1. Holiday Cocktail Lounge75 Saint Marks Pl, New York
2. Seamstress339 East 75th Street, New York
3. Mess Hall2194 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York
4. The Up & Up116 Macdougal St, New York
5. Julia's818 Woodward Ave, Ridgewood
6. Lazy Point310 Spring St, New York
7. Lois98 Avenue C, New York
8. Porchlight271 11th Ave, New York
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.
Seamstress takes an emphasis on all-American cocktails to unprecedented levels with a menu that features 50 classic drinks from across the country. Long Island Iced Tea, Cosmopolitans, Moscow Mules, and Whiskey Sours are all represented, as well as lesser known state favorites worth exploring. The rest of the drink menu is split into six distinct sections: fresh, spirit forward, low proof, elaborate, large format, and nonalcoholic. You won't find typical bar food here, which means you can expect to pair your New York Sour with a triple cream cheese smoked mutton burger.
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 sexy, wallpapered spot in Greenwich Village is cranking out well-made tipples (the best of which is the Foster Avenue with Glenmorangie Scotch, Perucchi vermouth, pear eau de vie, honeydew melon, orange bitters). If you're going with a group, get one of the jacked-up bottles of Messier Manhattans. If you're not... probably still get one of those. Snacks like pork rillettes with chimichurri aioli ensure you won’t be leaving any time soon.
The gals behind sunny-walled coffee joint Norma’s, in is-it-Brooklyn-or-is-it-Queens Ridgewood (it’s Queens, FYI), are also behind this airy new beer & wine bar with a bistro-like black-and-white-checkered floor. The beers have a local spin -- the borough’s own Transmitter Brewing F0 Farmhouse Ale and SingleCut Billy Half-Stack IPA among them -- as does the food. This translates to beef turnovers braised in Ithaca Nut Brown Ale and brats cooked in Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold, which is obviously good news.
This Downtown option rocks top-notch cocktails along with creative food to pair it with. Down a Beaten Gypsy with gin, fresh beet juice, and rosemary, then also-down the Buffalo pork belly and a grilled cheese with white truffle honey mustard, kimchi, aged cheddar, and gruyere.
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.
We all know Danny Meyer strikes gold with restaurants, but Porchlight, a collaboration with his Blue Smoke partner Mark Maynard-Parisi, represents his foray into the world of bars. The spot has a classy Southern vibe, which means a typical order here includes a Whiskey & Cola (mellow corn whiskey, Fernet-Vallet, house-made cola syrup) and jalapeño cheddar cornbread. When the Sazerac becomes one too many, however, the indoor porch, complete with rocking chairs, comes to the rescue.