Don’t let the name confuse you -- happy hour in New York City can actually be pretty terrible. Already-cramped bars become claustrophobic nightmares, and the booze on special might as well come straight from the Gowanus Canal. That ain’t happy. What happy hour should be is a magical aprés-office drinking event with decent cheap booze and enough room to grab a seat after a long day (or, at the very least, some good standing room). We found 12 spots in NYC that offer just that.
Low booze prices during happy hour typically mean that drinks don’t have to be, well, good. Not so at Alphabet City’s The Wayland, which charges a mere $7 for quality Sazeracs, margaritas, and cucumber Collinses from 4-7pm, Monday through Friday. The bar also has dollar oysters, $6 select glasses of wine, and an array of beers for five bucks or less. The open floor plan means you can choose to roll deep, if you desire, but we think the low-key, old-school tavern-like feel here is better suited for one-on-one beverages and post-work bitching.
Happy hour runs until 9pm daily at this newish East Williamsburg jazz lounge from the owners of the now-closed Trash Bar. Unlike its divey cousin, though, The Rosemont is sophisticated and pristine, decked out in Art Deco touches and featuring one of the most beautiful backyards in the area. Head here for the more upscale atmosphere, but stick around for the generous deal: $5 drafts, wines, and wells, and $8 classic cocktails starting at 1pm on weekends and 5pm on weekdays.
Long Island City
At the late Sasha Petraske’s LIC cocktail haunt, you can snag a happy-hour craft cocktail for literally half of what you would’ve paid at the barman’s now-closed Milk & Honey. Sunday-Thursday from 4-7pm, select cocktails, like a classic daiquiri, cost just $8. Just be sure to arrive early: this happy hour is a popular one, and standing room is scarce in the narrow bar area.
The happy-hour deal at this Harlem hub is pretty straightforward: from 4-8pm daily, wines, wells, and a beer-and-shot combo are $6, while select drafts are $5. But the reason this bourbon and craft beer bar makes the list is because in addition to great prices, it also has the perfect happy hour vibe. The rustic décor (taxidermy, exposed brick, and romantic string lights) makes it a perfect fit for both casual drinks with coworkers or an early Tinder date -- and you don’t have to shell out too much cash if either of those scenarios goes awry.
Grab a tap beer for $4, or get in on the draft-cocktail craze for just $8 Monday-Friday until 8pm (and until 11pm on Taco Tuesdays!) at this charming South Williamsburg cocktail bar. You can easily go the basic route with a tap Aperol Spritz, but the bar’s signature Brancolada, a sort of frozen piña colada made with minty Branca Menta, is your best option. For just $4 more, you can throw some tacos into the mix, while a beer-and-taco pairing will cost you just 10 bucks. It doesn’t hurt that all of this is available in a beautiful, open space, with a bottle-lined back bar that rises all the way up to white vaulted ceilings.
Space is tight at this beloved East Village oyster bar, and it doesn’t help that nearly everyone in the neighborhood (and beyond) comes here. But the deal at Upstate makes shuffling through throngs of thirsty New Yorkers worthwhile: between 5 and 7pm daily, $12 will get you a half-dozen briny bivalves and a draft beer, including interesting craft picks from breweries like Keegan Ales and KelSo.
Long Island City
Alewife offers something most pubs in New York City do not: reservations. Book a table for your assembled troops, and tap into the bar’s $7 draft wine and cocktails (like a Moscow mule), $6 wells, and $5 select beers -- without fighting for a spot at the bar. The move here is beer; the two-story bar has more than 25 options on tap, and the kind staff is always willing to help you make a selection.
One buck off draft and canned beers during this eclectic honky-tonk bar’s lively happy hour (noon-7pm daily) means you can drink Budweiser for only $2… for SEVEN full hours. Meanwhile, well drinks are $3, and the peanuts are free. (And, while it may not be a happy-hour special, there’s no post-work pick-me-up quite like the Uncle Willie’s Frozen Coffee).
Book it to Hell’s Kitchen for this very literal, awkwardly timed happy hour: from 4:20 (heh) to 5:20pm, all draft beers are $2 off, meaning everything on tap here will only cost you $5. That’s a steal considering the bar boasts a number of options with ABVs of 9% or above, as well as esoteric brews from places like Hill Farmstead. If you can somehow actually make it there in time, it’s well worth it.
We won’t pretend $10 for a cocktail is cheap, but it’s certainly a bargain in the Theater District -- especially in an atmosphere as polished as The Rum House. From noon-6pm, Monday through Friday, settle into one of the bar’s tufted leather banquettes with a $10 pisco sour, caipirinha, or rum punch (or $5 ‘Gansett) and take in the space’s old-timey vibe. This jazz lounge is one of the most beautiful drinking spots in Midtown, and doesn’t require a Black Card for entry.
