishes like house-cured sardine with butter bruschetta; duck meatballs; porgy tiradito with hatch chiles and lime; and sweet & spicy cauliflower.
As the latest sister spot to The Garret Bars, this bar from Den Hospitality is located at the former Daddy-O corner space and takes inspiration from old-school diners and dive bars. Opened earlier this summer with an interior design concept based on ‘70s NYC and a cocktail program by beverage director Max Stampa-Brown, at Bandits, signature drinks include the Bobby Wasabi (pineapple, wasabi orgeat, shiso) and Bradshaw on Bedford (rose petal, rhubarb, sun dried tomato). The all-day food menu features wings, a burger, tuna melt, and dedicated tots section that include taco tots and halal cart tots.
This April, the debut of Veranda marked chef George Mendes’ return to the NYC culinary scene since closing his celebrated Iberian-inspired restaurant, Aldea, early last year. In partnership with restaurateur David Rabin, the new eatery is located on the second floor of ModernHaus Soho (formerly The James), and in addition, includes The Bar at Veranda, an intimate cocktail destination with drinks spearheaded by Jonny Swet (The Skylark, Rogue and Cannon). With views overlooking Grand Street, order snacks from chef Mendes like julienne french fries or crispy salt cod croquettes with signature drinks like the Wanderlust (mezcal, thai basil, coconut, absinthe) or Drink Pink (pink gin, strawberry, rhubarb bitters).
Barn Joo Nomad
This Korean gastropub known for shareable plates, good drinks, and a large vibrant moon gracing each of their dining rooms opened their third Manhattan branch earlier this spring. It’s thankfully located on a stretch of 6th Avenue that’s in dire need of a good watering hole, making Barn Joo NoMad a neighborhood oasis. Go for signature cocktails like the Berritas Margarita (tequila, seasonal berry syrup, pomegranate vinegar) or Korean-inspired options like the Jeju Spritz (bokbunja, campari, sparkling wine) and Toasted Sesame Manhattan (sesame washed bourbon, drambuie, whiskey bitters). A culinary speciality specific to this locale are the open rolls with seafood and more, and save room for short ribs or the popular Pasta Nomad Noir with black ink squid tagliatelle, crab, shrimp, mussels, and a bechamel five-cheese sauce.
Open since spring, Latin-Caribbean rum cocktails and food offerings are the focus at Fats Duvall’s Rhum Cafe, a SoHo drink destination and restaurant from the team behind spots like The Brooklyn Inn, The Magician, and WCOU (Tile Bar). In a tropical-themed dining room adorned with murals and table figurines that’ll inspire your next beach vacation, vibe out with a wide selection of rum and global beers, alongside head bartender Linda Garcia’s (Clover Club, Le Boudoir) signature cocktails like the Roll Me a Cigar (coffee-bean infused rum, smoked cinnamon), and the Pink Flamingo (rum, watermelon, grapefruit and guava juice) that’s served in an actual pink flamingo glass. Dine on empanadas, fluke ceviche, and chimichurri steak before finishing it off with homemade beignets or dessert specials like banana bread pudding. Thursdays from 6 pm-10 pm are domino nights with $12 drink specials.
Double Chicken Please
After years of shaking up cocktails all over the country in a vintage yellow 1977 Volkswagen minivan (and racking over 10,000 miles and serving 1,200 drinks), globally recognized bartenders Faye Chen and GN Chan permanently parked their pop-up in the Lower East Side to open Double Chicken Please last fall. Expect to be impressed by high-caliber drinks and food with eight “taptails” (that’s cocktails on tap for ya) like the succinctly named #1 (rum, montenegro, cold brew, apricot), three popular chicken sandwiches, and additional bar bites in the more casual front section. In the back bar’s menu, order inventive signature cocktails inspired by (and named after) the Waldorf Salad, butter raisin toast, and mango sticky rice, in addition to a dinner menu with oysters, lobster rolls, and prime hanger steak.
