If you're heading to the Upper West Side to see a Humperdinck fairy tale opera at Lincoln Center, you might just need a drink beforehand. Here are the nine places to get your fix:
The Upper West Side's 9 Essential Bars
Best dive: Dive Bar
732 Amsterdam Ave
Take your beer pick from any of the 82 bottles, 32 drafts, 30 growlers, five cans, or one cask, and then do it again. And then again. Annddd again. And then take a poutine break.
Best sports bar with great wings: Blondies Sports Bar
212 W 79th St
With more screens than a Nobody Beats the Wiz circa 1984, Blondies is one of the most popular go-tos in the city for MSU, Penn State, and Northwestern alumni -- as it turns out, some of those nerds actually do care to watch the Wildcats. Though, maybe the draw is the 4-7pm, two-for-one weekly happy hour. Can't be sure.
Best wine bar: Vanguard
189 Amsterdam Ave
The wine list may not be hyper-expansive, but it's decently priced, which is not something you can say about most places around Lincoln Center. The Champagne float, an example of the American fare with a French flair, is exactly what you think it is -- Champagne with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Best Irish bar: The Dead Poet
450 Amsterdam Ave
Each signature drink is named for Whitman or Poe or Parker, except the eponymous "The Dead Poet" -- a concoction of seven liquors that somehow tastes like grape soda and is much preferable to seven grape sodas that taste like one liquor. If cocktails aren't your thing, but absurd drinking dares are, there's always the Guinness Challenge: drink 100 and get your name on a plaque for all eternity.
Best beer bar for biscuit and pickle lovers: Jacob's Pickles
509 Amsterdam Ave
The pickles offered aren’t limited to the cucumber variety, as beets, green beans, and carrots also get brined like mad. The baked-from-scratch-biscuit based sandwiches are ace and, although there's certainly plenty of brew on tap, there’re also three different kinds of root beers, too. Take that for what it's worth (a lot!!!).
Best bar with board games: Dive 75
101 W 75th St
Four important things you need to know about this place: 1) there are board games, 2) there is a giant fish aquarium, 3) there are 24 taps, and 4) there is free candy.
Best bar for beer pong and bro-ing out: Jake's Dilemma
430 Amsterdam Ave
Beer pong, pool, and foosball tables, and 50 bottled beers from across America fill this enormous space, because drinking games, bro-ing out, and America, generally, are mutually inclusive. The 4-8pm everyday half-price happy hour means it's all pretty economical.
Best spot for a quiet cocktail: Manhattan Cricket Club
226 W 79th St
The speakeasy sister above Burke & Willis harks back to the time of gentleman’s cocktail clubs when "fisticuffs was poor form" and shoes were required, probably. You don't have to be a member to sip on a Bonfire of the Calamities -- lime-infused vodka, lemon, agave, and a "Bonfire Spritz" -- but if you are, you're entitled to private menus, priority seating, and access to personal liquor lockers.
Best rooftop bar: The Empire Hotel
44 W 63rd St
The rooftop view with its famous light-up sign is genuinely incredible, but what really puts this luxe hotel bar on the map is that it's owned by Gossip Girl star Chuck Bass. Whenever we ask for him at the desk, though, they say he's not there, and to "get the hell out of here and never come back." Really weird stuff. Themed cocktails like the Sneaky B*tch are overpriced, predictably.
1. Dive Bar732 Amsterdam Ave, New York
2. Blondies212 W 79th St, New York
3. Vanguard Wine Bar189 Amsterdam Ave, New York
4. The Dead Poet450 Amsterdam Ave, New York
5. Jacob's Pickles509 Amsterdam Ave, New York
6. Dive 75101 W 75th St, New York
7. Jake's Dilemma430 Amsterdam Ave, New York
8. Manhattan Cricket Club226 W 79th St, New York
9. The Bar at the Empire Hotel44 West 63rd St, New York
This Upper West Side spot does its name justice, from the friendly after-work crowd and old-school jukebox to community events like trivia, karaoke, and game viewings. DB doesn't sell popular favorites such as Blue Moon or Angry Orchard, but they make up for that with varieties like Duvel, Red Stripe, and alcoholic ginger beer.
Blondies has all the fixins of a quintessential sports bar: big screen TVs, cheap happy hour drinks, and all-you-can-eat-wings on Monday nights. The Upper West Side spot is usually packed with Big 10 alums cheering on their respective alma maters.
Vanguard Wine Bar is a neighborhood spot serving French wine and contemporary small plates to be enjoyed at wooden tables under low lighting. The wine list is broken up by color, body, and taste, but the real standout is the acclaimed Champagne Float -- a coupe glass of bubbly mixed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Dog-eared tomes line the walls of this literary themed bar on the Upper West Side where each signature drink is named for a famous dead author (we like the Whitman, Poe, and Parker), except the eponymous "The Dead Poet" -- a seriously strong libation concocted out of seven different kinds of liquor. Reliable bar food fare (burgers, nachos, and wings) is also available.
Jacob's Pickles is where you go when you want a Southern comfort kind of brunch. The Upper West Side restaurant pickles everything from cucumbers and beets to green beans and carrots. The non-brined part of the menu features baked-from-scratch biscuit sandwiches, buttermilk fried chicken, and Bloody Marys served in a mason jar with a stalk of romaine, a hard boiled egg and a bacon strip. The bar is also a big player in the craft beer scene, offering a rotating selection of more than 25 microbrews on tap from New York, Maine, California and other American beer makers.
Dive 75 is more than just the Upper West Side's favorite dive bar. This is the place to go when you feel like drinking some good beer AND challenging a friend to an intense game of Connect Four. The beer menu here is also extensive and constantly updated, and the food menu is full of non-dive bar foods (poutine, anyone?).
Beer pong, pool, and foosball tables, plus 50 bottled beers from across America, fill this enormous space because drinking games, bro-ing out, and America, generally, are mutually inclusive.
Set in a 19th century apartment above Australian restaurant Burke & Wills, this speakeasy cocktail bar on the Upper West Side is an old-world gentlemen's club. You don't have to be a member to drop in for a drink, but members do get special privileges like private liquor lockers stocked with bottles of their choice, priority seating, and access to private dinner menus. The drink menu features American, Scotch, and Japanese whisky, plus a few varieties of gin, vodka, and brandy.
Planted in the remodeled Empire's lobby, this cozy, low-lit bar is bedecked in Hefner-chic, circa 1953, with 40ft high golden curtains, oak-paneled mirrors, and zebra-print ottomans. All told, it's welcome respite from slightly less dignified UWS bars lik