We completely renovated our best bars in NYC list to reflect the way that people are actually imbibing in 2019, as well as the vision of our two new Food & Drink Editors. Our list spans craft beer bars and serious cocktail bars but it also takes into consideration, smaller less expensive destinations that you'll actually be able to hit up time and time again. We're also interested in looking at the ways that bars can be more sustainable, and the creative innovations that some bar owners are employing. Not to mention, we've added a cocktail bar that focuses entirely on non-alcoholic mixed drinks that places just as much focus on the craft as anywhere else. Also, who can forget the importance of bar snacks?
To narrow down the endless options, we’ve compiled this list of the 50 best bars in NYC right now. And if you are looking for more of the best, here are the best restaurants in NYC.
Drank somewhere on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDrinkList. You can also find out more about how Time Out makes recommendations and reviews bars here.
Best bars in NYC
Getting maced in the East Village might sound like a New York nightmare, but not when you’re at Mace: Recently moved to a new, more spacious venue, this cocktail club is named after the nutmeg-like spice, not the tear gas. Don’t shy away from the namesake drink, a tangy, sweet candied-beet number that’s misted with earthy—you guessed it—mace, right at the table.
A revivalist spirit is at the core of this retrofitted wonder that reimagines the midcentury greasy spoon. But the cocktail team does more than simply dig up old bones: It gave this joint a makeover with expertly executed tipples, like a refreshing gimlet and a boozy Boulevardier. The result is a hip Brooklyn bar that welcomes everyone.
Elsa serves up its original (but now closed) East Village locale’s same fancy feels in this decadent Cobble Hill reincarnation designed by Home Studios, the team behind many of the city’s most aesthetically pleasing interiors. The drinks highlight lesser-used ingredients, such as cucumber tea, Szechuan peppercorns, wildflower honey and grapefruit in the Golden Fang.
A pair of Belfast bar vets conjured up this version of a rough-and-tumble 19th-century tavern, then put a refined cocktail parlor upstairs so you can imbibe like a boss. Taking its name from the Five Points–era gang, the Dead Rabbit evokes the kind of watering hole where bare-knuckle dudes puff out their chests and throw back pints.
Think of the Grimm team as the mad scientists of beer: Inside the Bushwick brewery, the flavors are endlessly experimental, such as a recent IPA featuring gummy-bear hops. What’s more, Grimm’s own beer cans are graced by one-off graphics from an ever-changing roster of artists. Beyond the groundbreaking booze is another perk: Middle Eastern fave Samesa does the food.
This gorgeous NOLA-inspired salon—the green walls are fogged with a faux patina that suggests decades of patrons smoking Gauloises—is devoted to the twin pleasures of oysters and absinthe. Sip one of the potent varieties of the infamous anise-flavored liqueur, best enjoyed in the lush backyard.
Stroll through an unmarked side door at the front of Japanese restaurant Village Yokocho and you’ll end up in Angel’s Share. Cocktails are served only after you’re seated, and large groups are a faux pas—but this is really a date place anyway, offering tuxedoed bartenders, a rotating list of inventive quaffs organized by spirit and a bird’s-eye view of Stuyvesant Square.
The only thing better than the sweeping views of Central Park from the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental is the Aviary’s innovative tipples. This Chicago import continues to impress: You’ll feel like you’re in chemistry class as cocktails are stirred and smoked, then sent out in terrariums, ship portholes and other unique vessels. The prices sometimes make us weep, but the experience is always worth it.
The only old-school thing about this fun Nolita bar is its French moniker: Every time we say the name, it sounds like a baguette is stuck in our mouth. Subverting snobbery at every turn, the two owners (and Eleven Madison Park alums) offer Tracksuit Tuesdays, Wine Boot Camps and other hospitable parties. Wine director Caleb Ganzer has crafted an approachable list of vin that’s complemented by chef Eric Bolyard’s “fringe France” cooking.
A nod to David Bowie’s fourth LP, the name Hunky Dory signals the joy of imbibing at this groovy spot that proffers sweet and savory bites, such as a toothsome take on green eggs and ham. The Oh-La-Long, a play on milk punch, uses lemon peels, while the rest of the citrus gets sent to the kitchen to flavor its savory broth. Before launching her bar, owner Claire Sprouse founded a collective called Tin Roof Drink Community, devoted to making bars more sustainable.
Welcome to one of New York’s most underrated bars: This spot is run by artists, which is evident in the kitschy-yet-thoughtful design details that punctuate the colorful, cozy space and tropical-infused cocktails (think flavors such as kiwi and coconut milk). The delightful decor extends even to the restroom, which is outfitted with mismatched wall art.
