There are more bars in the few blocks North of Little Italy than there are colossal, plastic, frozen lemonade cocktail cups at the Feast of San Gennaro. But since those are only available 11 days a year, here are the 10 best BYO-fried-Oreo bars in Nolita and Little Italy.
Best beer bar: Randolph Beer
343 Broome St
Two doors down from The Randolph at Broome, this beer-focused spin off has an impressive collection of 60+ craft and rare brews, plus style-specific temperature control and glassware to guarantee you drink it all correctly. A portion of every housemade-aioli-smothered burger is donated to the NYC Coalition Against Hunger, so contribute to your mouth in a meaningful way. And, society!
Best cocktail bar: Mother's Ruin
18 Spring St
You can definitely find swankier drinks in this city, but come here to sip judgement-free on clean and tasty cocktails with absurd names like the Oversized Tool or the Free Hamster while also working on some Old Bay-seasoned waffle fries. If you can grab 'em, the best seats in the house are the benches by the big front windows.
Best local bar with free hot dogs: Spring Lounge
48 Spring St
Come by for free hot dogs Wednesdays at 5pm, the forever-rotating drafts, an impressive amount of cans and bottles, or just cheap PBR if you're feeling casual/broke. The crowd is equal parts youngins on the prowl and old-timey barflies who have probably been hanging there since the bar opened in the 1920s. Feel free to hit on whichever you want.
Best lounge: Vig Bar
12 Spring St
Picture a dance club with less Tiësto and a lot more Nelly, where people don't try quiiite so hard as Nelly did at one point.
Best bar lined with gold skulls: GoldBar
389 Broome St
Everything in this luxuriously gilt-laden catacomb looks like it was touched by some kind of bougie King Midas with a penchant for models and bottle service. Don’t trip over the velvet rope at the door.
Best dive bar: Botanica
47 E Houston St
It’s been the Thrillist afterwork HQ off and on for about nine years due to its absurdly cheap happy hour, so count on a crowd of incredibly attractive media professionals who really like bargain Dark 'n Stormys. The decent-sized back room is pretty good for groups, if not for cell phone service.
Best bar for indoor/outdoor partying: Sweet & Vicious
5 Spring St
The graffitied back patio is perfect for sipping on Mason jar margs (aka Jargaritas) in the summertime, but the stupidly long 2-7pm happy hour and stellar DJ have this place hopping at all times of the year.
Best for dates: The Daily
210 Elizabeth St
Between the sexy lighting, excellent appetizers like truffle baba ganoush, and the, well, daily cocktails, hopefully your moves are as smooth as the vibe.
Best happy hour: Tom & Jerry's
288 Elizabeth St
The $5 beer happy hour and free snack mix make this another classic afterwork bar. The bowls you see all over the damn place are actually punch bowls meant for the eggnog-esque Tom and Jerry drinks and were donated by a Wisconsin dude named Joe Wilfer. Obviously. The bar only whips up a batch of the eponymous good stuff once a year around the holidays.
Best for picking someone up: Brinkley's Broome St
406 Broome St
If you’re here and not trying to go home with a beautiful and affluent prep-school type, a beautiful and affluent prep-school type will be trying to go home with you.
1. The Randolph at Broome343 Broome St, New York
2. Mother's Ruin18 Spring St, New York
3. Spring Lounge48 Spring St, New York
4. The Vig Bar12 Spring St, New York
5. Goldbar389 Broome St, New York
6. Botanica Bar47 E Houston St, New York
7. Sweet & Vicious5 Spring St, New York
8. The Daily210 Elizabeth St, New York
9. Brinkley's Broome Street406 Broome St, New York
10. Tom & Jerry's288 Elizabeth St, New York
With homey and wood-heavy decor (think bricks walls with wood accents, wooden keg chairs, worn-wood counters, etc.), this laid-back Nolita spot's serving the best of both worlds: quality hand-brewed coffee and espresso by day, and innovative East Coast-style cocktails by night. Want your coffee IN your cocktail? They do that, too. One of the best beer bars in BYC, the Randolph at Broome features more than 30 well-curated taps that rotate seasonally, as well as a reserve beer menu built from specialty and hard-to-find beers, making this a great spot for serious hop-heads, or casual beer drinkers. The dinner menu is everything you want from a beer bar -- from small plates like pork sliders, hummus, or calimari, to burgers, BBQ ribs, and more than a few salads. The Randolph is also open for brunch and -- get this -- serves breakfast till 4 p.m.
Mother's Ruin offers a variety of inventive, ever-revolving cocktail slushies (especially during the warmer months). Past creations have included peanut butter and jelly with rye whiskey, dragonfruit, bourbon chocolate milk, and cucumber and honeydew. This comfortable, neighborhood bar/lounge also offers a number of standard libations, which must be paired with the Old Bay-seasoned waffle fries.
There's nothing quite like getting up bright and early to toss back a couple of brews at 8am. OK, so eggs and coffee may be the more sensible route, but at least you know you have the option over at Spring Lounge. This Nolita dive has a diverse crowd, a great beer selection, and free beer-braised hot dogs on Wednesdays. The bar was opened illegally in the 1920s as a "to-go" shop and has gone through several transformations since. It became Spring Lounge in the '70s, but is referred to as Shark Bar throughout the neighborhood.
Picture a dance club with less Tiesto and a lot more Nelly where people don't try so hard - that's Vig for you. Stop by this relaxed lounge on a Friday or Saturday night for a good, well-DJed time.
This cozy cocktail nook where SoHo meets the Lower East Side is literally gold-plated, giving its name some true validity. The magnificently bedecked interior, surrounded by chandeliers and flanked in gold leaf, is home to a curated, made-to-order craft cocktail and spirits menu -- selections of which include the aptly named "Goldrush" with bourbon, honey syrup, and lemon juice, or -- if celebrations are in order -- the "Gold Standard" package for $75, which includes variations on classic drinks, all made with top-shelf ingredients.
Boasting an absurdly cheap happy hour -- we highly recommend the Ginger Yum Yum -- this Nolita dive hub, in all of its dark and intimate glory, is largely filled with young professionals. Guests can either lounge on one of Botanica's many couches, or occupy the spacious backroom, all while enjoying the bar's occasional live music and its effortlessly dive-y atmosphere.
Check out one of Nolita’s last remaining “dive” bars, if dive means a place you can still drink domestic beer from a bottle and not every cocktail is served with a garnish plus giant cube of ice. Make your way past the all-wood, low-to-the-ground benches and NYFD paraphernalia to discover the airy backyard garden. The graffitied patio is perfect for sipping on Mason jar margs -- Jargaritas -- and a stupidly long 2-7pm happy hour and stellar DJ have this place going at all times of the year.
A new bar from the Public team, The Daily's open even to those without iPads, keeping things "civically themed" within a compact space whose clubhouse vibe comes courtesy of a wall made entirely of velvet, hanging portraits of old-school community leaders juxtaposed with tabloid headlines, and a raised outdoor patio up front, though a properly raised patio shouldn't spend all its time in the street.
The relaxed vibe at Brinkley's makes it a great place to mingle. If you’re here and not trying to go home with a beautiful and affluent prep-school type, a beautiful and affluent prep-school type will be trying to go home with you.
T & J's is a laid back, neighborhood bar that has one of the best happy hours in the vicinity. Don’t let the cash-only factor keep you away from one of the best post-work happy hour spots in the game. Drinks are $5, there’s a moose head on the wall... and you can hit the all-you-can-carry-in-one-hand communal Chex Mix bucket in the back as many times as you want (before you’re given the stink eye... ).