Where to Grab a Drink in NYC Right Now
To-go cocktails, heat lamp drinking, and alcohol delivery are all worthy of a toast.
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.
Since the onset of COVID-19 earlier this year, we’ve all experienced a decade’s worth of drama and tumult and there’s likely still more to come. But at the same time, there’s plenty to clink glasses to as well. Like the fact we’ve (likely) made it through the worst of it, and that miraculously, some new bars have even opened in the past few months, while other favorites have hung in there (for now anyway) thanks to innovations like to-go cocktails and creative outdoor setups. Here are the best new places to grab a drink in NYC right now... we’re guessing you probably need one.
Talk Story Rooftop
Atop the McCarren Hotel in Williamsburg, this rooftop bar opened in the summer with tropical vibes and views of the Manhattan skyline. Named after a Hawaiian phrase that signifies “shoot the breeze,” customers can do just that year-round in thanks to its retractable roof. The playful cocktail menu by bartender Crystal Chasse (Il Fiorista, Seamstress) includes drinks like That’s A Moray with mango, blueberry, and ginger shrub, and the Tidal Wave, a gorgeous riff on a blue Hawaiian with toasted coconut pandan creme. As both an eatery and a lounge, be sure to get a taste from their globally inspired menu with dishes like lobster gazpacho and chicken tikka basmati rice.
How to book: Via Resy.
Go subterranean and escape from all of the mess happening in the world aboveground by visiting The Lab, a new 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, whenever this indoor hideaway offering extra privacy isn’t booked for Patent Pending’s private events, its 40 seats with a combination of bar stools and sleek booths (in addition to a private bathroom) are available for maximized social distancing. Snag a seat, bask in the cooler temps down below, and order up drinks and bites from Patent Pending’s menu in this “cocktail cave.”
How to book/order: Reservations are available on their website for indoor and outdoor seating. To-go drinks and delivery via phone at 212-869-4002.
Dante West Village
This 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), this latest locale in one of NYC’s most picturesque neighborhoods offers serious style in all that they do. Expertly concocted aperitivos and martinis served in elegant glassware are listed on the menu in categories such as martini hour, spritz selections, Dante’s signatures, and negroni sessions. Pair them with a seafood-focused menu featuring dishes straight from a wood-fired grill and charcoal oven.
How to book: Indoor and outdoor seating is first come, first served. Order to-go drinks by calling 212-982-8799, visiting the storefront, or downloading the app.
If there was one way for Tarek Debira, co-owner of the hip Brooklyn spot, Bohemien Bar, to describe its eight-month journey thus far, it would be as a “rollercoaster that doesn’t stop.” After debuting in February, closing in March due to COVID-19, re-opening in April with delivery options, and then adapting to the constantly changing landscape of new guidelines and mandated rules to dining since then, he’s currently looking to winterize its outdoor seating area with a new deck, bubble tents, lights, and more. Cocktails here are culinarily driven with sustainability in mind, and include ingredients like avocado pit syrup and drink options such as a carbonated clarified milk punch and pumpkin coquito hot buttered rum. An eclectic food menu featuring French and Latin American influences includes duck confit mole tacos, mac 'n cheese croquettes, and more.
How to book: Reservations for indoor and outdoor seating are available by email at email@example.com or phone at 347-844-9895 for groups of 6+. Order to-go drinks via website, delivery via Caviar, Seamless.
With a self-proclamation of being NYC’s first “farm-to-bar” cocktail cafe, we don’t foresee it being the last, thanks to its sharp concept. At Festivál, owners Tyler Hollinger and Andrew Maturana curate their menu in consideration with local, sustainable, and in-season ingredients by traveling to local farms and purveyors themselves. Since opening in the Upper East Side this summer, the spot runs as a cafe in the mornings and starts offering cocktails at 5pm, with a special happy hour (remember those?) from 5pm-7pm. Signature drinks include the Jack and Diane (apple brandy, dry curaçao, and fresh lemon) and Midnight Special (cacao and chai infused gin, vermouth, and winter aperitivo blend). Items on the evening food menu include nori seaweed tots, house pumpkin ricotta gnocchi, slow braised beef short ribs, and more.
How to order: Reservations are available on Resy for outdoor seating and dining room. Order large batch cocktails for delivery via website.
