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Photograph: Steve Freihon

The 50 best bars in NYC right now

Sip classic cocktails, craft beer and expert wine selections at these new drinking destinations and longtime favorites.

Amber Sutherland-Namako
Written by
Amber Sutherland-Namako
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Every drink seems ideal when you're at the perfect bar. Your dive’s beer is frosty, rooftop spots send you soaring toward the clouds and cocktail destinations shake and stir myriad ingredients into ideally calibrated glassware unlike anything you have at home. The options are unending, the ice is nicer and you aren’t just drinking, you’re at the spot. 

Whether you're dabbling in low-ABV libations, toasting to the return of to-go cocktails, making your way through trendy dedicated martini menus or collecting passwords for the recent speakeasy-style bar boom, there is an ideal location for every taste, tolerance and occasion. Find them among the 50 best bars in NYC right now. 

The best of the city under one roof

  • Restaurants
  • Food court
  • DUMBO
  • price 1 of 4

Everything you love about New York City's best bars can be found at Time Out Market: Terrific cocktails, skyline views and happy hours to end your day and start your evening. Just like our restaurant curation, we've taken great care in building our bars. Some of the city's finest beverage professionals were with us on day one creating delicious, Instagrammable libations, and the creativity keeps flowing today. And don't miss our Love Local Brews Bar, focused on suds made here in NYC.

Best bars in NYC

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Greenwich Village
  • price 2 of 4

Mace has been a regular on local and international “best of” lists since it first opened in 2015. A later move to West 8th Street gives the perennial fave a little more room for outdoor dining, in addition to a comfortable interior and 27-foot zinc bar. Its record of excellence, combined with a fresh new location helps it land in our top spot. Sip spice and botanical-forward cocktails and see how fast you’ll make Mace your own personal recommendation.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Lower East Side
  • price 2 of 4

Another NYC classic (of more recent origin; Attaboy opened in the famed Milk and Honey space in 2012) forced to untether itself from speakeasy-trappings in 2020, this LES cocktail leader was one of a few bars in its genre to demonstrate greatness even absent all the cloak and dagger themes. You can still play prohibition at the steel-brushed bar inside, of course, but it’s no longer necessary with the addition of a patio. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Cobble Hill
  • price 2 of 4

Occupying a corner spot that operated under the same name for five decades, Long Island Bar comes by its retro-lite ambiance honestly. It has a way of filling up fast, and the addition of outdoor seating hasn't actually eased the crowds that much. But it's worth the wait for best-in-class gimlets, martinis, beer and wine. 

  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Red Hook
  • price 1 of 4

A canonical NYC destination, Sunny’s still feels serendipitous when you luck into it on a random, meandering afternoon. It has nautical nods, a long bar and booths up front, tables and enough room for twangy live music in the back and a side yard for alternating breaths of fresh air and the opposite of fresh air. There’s a full bar, but they’re particularly adept at making beer here. 

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Lenox Hill
  • price 4 of 4

The Central Casting ideal of Old New York, the Carlyle Hotel’s throwback grandeur is juxtaposed with Ludwig Bemelmans’ whimsical original murals here at his namesake bar. It’s as expensive as you’d expect, and the $15 cover charge from 6pm-9pm gets you a seat and nothing more, but $21 cocktails like the JFK daiquiri, mezcal martini and Earl Grey-infused Grey Goose with lemon and honey aren’t too much more than you’ll spend in less lovely environs. 

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Carroll Gardens
  • price 2 of 4

This standard-bearing cocktail parlor from mixology ace Julie Reiner (Leyenda, Flatiron Lounge) is lined in intricate tile work, leather booths and marble tables all under flattering lighting. The centerpiece is the 19th-century mahogany bar, where spirits experts stir and shake drinks handily detailed in the lengthy menu. 

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  • Bars
  • Downtown Brooklyn

Sohui Kim, Ben Schneider and St. John Frizell’s glittering Gage & Tollner revival was one of NYC’s best new restaurants of 2021, and the team follows that smashing success with Sunken Harbor Club upstairs. The permanent addition picks up where Frizell’s weekly parties of the same name left off at Fort Defiance when the Red Hook favorite relocated and then temporarily closed. Sunken Harbor Club’s new forever space has dramatic enchanted shipwreck themes and studied drink menus as deep as the sea.   

