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Photography: Alexander Pincus

The best boat bars in NYC to drink on the water

Outdoor drinking doesn’t get much better than finding yourself on one of the best boat bars in NYC

By Will Gleason and Bao Ong
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From rooftops bars to lounging in the city’s best parks, New Yorkers will go anywhere to take advantage of warmer weather—especially this year. Perhaps the ultimate outdoor experience is taking in the waterfront views at one of the best boat bars in NYC as you imbibe a cocktail (or three) with menus that feature everything from freshly-shucked oysters to lobster rolls. So hop aboard one of these boat bars, and you’ll quickly find out it’s one of the best things to do outside in NYC right now.

The best boat bars in NYC

Grand Banks
Grand Banks
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

1. Grand Banks

Restaurants Seafood Tribeca

Some boat bars can feel like a fraternity took over. That’s not the case with Grand Banks, which opened in 2014 with an oyster bar aboard a wooden schooner that you’d find circling New York’s waterways in the 18th and 19th centuries. This year there’s even more seating on the surrounding pier along Hudson River Park. You can still expect the same Manhattan and New Jersey views while sipping rosé and slurping oysters on the Hudson.

NORTH RIVER LOBSTER CO. exterior
NORTH RIVER LOBSTER CO. exterior
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

2. North River Lobster Company

Restaurants Seafood Hell's Kitchen

Nothing says summer has arrived more than a lobster roll devoured while you’re on a boat. North River Lobster Company, a lobster shack docked along the Hudson River Park just a short stroll from Times Square, offers a menu that feels like peak summer status. You can order a variety of lobster rolls and wash it down with any number of refreshing cocktails like the refreshing frozé. This season they're even offering a massive, $99 lobster roll, the city's largest, for extra-hungry seafaring diners.

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3. Pilot

3 out of 5 stars
Bars Cocktail bars Brooklyn Heights

Think of Pilot Brooklyn as the borough’s answer to Grand Banks. Off Brooklyn Bridge Park, you’ll spot the yellow-and-white striped awning on the schooner with an alluring oyster bar. The refreshing cocktails are more elevated than you’ll find on most boat bars in the city and like Brooklyn itself, more laidback. Reservations for the venue are now available, and it officially opens for the season on May 15.

The Honorable William Wall
The Honorable William Wall
Photograph: Courtesy The Honorable William Wall

4. The Honorable William Wall

Bars Manhattan

The drinks may be no frills, but they’re cold and you’ll feel like you’re on your own island when you’ve stepped on the “Willy Wall,” the Manhattan Yacht Club’s floating clubhouse located near Ellis Island. Once you’ve stepped off the ferry, head toward the upper deck for an unbeatable view. Reservations are now open for the floating bar, and it officially opens for the season on May 18.

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Baylander Steel Beach
Baylander Steel Beach
Photograph: Courtesy of Baylander Steel Beach

5. Baylander Steel Beach

Restaurants and bars are popping up in tons of unusual places at the moment. Now, New York can add a restaurant aboard what was once the world’s smallest aircraft carrier to the list. The Baylander Steel Beach, which opened last year, is a Navy ship used during the Vietnam War, is now stationed at the West Harlem Piers in Upper Manhattan off 125th Street. There’s a 4,000-square-foot outdoor deck where you can order lobster rolls, burgers and drinks. The opening date for the 2021 season is Thursday, April 29.

thefryingpan4
thefryingpan4
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

6. The Frying Pan

Bars Dive bars Midtown

This popular boat bar near Chelsea Piers feels weathered (and not just because it was once a floating lighthouse used by the Coast Guard and underwater for three years). The beers and burgers make it feel like a floating bar that it is, but if you’re looking for a raucous vibe, you won’t be disappointed on this stretch of Hudson River Park.

Looking for a rooftop restaurant?

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