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

Find the best bars in the neighborhood, whether you prefer unpretentious pubs, sophisticated wine bars or swanky cocktail lounges.

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Whatever your poison, the Upper East Side offers several worthwhile drinking options—the best bars in the neighborhood include classic hotel lounges and convivial beer bars. Plus, a hip enclave pioneered by Earl’s Beer and Cheese—which includes destinations for cocktails and wine—has taken root in a northern corner of the nabe.

RECOMMENDED: Upper East Side neighborhood guide

Earl's Beer and Cheese

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Tucked into the no-man’s-land between the Upper East Side and Spanish Harlem, this craft-beer cubbyhole has the sort of community-hub vibe that makes you want to settle in and become part of the furniture. The well-priced suds (including rotating craft brews and cheap cans of Genny Light) and slapdash setup appeal to a neighborhood crowd, but it's chef Corey Cova's madcap bar food that makes it destinationworthy. The Momofuku Ssäm Bar alum is a comfort-food savant, deploying

  1. 1259 Park Ave, between 97th and 98th Sts, 10029
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The Penrose

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The Upper East Side has its share of low-key gems (Torishin) and crown-jewel restaurants (Daniel), but verifiable hot spots? There are few. The idea of a hobnobbing scene in Manhattan’s stuffiest zip code seemed laughable a few years ago—as likely as an electrodisco party in Greenwich, Connecticut. But the Penrose—named for a neighborhood in Cork, Ireland, where two of the owners grew up—is finally bringing a bit of the indie-chic East Village to Gossip Girl territory.

  1. 1590 Second Ave, between 82nd and 83rd Sts
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The Guthrie Inn

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Critics choice

Cocktail enthusiasts haven’t had much use for the 6 train above 42nd Street. The Upper East Side, so rich in greenery and regal townhouses, is comparatively wanting when it comes to nightlife. But the Guthrie Inn—joining Earl’s Beer and Cheese and ABV—is the latest in a series of hipster-baiting bars colonizing the upper reaches of the UES. Owner Adam Clark, who also has a hand in Earl’s next door, has squeezed this bar into a lean, wooden hallway of a space. The

  1. 1259 Park Ave, between 97th and 98th Sts
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ABV

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Last year, Earl’s Beer and Cheese emerged, seemingly from the ether, along the northern edges of the Upper East Side, bringing youthful buzz and craft brews to a ’hood that had long been a wasteland for both. Now, the previously drowsy area has received another boost from the oenocentric ABV, the latest piece of a loosely affiliated mini empire that also includes the musically inclined Vinyl Wine shop and an in-the-works cocktail bar called Guthrie Inn. With exposed-brick

  1. 1504 Lexington Ave, at 97th St
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Lexington Bar and Books

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Order a drink and the barman does something odd: He offers you an ashtray. Yes, it’s a legal cigar bar. Beer glasses are frosted, martinis are shaken, and the selection of single-malt Scotches and cognacs is topflight. The celeb clientele has included Robert De Niro, Quentin Tarantino, Jessica Simpson and John Mayer (woo woo!).

  1. 1020 Lexington Ave, at 73rd St, 10014
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Bar Pleiades

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

The luxe setting and monied crowd at Daniel Boulud’s Deco beauty might seem a little stiff—but barkeep Cameron Bogue’s drinks are so delicious and exquisitely executed, you won’t mind sharing your banquette with a suit. A sloe gin fizz was a stunner, combining sloe gin with lemon juice and homemade rhubarb bitters, crowned with a silky egg-white head. The La Terre was an earthy, complex blend of red vermouth, Aperol, grapefruit juice and house-infused beet gin. All of

  1. The Surrey, 20 E 76th St, between Fifth and Madison Aves
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