If you’re weary of craft-cocktail bars trying to impress you with unneccesary embelishments, say hello to this LIC lounge. Compared to many of its Manhattan counterparts, Dutch Kills’ plentiful elbow room allows you to enjoy your well-balanced quaff without feeling like you’ve been shoved into a closet.
The six-decade-old East Village mainstay—whose barstools have hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Allen Ginsberg and Joey Ramone—is a head-scratching anomaly in a city with so much turnover. And though the place has been spruced up some—duct-taped booths traded for green banquettes, neon beer signs for gold sconces—the joint hasn’t been scrubbed clean of its charm.
Venue says An iconic cocktail lounge/bar located in the heart of the East Village, Manhattan NYC.
Accessible via a secret door in the American restaurant Saxon + Parole, this Mexico-inspired cocktail haunt straddles the line between speakeasy and dive. For this sliver of a saloon—festooned with red lights that cast a glow over everything (an IRL Instagram filter, really)—head barman Nacho Jimenez has built a menu that emphasizes mezcal, the smokey spirit of the moment.
At Pegu Club alum Kenta Goto’s glimmering black-and-gold beverage den, which is nicely secluded from Houston Street’s bedlam, you’ll encounter amazing cocktails as well as Japanese comfort food that’s not an afterthought. While this bar feels more grown-up than other LES spots, there are still plenty of small pleasures, such as the martini garnished with a cherry blossom.
If you’ve ever wanted to imagine you’re a character in a David Lynch film, slip into a black dress, slap on a dark-red lipstick
and hightail it to the Art Deco treasure trove that is Slowly Shirley. Bonus: Tucked beneath the West Village bar Happiest
Hour, the hideaway boasts a killer menu from a former Pegu Club pro.
At first glance, Primo’s is an oxymoron: an inexplicably sexy space modeled on… a 1950s diner? On one hand, glass-block partitions, chrome-edged tables and doo-wop music set the scene. But when you swap the black-and-white checkerboard floor for soft-gray terrazzo triangles, the soda-fountain counter for a liquor-stocked bar and the squeaky plastic booths for jewel-tone velvet banquettes, you have the most downright sensual “diner” we’ve ever seen.
The Polynesian performs two daunting feats: Though the bar is mere steps from Times Square, you can still recommend it to native New Yorkers; plus, it pours tiki tipples that we can’t resist. Bartender Brian Miller’s drinks are as visually stunning as they are thirst-quenching, whether you order the Vaya Kon Tiki, which sports a flaming lemon, or the large-format punch that’s served on a seashell.
Venue says The Polynesian is unprecedented in ambition and scope, honoring Tiki’s past and reinvigorating it for generations to come.
Nora O'Malley (Alphabet City Wine Co.) and Phoebe Connell (ABC Beer Co.) exclusively pour vino via draft at this wine bar, outfitted with 16 taps and a small-plates menu featuring house-made pork rillettes, duck-confit corn cakes and sourdough slathered in Szechuan-peppercorn butter.
With the right mix of tacky and glamorous '70s casino-esque décor, Goldie's has become one of New York's most evocative bars. This Greenpoint favorite magically always has the perfect amount of people in it, so you never have to worry about folks crowding the pool table. There's a backyard, too.
Not all spin-offs are created equal. Luckily for Gotham’s cocktail-swigging masses, this Milk and Honey redux falls into the former school—but with a livelier, lighter air. From the up-tempo retro tunes to the brightly lit, lived-in digs (whitewashed brick, tarnished sign hanging on the wall), Attaboy proves a breezy evolution of the form. At the brushed-steel bar, suspender-clad drinks slingers stir off-the-cuff riffs to suit each customer’s boozy preference.
The James Beard Award–winning trio behind neighborhood stunners Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad, expanded the latter to include this elegant saloon inside the NoMad hotel, teeming with lofty pub grub, digs worthy of 007… oh, and triple-digit-priced cocktails. But there are pocket-friendlier picks for those of us outside the 1 percent. A seat at this sleek, fireplace-lit pub lends a won’t-break-the-bank taste of EMP extravagance.
It's no wonder that a booze-powered Fantastic Four opened this capacious, teal-daubed barroom. Each tipple is measured on two scales: refreshing to spirituous (how boozy do you take your drink?), and comforting to adventurous (do traditional or quirky flavors appeal?). Situated above a scruffy liquor store on Avenue B, the airy second-floor drinkery is appointed with milky Art Deco lights and wood paneling.
This unmarked boîte is the sort of contrived hideout that might be cooked up by an overgrown kid with a chemistry set. The bar is littered with old vials, the cocktails are referred to as “prescriptions,” and the bartenders-cum-mad-scientists are in rare form.
