50 best New York bars: West Village

The West Village is known for its intimate and quirky New York bars. Whether you favor wine, beer or cocktails, there's a watering hole for you in this 'hood.

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  • Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin

    50 best New York bars: Gottino

  • Photo: Talia Simhi

    50 best New York bars: Blind Tiger Ale House

  • 50 best New York bars: Employees Only

  • Photograph: Michael Kirby

    50 best New York bars: Little Branch

Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin

50 best New York bars: Gottino

Gottino

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Jockey for a seat at this narrow enoteca, marked by a long marble bar, a piddling five tables and a menu of choice Italian nibbles to go with the all-Italian wine list. The least expensive glass goes for $9, and there are only a few bottles under $40, so bargain-seekers might want to start with a prosecco cocktail instead. Then attack the menu. Thick-cut cacciatorini (cured pork sausage) luxuriates in a shallow pool of olive oil infused with oregano and garlic, while in another wee dish, eye-poppingly tangy white anchovies keep company with celery, parsley and preserved lemon.

  1. 52 Greenwich Ave, (between Charles and Perry Sts)
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Blind Tiger Ale House

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Long before craft entered the lexicon, there was Blind Tiger, one of the OGs of the New York beer scene. Since its arrival in 1995, Blind Tiger has achieved legendary status thanks to a meticulously curated program and some of the city's best bar food. The 28 taps ($6.50--$11), two casks and one gravity keg (usually $7), plus more than 80 bottles ($7--$55), make this the first port of call for brewhounds who want to track down pours they can't find anywhere else. Weekly events, including meet-the-brewer nights and frequent style showcases, help drinkers navigate the hunt.

  1. 281 Bleecker St, (at Jones St)
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Employees Only

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

A fortune teller greets patrons at this comfortably-worn reproduction of a prohibition speakeasy. There’s a rousing scene in front, a mix of diehard regulars and industry types who jockey for the attentions of the chef-coat–clad barkeeps. Of all of the city’s craft cocktail joints Employees Only is among the most populist, with enough nerd-baiting tipples on the menu to please aficionados without alienating everyone else. Easy sipping libations include the floral Provencal, a silky blend of lavender-infused gin, vermouth steeped with herbs de Provence and Cointreau. More seasoned drinkers can call for a Hi-Octane Fix, made with aged rum and scotch, Cocchi di Torino vermouth, Grand Marnier and bitters. Chef Julia Jaksic turns out tasty bar snacks; stick around until closing time and they’ll set you up with a gratis bowl of chicken soup before sending you packing.

  1. 510 Hudson St, (between Christopher and W 10th Sts)
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Little Branch

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

As befits cocktail progenitor Sasha Petraske’s liquid legacy, the drinks at this clubby, low-ceilinged Village rathskeller are nigh perfect. If you choose to deviate from the menu, just give the neatly attired, polite bartenders a base liquor and a hint of your mood, and they can tailor a drink on the fly. A call for rye got us a spot-on Italian twist on a Manhattan, featuring maraschino liqueur, Carpano Antica vermouth and amaro. Custom-made cocktails—no password or secret handshake required.

  1. 20 Seventh Ave South, (at Leroy St)
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