 

  • Bars
  • South Slope

Good Judy has been “a home for queers + allies to join together in unity and solidarity” since it opened in July of 2020. Enter through the narrow facade and you’ll find a half-dozen seats at the glossy bar on the main level, a piano lounge upstairs and a patio in the back. 

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  • Restaurants
  • East Village

Best New Bar honoree in our 2021 Best of the City Awards, Sidney’s Five is also a terrific full-service restaurant with fantastic charbroiled oysters, andouille corn dogs, fish and chips, burgers and raw bar items. The whole place is great, and its lovely, long bar shines even in the super booze-saturated East Village. Sidle up for a whole dedicated martini menu, plus more cocktails, wine and beer. 

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Jadis
  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Lower East Side
  • price 2 of 4

A few steps below the sidewalk, Jadis wine bar seems suffused with effortless romance and incidental magic–qualities frequently copied with low, golden lighting schemes and chicly rustic design, but seldom truly captured at quite this pulse-quickening pace. Be careful who you share that carafe with, as it’s easy to get infatuated here. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Midtown East
  • price 4 of 4

Grand Central Terminal itself is rather beautiful, but running its gauntlet always requires a reward. The Campbell, née, The Campbell Apartment, in the building’s southwest corner, is the closest and best place to get one. Once the massive office of the ur-rich NYC finance guy for which it’s twice named, The Campbell’s present form toasts its original leaded-glass windows, soaring hand-painted ceiling and stone fireplace with classic cocktails. This is what all those latter-day speakeasies aspire to without the goofy costuming. 

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Harlem
  • price 4 of 4

Expertly shaken and stirred cocktails have been topping 67 Orange Street’s bar and two floors of tables since it first opened uptown in 2008. Slip into the stylish brick-lined space for novel cocktails created by its own bartenders, plus beer, wine and very 2020s hard seltzers. 

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Greenpoint
  • price 2 of 4

This casual low-rise rooftop is just as enjoyable as some of its sky-high peers. The first come, first sit, second floor fills up fast, however, so dispatch a member of your party to get there early and make sure to reward ‘em with gimlets, old blossom rum lemonades and frozens into the evening. 

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  • Restaurants
  • East Harlem

The bar at Contento, one of the best new restaurants of 2021, has enough wines by the glass to keep us coming back, but not so many that we never get around to actually ordering, plus beer, cocktails and a terrific dinner menu. Said bar also has just enough spots to give the full-service restaurant equal drinking and eating crossover destination appeal, and its design keeps people with disabilities front of mind. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Boerum Hill
  • price 2 of 4

This breezily-chic bar’s menu is frequently updated with themes like CATS!–”not the musical” and Nicholas Cage. This season’s sips nod to the Spice Girls. Gin up your Girl Power with a pisco-based drink by the same name, blanco tequila Wannabe or vodka Zigazigahhh.

  • Bars
  • Chinatown

Yet another one of the past year’s ubiquitous speakeasy-inspired bars, Saint Tuesday is closer to the archetype than any of the rest. Its Cortlandt Alley entrance is hard enough to find to humble even the most smug among us, and getting to the bar still feels like the Goodfellas Copa shot once you’re through the door. It's also pretty inside with vaguely old-fashioned design, there’s live music every night, the drinks are good and, as of this spring, reservations are available to make getting in a little easier. 

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  • Bars
  • Financial District

Hovering near the top of special occasion libation destinations, Overstory is also poised among the clouds on the 64th floor of a downtown Art Deco skyscraper. Yes, special occasion is still a euphemism for spendy, and Overstory actually pays off as a ‘worth it’ splurge. Its nicely crafted cocktails are all $24, and the views from its wrap-around terrace approach priceless. 

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • East Village
  • price 4 of 4

The entrance to this taxidermy-strewn saloon is hidden behind an old phone booth inside Crif Dogs. 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 from next door. PDT expanded with the outdoor addition of PDT Tropicale last spring. 

