The best new beer bars

A new crop of watering holes join the ranks of NYC's finest suds haunts.



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  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Sea Witch

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Harlem Tavern

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Local 61

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Buddha Beer Bar

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Sea Witch

Sea Witch
Brooklyn isn't short on nautically themed watering holes tarted up with garish fishnet decor, but this beer-focused newcomer takes subtler cues from the sea. Save a clubby blue-lit fish tank behind the bar, the place is tastefully rigged with starry pinhole light fixtures, an underwater mural and stools crafted from massive soldered chains. The 20 drafts, too, are smart and unpretentious, balancing local craft darlings like Greenport Harbor—try the smooth Black Duck Porter ($5)—with no-frills classics fit for a longshoreman (Guinness, MGD). Just don't expect much seafood: Beyond a buttery whole-belly clam roll ($11), the menu centers on well-executed, cheap comfort food. Tuck into the crispy pork-schnitzel sandwich ($6.50), or an excellent burger made with a freshly ground blend of brisket, chuck and short rib; the thin patty and satisfying squelch may remind you of Shake Shack, as will the $5.50 price tag. 703 Fifth Ave between 21st and 22nd Sts, Sunset Park, Brooklyn (347-227-7166)

Harlem Tavern
Harlem's nightlife resurgence recently got another boost from this international beer hall, which has quickly become a game-day favorite among the nabe's sports fans. Seven blaring flatscreens and three projectors display the matches while the busy waitstaff keeps the crowd plied with suds. Six of the 20 draft options feature craft breweries that rotate monthly—recent finds include Left Hand's creamy, chocolaty Milk Stout ($8)—but you won't encounter any snobbery if you'd rather to throw back Buds ($5 each) or split a bucket of five Coronas ($25). Snack on solid pub grub like a chimichurri-topped steak sandwich ($12) and a variety of flatbreads, including a tasty rendition with fried green tomatoes, mozzarella, ricotta and arugula pesto ($10). Come spring, you can sip in the sun on the tavern's spacious outdoor patio. 2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd (Eighth Ave) at 116th St (212-866-4500)

61 Local
With its single-minded focus on hyperlocal purveyors, Dave Liatti's sprawling beer hall doubles as an unofficial clubhouse for Brooklyn's DIY artisans. A massive, handcrafted map hangs over the bar, name-checking some of the usual suspects on the taps below (pints $5--$7). Look out for choice picks from the likes of Captain Lawrence, Ithaca Beer Companyand Long Island's Barrier Brewing Co., whose slighty smoky Cairn Scottish ale is an ideal winter sipper. A few of Liatti's 22 draft lines are reserved for other regional fermentables: wine on tap—including the zippy Brooklyn Brusco, the Red Hook Winery's take on a lambrusco ($10)—plus kombucha and soda. Match the drinks with simple, satisfying plates ($6--$14) featuring borough-made ingredients like Bien Cuit baked goods, Salvatore Bklyn cheese and Brooklyn Cured meats. Check for frequent events and classes that spotlight local producers and brewers. 61 Bergen St between Boerum Pl and Smith St, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (347-763-6624,

Buddha Beer Bar
Chopped alum James Lee is behind the burner at this uptown trailblazer, which brings artisanal beers and gussied-up gastropub fare to Washington Heights. The bar's two-dozen drafts (most $5.50--$8) balance American craft heavyweights like Founders and North Coast with old-world reps like St. Feuillien. To entice the hops-heads, Lee plans to reserve two taps for pale ales, two for IPAs (including Victory's excellent black IPA, Yakima Glory) and three for potent double IPAs. You'll need more than the gratis beer nuts to offset these brawny brews: Explore Lee's mash-up menu of "global drunk food," including Korean tacos, Thai pork skewers and cow-heart skewers with chimichurri sauce. 4476 Broadway between 190th and 192nd Sts (no phone yet,

Beer Authority
Times Square would be the among the last places city drinkers expect to find a good pint, but Joe Donagher, the proprietor of beer-geek favorite Rattle N Hum,is looking to change that. His ambitious multistory gastropub, set to open its doors this week, seeks to satisfy beer drinkers of all stripes, from the bumbling tourist looking for an all-American Budweiser to craft obsessives who want a convenient spot to congregate. If you fall into the latter group, skip the no-frills ground-floor bar and head upstairs to the main event: a seriously woody pub outfitted with a dizzying 62 draft lines (most pints $6--$8), plus more than 100 craft bottles. The focus is on American microbrews, with plenty of local outfits like the Bronx's Jonas Bronck's Beer Co. represented, as well as imports like O'Hara's Irish Stout, one of Donagher's homeland favorites. To eat, pub stalwarts like fish-and-chips will join headier fare such as grilled wild-boar sausage with cider glaze. Other perks include growler fills for Port Authority commuters, as well as an open-air beer garden on the third story for those looking to escape the madness below. 300 W 40th St at Eighth Ave (212-510-8415,

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