The best boat bars in NYC
By the peak of summer even New York’s most venerable boat bars have become flooded with frat-tastic curios, all watered-down brews and Lonely Island references. This historic schooner turned oyster bar is a grown-up alternatives to that bustling sea of bros: Grand Banks. Bid farewell to plastic chairs and “I’m on a boat!” sing-alongs—it’s only smooth sailing from here. Two brass-tapped bars flank the bow and mizzen-mast, offering prime seating even without reservations, while the yellow-and-white-striped awning and business-casual crowd hint at the Hamptons without diving deep into bourgie-dom.
Once summer reaches its peak, Hudson-docked boat bars drown in a bustling sea of bros and watery beer. At Pier 81, North River Lobster Company, a former Florida gambling ship rejiggered with New England charm, offers a calm alternative to those stormy waters with fast-casual cruises. Sit at blond-wood picnic tables on one of three decks to admire the West Side skyline, and watch the river stretch under the George Washington Bridge and disappear beyond upper Manhattan.
This “lightship”—a floating lighthouse once used by the Coast Guard—sank while docked in Maryland and spent three years underwater. Later salvaged, she is now a floating dive bar near Chelsea Piers,
Known affectionately by locals as the “Willy Wall,” the Manhattan Yacht Club’s floating clubhouse is anchored near Ellis Island in the New York harbor and is accessible only by ticketed ferry. Head to the open-to-the-public upper deck for top-notch views and no-frills drinks, including bottled beers, well drinks and wines doled out in plastic cups.
Think of it as Tavern on the Water. A barge has been permanently moored on the East River and its two levels converted into a bar and dining rooms. The view is brilliant, the dress code leans toward Brooks Brothers, the service ranges from leisurely to flat-out slow, and the food is usually worth the wait. Oysters might include bluepoints, Malpeques and Hood Canals. Lobsters are cracked tableside and can be steamed, grilled or stuffed with crabmeat.
Formerly known as Fish Bar, this three-story floating restaurant joins North River Lobster Company at North River Landing. Housed on a 160-foot yacht, with expansive indoor and outdoor bars, Hudson’s offers Mediterranean-inspired fare as well as cocktails and wine. Daily dinner cruises boast 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty and Harbor lights vantage points.
This permanently docked 100-person barge joins the grand tradition of floating boîtes, offering seating onboard and on land. Cocktails play on summery classics, including the Barg-elata (pilsner, lime, Chamoy hot sauce). But the barge is set to be more than just a scenic space for outdoor drinking: The team is also offering maritime programs such as kayaking, sailing, stand-up paddleboarding and community fishing.