Food & Drink

Every NYC Bar You Need to Hit in the New Year

Updated On 12/14/2017 at 04:26PM EST Updated On 12/14/2017 at 04:26PM EST
where to drink in nyc right now, Dante
Dante | Cole Saladino / Thrillist

Brooklyn Heights Social Club

Brooklyn Heights

From the team behind Beatrice Inn and 1Oak, Brooklyn Heights Social Club is the perfect place for you to blow your holiday bonus on bottle service. The cocktails may be pricey, but we assure you, they’re worth the splurge. Next time you’re in the market for a celebratory night out, the bar, which is stationed on the 10th floor of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, is the perfect fit. Your view of the skyline, framed by both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, will certainly justify the price tag on your elevated gin & tonic.  

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ABC Beer Co.

Alphabet City

Part brew shop and part beer bar, ABC is an oasis for beer nerds and casual drinkers alike. With a near endless roster of interesting beers on tap and in the fridge, all manners of beer connoisseurs will be at home. The place has plenty of comfortable seating for large parties, board games for the taking, a big screen for watching games, and excellent cheese plates for when you get hungry -- it’s the ultimate crowd-pleaser.

Air's Champagne Parlor

Greenwich Village

You shouldn’t need an excuse to down Champagne on any old Tuesday night. That’s the mindset at Air’s Champagne Parlor, a glitzy, bubbly-focused spot in the Village. Opt for a rare vintage and caviar if you want to go all out, or spare your wallet, and spring for one of the more affordable bottles on the menu -- there are plenty. The best part? The bar is committed to bucking the notion that Champagne needs to be expensive by offering bottles at retail prices retail prices -- and, if you don’t finish your bottle while you’re there, you can cork it and take it home.

The Aviary

The Aviary

Upper West Side

A second outpost of the famed Chicago cocktail bar, the Aviary is the latest addition to the Mandarin Oriental (located next to The Office, from the same team) and boasts Central Park views, fancy lounge seating, and cocktails that are given as much dedicated prep as dishes -- with price tags to match. If you’re in a position to spend nearly $40 on a Bloody Mary (congratulations!) you’ll find that here, along with other seriously decadent drinks and a globally inspired food menu.

Miracle on Ninth Street (pop-up at Mace)

East Village

Since it first popped up in the East Village in 2014, Miracle -- the annual holiday cocktail pop-up from the team behind Mace – has expanded internationally to 50+ locations. Still, you can’t miss out on the OG edition, open until Jan. 1, 2018 at 2am. If you’re looking to lean into the holiday spirit, this is the place to do it. Expect all the tinsel, lights, carols, and dreidels you can stomach, along with plenty of holiday-themed drinks.

Courtesy of Chumley's 

Chumley's

West Village

Don't go to the new Chumley's if you're looking for the famed West Village speakeasy/pub that opened in 1922 and closed in 2007 after the building collapsed. The reopened bar is considerably fancier across the board -- leather banquettes have replaced old wooden booths and tables and there are upscale cocktails and a full dinner menu featuring a burger with bone marrow. But the walls are still full of the old, restored images and book covers from years ago, the cocktails are incredibly well-made and creative, and that bone marrow burger is truly excellent.

Cole Saladino / Thrillist

Ferris

NoMad

Located inside the new MADE hotel in NoMad, Ferris is the type of place to take a first date -- the reliable seasonal New American menu has options for even the pickiest eater. And while the food is excellent (think beets with black tahini and coconut shavings), the drinks are really what should get you here. The space is buzzy and dim, the cocktails are strong (get the L’amie with vodka, suze, fennel, ginger, and lime), and the seating is intimate enough that you’ll actually be able to hear your date (or eavesdrop on someone else’s). 

Cole Saladino / Thrillist

Dante

Greenwich Village

One thing that immediately stands out about Dante is just how bright the place is. With its whitewashed brick walls and cream-colored banquettes, the refurbished restaurant is a striking departure from the dark woods and dim lighting that otherwise define the city’s cocktail scene. It feels more like a European café than Prohibition-era speakeasy, and the beverage menu reflects that with a major emphasis on bitter-forward aperitifs. If you like Negronis, you won’t find a better one in New York.

