Bars in Greenwich Village
Come for the negroni, stay for the vibe and just move right in for the pasta. It's that simple, pleasure-seeking ideology that embodies Dante, the beloved MacDougal Street Italian café turned small plates restaurant and cocktail bar. The bar program centers on the European tradition of the afternoon aperitivo, which is showcased finely through a daily negroni session from 4pm to 7pm. Beyond its dozen variations of the traditional Italian quaff, Dante’s house offerings include refined classics like a jasmine-misted gin and tonic and caraway-tinged Sazerac.
Taking over the historic Gaslight Cafe space, this subterranean craft-cocktail oasis is trimmed with turn-of-the-century details (brown-leather banquettes, vintage wallpaper) and delivers large-format cocktails like the Greenbaum Negroni and the Teague Old Fashioned. The supersized numbers arrive in wine bottles, plunked into ice-filled buckets set tableside with accompanying chilled glassware. Their pint-size counterparts, however, are scaled-back highballs that replace standard shots on the menu, such as a Quinine Jimmy (TimR's tonic, angostura bitters) and the Slam Busy (gin, amaro).
French natives Samie Didda and Germain Michel have brought their popular San Francisco wine bar to New York. The pair's heritage carries through to the 300-bottle wine list and small-plates menu, which features Gallic dishes like daube provençale (red-wine–braised lamb), steak tartare and Emmental-stuffed ravioli with truffle oil. Wine-bottle sconces light the 56-seat spot, which includes a wood coffee table and red epoxy-topped bar.
Inspired by mogas, independent-minded women from 1920s Japan who listened to jazz and dressed in Westernized fashions, this Japanese-accented cocktail bar is decked out with tin ceilings, vintage chandeliers and walls dotted with retro advertisements. The menu balances both East and West with yōshoku-style food and cocktails stirred with ingredients from both hemispheres: lemongrass shochu, pistachio-cranberry maple syrup, and plenty of shochu.
At this throwback basement rec room, cocktail-world vets Tim Cooper (Goldbar) and Justin Noel (1534) concoct a lively playground of game-hall amusements and well-executed quaffs to satisfy both you and your inner teen. The witty drinks menu is laid out on a New York subway map, with each cocktail reminiscent of a particular stop, like The Ivan Drago, (a nod to Russian-heavy Brighton Beach and the Soviet opponent in Rocky IV) that updates a classic Moscow mule with aromatic cardamom, clove and cinnamon. There's also a bit of '80s kids nostalgia thanks to vintage foosball tables and high-octane rounds of Galaga.
For a low-key night of friendly competition and feeling like a kid again, there’s no play better than Uncommons, Manhattan’s only board game bar-cafe. Bring friends or a date for light-hearted rounds of Pictionary or Apples to Apples, or challenge them to try the strategy-heavy Settler of Catan. While you're duking it out, grab a few beers and munch on the fresh baked pastries on offer. You know, just in case your bout of Monopoly goes on for hours longer than you were expecting.
European suds get the speakeasy treatment at this dark, unmarked cellar that could double as an S&M dungeon. Coarse brick walls and votives sheathed in broken bottles welcome serious beer geeks, whom you’ll elbow aside for a seat at the brass bar. Once there, you can sample 60-odd imported quaffs, such as the tart Belgian ale Rodenbach, or devour a pretzel-bread sandwich (try it with ham and Camembert). Visit the loo before you leave: Appropriately, it features a re-creation of Brussels’ legendary peeing-boy statue.
Get herb- and botanical-infused cocktails at this lounge from madcap mixologist Albert Trummer (Apotheke, Theater Bar), designed to resemble Sigmund Freud’s 19th-century Vienna office. Whereas the psychoanalyst’s domain was draped in bohemian-style Persian carpets and velvet pillows, Bar Freud is a slick, sepia-toned love letter to old Vienna, with modernist banquettes, industrial pendant lights and a Rorschach-test–style painting on the ceiling. On the menu, the dozenish tipples are dramatized both by creative ingredients and cheeky Freudian lingo (there’s an “interpretation of drinks” guide on the first page of the menu).
This craft cocktail club and jazz bar boasts an extensive whiskey, bourbon and Scotch selection, along with house-made syrups, tinctures, bitters and shrubs—though your serious cocktail isn't taken too seriously; barkeeps here shed pretense in favor of personality. Weekly live music performances and vintage styling add to the lounge's jazzy allure—the bar is appointed with rich wood, leather furniture and an old record player; portraits of music legends, including Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, hang on the walls.
Champagne has a certain reputation: posh, decadent and pricey. At his bubbly-focused bar, Ariel Arce (Riddling Widow, Birds & Bubbles) brings the fancy fizz down to earth. Wallet-friendly bottles are popped in a space reminiscent of a Gatsby-style cabana, complete with a marble-slab bar, brass-accented stools, gilded geometric mirrors and potted palm fronds. Bubbles by the glass are named after their major flavor notes—green apple, nectarine—for a friendly approach than the stuffy swirl and sniff.
This much-anticipated hybrid offers a restaurant, wine bar and educational center within spitting distance of Union Square. With its design-mag decor and $15 glasses of wine, it doesn't quite have the for-the-people edge of Terroir, but the earnest educational angle, as well as the youthful energy of owner Laura Maniec (the world's youngest master sommelier), permeates the place and delivers its own inviting appeal. Chat up one of the staffers, who preach the Maniec gospel to patrons as they navigate 35 by-the-glass options and around 250 bottles.
The spirit of rock & roll is still alive at this dark den, running on the fumes of its illustrious past as a ’60s beatnik-and-hippie hangout. Ginsberg and Dylan lingered, Hendrix and Havens played, and what remains is history—and, of course, flocks of tourists. But the old-school house band cranks out live rock, funk and R&B for an enthusiastic bunch (Wednesday to Sunday, after 9pm), and if you’re hungry, Mamoun’s Falafel is right next door.
Before mustachioed hipsters even knew what Chimay was, this subdued West Village bar was pouring bold Belgian brews. Since opening in 1995, it remains one of the city’s coziest hops havens. Eight drafts include the powerhouse blonde Delirium Tremens and biting Leffe brown, but there are over 40 different bottled beers, many of them trippel and trappist styles. The solid, enjoyable lineup is rounded out by first-rate pub food like moules and fries that will pad your belly after all those pints.