This spot from the team behind the groundbreaking Japanese bar and speakeasy, Angel’s Share, and Yoshida Restaurant Group opened in December of 2019, just a few months shy of the start of the pandemic. Located at Japan Village in Industry City, Oldies offers a more casual vibe than its pioneering predecessor with a Japanese-inspired drink list highlighting freshly-squeezed fruits, highball variations, and more. In addition to wine, beer, sake, and Japanese spirits, choose from classics like a Manhattan or SideCar in addition to signature drinks like the Tadaima Tiki (whiskey, rum, housemade oat milk orgeat, grated nutmeg) and Say Anything (jalapeno infused tequila, cachaça, aperol, watermelon). A menu of bar snacks include agedashi tofu, corn tempura, and a chef’s choice yakitori set with five grilled skewers.
This sister bar to ROKC opened in late 2019 and was hitting its stride until the pandemic eventually hit. Now, Shige Kabashima’s Upper East Side spot is open and operating in all its full glory with drink and food offerings inspired by the cuisine of 19th century Japanese port towns. Similar to its sibling cocktail destination, NR offers expertly crafted drinks served within ornate presentations (but those arriving in a simple nick and nora glass are just as good, too). For the summer, new specials include the Yellow Tiki frozen cocktail (mezcal/tequila, creme de banane liqueur, passionfruit) and Watermelon (Japanese barley vodka, watermelon, green tomato jam, red salt milkwash). For food, choose from bites like a truffle egg sandwich or karaage fried chicken along with four different ramens.
Inspired by free-thinkers and wanderers of all kinds, co-owner Tarek Debira opened this hip spot near the Brooklyn Heights waterfront right before the onset of the pandemic. In addition to beer and natural wines, at Bohemien Bar, signature cocktails include the Yesterday (gin, Salers, yuzu), Butterfly (vodka, ginger, butterfly pea flower), and One Love (rum, passion fruit, coconut, turmeric). An eclectic food menu includes small plates like beet dip with labneh and walnuts; duck flatbread with leeks; and lamb chops with mint yogurt.
Dante West Village
Last summer, the team behind the beloved negroni spot and Greenwich Village bar, Dante, opened a second location further west on Hudson Street, dubbed Dante West Village. As the younger sibling to the MacDougal Street stalwart (that has origins dating back more than a century), Dante West Village differs from its predecessor in its nod to coastal traditions of Southern Italy and Northern Spain. Expertly concocted aperitivos and martinis served in elegant glassware are listed on the menu in categories such as martini hour, spritz selections, and a recently debuted Cosmopolitan Collection featuring eight selections like a coconut cosmo or Cosmotini. Pair everything with a seafood-focused menu with dishes straight from a wood-fired grill and charcoal oven.
Bar Goto Niban
Opened just before the pandemic took hold last January, this Brooklyn offshoot is the follow-up project to renowned drinks expert Kenta Goto’s award-winning Lower East Side bar, Bar Goto, which opened in 2015. In addition to also offering high-quality, Japanese-inspired cocktails and bar snacks like the original, Bar Goto Niban features a larger space with 45 seats available at its L-shaped bar, counter seating, or banquettes. Order up stalwarts like the Sakura Martini or Kyoto Old Fashioned, and try new signatures like the Honeydew Daiquiri (rum, melon, pastis) or Ume Paloma (tequila, Japanese plum, grapefruit soda). Food items include the popular miso wings, kombu celery, and a variety of Japanese croquettes served alongside a house dipping sauce.
Evil Twin Brewing NYC
After launching in Denmark in 2010, owner Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø moved to NYC with his wife Maria and briefly landed at Greenpoint’s Tørst, which was known for pairing Evil Twin brews with food, before he opened a standalone outpost of the beer brand in 2016. Since then, it’s become known for its multitude of craft beers that range from imperial stouts like the 99 Day Banana Bread, to sour ales made with pineapple, guava, and chili. The company is also popular for creative collaborations and cool can designs. In addition to a Dumbo taproom, visit their Ridgewood homebase and try their latest joint effort, the Evil Water, a hard seltzer collaboration with restaurant, the MáLà Project. Choose from 20 taps, frozen cocktails, and more in their outdoor courtyard seating that’s open seven days a week, and drink up for strength because you’ll want to lug a whole bunch of cans home.
