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50 best New York bars: Williamsburg

As New York bars go, you can't do much better than Williamsburg—one of the richest nightlife hoods in NYC

Photograph: Filip Wolak
Tapped Out Cocktail at Donna

New Yorkers know how to drink, and well. Whether you’re a craft-beer connoisseur, a bar food aficionado or a rooftop bar regular, our nightlife-loving city has got the booze haunt for you.

RECOMMENDED: The best New York bars

Barcade

Critics' pick

Prepare to geek out at this temple to beer and vintage arcade games: first at the 35 classic quarter machines (Donkey Kong, Contra), then at the ever-evolving beer selection detailed on a chalkboard above the bar. Owner Paul Kermizian stocks only American beer, with 75 percent of his haul hailing from the Northeast. But despite constant lineup changes, he manages to maintain remarkable stylistic balance—on the 24-tap draft list, you might see a crisp Victory pilsner alongside a diverse trio of stouts.

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Williamsburg

The Commodore

Critics' pick

With its old arcade games, Schlitz in a can and stereo pumping out the Knight Rider theme song, this Williamsburg gastrodive offers the city’s best cheap-ass bar eats. The “hot fish” sandwich, for one, is a fresh, flaky, cayenne-rubbed catfish fillet poking out of both sides of a butter-griddled sesame-seed roll.You'll be thankful it's available after a few rounds of the Commodore's house drink—a frozen slushy pina colada.

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Williamsburg

The Counting Room

Critics' pick

This spacious, stylish watering hole offers two great bars in one: wines by the glass and half bottles on the ground floor, and cocktails and spirits in a basement lounge. The wine list upstairs, with a focus on small, all-natural producers, features a well-priced collection of offbeat finds. Downstairs, you can sip classic and original drinks like the La Vie de Boheme (gin, lemon, spiced orange-fennel syrup and prosecco).

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Williamsburg

Donna

Critics' pick

This breezy, rum-soaked drinkery, secreted away near the Williamsburg waterfront, is charming, refined and a little subversive—an enchanting nook that feels worlds away from the industrial streets outside. The cocktails alone could coax aficionados from their habitual perches, but it’s the transporting staging that seals the deal—a fever-dream vision of Central America that takes its inspiration from Spanish-colonial cathedrals, Art Nouveau parlor rooms and the sailor’s flophouse that existed on this site in the 1800s.

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Williamsburg

Dram

Critics' pick

This airy Williamsburg bar is New York’s first truly progressive cocktail joint—a casual mixology haven with stools to spare for drinkers of all persuasions. The lighthearted but well-executed menu changes according to the whims of Dram’s precocious barkeeps or order the bartender's choice with your preferred spirt. There are classics, too—like a beautifully integrated Sazerac—but you can also take your boozing cues from the neighborhood dudes draining $4 Porkslap ales or sipping from a smart collection of international wines.

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Williamsburg

The Drink

Critics' pick

This maritime tavern trains its focus on the communal pleasures of punch. Frank Cisneros (Dram) is behind the nightly punch-by-the-glass specials as well as large-format bowls for groups, including the Crusade—a fruity marriage of Old Monk Indian rum, citric rooibos Earl Grey tea from South Africa and a boatload of spices. Tea-stained navigational charts on the ceiling and nautical bric-a-brac rachet up the seafaring spirit, but the prices are a draw for landlubbers as well.

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Upper West Side

Huckleberry Bar

The name says it all: To be a huckleberry is to be the right one for the job, and Huckleberry Bar is just that. Owners Andrew Boggs and Stephanie Schneider have created an experience that will satisfy any boozer’s desire: choice beers, an ace wine selection, serious cocktails and respectable eats. Acquire an intimate table in the expansive room and call for a glass of punch or a house drink such as the Greenbriar, made with oloroso sherry, peach bitters and Lillet.

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Williamsburg

Maison Premiere

Critics' pick

The majority of NYC's N'awlins-inspired watering holes choose debauched Bourbon Street as their muse, but this gorgeous salon embraces the romance found in the Crescent City’s historic haunts. Belly up to the oval, marble-topped bar and get familiar with the twin pleasures of oysters and absinthe: two French Quarter staples with plenty of appeal in Brooklyn. The mythical anise-flavored liqueur appears in 19 international varieties, in addition to a trim list of cerebral cocktails from barkeep Maxwell Britten (Freemans, Jack the Horse).

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Williamsburg

The Shanty

Critics' pick

If you've ever visited a vineyard, you're familiar with the tasting-room drill: Watch a promotional video, then sip minuscule pours in a makeshift barroom. But things are a bit different at the Shanty, a new drinkery attached to the manufacturing floor of the New York Distilling Company, which recently kicked off production in Williamsburg. The place offers a unique tippling experience, allowing drinkers to compare the borough-made booze side-by-side with more familiar brands or try it in a range of well-built cocktails.

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Williamsburg

Spuyten Duyvil

Critics' pick

The pared-down lineup of six drafts and one cask here speaks to owner Joe Carroll's reverence for beer. "With too many lines, the beer can sit around and get stale," he says. Spuyten's minimal draft offerings, as well as its 100-plus bottle list, are focused mainly on tiny European breweries. Sample old-world rarities like the thick, sherrylike Samichlaus lager from Austria or cellar-aged Cantillon lambics of various vintages. There’s also a tasty bar menu of smoked meats, pâtés, cheeses and terrines.

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Williamsburg

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