Where to Grab a Drink in NYC Right Now
At the city’s best new bars, sip on inventive cocktail menus paired with Caviar Bumps and Oxtail Empanadas.
With the sun setting earlier by the day, that means more time for our favorite activities after dark.
And while we fully back the city’s impressive crop of top-notch drinking establishments (including rooftop bars, clubs, LGBTQIA+ bars, singles bars, and dive joints), an exciting new class of watering holes also continues to help maintain New York City’s reputation as an innovative hub for creative cocktail trends.
This fall, whether at a sky-high spot perched above the clouds or a subterranean basement blasting DJ sets, there’s plenty to explore while sipping on a tasty cocktail. From the Little Caribbean and Williamsburg to the Lower East Side and Gramercy Park, here are the 20 best new bars to grab a drink at in NYC right now.
At Lullaby, founders Harrison Snow and Jake Hodas excel at their core mission: to offer a neighborhood joint with world-class cocktails that’s approachable and fun. Opened earlier this year with the guidance of the legendary Boston bar expert, Brother Cleve—who recently passed away—the team serves up playful concoctions that include guest-favorites like The Dole Whip (spiked pineapple soft serve) and The Whiskey Drink (corn whiskey, sherry, mascarpone). To the beats of curated playlists and DJ sets within the subterranean space, dancing among fellow guests is definitely encouraged. And in honor of Brother Cleve, pay tribute at the bar this Sunday, October 2 from 5 pm–1 am, where all proceeds will go to his wife, Diane.
In addition to the Chinatown flagship that opened in 2006 and a more recent Downtown Los Angeles offshoot, this opulent cocktail destination known for its botanical-centric drinks welcomed a third location this summer with Apotheke NoMad. Here, the space is separated into two sections: a 74-seat cellar speakeasy and a penthouse lounge slated to debut in early October with floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows and views of The Empire State Building. Choose from signature apothecary-inspired libations like the Voyage in the Blue (blue spirulina-infused gin, blue borage flower) and Live and Learn (turmeric-infused cachaça, gooseberry). And starting next month, a new caviar and champagne service is expected to launch.
The duo behind Kind Regards and Dingaling—two perpetually-bumping bars popular among the city’s 20-somethings—have expanded their repertoire to include their first full service restaurant that doubles as an intimate cocktail destination. Designed by co-owners Michael Beaumont Bray and Noble Harris, the energy of Bongos is intentionally on the “extra-chill” side and mimics sitting down for an aperitivo at a friend's apartment/patio. The menu features creative interpretations on classic American and NYC-inspired dishes including Mussels n’ Fries; Steak Tartare; and Fried Pickles. Drinks follow a similar route with specialty Negronis and Martinis like the Dirty with a pickled onion garnish, in addition to on-draft Spicy Palomas.
One thing that we can count on in Williamsburg is a hot new warehouse-turned-club popping up every so often. Led by first-time bar owners David Doyle and Ryan Skelton, the latest on our radar is an Ibiza-inspired discoteca, called Café Balearica, primed for letting loose with your squad underneath neon lights and shimmering disco balls. Within the two-story space, guests can snag a velvet booth for a chilled-out chat, or travel downstairs to the expansive dance floor where local artists perform on Fridays and Saturdays starting at 9 pm. On the first floor, nightly DJ sets bump everything from disco to house music, while the beverage program plays with vacation-ready beverages like the Pikes Colada (rum, coconut sorbet, champagne) and Calla Bassa Margarita (tequila, mezcal, orange liqueur).
Located a few floors above its celebrated sister restaurant Zou Zou’s (aka one the best new restaurants in NYC right now), Chez Zou operates as a luscious and greenery-covered cocktail destination within Manhattan West. Helmed by beverage expert Joey Smith (The NoMad, Eleven Madison Park Summer House), the impressive interior is filled with an array of lounge areas, a marble bar, botanical decor, and an expansive outdoor terrace. On the menu, Eastern Mediterranean-inspired drinks are split into six categories: Jarras, Stiff Drinks, Shaken, Coladas, Highballs, and Bubbles. Raved-about selections include the Dirty Zou (olive oil washed-vodka, grape leaf, Levantine cheese-stuffed olives) and colorful Haifa Vice (mango colada milk punch, pomegranate). Pair everything with small bites like Zucchini Frites or Kumamoto Oysters with barberry mignonette.
Following on the heels of hotspots like the swanky NoHo piano bar, The Nines, and the recently debuted LES wine bar, Le Dive, the latest venture from Golden Age Hospitality (The Happiest Hour, ACME) by industry veteran Jon Neidich hit Williamsburg in the form of a late 1800s art nouveau-styled cocktail spot called Deux Chats. The spot’s main focus lies upon an eye-catching selection of skin-contact wines, house cocktails, and inventive martinis like the Kinky Martini (spicy vodka, poblano liqueur). When you’re feeling a bit peckish, there’s a range of raw bar offerings (like the show stopping Petit Plateau seafood tower) and small plates such as Beef Tartare and the Lobster Roll.