Opened by Krissy Harris (Gramercy Tavern, Wren), this upbeat bilevel Chelsea cocktail spot is named after a classic ‘70s drink that originated at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton. The tropical-inspired bar also has a sun-kissed second floor space named The Canopy Room, and until 7 pm on Tuesday to Fridays, Jungle Bird offers a special “early bird special” with the signature cocktail, The Seed (Aperol, passion fruit puree, sparkling wine, pink peppercorns) for $12, along with $10 glasses of wine and $6 beer. Pair your drinks with Asian inspired bites like chicken & lemongrass dumplings, chicken satay, or Taiwanese style fried chicken along with the popular Jungle Fries (tamarind, makrut lime leaves, galangal, chilies).
Go subterranean and escape from the wild world aboveground by visiting The Lab, a drinking space hidden behind the cellar speakeasy Patent Pending, which also happens to be tucked behind a coffee shop, Patent Coffee (it’s all very meta!). Operated by the same team, bask in cooler temps and one of this “cocktail cave’s” 30 seats with a combination of bar stools and sleek banquettes (in addition to a private bathroom) for bites and craft cocktails like the Cosmic Rays (pisco, gin, green apple, elderflower) and Bolt From the Blue (rye whiskey, Mexican & Guyanese rums, banana, pineapple).
After launching the spirits brand Lambda Vodka together, the next joint venture for business partners and married couple, Charles Hughes and Richard Solomon, was opening Harlem’s only African-American owned lounge catering to LGBTQIA customers. Since opening last summer, its lounge concept has been a welcome addition to the NYC scene for both the LGBTQIA community, and those looking to hang out in a place that’s more than just a bar. Video game consoles, photo booths, and Jumbo Jenga will keep you entertained, in addition to sipping on signature cocktails like the For the Love of Lambda (Lambda Vodka, pomegranate, elderflower tonic) and Stay A While (whiskey, apricot brandy, prosecco). There’s also a two-for-one happy hour from Tuesdays to Fridays at 6 pm-10 pm.
In a city with more drinking establishments than we can count, this watering hole located on a Greenpoint corner stands out with its laid-back, no-frills kinda vibe. Opened last fall by owners Cassie Barnard, Ollie Cleary, and Greg Nearhood (Cleary and Nearhood also own Honore Club in Bushwick), Minnows offers a concise cocktail list along with summer drinks specials like a Southern Slurpee (bourbon, sweet tea, lemon). For its mainstay menu, order a frozen grasshopper (the frostier version of a New Orleans classic) or the signature Pond Water (a sweet mystery drink with a rotating recipe), in addition to a food menu with sandwiches, tacos, and fried sustenance like crispy tempura cauliflower.
This East Village cocktail bar from Will Wyatt (Pretty Ricky’s, The NoMad Hotel) and Alex Thaboua (The Standard, The NoMad Hotel) has long become a popular go-to spot in the area since opening in 2019. While going into hibernation mode more than once throughout the pandemic, the duo also started offering burritos to their customers at Mister Paradise. The silver lining to come of it was the inception of Electric Burrito, the duo’s fast casual Cali-Mexican eatery on nearby St. Marks with exceptional California-style burritos stuffed with fries. In addition to cocktails like the Party Lobster (tequila/mezcal, campari, watermelon, habanero) or Handy Shandy (tomato, verjus, aperol, passion fruit, pilsner), Mister Paradise offers its own food items (sorry, no burritos though) like smoked salmon belly paté, crab toast, and the popular Paradise Double Burger.
This destination bar located on the border of Bushwick and Ridgewood resembles a giant backyard which has long made it a popular spot for dance parties. Nowadays’ outdoor space is open seven days a week and includes a newly-launched lunch and dinner menu of Japanese items from Diner By The Izakaya with chicken katsu sandwiches, wagyu burgers, and izakaya-style wings with a secret sauce. On Sundays from 3 pm-9 pm, jam out at the very popular Mister Sunday party series while sipping on signature cocktails like a shochu lemon sour, mezcal paloma, or spiked lemonade, along with draft beer, natural wines, and general cocktails. Expect a weekly burger barbecue from 12 pm-8 pm on Saturdays, and free outdoor movie screenings (no reservations required) from Mondays to Wednesdays at 8:30 pm.