Until Tomorrow

Clinton Hill

Whether you live in Clinton Hill or not, Until Tomorrow should be your new go-to neighborhood bar. The space is charming and mellow, the staff is friendly, and there’s a greenery-filled backyard area you should head to in warm weather. Beyond its extensive cocktail menu, broken down into categories like “Booze N’ Bubbles” and “These Are Not The Drinks You Are Looking For” (i.e. experimental drinks), the food is way better than it needs to be. Grab a crispy chicken sandwich or paté toast, and a twist on a classic cocktail from the “B-Side Cocktails” section.

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Bar Goto

Lower East Side

From Pegu Club vet Kenta Goto, Bar Goto is a refreshingly calm drinking den, full of warm wood, intimate seating, and little to no noise. Nearly every cocktail on the menu is worth trying, but the one that truly stands out is the beautifully simple Sakura Martini, made with both sake and gin, and garnished with cherry blossom. Be sure to pair yours with an order of the decently spicy miso-glazed chicken wings.

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Dutch Kills

Long Island City

So many modern cocktail bars attempt to nail the underground speakeasy vibe. This place does it better than most. Originally opened by the late legendary bartender Sasha Petraske, this narrow bar was one of the first places to bring craft cocktails to Queens, and remains one of the best in the borough for fancy cocktails (which, at $13, are cheaper than most of the drinks at similar cocktail spots in Manhattan).

Max Flatow

Ghost Donkey

NoHo

NoHo's latest cocktail spot, which opened in the fall, has hopped on the mezcal bandwagon with plenty of mezcal and tequila drinks from mixologist Eben Freeman -- including one with mezcal, Aperol, lime, pink grapefruit, and chili, served in a ceramic donkey -- as well as traditional mezcal tastings. Pair all that booze with several nacho specials (opt for the chorizo- and tripe-topped offering).

Courtesy of Good Night Sonny

Good Night Sonny

East Village

The perfect neighborhood bar is the kind of place you can head into any night of the week and feel like you’re in an extension of your living room, just with some additional square footage and top-shelf liquor. The team behind Good Night Sonny started this tradition over at their first bar, The Wayland on Avenue C, and their second spot on First Ave takes that neighborhood-bar feel even further. Grab a seat at the long wooden bar among the friendly clientele and order a cocktail from a menu that ranges from a margarita made with apple juice to a '70-style Disco Old Fashioned. Pair that with a grilled fish sandwich made with pastrami spices and prepare to settle in; you’re guaranteed to make friends with the bartender, and probably some East Village locals, too.

COURTESY OF PAUL WAGTOUICZ

Holiday Cocktail Lounge

East Village

Usually, the only thing worse than a beloved NYC dive closing is when it’s brought back and given an upscale revamp. Holiday Cocktail Lounge is the exception. The menu now includes great fancy cocktails ranging from a long list of classics to new creations like the Ocean Club, made with rum, Amaro Lucano, pineapple cordial, and lime. But you can also still get a beer and a shot, the drinks sometimes come with little plastic dinosaurs in them, and the place has somehow maintained that laid-back, good-times dive bar feel.

Leyenda

Leyenda

Carroll Gardens

From Clover Club’s mastermind mixologist Julie Reiner and her protege (and mastermind in her own right) Ivy Mix, this warm, Latin-American-inspired bar focuses primarily on mezcal, rum, and tequila. Expect original concoctions and new takes on the classics, like the modernized Mai Tai (appropriately called the Tia Mia) made with mezcal, Jamaican rum, orange curaçao, lime, and orgeat.

Michael Groth

Lois

East Village

Wine-drinking can be a bit daunting once it gets beyond the point of choosing between red or white, but this tiny Avenue C wine bar makes it supremely easy. Lois is the brainchild of vino experts Nora O’Malley and Phoebe Connell of ABC Beer Co. and ABC Wine Co., and features 16 different rotating wines on tap in three different glass sizes for seriously affordable prices (and on top of all that, tip is included). The staff’s always happy to help assist you with your choice, and the cushioned bar stools and booth seating give it a homey feel that works equally well for post-work drinks or a date.

Courtesy of The Lost Lady

The Lost Lady

Alphabet City

The latest bar from the crew behind the much-loved Wayland has opened just a few feet away, offering the same quintessential neighborhood-bar feel with a jukebox, shuffleboard table, and completely unpretentious cocktail and food menus (think frozen banana daiquiris and tacos).

Courtesy of Maison Premiere

Maison Premiere

Williamsburg

Sometimes all you want is an absinthe drink and some oysters in a charming space modeled after the New Orleans French Quarter, and for those moments there’s Maison Premiere. Note the literal fountain of absinthe as you take down your drinks and bivalves at the U-shaped marble bar, and in the warmer months, grab a seat outside in the lush garden that truly makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the South.