Channeling a low-key living room hang, the cocktail bar and music venue, Eavesdrop, celebrates both the sense of sound and comfortability. Designed to provide guests with a dope audible experience via elements like custom-built speakers and acoustic treatments lining its walls, the space is separated into a front area with a 36-seat bar and a back “listening room” with a DJ booth. On most nights, kick back to local artists and labels slinging curated playlists—ranging from jazz and soul to deep house and electronic—while sipping on creations from beverage director Max Dowaliby. Highlights include the Finale (gin, lavender, cherry, citrus) and Corrido (tequila, chili liqueur, cilantro, grapefruit) or opt for a glass of natural wine or locally-sourced beer. Bar bites include Nori Popcorn, Miso & Pepper Carrots, and more.
The recently opened (and very lively) GuGu Room on the LES is an izakaya-inspired spot that combines the traditions of Filipino and Japanese eating and drinking culture. As a joint venture between chefs Aris Tuazon (Ugly Kitchen) and Markee Manaloto (Kissaki), pair a lengthy menu of small plates like Chicken Karaage and Crispy Gyoza Wrapped Tacos (with options of Rock Shrimp, Kani, and Tuna) with your drink while sitting either at a table, the bar, or the lounge area. Designed by bar expert and partner, Lee Watson, the cocktail program includes house specialities like the Wasabi Mar-Gari-Ta (tequila, calamansi honey, wasabi) and Nori Me Tangere Negroni (nori seaweed-infused gin), along with a selection of sake, beer, shochu, and more than 20 Japanese whiskeys. Keep tabs on their IG page for upcoming DJ sets.
A collaborative project from brother-duo and restaurateurs Alex and Miles Pincus, since opening in May, Holywater has cemented itself as a spot that melds boats, drinking, and seafood culture. As part of their nautical-themed Crew Hospitality Group (Grand Banks, Island Oyster, Drift In, Pilot) and the Pincus’ first landlocked venture, along with beers, bubbly, and natural wine, drink options include specialty cocktails that harken the siblings’ Louisiana high-school days like the Purple Jesus (vodka, Kool Aid, High Life, lime). The food program by chefs Kerry Heffernan (Grand Banks) and Sam Gasner (Carbone, Momofuku), offers shareable bites like Caviar Tater Tots and BBQ Shrimp, alongside a choice of three sizable seafood towers.
Among spots like the sky-high Bar Blondeau inside the Wythe Hotel and the aforementioned newcomer, Deux Chats, the recently-opened Le Dive in the LES is also within the Golden Age Hospitality portfolio. This wine bar draws inspiration from old-school tabacs and bar à vins found in the 10th and 11th arrondissements of Paris, and here, the concept boasts an impressive range of natural red, white, sparkling, and rosé wines sourced from smaller vineyards and low intervention winemakers. For its food program, executive chef Nicole Gajadhar (The Loyal, Nix) offers a rotating menu of small plates like Tuna Niçoise; Mushroom Pâté; and Steak Tartare.
After a decade-long closure filled with renovations and changings of hands, in February (and as the building celebrated its 138th birthday), the famed haven for 20th century celebrities known as The Hotel Chelsea reintroduced itself to the city with revamped rooms and amenities, the revival of the legendary El Quijote restaurant, and most recently, the debut of its first ever bar/lounge concept to reside at the property. Dubbed Lobby Bar, the ground floor spot features a striking aesthetic with a marble bar, more than a century-old original mosaic floors, ornate chandeliers, and a display of priceless artwork created by famous former guests and tenants. From beverage director Brian Evans (Sunday in Brooklyn, Rule of Thirds), libations are based off iconic bars from across the world like the Dukes Martini (gin, lemon peel) from London’s Dukes Hotel and the Singapore Sling (gin, pineapple, cherry liqueur) from the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Small bites include Trout Roe Beignets and Uni Toast (hazelnut toffee, black truffle).
New Yorkers were hit hard by the closure of the beloved speakeasy, Angel’s Share, earlier this year. But lucky for us, Tukuma Watanabe, its head bartender from 2013-2021, launched his first solo concept with a new martini bar in Gramercy shortly after in April. Located in a three-story 1800s carriage house that once was the studio of French-American sculptor, Philip Martiny, at Martiny’s, expect expertly-crafted cocktails through offerings like from the Grand Martiny’s (gin, fino sherry, cognac, grape) to Royal Horse’s Neck (cognac, champagne, ginger ale, orange). Alternatively, if you’re thirsty for something more made-to-order, opt for a customized cocktail in line with your preferred spirits and flavorways. The food program led by chef Wayne Cheng consists of a variety of small plates like the decadent Steak Tartare.
Ouí Cocktail Lounge
For co-owners and Trinidad and Tobago natives, Adise Bellille and Jason Jordan, the opening of Ouí Cocktail Lounge was an opportunity to give their community access to the same food and nightlife that thrives across the city, while also being able to introduce a new after-dark hotspot to the Little Caribbean area of Flatbush. At the center of the menu, there’s four tropical-inspired house beverages designed by bar expert Channing Centeno (Bonnie’s), like the Hibiscus Kiss (rum, elderflower) and the recently debuted Lemon Lust Martini (vodka, sherry, cane syrup). And for keeping up your energy on the dance floor, choose from a range of shareable plates like Jerk Lamb Chops, Oxtail Empanadas, and a Coconut Shrimp Roll.