Opening last May during the pandemic wasn’t going to put a damper on the tropical paradise vibes of Pineapple Club. With the drink menu spearheaded by Nazar Hrab (Yves, Jojo), this bar and restaurant offers two floors of vibrants colors and design in the East Village that’s illuminated by a skylight. Signature drinks include a frozen piña colada and cocktails like the That’s Bananas (rye, coconut cream, banana) and Stay Golden (gin, pineapple turmeric shrub, chili peppers). The food menu is helmed by executive chef Patrick Baird (The NoMad Hotel, Rotisserie Georgette) and offers small plates like grilled octopus, avocado fries, and yuca fritters, along with large plates like jerk chicken, skirt steak, and a signature burger.
With an old-school hi-fi theme featuring cool and hard-to-find records, Public Records is another hip Brooklyn social space with multi-faceted offerings to its visitors: it’s a restaurant, cafe, retail store, and dancing spot that serves a plant-based menu of food and drinks. Get un-parched with natural wines highlighting wineries from around the world, along with special on-tap cocktails like the Mister Monk (Avua Cachaca, green chartreuse, falernum, pineapple shrub), summer negronis, frozen drinks, and signature drinks like the Terra Daisy Swizzle (tequila, thyme infused grappa, grapefruit cordial) and Berry Nice To Meet You (bourbon, Cocchi Rosa, green chartreuse, strawberry shrub). The vegan dinner menu includes al pastor squash blossom tacos, kimchi fried rice, 22-hour housemade labneh, and dessert like banana cream pie. Be sure to check their website for upcoming events that include dancing and more.
Since debuting last August under its former name of Runaway Roof, this Bushwick venue rebranded this year as Runaway BK after launching its newest onsite concept and ground floor restaurant: Runaway Diner. With this latest addition, the spot is the homebase to three destinations that include Runaway Pinky’s and Runaway The Wild, both of which are cocktail spots offering rooftop views of its industrial neighborhood and also Manhattan. With plenty of fun vibes and fresh air, kick back with your crew while sipping on signature drinks like the Salty Perrita (mezcal/tequila, grapefruit) and Mimi Fizz (prosecco, cherry heering, orange juice) or snacking on loaded latkes with bacon, cheddar, and scallion; deviled eggs; and biscuits and gravy.
Located in a former gambling den and speakeasy from the 1920s, this underground bar is beneath the bakery Patisserie Chanson. With its drink program led by head bartender Jeremy Le Blanche (Queensyard), at Thyme Bar, he offers elegant drinks and food inspired by botanicals and each served artfully with a touch of wonder. For lovers of elaborate cocktails that arrive in eye-catching vehicles (perhaps with a mysterious smoke and ingredients like charcoal burnt coconut milk?), this place is your jam. Order drinks from two menu sections—Floriography and Le Jardin—with signature items like the Eucalyptus Watercooler (eucalyptus pisco, violet cordial, pineapple) or Chatpata Fizz (mezcal, chatpata soda, pandan). A pre-fixe menu with food pairings is also available, in addition to a la carte dishes like pork belly sliders, black truffle grilled cheese, and desserts like strawberry champagne cake.
Bring live music back into your life with Wild Birds, a Crown Heights bar featuring live sets of “groove-based music” ranging from Balkan brass and afrobeat to cumbia and soul. Since opening last summer, the spot has been offering some very-needed tunes (and drinks) to New Yorkers from both their indoor and outdoor seating. Sway to the music with signature cocktails like the Kurt Cobain (mezcal, ginger, agave, cayenne) or Roadrunner (tequila, tomatillo, Ancho Reyes), along with wine, beer, and frozen cocktails. Rotating food pop-ups are also available throughout the week, and be sure to check their IG regularly for updates on musical acts.