Here's Our Travel Guide to This Nation of Over 7,000 Islands
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1. Jones Wood Foundry401 E 76th St, New York
2. JBird339 E 75th, New York
3. The Penrose1590 2nd Ave, New York
4. The Gilroy1561 2nd Ave, New York
5. Heidelberg1648 2nd Ave, New York
6. Earl's Beer & Cheese1259 Park Ave, New York
7. ABV1504 Lexington Ave, New York
8. The Pony Bar1444 1st Ave, New York
9. Guthrie Inn1259 Park Ave, New York
10. Caledonia Bar1609 2nd Ave, New York
11. J.G. Melon1291 3rd Ave, New York
12. Dorrian's Red Hand1616 2nd Ave, New York
13. Bemelmans Bar35 E 76th St, New York
14. Bondurants303 E 85th St, New York
15. Subway Inn143 E 60th St, New York
16. The Met Rooftop Bar1000 5th Ave, New York
JWF, an UES staple, offers authentic British fare like bangers and mash, fish and chips, and tea-brined chicken -- all served with UK beers. The front bar of this homey pub boasts a wrought-iron and stained-glass window that overlooks a sky-lit banquet hall. The hall, with rustic communal tables, sits adjacent to an outdoor courtyard, and connects to a dining room with antler-framed mirrors. So even without the accents, boy bands, or Royal Guards, you'll feel like you're across the pond.
With a cocktail list developed by a duo with ties to Death & Co., Tailor, 1534, and other top spots, the nightlife vets behind JBird chose to open up this plush penthouse right below XVI, with refined tipples including the Manu Chao (bay leaf-infused cachaca, demerara, soda), and a pineapple-for-two filled with bourbon/pear brandy/tiki bitters/falernum Sadie Hawkins Sling, though if it's anything like the dance, you'll probably have to get down on it solo.
The sister spot to The Wren, this Upper East Side gastropub brings a touch of cool hipness to the mid-eighties. Upscale but laid-back, The Penrose is the perfect place to let a drinks date slide into dinner. The sit-down dining room-slash-bar serves up comfort food small plates, burgers, and sandwiches. As for drinks, the bar's got a wide range of old-fashioned cocktails, and an impressive beer and whiskey selection. Oh, and the boozy brunch is a must -- there are four kinds of Bloody Marys.
If you thought the negroni -- that ethereal combination of gin, Campari, and vermouth -- couldn't be improved upon, you might be right. But The Gilroy will at least expand your notion of what the drink can be. The Upper East Side bar serves no less than nine variations on the classic: the White Negroni is made with White Pike whiskey, Suze, and Lillet Blanc, while the Old Oscar features bourbon with chili liqueur, Campari, and chocolate bitters. Cheese plates, flatbreads, and approachable small plates like burrata and sliders complement the cocktails.
Heidelberg is one of the oldest family-run German restaurants in New York, dating back to 1936 when Yorkville was a bustling German neighborhood. The menu offers modern American bar fare as well as traditional European dishes, like hearty potato pancakes and fried wiener schnitzel. Wash it all down with German brews in boot-shaped two-liter helpings. Though the menu’s been updated since Heidelberg's heyday, the atmosphere hasn't changed much: the interior is frozen in time with old-world Germantown decor.
Earl's Beer & Cheese is part of a small group of Upper East Side bars that's bringing cool and laid-back nightlife to the historically barren blocks of the mid-90s. Earl's great craft beer selection changes daily, and though it's definitely more of a bar than a restaurant, the food is hard to resist. The cheesy options include three kinds of grilled cheese, pork tacos, and goat cheese mac & cheese.
ABV is a small neighborhood wine bar on the Upper East Side offering niche selections of new and old-world vino in a quirky, communal setting. Beyond its offerings by the glass and the bottle, ABV also offers antipasto-style small plates like spicy nduja on crostini, salmon rillettes, and burrata Brussels sprouts.
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.
For all those Upper East Side denizens who feel like they belong below 14th street, or for downtowners spending a night uptown, there’s Guthrie Inn, a tiny and low-key bourbon-centric bar that serves up classic cocktails alongside more inventive ones, like the Jackson Ward made with bourbon, Italian vermouth, and wormwood bitters, or the amaro and rye Sharpie Moustache.
This low-key Upper East Side pub is unique for making old man Scotch a hit among the twenty-something generation. The Scottish owner makes his extensive spirit menu manageable by separating the bottles by their geographic origin (most are from the Highlands, Islay, and Speyside) and adding tasting notes. For those looking for something with a lower alcohol content, a few Scottish beers finish out the menu. The dark and glossy bar is the centerpiece of the tiny space, and there’s a small food menu with shareable appetizers like Scotch eggs and pork sausage rolls.
One of New York's most classic burgers can be found at this prepster pub that's been serving the Upper East Side since 1972. The hallmark of J.G. Melon is the hamburger, comprised of a griddled beef patty and American cheese on a toasted potato bun. If you aren't a regular who lives within a five-block radius, the bar burger really is the only reason to go to J.G. Melon, whose melon decor and green-checkered tablecloths haven't changed much since it first opened.
Open since 1960, Dorrian’s is kind of like the Upper East Side’s very own Cheers. Its draft beers and well-priced cocktails are what neighborhood bars are made of, and the kitchen serves classic American comfort food like bacon cheeseburgers, club sandwiches, and mozzarella sticks until midnight.
If it weren’t for all the alcohol, you could mistake Bemelmans for the world’s most lavish nursery. That’s because the walls and lampshades are covered with whimsical illustrations from Ludwig Bemelmans, the man behind Madeline. But don’t come here with your kids on a Sunday afternoon; instead, come on Friday, and grab a table on the floor or, if you can, a spot in one of the rich chocolate-brown banquets around the perimeter of the room and listen to live jazz and piano in the evenings. There’s a cover charge past 9pm on Sunday and Monday and 9:30pm Tuesday-Saturday, so be sure to get there early for a first-come-first-serve spot. The menu is all class, from fine wines to cocktails like the pisco sour and top-notch martinis. While you sip, tilt your head back to catch a glimpse of the 24-karat gold leaf-covered ceiling.
Craft beer and bourbon are the focus of this casual Upper East Side bar whose rustic vibe is enhanced by brick walls and mismatched wooden tables and stools. Aside from the drinks, which include a selection of small-batch and single barrel bourbons, there are Southern-accented bites like fried green tomatoes, a pimento cheese burger, and deviled eggs. Weekend brunch brings out boozy specials like fries brined in Lagunitas IPA and Irish iced coffee.
This friendly Upper East Side haunt is basically the definition of a dive bar, with cheap drinks, a relaxed atmosphere and a decent selection of brews on draft.
Situated on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum, the aptly named Met Rooftop Bar offers sweeping views of Central Park and beyond that can be enjoyed with wine, cocktails, and light bites. It's only open when the museum is and it is oftentimes overflowing with tourists, but the scenery and the special atmosphere make it well-worth the limited hours and lines for drinks. Try to come on a weekday when the crowds have thinned. If you can make it on a weekday.