Courtesy of Suffolk Arms

Suffolk Arms

Lower East Side

This tavern-style cocktail bar from Pegu Club alum Giuseppe González and Ruben Rodriguez pays homage to the Lower East Side and important New York figures (note the portrait sketches on the walls of everyone from Ed Koch to Joey Ramone). It’s the perfect place to pop in for a serious but totally unpretentious weeknight cocktail, from a menu largely inspired by Gonzalez’s mentors, Audrey Saunders and Julie Reiner. There’s also a pretty extensive dinner menu with several kinds of burgers, sandwiches, and dressed-up pub appetizers, should you want to hole up in a booth for a while.

Flickr/A. Strakey

Sunny's Bar

Red Hook

For cheap beer and live music, there’s no greater escape from the rest of the city than Sunny’s, the last working-class hangout of its kind along the Brooklyn waterfront. Locals credit the cash-only dive for fostering a sense of community that helped slowly spur the revitalization of this once-forlorn neighborhood. But beyond the big-picture stuff, it’s just a no-frills, mirthful spot, and continues to be, even after the loss of longtime proprietor Antonio “Sunny” Balzano.

Drew Swantak/Thrillist

The Blind Tiger

West Village

Nobody called it “craft beer” when the Blind Tiger first started pouring microbrew-style suds at the original Hudson St location back in 1995. Now, two decades and one relocation later, it remains the city’s holiest site for devout beer nerds. With 28 taps spouting an expertly curated selection of beers from around the globe, there’s something to satisfy every type of palate.

Long Island bar

The Long Island Bar

Cobble Hill

Much to his own chagrin, bartender Toby Cecchini is best known as the inventor of the Cosmopolitan, that pink-tinted vodka drink that conquered the world thanks in large part to its recurring role on Sex and the City. His next greatest achievement: turning this old-school diner into one of the hottest drinking destinations in Brooklyn. Cecchini and partner Joel Tompkins restored the restaurant’s retro-chic decor, while upgrading what really matters: the drinks, like the classic Boulevardier served in a coupe glass. Contrary to popular belief, the staff will actually serve you a Cosmo (not on the menu), if you ask nicely. And make sure you order the burger.

Allen and Sarah Hemberger

The Office

Upper West Side

After years of anticipation, the team behind Chicago’s Michelin-starred Alinea has finally landed in NYC with an upscale speakeasy-style bar inside the Mandarin Oriental. This strictly special-occasion spot (assuming you don’t have a hedge fund) is decked out in plenty of dark wood and leather, and offers $23 spirit-forward cocktails and a $265 tasting menu.

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Vazacs Horseshoe Bar / 7B

Alphabet City

New York City isn’t exactly lacking in dive bars, but there’s a very specific checklist of qualities that the perfect dive bar needs to meet: curmudgeonly bartenders, a grimy bathroom, a jukebox that almost exclusively plays punk and metal, a photo booth, cheap 24-ouncers and shots, and a cameo in Crocodile Dundee. Vazacs, aka 7B, is that dive bar.

Rolf's

Gramercy

A winter drinking tradition for New Yorkers and tourists alike, Rolf’s is where you should be heading post-holidays (once the crowds have died down) for a little additional cheer (and lots of brats and beers). The German restaurant/bar, which resembles an indoor Christmas tree farm, notoriously keeps it’s over-the-top decorations up until the end of May -- so you’ll have plenty of time to grasp onto the holidays for dear life. Before visiting, we suggest you develop a taste for schnapps. 

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1. Alphabet City Beer Co. 96 Avenue C, New York, NY 10009

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.

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2. Bar Goto 245 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

This Japanese-style cocktail bar on the Lower East Side, opened by Kenta Goto, offers detail-oriented and expertly crafted drinks with an Asian twist. Behind its blond wooden-doored exterior lies a small L-shaped bar, a row of dark banquettes, and walls decorated with fabric from Koto's grandmother's 100-year-old kimonos. The bar is known for its Sakura Martini (sake, gin, maraschino liqueur, cherry blossom), but also serves Japanese appetizers, such as Kombu celery, Japanese cabbage pancakes, and miso chicken wings.