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 Torst, 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. Visit their Ridgewood homebase and try their latest joint effort, the Purple Rice Lager, a collaboration with restaurant, the MáLà Project. Throw back a few 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.
How to book/order: Check-in at tent for seating. Order to-go beers and delivery via website.
When it came to choosing the location for Minnows, a low-key Greenpoint bar that opened this September, owners Cassie Barnard, Ollie Cleary, and Greg Nearhood knew they wanted a corner spot. As both business partners and life partners (Barnard and Nearhood welcomed their daughter, Penny, into the world one day before the bar opened, and Cleary and Nearhood own Honore Club in Bushwick), they saw a corner spot as an intersection of community, and have created just that with their venture. In a city with more drinking establishments than we can count, this Brooklyn watering hole offers a laid-back, no-frills kinda vibe with a concise cocktail list. Order a frozen grasshopper (the frostier version of a New Orleans classic); Splits & Giggles (bourbon, gin, bitters, and ginger beer); or the signature Pond Water (a sweet mystery drink with a rotating recipe but all of them are “a strange color and strong”).
How to book: Indoor and outdoor seating is first come, first served. Order drinks to-go on site.
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. Due to COVID-19, Lambda Lounge’s debut was pushed back from April to July. But since then, 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, orange juice, and elderflower tonic); Stay A While (whiskey, apricot brandy, and prosecco); and Prideful Punch (rum, raspberry, cointreau, and pineapple juice).
How to book: Reservations are available on website for both indoor and outdoor seating.
Bring live music back into your life with Wild Birds, a Crown Heights bar featuring live sets of music that are completely acoustic. After being forced to delay its March opening to July because of COVID-19, the spot has been offering some very-needed tunes (and drinks) to New Yorkers since the summer. For the upcoming season, customers can stay warm in outdoor seating by swaying to the music (along with positioned heaters). Their 100% “incidental” lineup of acts is totally eclectic and ranges from funk to Balkan brass. Rotating food pop-ups are also available throughout the week, and be sure to check their IG regularly for updates.
How to book: At the moment, outdoor seating only is first come, first served. Order drinks to-go in a separate line onsite.
Bar Goto Niban
Opened just before the pandemic took hold in late January, this Brooklyn offshoot of the LES original is bringing high-quality, Japanese-inspired drinks to the neighborhood from renowned cocktailian and owner, Kenta Goto. Get into the autumnal vibe at one of their outdoor tables with options like the Yuzu Hot Toddy made with gin, shochu, yuzu, and lemon. Snacks like potato croquettes and miso wings pair nicely as well.
How to book: Outdoor tables are bookable via Resy. Takeout/delivery is available as well by clicking here.
Opening in May during the height of COVID-19 wasn’t going to put a damper on these tropical paradise vibes. After indoor dining was allowed to resume in September, The Pineapple Club’s two floors of vibrants colors and design illuminated by a skylight are now available for booking. And with drinks like a mezcal ginger margarita cheekily referred to as “soup of the day,” this place has exactly the type of energy we’re looking to center ourselves in right now. If you’re sorely missing all of the great weekday events that used to populate the city’s nightlife, Tuesdays at The Pineapple Club are Ukrainian Hip Hop & Vodka Night.
How to book: Reservations are available on OpenTable for outdoor and indoor seating. Order to-go drinks and delivery via website.
After debuting in February before the onset of COVID-19, the bar was one of the city’s earlier adopters to offering to-go cocktails in April. Since then, Jeremy Le Blanche (former head mixologist at Queensyard) joined the team as head bartender in August, and is offering “The Thyme Bar Experience,” a pre-fixe menu of drink and food pairings designed to be enjoyed outdoors. For lovers of elaborate drinks that arrive in eye-catching vehicles that resemble a bird’s nest or some geometric triangle with a mysterious smoke, look no further.
How to book/order: Reservations are available on their website for outdoor seating. Order to-go drinks and delivery via Thyme2Go, or delivery via Grubhub, Seamless.