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Pilot
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Brooklyn Heights
  • price 2 of 4

Is seasonally-open Pilot, docked at the south end of Brooklyn Bridge Park, a bittersweet reminder that all things are as ephemeral as a warm breeze on a summer day? Sure, but it is also simply more practical to operate during the temperate months, which happen to be at their peak at this very moment. Board now for drinks, raw bar items, views and vibes that make you feel like the world is your . . . you know. 

  • Hotels
  • Financial District
  • price 3 of 4

Visit the beautiful Bar Room in the historic Beekman Hotel for high-key romance that really wows. The soaring atrium locale is ornate from its soaring ceiling down to the bar, which is topped with martinis and all manner of other classic and creative cocktails. Tables, armchairs and large booths populate the rest of the space, should you wish to sink in a little longer. 

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  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Williamsburg

This woman-owned brewery opened its first taproom in Williamsburg in March of 2021, followed by a second this June. In addition to refreshing, fruit-forward beer and seasonal suds, cocktails, wine, and snacks are also on the menu. Sit inside our out, grab a draft and pick up some canned beer to go when it's time to say goodnight. 

 

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Financial District
  • price 3 of 4

Fantastic Manhatta is back after a pandemic hibernation, and it’s eschewed its previous, highly regarded prix fixe for a renewed focus on cocktails and an à la carte food menu. Some of the new cocktails are named for NYC neighborhoods like Red Hook and Astoria, and the skyline view from the 60th floor is as sensational as ever. 

Brooklyn Social
  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Carroll Gardens
  • price 2 of 4

Smith Street’s designation as an eating and drinking destination has ebbed and flowed over the years, but Brooklyn Social has held steady as a prime cocktail spot since 2004. It seems to have settled out of its once impossibly crowded state, but we’re always looking over our shoulder for the masses to return to its low key bar, flock around its backroom pool table and fill up its hidden patio once more. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Gastropubs
  • Flatiron
  • price 1 of 4

Aptly named Old Town has occupied its ever-changing neighborhood a block above Union Square since 1892.  It was possibly pushed into actual speakeasy status during prohibition, but the bar does not dine out on that confoundingly popular designation today. Instead, the large-but-easily-crowded staple’s neon sign beckons all for beer and all the other expected beverages, plus particularly satisfying bar food. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • East Village
  • price 4 of 4

First opened in the earlier years of NYC’s great cocktail resurgence, Death & Co. is still a top pick for booze devotees who take their spirits seriously. Seating is first come, first served in its effortlessly glamorous space, so prepare to break a sweat if you’re trying to nab a spot at peak imbibing times. 

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Montero
  • Bars
  • Sports Bars
  • Brooklyn Heights
  • price 1 of 4

A real-deal dive bar in an area less and less hospitable to the genre, Montero’s a grizzled old charmer decked out in the seafaring accoutrement you’d expect from a spot that got its start serving sailors so many years ago. Today, it lights up on karaoke nights when visitors belt out PBR-emboldened versions of former and current hits. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Financial District
  • price 2 of 4

A pair of Belfast beverage professionals conjured up this version of a rough-and-tumble 19th-century tavern, then added cocktail parlor on top so you can imbibe a couple of different ways. Famed for its drinks and decor, The Dead Rabbit is one of NYC's most decorated bars.

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  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Astoria
  • price 2 of 4

An ideal neighborhood go-to now in its second decade, Sweet Afton must be doing something right. The beer, wine, cocktails and weekday happy hour where some of the above are priced from $5-$13 are a good start, and the roomy indoor and back patio seating areas don’t hurt, either. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • price 3 of 4

The team behind Dear Irving and Raines Law Room opened the second outpost of the former in midtown a few years back. Dear Irving on Hudson is a bi-level cocktail bar that takes up the 40th and 41st floors of the Aliz Hotel in Times Square. While the bustling location is worlds away from the quiet block of Irving Place, the founders are sticking to some familiarities. Most noticeably, a handful of cocktails and a "time travel" theme, with one floor akin to 1960s James Bond and another decked out in Art Deco finishes.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Harlem
  • price 2 of 4

Bartenders at this effortlessly cool downstairs bar serve fantastic sips in such unlikely vessels as upturned “lightbulbs,” honey bears and even glowing approximations of lava lamps. Retro tunes and amber hues play off of wood paneling and beaded curtains inside, and there’s a dreamy, vine-lined garden out back. 