The nattily attired bartenders are deadly serious about drinks at this Gothic saloon, a pioneer in New York's now relentless mania for craft cocktails. Behind the imposing wooden door, jet black walls, cushy booths and chandeliers set a luxuriously somber mood. Tipples here are consistently among the city's best, many of which have propelled mixology trends across the country.
A giddy enthusiasm electrifies the rooftop bar that crowns the Freehand New York. Located in the no-fun nexus of Gramercy and Flatiron, the Miami import is packed with happy-go-lucky twenty- and thirtysomethings that just seem relieved that the Caribbean rooftop even exists, let alone that they are there. Unlike rooftops around the city with sleek designs and glass parapets, Broken Shaker is meticulously crafted to look and feel like a well-worn and snug oasis.
Pay a visit to the urbane barroom, a second floor sanctum on bustling Houston Street, and explore the eminent opus, which includes new classics such as the Gin-Gin Mule. Equally renowned is the Earl Grey MarTEAni, a frothy and fragrant nod to English teatime traditions made with loose-leaf–infused Tanqueray gin, lemon juice and an egg white.
You’ll need a magnifying glass to navigate the chalk-drawn wine list at this dimly lit vino depot, oddly named for Jack the Ripper’s hunting grounds. Happily, knowledgeable servers are there to help, and the collection of global organic wines—16 glasses, most for less than $10, and 50 bottles—rewards your troubles. Standouts include Morocco’s fruit-forward Syrocco syrah or a floral Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
This standard-bearing cocktail parlor from mixology matriarch Julie Reiner (Leyenda, Flatiron Lounge) expresses its Victorian bent in intricate tile work, curved leather booths, marble tables, vintage sofas and a functioning fireplace. The centerpiece is the 19th-century mahogany bar, where vest-clad barkeeps stir and shake throwback potions, handily defined in the novel-like menu. Choose among regal crystal bowls of punch or finely wrought drinks, both classic and new.
At Peachy’s, you’re bound to break half of the rules. NO PHOTOS, NO FIGHTING, the hot-pink neon-lit sign commands as you descend below Doyers Street into the Chinese Tuxedo–owned cocktail bar. While nothing stirs us to brawl, it’s harder to resist snapping pics of the cool-kid cavern with its Gucci tiger-print wallpaper, flickering candles and flower arrangements that could be plucked straight from a wedding at the Plaza. Indeed, the bar is all #vibes, right down to the cocktails.
Choice acts keep New York’s most dapper nightspot on the map, while the steep cover charge and white-jacketed service makes sure riffraff doesn’t scuff up the bar’s most valued draw: original Ludwig Bemelmans murals. The spiffy (and pricey) drinks preserve the bar’s classic character.
This dapper Gramercy lounge is a railroad space divided into period-piece quarters: a rococo, gold-leaf–kissed Victorian parlor, a glittering Gatsby-era salon veiled in crystal curtains, and an ashtray-dotted hooch den worthy of Don Draper. Spend an hour at this luxe, kistch-free oasis and you’ll completely lose track of time, partying like it’s 1967—or 1923 or 1885. You decide.
Tørst—Danish for “thirst”—helmed by legendary “gypsy brewer” Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø and chef Daniel Burns, formerly of the planet’s hottest restaurant, Noma in Copenhagen. These warriors are laying waste to tired ideas of what a great taproom should be, with a minimalist space that looks and smells like a modernist log cabin, and rare brews from thoughout Europe and North America.
At this a colorful nook, curious drinkers can find plenty of ways to mix edification and inebriation. The focus here is on amaro and other bitters, which can be explored via tasting flights or excellent stirred cocktails. Sip your way through a range of trendy fernet or herbal liqueurs made by Carthusian monks, then try a modern-day cocktail.
For all of us who can’t squeeze into Jody Williams and Rita Sodi’s megahit Via Carota, there’s a few more spots across the street in the couple’s new all-day spot, Bar Pisellino. This Italian jewel box serves coffee, pastries and sandwiches during the day but it shines for its plays on Italian classics such as a crafted drink with pistachio and another inspired by spumoni.
There is no bar to belly up to at this louche lounge. Drinks are prepared in a beautiful but half-hidden back room surrounded by gleaming examples of every tool and gizmo a barkeep could wish for. From this gorgeous tableau comes an austere cocktail list, which includes classics like the Manhattan and Negroni, and variations thereof. Who needs a barstool anyway?
A fortune teller greets patrons at this comfortably-worn reproduction of a prohibition speakeasy. There’s a rousing scene in front, a mix of diehard regulars and industry types who jockey for the attentions of the chef-coat–clad barkeeps. Of all of the city’s craft cocktail joints Employees Only is among the most populist, with enough nerd-baiting tipples on the menu to please aficionados without alienating everyone else.
