Best East Village bars

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  • Photograph: Talia Simhi

    angelsshare1

    Angel's Share

  • Photograph: Jeff Gurwin

    Bowery Wine Company

    Bowery Wine Company

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    deathandcompany2

    Death & Company

  • d.b.a.

    d.b.a.

  • dropoffservice5

    Drop Off Service

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    internationalbar2

    International Bar

  • Summit Bar

    Summit Bar

  • Terroir

    Terroir

  • Zum Schneider

    Zum Schneider

Photograph: Talia Simhi

angelsshare1

Angel's Share

Angel's Share
Walk through an unmarked side door at the front of Japanese restaurant Village Yokocho, and you'll find yourself in perhaps the classiest joint in the East Village. Angel's Share remains completely unknown to some of its neighbors; that duality is part of its charm. Standing around and groups of four or more are not allowed—but this is really a date place anyway, offering a stellar view of Stuyvesant Square, tuxedoed bartenders and excellent cocktails, including one of the city's best grasshoppers. 8 Stuyvesant St between Second and Third Aves (212-777-5415)

Bowery Wine Company
It was once the target of "die, yuppie scum" protests, but now that the conflict has cooled, we can appreciate this innocuous, dimly lit lounge for what it is: a garden-variety wine bar. The affordable, American-leaning selection is trim—about two dozen whites and reds, with a few sparklers and sweet wines thrown in. But the list is carefully assembled, offering a quality example of most varietals. Better still is BWC's homemade sangria (we tried the red): easy, fruity and take-the-edge-off refreshing. Not genius; just good. A bit like the bar itself. 13 E 1st St between Bowery and Second Ave (212-614-0800, bowerywineco.com)

Death & Company
The nattily attired mixologists are deadly serious about drinks at this pseudospeakeasy with Gothic flair (don't be intimidated by the imposing wooden door). Black walls and cushy booths combine with chandeliers to set the luxuriously somber mood. Patrons bored by shot-and-beer bars can sample the inventive cocktails, including a fiery Fresa Brava (strawberries and jalapeo-infused tequila), as well as top-notch grub including bacon-swaddled filet mignon bites. 433 E 6th St between First Ave and Ave A (212-388-0882)

d.b.a.
Though this East Village bar is held hostage by B&T types on weekends, there's plenty of elbow room among the locals during the week. It's a beer lover's mecca—250 brews (20 on tap), from the expensive (a Belgian kriek, or sour-cherry beer, goes for $25 per bottle) to the unpronounceable (Schlenkerla Rauchbier). Paralyzed by indecision? Think it over in the back garden (it's open year-round). 41 First Ave between 2nd and 3rd Sts (212-475-5097, drinkgoodstuff.com)

Drop Off Service
The folks at the bar won't do your laundry while you sip your pint of Old Speckled Hen. The name refers to the storefront's past life as a laundromat. Everything else is pure English pub, including the Tuck Shop meat pies, dark wood interior and earnest devotion to good beer (there are 19 varieties on tap). During happy hour, weekdays from 3 to 8pm and 1 to 8pm on weekends, all drinks are half off. 211 Ave A between 13th and 14th Sts (212-260-2914)

Elsa
This stylish saloon hosts a bespoke tailor in its anteroom two days a week—not surprising for a bar named after 20th-century fashion priestess Elsa Schiaparelli. The clean, airy space is echoed in the minimalist drinks list: ten international wines by the glass and a worthy selection of beers—drafts are funneled through an ancient sewing machine. But the real draw here is the ten affordable cocktails, including an austere old-fashioned and a smooth Jaszek (applejack, Falernum, lime juice, Angostura and orange bitters). Call Elsa the new cocktail culture's calmer, quieter cousin—one with a dapper wardrobe. 217 E 3rd St between Aves B and C (917-882-7395)

International Bar
The walls have been cleared of graffiti, but the second coming of this legendary saloon stays true to its dive bar roots (the original shuttered in 2005 after more than 40 years of business). A scuffed bar and vintage film posters make up the decor, and the jukebox is still killer (Black Flag, Nina Simone). Liquor tops out at $8, taps like Stella and Yuengling are $5 or less, and two-buck cans of Schaefer can be paired with whiskey shots ($4 for both). 120 1/2 First Ave between St. Marks Pl and E 7th St (212-777-1643)

Summit Bar
Mixologist Greg Seider is behind this democratic lounge—handsome with blue-velvet banquettes and a black-granite bar—for serious drinkers. The menu includes classics like a peppery old-fashioned, and more-creative tipples, including the whiskey-driven Gov'ner (yuzu, orange juice and cardamom-infused agave syrup). As much as Seider's inventiveness succeeds, it can also go off the rails, as in the She Loves Mei She Loves Mei Not, overly perfumed with rose petals and Szechuan-peppercorn--infused agave. Nonetheless, the bar's accessibility and willingness to experiment set it apart in the crowded cocktail field. 133 Ave C between 8th and 9th Sts (thesummitbar.net)

Terroir
Oeno-evangelist Paul Grieco (Hearth, Insieme) preaches the powers of terroir—grapes that express a sense of place—at this sparse wine haunt. The superknowledgeable waitstaff aptly helps patrons navigate the 50 by-the-glass options. Equally compelling was the lineup of wine and beer cocktails, including the frothy Abby Flip (Ommegang Abbey Ale, coriander syrup, pomegranate molasses and egg) and restaurant-caliber small plates (sage-wrapped lamb sausages). Stellar sips and a menu to match: Hallelujah! 413 E 12th St between First Ave and Ave A (wineisterroir.com)

Zum Schneider
You might ask la South Park, "What the fuck is a Bavarian beer garden doing in Alphabet City?" Upon entering, you'd have your answer: It's schvimming mit kustomers. In addition to the trees and checkered tablecloths, there's a guy in a ski suit doing the chicken dance near the bar. A dozen German brews are on tap, four in the bottle. After knocking back a few, you too will be shaking a tail feather. 107--109 Ave C at 7th St (212-598-1098)

 

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