Bars for any weather: rain or shine

These bars boast prime outdoor spots and intriguing interiors—just in case the weather gets crappy.



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Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Bier International

  • Critics choice

Whether the forecast is clear or questionable, Harlem’s first beer garden beckons with its bright, modern interior and a roster of ten impressive drafts and 25 bottled suds ($6–$14). Murky skies call for the rich and toasty Erdinger Dunkel Hefeweizen ($7), while slightly sweet Reissdorf Kölsch ($6) sates palates on days when the floor-to-ceiling glass doors open onto the pavement. Come early May, the venue will roll out a sidewalk café with additional seating.

  1. 2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd (Eighth Ave), (between 113th and 114th Sts)
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The Creek and the Cave

  • Price band: 1/4

At first glance, this hybrid taqueria, comedy theater and bar might seem to suffer from an identity crisis, but the multiple personalities only work in its favor—especially in dicey weather. Upstairs you’ll find the Cal-Mex eatery and live entertainment space; downstairs is a cozy hideaway with movie screenings and plenty of beer. Six solid drafts, including the Magic Hat Circus Boy ($5), and ten-plus bottles ($3–$8) compose the beer list, while a few mostly French wines and a full range of spirits round out the well. When the sun is shining, the fenced-in back patio becomes a frenzied union of cool kids and frat folk. Reach for a seasonal cocktail like the fruity Blackberry Bramble ($9) made from gin, fresh lemon juice and blackberry liqueur.

  1. 10-93 Jackson Ave at 11th St, Long Island City, Queens (718-706-8783)
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  • Critics choice

An early champion of the NYC craft-beer scene, this East Village elder provides a comfortable rain-or-shine sipping spot. On mild evenings, convivial drinkers fill the back garden for a light, crisp lager—we like Dogfish Head Golden Era pilsner ($7)—or an effervescent Fantôme Saison (25oz bottle $15). Then there’s the right-for-a-rainy-day interior: a dim, publike affair stocked with some of the city’s best small-batch suds. The rotating list of 20 drafts ($7) and more than 200 bottles ($6–$20) is sure to include a few bad-weather warmers, but for extra heat, peek at the dizzying whiskey selection, which features rarities from now-shuttered distillers.

  1. 41 First Ave between 2nd and 3rd Sts (212-475-5097)
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Hot Bird

Oil-stained garage doors and vintage saws repurposed as tables make up the awesomely mechanical digs here. The tipples are curated but unpretentious: The dark and toasty Hofbräu Lager ($5)—one of 12 drafts—offsets a breezy evening, as do the handful of decent whiskeys ($7–$15). Take advantage of mild temps by grabbing one of ten picnic tables on the ample patio and, when the meaty new menu is unveiled (around mid-April), expect plenty of grilling.

  1. 546 Clinton Ave at Atlantic Ave, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (718-230-5800)
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Lady Jay's

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Chef Sam Mason’s first foray into the bar biz is refreshingly low-key. The cocktail menu’s salty-sour pickle margarita ($7) seems rightly suited for a sun-drenched afternoon spent on the spacious wooden porch out back. Should the sky threaten rain, you can just as easily hole up inside with a blue-collar beer and a steady stream of Johnny Cash tunes from the country-tinged jukebox. PBR tall boys ($4) and shot-and-a beer combos ($8) are the unofficial house specialty, though craftier taps ($5–$6)—try the Sixpoint Brownstone—will please beer geeks.

  1. 633 Grand St between Leonard and Manhattan Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-387-1029)
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