50 best spring bars

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  • Photograph: Michael Kirby Smith

    MaisonPremiere

  • missiondolores

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    narrows13

  • spuytenduyvil13

    Spuyten Duyvil

  • tuffet11

  • WashComm

  • weatherup

Photograph: Michael Kirby Smith

MaisonPremiere

Manhattan | Brooklyn | Queens

Maison Premiere
Arguably more New Orleans than New Orleans, the atmosphere at Maison Premiere mimics what once was in the Big Easy—before garish frozen-daiquiri shops replaced refined drinking parlors. This is a place where connoisseurs are taught patience: in the hypnotic drip of an absinthe fountain, the extra shake required for a perfect gin fizz and a bartender's capacity for witty conversation. Try a Lafitte's Swizzle (Jean Lafitte was a historical pirate—this ain't no Cosmo): To a serious pour of Pernod 68 absinthe, your capable keep will add tart lime juice, the almond sweetness of orgeat, parfait amour and a splash of chilled water swizzled in to finish it off ($10). 298 Bedford Ave between Grand and South 1st Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-335-0446, maisonpremiere.com)

Mission Dolores
Now one of New York's most respected craft-brew destinations, this former auto-repair shop has a seat and a beer for either end of the thermostat. In the back, there's a dark bar with an industrial bent—the perfect spot to avoid inclement weather with a sturdy stout like the rare 2009 Goose Island Night Stalker (8oz glass $6). If Mother Nature cooperates, grab a chair in the breezy open-air courtyard and savor a Sehr Crisp Pilsner from Sixpoint ($6). With such seasonal accommodations and 21 constantly rotating drafts ($4--$7), we really can't see a reason to leave. 249 Fourth Ave between Carroll and President Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-399-0099, missiondoloresbar.com)

The Narrows
Artisanal beers and seasonally influenced cocktails form the core offerings at this artsy den, one of Bushwick's trailblazing watering holes. The interior is Art Deco--inspired and the crowd hip. When it's gusty outside, a Sol-and-tequila-shot combo ($6) quells doldrums. If the weather's right, a peaceful, foliage-heavy back patio provides a verdant backdrop for quaffing the warm-weather favorite Que Bonita, a blend of house-infused jalapeo tequila, lime juice and muddled cucumber. 1037 Flushing Ave between Morgan Ave and Vandervoort Pl, Bushwick, Brooklyn (narrowsbar.com)

Spuyten Duyvil
Don't arrive thirsty. It takes at least ten minutes to choose from roughly 150 quaffs, a list that impresses even microbrew mavens. Most selections are middle-European regionals, and bartenders are eager to explain the differences among them. The cozy interior is chock-full of flea market finds, most of which are for sale. There's also a tasty bar menu of smoked meats, pts, cheeses and terrines. 359 Metropolitan Ave between Havemeyer and N 4th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-963-4140, spuytenduyvilnyc.com)

Tuffet
If you need to get some actual work done, tow your laptop to the back study (yes, study) at this Williamsburg newcomer. Stay focused with cups of Gimme! Coffee ($2.50) and a cheese-and-meat platter ($9--$30 for two to eight items), then toast a hard day's work by knocking back a few craft beers ($5--$6) or wines ($7--$10). 286 Graham Ave between Grand and Powers Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-388-7434, tuffetnyc.com). Mon--Wed 2pm--midnight, Thu--Fri 2pm--2am, Sat 1pm--2am, Sun 1pm--midnight.

Washington Commons
This corner bar may not have Franklin Park's spaciousness, but it does have 16 craft brews on tap, knowledgeable bartenders who are happy to offer a recommendation or a sample of the suds, and some of the most entertaining bathroom graffiti around (look at the ceiling and you'll be advised to "pay attention"). Grab a bright, hoppy Captain Lawrence Rye Ale ($6) and head out back to the multicolored picnic tables where you can rub elbows with an eclectic mix of locals (and their dogs). 748 Washington Ave at Park Pl, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-230-3666)

Weather Up
Beyond the unmarked, white-tiled facade of this cocktail den you'll find a sultry space and artfully mixed renditions of classic drinks (and why not, with several Sasha Petraske--trained mixologists behind the bar). Sip on a Monk Buck (cognac, fresh lime, ginger syrup and Yellow Chartreuse; $11) or a Revolver (bourbon, coffee liqueur and orange bitters; $14) while catching the last of the afternoon rays on the sizable back deck. 589 Vanderbilt Ave between Bergen and Dean Sts, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (no phone)

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