This tropical rooftop bar in Bushwick debuted this August to much anticipation. Due to popular demand, it didn’t just have one grand opening event, but two additional parties gave New Yorkers much needed release it was desperate for. With plenty of elbow space while offering views of its industrial neighborhood and also Manhattan, Runaway Roof makes for the perfect spot to take in fresh air and social distance with cocktails in hand (and friends six feet away). If you’ve had enough of watching flicks on the tiny screen of your old smartphone, swing by to grab a cocktail like the Coconut Schmoconut, order up some food, and then kick back with one of their movie screenings that start at 8pm.
How to book: Check available spots to reserve seating for movie screenings on the website. Order to-go cocktails and delivery via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although the Alphabet City location of Mace has closed, the bar’s award-winning menu is available through a pop-up running located at the former space of Existing Conditions until early November. Sip on the namesake cocktail, Mace, and more, which helped the bar land a spot on The World’s 50 Best Bar list.
How to order: Seating is first come, first served. Order ahead or to-go drinks via website.
In 2020, any warm weather or island theme destination within the five boroughs is where we want to be (with booze in hand). Add Diamond Reef to your list of equator-hot drinking spots, a chill cocktail destination in what used to be an auto body garage. Here, defy reality with tropical drinks in a laid-back vibe that celebrates rum and agave spirits, all in outdoor seating. A food truck on the patio serves up charcoal grilled skewers such as chicken and shishito pepper, along with Mexican-style corn, hot dogs, and snacks like coconut rice. In the next couple of weeks, a heated tent (or cabana in our mind) will shield the space and hot drinks like a warm version of their signature, Penichillin (with pumpkin spice), will be added to the menu.
How to book/order: Groups of up to six can be accommodated, patio seating is first come, first served. Order delivery via Caviar, to-go drinks via website.
This upbeat bilevel Chelsea cocktail spot is named after a classic ‘70s drink that originated at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton. Opened by Krissy Harris (Gramercy Tavern, Wren) right before the summer of 2019, the bar’s beverage menu includes sun-kissed options like the signature Jungle Bird (rum, campari, contratto aperitif, and lime); Return to Paradise (tequila, passion fruit liqueur, and guava); and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (tequila, mezcal, cilantro, and cucumber)—all of which are available to-go. Pair it with Southeast Asian inspired bites like lemongrass chicken dumplings and shrimp skewers, in addition to two varieties of french fries with curry ketchup or JB BBQ sauce.
How to book: Outdoor and indoor seating is available. Reservations are exclusively taken for groups of 8+ via email at email@example.com.
For this hangout spot located on the verge of Queens and Brooklyn, its wide spaces resembling a giant backyard or open field have always made it a popular spot for dance parties. When COVID-19 hit earlier this year, Nowadays took their gyration-inducing Mr. Sunday events online, in addition to launching more virtual programming to stay afloat. While you can go and dance onsite again, if you’re not in the mood to wear real pants and prefer to boogie at home, you can still join in on a Nowadays party with one of their virtual DJ sets. Check out their upcoming schedule of events for virtual, indoor, and on-premise happenings, and Patreon for additional online programming they’re offering.
How to book: Reservations are required and available on Resy for outdoor seating.
In Public Records’ former life, it was a live music destination and club at night, and a cafe and coffee shop during the day. When COVID-19 forced them to close, they launched the online platform Public Access to stay virtually connected with their community while continuing to offer music and funky programming. While Public Access is still going strong (with donations for its shows going directly to supporting artists), PR’s physical space has reopened since then. Head on over for an all-vegan menu and pair it with cocktails with names like Stolen Bicycle, Tidal Sour, or Sheso Brooklyn. While you’re there, peruse zines for sale as music or screenings of independent films play in the background.
How to book: Reservations are available on Resy for parties of 2-6 for dinner only in outdoor garden and indoor seating. For info on larger party sizes, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Pedro Inn
This cantina opened in 2019 after taking over the space of favorite local dive bar, Red Hook Bait & Tackle. Since then, San Pedro Inn has been serving a curated cocktail menu of drinks like an Oaxacan Old Fashioned or spicy margarita, alongside takes on Mexican street food from former Mettā chef, Noberto Piattoni. In an atmosphere with the charms of what feels like a classic NYC tavern, along with your cocktails, beer and wine are also available. And be sure to take in some sustenance with dishes like tacos, tostadas, and large plates such as roasted adobo chicken or grilled sirloin.
How to book/order: Seating is first come, first served.