  • Bars
  • Chelsea

As evidenced by La Noxe’s long wait list, the New York City subway system sure does drive people to drink. This subterranean destination is adjacent to the 1 train in the 28th Street station. When traveling above ground, try your luck at the bell at 162 West 28th Street; you’ll need all the good fortune you can get for a shot at sampling the buzzy spot’s exclusive libations.  

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  • Bars
  • Sports Bars
  • West Village
  • price 1 of 4

Historic Julius’s autobiographical headline is “New York’s oldest gay bar and Greenwich Village’s oldest bar.” Today, the small, iconic spot hosts parties, events and a happy hour weekdays from 5pm to 7pm. It's also known for its burgers, available in a few varieties, plus sandwiches, classic sides and bar snacks. 

  • Museums
  • Special interest
  • Financial District

Dating back to 1762, Fraunces Tavern doesn’t look a day over 260. In addition to modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, its distinct spaces serve as a one-stop-shop for a few different photo-ops: grab a beer at the main bar, sip Brenne beside the fireplace in the whiskey room or head up to the landmarked building's latest concept, its new, second floor piano bar

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McSorley’s Old Ale House
  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

One of the oldest bars in New York City, McSorley’s Old Ale House has sawdust on the floor and dusty aged curios to prove it. The prices seem suspended in time, too: Dark or light ales are $6 per pair of half pints. Yes, you must choose from just two beers, and your one [1] order is served in two [2] mugs. Most of McSorley’s food (sandwiches, burgers, dogs) is under $10. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Cobble Hill
  • price 2 of 4

Elsa serves up its original (and since closed) East Village locale's cutesy-fancy feels in this Cobble Hill iteration. The drinks incorporate ingredients like grated cinnamon in the Cloudbusting daiquiri and dandelion and burdock in the Broken Mirror.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Carroll Gardens
  • price 2 of 4

The crowds that started filing into Leyenda for Best American Bartender Ivy Mix’s “pan-Latin inspired” cocktails when it first opened in 2015 have seldom slowed since then. Though it’s roomy, the Smith Street space, where candle light flickers off a tin ceiling, fills up quick for freshly shaken and draft drinks. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Williamsburg

One of NYC’s latest viewstaurants (that is, restaurants with a view) opened on the sixth floor of Williamsburg’s Wythe hotel last summer. In addition to its lovely vistas, Bar Blondeau has small plates, plus lots of beer, wine and cocktails to choose from, including more low- and no-alcohol options than you’ll see elsewhere. 

Bar Goto
  • Bars
  • Izakaya
  • Lower East Side
  • price 2 of 4

Pegu Club alum Kenta Goto’s glimmering black-and-gold beverage den is nicely secluded from the chaos of nearby Houston Street. Here, you’ll encounter expert cocktails and Japanese comfort food. While this bar feels more grown-up than other LES spots, there are still plenty of fun touches, like the cherry blossom-garnished martini.

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  • Bars
  • Lenox Hill

The team behind Harlem’s popular ramen destination ROKC (where drinks quickly became the main attraction) was at it again at the end of 2019 when they opened NR on East 75th Street. Here, super-simply named cocktails betray their show-stealing presentation: the mezcal-based Grapefruit is literally smoking, the tequila Cucumber is served in a green bell pepper, and the Pineapple + Passionfruit with rum is on fire.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Greenpoint

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. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

The decades-old East Village mainstay—whose barstools are said to have hosted Frank Sinatra, Allen Ginsberg and Joey Ramone—is a welcome 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 gilded sconces—the joint hasn’t been scrubbed clean of its charm.

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  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

Helmed by beloved neighborhood fixture Lucy herself, Lucy’s is best experienced in the lively evening hours. After dark, locals shoot pool on two worn tables and choose tunes from a jukebox that includes Paul Stanley and polka king Stan Yankovic. Plan to pay cash for your beer and shots. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • East Village
  • price 2 of 4

The jammed Wayland may be the neighborhood'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.

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