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3. Chumley's 86 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014

The beloved West Village speakeasy, known for its literary following since 1922, is in its second incarnation after being felled in 2007 by a fallen chimney. Don’t expect a clone though: restaurateur Alessandro Borgognone of Sushi Nakazawa turned it into a full-scale restaurant with an upscale edge that's most obvious in the food and drink. The menu features elegant takes on American classics, like a burger made with bone marrow and fried chicken with cognac consommé. There are hints of the past in the decor, though, with black-and-white photos of the writerly cats who frequented the old joint, like F. Scott Fitzgerald, and book jackets from their famous novels.

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4. Dante 79-81 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012

When the 100-year-old Caffe Dante closed down in 2015, West Villagers feared that one of the neighborhood's oldest restaurants was lost forever. That turned out to be only partly true. A few months after closing, it was reborn as Dante, a more modern restaurant and bar that pays homage to the original's Italian heritage. The emphasis on negronis is loud and clear: 12 varieties are served, including a traditional version on tap. The classic Italian menu means you'll find burrata (served with a slow-roasted tomato drizzled in oil), figs (wrapped in prosciutto), and house-made pastas. Much of the interior remains intact, just with a fresh white sheen on the walls and polished subway tiles lining the bar.

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5. Dutch Kills 27-24 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101

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.

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7. Good Night Sonny 134 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009

The Wayland team is behind this homey cocktail/seafood bar in the East Village, filled with lots of exposed brick and charming family photos. The cocktails are seasonal and highly experimental while still affordable, and there are nightly deals to indulge in while saddled up to the reclaimed wood bar sourced from one of the founder's ancestral homes in Connecticut.

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8. Holiday Cocktail Lounge 75 Saint Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

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.

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9. Leyenda 221 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Julie Reiner -- the mastermind behind Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge -- and her protégé Ivy Mix, bring you Leyenda, a “pan-Latin” cocktail spot that specializes in spirits from Central and South America: mezcal, rum, tequila, pisco, cachaca, sotol, and raicilla. The menu offers both traditional cocktails and creative concoctions that are legendary -- which is what Leyenda translates to in Spanish. Alongside the cocktails, they have standard Latin food on the menu, cooked up by the acclaimed Chef Sue Torres. With its gold tin ceiling adorned with crosses and cathedral-pew booth seating, the decor matches the overall authentic vibe.

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10. Lois 98 Avenue C, New York, NY 10009

Don't expect to see any bottles at Alphabet City's wine bar Lois: tradition is bucked with a bar serving some 15 vintages from a tap, which is known to be better than old school bottling methods for flavor longevity and lower costs. It shows: red-heavy, global vintages are fairly priced by-the-glass, from Argentinean malbecs to Californian pinot noirs. Order some cheese and a charcuterie plate in the sleek space with mod accents, and Lois becomes the kind of wino you can love.

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11. Maison Premiere 298 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

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.

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12. Suffolk Arms 269 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

Having accumulated serious cocktail credentials behind the bar at Flatiron Lounge, Dutch Kills, and Pegu Club, Giuseppe González predictably made waves when he opened Suffolk Arms in the East Village. His pours include a take on Irish coffee made with gin and tea, a whiskey sour and Guinness "float," and the bitters-loaded Trinidad Sour. The food menu represents a varied frenzy of cuisines with guacamole and Thai chili wings next to smoked fish platters and steak tartare, and burger fans will find grass-fed patties along with turkey and veggie burgers. The atmosphere, like the food and drink, is varied: it feels like an update on the traditional English tavern but with framed sketches of New York notables, including the late mayor Ed Koch.

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13. Sunny's Bar 253 Conover St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

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.

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14. The Blind Tiger 281 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

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.

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15. The Long Island Bar 110 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

When Long Island Bar, a favorite Cobble Hill diner, shut down in 2007 after 56 years in business, it looked like it was going to be another casualty of an ever-evolving New York. But after a seven-year hiatus, it was reopened by Toby Cecchini, the infamous bartender who invented the Cosmopolitan. The reimagined Atlantic Ave bar keeps the mid-century American diner feel but adds modern touches with its food and drink. The nostalgic menu features modest tweaks on diner favorites, like a reuben sandwich with smoked beet sauerkraut, and a double-patty burger topped with house-made American cheese, super-sour pickles, and the house "Fancy Sauce." The cocktails, executed by Cecchini, are straightforward and top-notch: the Long Island Gimlet (gin, lime-ginger Cordial, fresh lime) and the Boulevardier (like a negroni, but with whiskey instead of gin) are especially notable.

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17. Vazacs Horseshoe Bar / 7B 108 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

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.