Contrary to what the name might imply, there’s no swearing on the menu at this basement bar from Paris-born chef Johann Giraud and manager-barman Ricardo Valdez, who met while opening the first U.S. outpost of Ladurée in Soho. There are, however, picturesque French cocktails served in a narrow 30-seat space, fitted with blue-and-gold damask wallpaper and budget replicas of famous paintings, alongside traditional small plates, which are steeped in house-made ingredients as well as French history.
The entrance of Nitecap is hard to find, but the wandering effort is well worth it, if only for the cavalcade of cocktail killers at its helm. The team has stirred up the kind of devil-may-care after-hours haunt you’ll want to linger at long after closing time. The inventive, freewheeling menu runs the gamut from crisp session cocktails to hefty late-night slugs to help you unwind inside the sultry, cavernous lair.
At this sly, effortlessly cool '70s-styled cocktail den, bartenders have torched cocoa butter; stirred red wine ice cubes into a glowing, off-menu lava lamp tipple; and poured sips of wine directly into patrons' mouths from traditonal Spanish porrons. Retro funk beats and amber lighting might at first remind you of your grandparents' basement—as do the wood paneling, beaded curtains, and cheese ball appetizers—but the quaffs, and the service, are far from out of style.
Sitting across the galleria from Le Bernardin, Aldo Sohm’s annexed vino-hub is far less buttoned-up than its big brother, but the level of detail here proves this apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Toss out any preference—bold and spicy, sweet and bubbly—and your sommeilier-server will cater to your every wino whim. Between pours, you can get schooled on the ins and outs of grapes and regions—without the sniff-and-swirl snootiness.
The entrance to this taxidermy-strewn saloon is hidden behind an old phone booth inside Crif Dogs. Pick up the receiver and a hostess opens the back wall of the booth. Inside, a team of barkeeps offer thoughtful cocktail creations. The staff is happy to talk you through any libation on the menu, or suggest an haute dog brought in from next door. It’s that kind of dedication that makes getting in worth the effort.
In a mystic-cool space rigged with Indio candles, cathedral-pew booths and a golden tin ceiling imprinted with crosses, a Clover Club alum takes the reins on the cocktail menu and proves she’s worthy of the title leyenda (Spanish for legend). Grab one of the more tropically minded numbers and head for the breezy, tree-filled, salsa-soundtracked patio out back. You’ll feel less like you’re in central Brooklyn and more like you’re in Central America.
Occupying the old Narcbar space in The Standard East Village, this new gay hangout is decked in cow print, neon and a discoball. We look forward to watching Ru Paul's Drag Race there while unapologetically munching on dishes like the "schmaltz popcorn" and chicken strips with bacon-fat ranch.
For Major Food Group’s first boozy opening since ZZ’s Clam Bar, the team put Thomas Waugh (Death & Co., Maison Premiere) behind the 75-seat mezzanine bar to craft “poolside-inspired” cocktails mixed with summery ingredients. Small seafood plates from chef Rich Torrisi accompany the cocktails.
The nice lady with the blond wig and penciled eyebrows is Lucy. Alphabet City residents of all ages shoot pool on the two worn tables and select tunes from a jukebox that features Paul Stanley and Stan Yankovic (the polka king). Come at night for lively atmosphere; in the light of day, the place seems more like Harry Hope’s Last Chance Saloon.
The jammed Wayland may be the nieghborhood's most versatile barroom, with a menu infused with DIY flourishes, crafting proprietary bitters and jams from a pantry of seasonal ingredients. Meanwhile, the memory of Banjo Jim's, a honky-tonk dive that used to occupy the space, is kept alive with Miller High Life longnecks, eclectic tunes on the speakers and an upright piano that hosts the occasional jam session.
It’s all about the locals at this lovable dump, where a greeting—“Yo, Richie, looking good tonight!” —goes up each time a regular enters. From a barstool by the large window, offset by a curved glass wall, you can watch the East River flow by in the distance. And maybe Richie and his crew will invite you to join their conversation.
This breezy, rum-soaked drinkery sitting secretly away near the Williamsburg waterfront, is mysterious and sexy enough to lure you inside on sight, yet substantive enough to keep you coming back. The cocktails alone could coax aficionados from their habitual perches, but it’s the transporting staging that seals the deal—a fever-dream vision of Central America that takes its inspiration from Spanish-colonial cathedrals, Art Nouveau parlor rooms and the sailor’s flophouse that existed on this site in the 1800s.
Opened by Sam Thonis and Regina Dellea, Getaway bar serves up mixed drinks with a slick-yet-casual environment. That alone wouldn't be enough to separate Getaway from other cocktail spots in Greenpoint. The catch? All the cocktails are sans alcohol making it an appealing social setting even if you don't drink. Expect housemade shrubs with flavors like fig, fennel, or strawberry rhubarb, as well as a full roster of cocktails.