Peakaboo at Peak
Floating atop the highest observation deck in the Western Hemisphere, aka the Edge, Peekaboo elevates city views to a whole other stratosphere on the 101st floor of 30 Hudson Yards. After an ear popping elevator ride up—accompanied by impressive LED screen visuals displaying an animated cityscape—guests are greeted by an open concept interior boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, a gleaming 12-seat bar, and plush lounge area. While you can opt for a full wine-and-dine experience within the adjacent innovative American restaurant, Peak, evenings here are comparably opulent with more than 1,300 wine labels, seasonal house cocktails, and a food program featuring caviar service and Beef Tartare. On Thursdays to Saturdays from 10:30 pm–2 am, you can also dance to live DJ sets.
Mix one part all-star team (behind the industry hits Ray’s, The Jane Hotel Ballroom), one part celebrity investors (Pete Davidson and Jason Sudeikis included), with one part legendary location (the famed Hurley’s that operated for more than a century and was a known hangout spot for NBC stars like Johnny Carson and the crew from Saturday Night Live)—and you’ve got a new hot spot where all of the cool kids are flocking to: Pebble Bar. Located inside a historic townhouse at Rockefeller Center, expect three floors of separate spaces, with the top being a 35-seat eatery and oyster bar. Along with classic cocktails, beers from New York breweries, wine, and seasonal specialty drinks, enjoy seafood-focused plates from executive chef Carlos Barrera (The Lobster Club).
Named after the popular food journalist and Japan-native, Shinji Nohara (also commonly referred to as “Tokyo Fixer”), the team behind the world-renowned omakase restaurant, noda, operates this new cocktail bar in the Flatiron District. Dubbed Shinji’s, the intimate 26-seat spot sits in front of its acclaimed sibling restaurant and serves up interpretations on classics like the Tropicana (vodka, house made orange liqueur) and the Dirtiest Martini (served cheekily on a mirrored tray alongside a spiced powder, which allows guests to play with the drink’s flavor). On the food front, there are small bites such as Uni Chawanmushi (alongside caviar) and a seasonal selection of Japanese crudo plus hand rolls.
The Sunken Harbor Club
For those nights where you desperately need to escape reality for the magical world of the ocean floor, head to Sunken Harbor Club. Opened last fall by the same team behind Gage & Tollner (and also sharing an entrance), this nautical-themed bar is located above the restaurant and transports guests to the hull of a ship in an enchanting, intimate, and window-less space. Along with a curation of fun design elements and a faux seabed view behind the bar with a mystical sea creature, order tropical drinks like the Angostura Colada (Jamaican rums, pineapple, coconut, and nutmeg) and White Zombie (white spirits, grapefruit, lime, coconut). Bar bites include Braised & Glazed Pork Spare Ribs, Pho, Miso Butterscotch Pudding, and more.
After a four-year hiatus, the sultry and mahogany-covered NoHo watering hole, Temple Bar, reopened earlier this year with a revival led by the team behind the acclaimed Indian eatery, Sona. Since its rebirth, the spot has become infamous for its signature caviar bumps, which offers guests generous scoops of fish roe placed on the back of your hand before slowly being savored and washed down with cocktails like an Olive Oil Martini or a timeless Gibson. For more substantial bites, the menu features small plates like Dry-Aged Beef Sliders and Smoked Salmon Crostini.
The East Village claims yet another spicy new hotspot for nighttime outings with the opening of a bi-level watering hole from the team behind Mister Paradise, Pretty Ricky’s, and Boulton & Watt. On the ground floor, expect a livelier energy via a dance floor, disco balls, and neon lighting; while upstairs boasts a chill atmosphere ideal for catching up over cocktails. Created by Will Krepop (Cote), Wiggle Room’s seasonal selection of drinks on tap makes up a majority of the beverage program like Six On The Richter Scale (vodka, strawberry, lemongrass, watermelon) and Dog Balloon Animal (gin, rhubarb, elderflower), along with made-to-order signatures like the Tennis Club Colada (brandy, melon liqueur, honey dew).
The brainchild of four Thai-natives and business partners—beverage expert Phattraphorn “Sayparn” Wongsak; restaurateur Boy Niphitkunthong; and chefs Siwapong “Boss” Sudsua and Pui Natthapol Olarickpha—11 Tigers in the East Village melds Japanese izakaya dining with Thai drinking culture. Reigning supreme on the beverage program is a selection of ya dong-based cocktails (a medicinal herb-infused liquor) including the Sua Smash (gin-based ya dong, muddled Thai basil) and the Knockout Tiger (which is smoked to order with rosemary and covered with a traditional Thai prosperity cloth). With chefs Sudsua and Olarickpha in the kitchen, modern interpretations on Japanese and Thai fare are devised like the Kee Mao Tiger Udon (green peppercorn, ribeye steak) and 11 Tigers Tom Yum Ramen (tonkotsu broth, lemongrass, prawn).