Lower East Side
There’s a reason 169 Bar has been a beloved happy-hour spot for years: its $3 beer-and-shot combo from noon-7:30pm is unmatched. On top of that, the bar is somehow rarely crowded, and the crazy decor (disco ball, leopard-print pool table, neon lights) makes it unlike any other dive bar Downtown.
TriBeCa and High Line
The city’s best happy hours aren’t confined solely to booze, obviously. For those looking for a solid post-work dinner, from 4-7pm Monday through Friday, both locations of Bubby’s are offering both drinks and food for just $5.10. Grab a SingleCut IPA and the Five and Ten Burger, topped with Velveeta and Bubby’s sauce -- because a salty wad of beef coated in oozy cheese “product” makes the best kind of drinking buddy.
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1. The Wayland700 E 9th St, New York
2. The Rosemont63 Montrose Avenue, Brooklyn
3. Dutch Kills27-24 Jackson Ave, Long Island City
4. Mess Hall2194 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York
5. Donna27 Broadway, Brooklyn
6. Upstate95 First Ave, New York
7. Alewife NYC5-14 51st Ave, Hunters Point
8. Skinny Dennis152 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn
9. The Pony Bar1444 1st Ave, New York
10. The Rum House228 W 47th St, New York
11. 169 Bar169 E Broadway, New York
12. Bubby's High Line73 Gansevoort 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.
Jazz comes to East Williamsburg via The Rosemont, a sophisticated white-washed bar decked out with Art Deco touches, mini palm trees, and cozy leather banquettes. Expect classic cocktails with unexpected twists, like an Old Fashioned with tiki bitters, plus well drinks and draft beer -- not to mention, one of the most beautiful back patios in the area.
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.
An exposed brick interior and taxidermy-covered walls make up this community hall-slash-bastion of craft beer and bourbon that brings Harlem residents together nightly for hot dogs and brews. Mess Hall's campy aesthetic continues outdoors, where picnic tables and extensive flora round out an intimate, group-friendly patio perfect for happy hour.
This chic bar in South Williamsburg dazzles with white vaulted ceilings, dark wood touches, and a rum-driven house cocktail list. The focus is certainly on craft cocktails -- most of which are carbonated -- but there are a few varieties of beer and wine to choose from as well, plus fruity virgin varieties. Donna's vibe lends itself to Latin influences, accentuated by a small plates menu heavy on tacos, nachos, and guacamole. The seating area is smartly divided in two -- one with stools hovering around the bar, and a second, separate section with small tables, but judging by the late-night crowds, you'll probably be standing the whole time.
This East Village oyster bar, run by a husband-and-wife duo, is a neighborhood favorite with rare oysters paired alongside interesting craft brews. You can expect a wait, but the food and drink -- and the owners' adorable bulldog, BuckShowalter -- make it well worth the wait.
Guests who step into Alewife are immediately transported into an endearingly weathered community tavern, where craft beers are the drink du jour and hefty burgers served with oversize piles of french fries fuel the sampling fun. There are over 28 beers on tap and if nothing from the spout entices, drinkers can choose from over 100 different beers by-the-bottle.
On the corner of Metropolitan and Berry, Skinny Dennis is a straight-up honky tonk bar in Williamsburg. The divey spot has 18 draft beers (most of which are domestic), a variety of whiskey, and a very addicting bourbon-and-brandy frozen coffee creation. Old-school country jams play from a jukebox all night long, and there are often live performances from local bluegrass and country musicians.
Like its sister location on 10th Avenue, this Upper East Side beer bar is widely known for its eclectic menu of rotating, seasonal brews. Alongside an ever-changing blackboard denoting dozens of American beers, The Pony Bar also boasts impressive happy hour specials and the option to take home your favorite ale in a 64oz growler.
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.
Drenched in colored light and decked out in palm trees,169 Bar may read a tad tacky, but that’s because it is. It’s earned that right after being around since 1916 (when its original name was the “Bloody Bucket”). Striptease dancers perform on a tiny platform alongside worn red booths as a funloving crowd guzzles cheap beer, frozen cocktails, and oyster Bloody Mary shooters (yes, they have a raw bar, but expect to be served on paper plates). A leopard print billiards table lives in the small back room, just don’t be shy about asking patrons to move for that winning shot.
Bubby's is a New York City institution known for its solid American comfort food, especially the eggs, pancakes, and fried chicken served at brunch every day of the week. The original Tribeca location was one of JFK Jr.'s haunts in the 90s and is still buzzing, but the High Line outpost has a larger sit-down dining room and is more geared towards the grab-and-go crowd with an added take-out window. Even though Bubby's brunch is near-famous, it serves a stellar dinner menu featuring burgers, barbecue fare, and breakfast for dinner. Make sure you order the homemade pie for dessert.