Best bars on the Lower East Side: The essential drinking spots

The best bars in the neighborhood range from sophisticated cocktail dens and gastropubs to a tenacious bohemian hangout.

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Whatever your poison, the Lower East Side is excellent bar-hopping territory. European suds connoisseurs will find some good beer bars in the neighborhood. If cocktails are more your thing, you might want to try PKNY, which gives tiki-style drinks a new spin. Take note that legendary LES drinkery Milk and Honey—which has a place in NYC cocktail history and spawned many of the city's best bars—has relocated to the Flatiron District. We're also happy to report that endangered dive Max Fish is still alive and well!

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Lower East Side

Experimental Cocktail Club

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 4/4

You don’t have to look too hard to see the influence that Americans have had on the Parisian cocktail scene. Back in the early 1900s, the legendary Harry’s New York Bar established itself as the de facto clubhouse for a growing expat community in Paris, including luminaries like Ernest Hemingway and Humphrey Bogart. And the recent mixology boom in the City of Light has been largely engineered by three French drink-slingers—Olivier Bon, Pierre-Charles Cros and Romee de

  1. 191 Chrystie St, (between Rivington and Stanton Sts)
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Loreley

  • Critics choice

Loreley defies cultural stereotyping: It’s a German beer garden and it’s remarkably inefficient. A small back patio with too-close canopied picnic tables was only occasionally visited by the staff. Granted, the beer selection is extensive; Dortmunder and Spaten Mai Bock were tasty, and a good thing, too, because the wait for food was about as long as Wagner’s complete Ring cycle. Perhaps the spotty service will improve in time, but the food needs more attention as well.

  1. 7 Rivington St, (between Bowery and Christie St), 10002
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Marshall Stack

  • Critics choice

Blue balls, anyone? That’s one of the many tapas (this one consists of grapes coated in blue cheese and nuts) served at this 53-seat bar. Also on the menu: pâté, sandwiches and a large selection of wine.

  1. 66 Rivington St, (at Allen St)
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Max Fish

  • Critics choice

The cheap beer (three-buck PBRs), sticker-covered pool table and bohemian reputation (this was one of the first LES indie hot spots) attract a young crowd from all over town. Old-timers are still occasionally spotted, but most patrons bear a marked resemblance to the musicians featured in the bar’s celebrated jukebox, which includes punk and glam rock favorites like the Stooges and T. Rex.

  1. 178 Ludlow St, (between E Houston and Stanton Sts), 10002
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PKNY

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This Lower East Side bar devoted to tiki-style drinks is a refreshing sign that a new age of mixology has arrived—one in which bitters and paper umbrellas can peacefully coexist. Painkiller takes a studied approach to tropical drinks, offering tiki archetypes (frozens, swizzles, zombie punches) tailored to your preferences. A passion-fruit–spiked piña colada arrives as a thick, fruity slush served in a hollowed-out pineapple. A classic mai tai, meanwhile, balances the acid

  1. 49 Essex St, (between Grand and Hester Sts)
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Users say

2 comments
Marc Lande
Marc Lande

PKNY is closed. Max Fish is closed. What has happened to TimeOut?

Neena
Neena

Just so you know Mary Queen of Scots has now closed. Very sad, as the bar at the back was really cool. But I see you have it listed here, and thought you'd want to know. I live round the corner.