Whether you're headed to a party and looking for a pre-game spot or looking for a romantic bar for a mid-stage date, the best bars in Brooklyn have got you covered. In addition to bars where cocktails are key, some of these spots are also breweries, beer halls, or specialize in natural wines; some even make the cut for unique interior design and craziest-looking bathrooms. North Brooklyn isn't the only area with excellent options, either. The best Brooklyn bars can be found in Crown Heights, Red Hook, and, yes, okay, Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint, too.
RECOMMENDED: The best bars in NYC
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.
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.
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.
This astrology-themed bar in Bushwick defies expectations. Post up in the velvety booths in between sweaty dancing in the back or during intermission at one of their great comedy shows. You will run into a Tinder date here but it's worth it, we promise.
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.
Inside, Aztec-temple murals and banana-leaf wallpaper anchor the retro-soundtracked room, where Hawaiian-shirt-clad servers bustle towering hurricane glasses and taco salads to a crush of fringe-booted women and man-bunned guys.
Former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy runs this buzzy spot, but it turns out he’s just as talented behind a bar as he is behind a mic. Wine is the biggest draw here, and the team created one of the city’s most impressive lists of natural and biodynamic wines with more than 250 available to taste. The cozy atmosphere, replete with cedar ceiling slats and a sleek wooden bar, is a complement to the food, which includes comfort-food bites.
Yes, it's a dive. But it is also an excellent date spot. Started by Gabriel Florenz, Artistic Director of Pioneer Works (which is located just down the street) and Jason Grunwald (owner of the vintage furniture spot Otherwild) San Pedro Inn serves tacos, quesadillas and tostadas, with housemade fermented hot sauce, farm fresh vegetables and homemade tortillas, all made by Norberto Piattoni, formerly of Mettā.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of our favorite romantic bars in Brooklyn is this special, small spot in Greenpoint, near McGorlick Park. The dark lighting, moody green wall colors and artful stainglass details make it one of our go-tos.
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.
Beyond delicious tiki drinks, a great monday night punch special and one of our favorite places to kick back after work, King Tai also hosts food pop-ups with local chefs. Alongside your cocktail, on certain nights you can try vegan pierogies, Caribbean doubles or Cambodian feast foods.
Back when it opened in 2015, June helped put natural wine on Brooklynites’ radar. Today, interesting bottles continue to add to the allure of the ’20s-era Midnight in Paris vibes. With its curved oxblood banquettes, globe light fixtures and stemmed glasses hanging over a marble bar top, June is endlessly romantic.
This small Bushwick gay bar boasts a large and ever-changing beer selection, a cozy backyard and a hipstery crowd partying at various theme nights.
At the 1950s Palm Springs–themed bar, The Springs you'll find pistachio leather banquettes, monstera plants and other mid-century modern design details. We love The Springs' frozen drinks and, in the summer, it's one of New York's most sprawling outdoor patios, with a food truck in tow.
There’s no gleaming 1930s-style marquee beckoning you through the doors of Syndicated, a cinema-bar-restaurant hybrid, sitting inconspicuously in a barely marked former warehouse on Bogart Street. Instead, those Art Deco touches can be found within the 70-seat main dining room. Pro tip: While you're waiting for your table at Roberta's, cozy up here and watch one of the movies projected on the wall, for free.
You don’t have to fly down to Nashville for an authentic honky-tonk experience—just hit up this freewheelin’ spot named after famed country session musician Skinny Dennis Sanchez. With live music, a happy “hour” from noon to 7pm every day and 18 beers on draft, it’s dangerously easy to stay here until last call.
The rustic interior at this resto gives way to a spacious deck and patio where a fire pit and projected movies and visual art entertain drinkers when the weather’s mild. Choose from the rotating selection of five drafts or from a handful of bottles and cans. A seat inside near the open doors gives you the best of both worlds.
Sure, it has a silly name and proudly touts a dystopian sci-fi theme, but the industrial, LED-lit bar is much less a cheap play at Instagram likes than an earnest letter to the science-fiction genre. Heads-up: The bar eschews a physical paper menu for a drinks list that scrolls on two TVs, so keep an eye out.