Local wine, craft beer, sophisticated cocktails—whatever your poison, New York’s best Soho bars have something for you. The downtown neighborhood is fully loaded with some of the city’s best beer bars, quality wine bars and pioneering haunts for cocktails in NYC. Wet your whistle at the best Soho bars in New York City.
RECOMMENDED: See the full guide to Soho, New York
Best Soho bars in NYC
The far-reaching influence of New York's reigning queen of mixology, Audrey Saunders, is hard to measure. Her storied cocktail lounge, the Pegu Club, begat many of today's standard-bearers, including Death & Company, PDT and Mayahuel. Pay a visit to the urbane barroom, a second floor sanctum on bustling Houston Street, and explore Saunders’ eminent opus, which includes new classics such as the Gin-Gin Mule, a vivacious elixir of homemade ginger beer with Tanqueray gin, fresh mint and lime juice. Equally renowned is the Earl Grey MarTEAni, a frothy and fragrant nod to English teatime traditions made with loose-leaf–infused Tanqueray gin, lemon juice and an egg white.
Unabashedly grown-up and yuppie-friendly, this slick new club launched by oenophile Michael Dorf, founder of the Knitting Factory, is New York’s only fully functioning winery, as well as a 350-seat concert space. Acts tend to be on the quiet side, but that doesn’t mean the shows lack bite. Younger singer-songwriters like Keren Ann and Diane Birch have appeared, but the place is dominated by older artists (David Johansen, Los Lobos).
There’s such a fine line between a boisterous beer hall and a loutish beer barn. At the former, raucous groups of friends swig big, frosty brews at festive communal tables. And at the latter? You’re crammed in like cattle with loud drunks splashing their warm pints everywhere. Fortunately, Houston Hall stays true to its name. Inside an artistically gritty former parking garage, the high, wood-raftered ceilings and 8,000-square-foot room keep personal space intact and conversations are surprisingly audible. It’s less barnyard incivility, more free-range drinking.
Nightlife operator Matt Levine (Sons of Essex, Cocktail Bodega) highlights Sazeracs at this piano-bar throwback, rigged with a 1950s Wurlitzer baby grand, a Motown-filled juke and punk portraits of CBGB-era Blondie and the New York Dolls. At the bar, an old-fashioned gets a zesty Oaxacan overhaul with tequila and firewater bitters ($13), while an absinthe-spiked Sazerac ($13) does the old standard proud.
When it opened in 1830, the historic Ear Inn was popular with colorful characters ambling in from the docks of the Hudson. The basic decor (dark-wood bar, wobbly tables and chairs, lots of retro ephemera) hasn’t changed much since, but locals continue to pack the place thanks to its relaxed vibe and historical charm. Free snacks such as fried chicken and sausages can be had weeknights from 4 to 7pm, mitigating any wallet damage wreaked by a few $6 pints of Guinness.
The stained-glass visage of a young boy in a cap stares at passersby from this been-here-forever corner establishment (the current owners have operated the place for 33 years). Tourists from nearby hotels come to mingle with locals at this typical New York bar—with its chalkboard menus and numerous microbrews (we like the herbal Schneider Weisse), Broome Street fits the bill. A small bar menu (available past midnight) includes a respectable burger served on pita bread.
Looking for more food and drink in Soho?
Ruffian Wine Bar & Chef's Table
Tompkins Square gains a notable addition in Ruffian Wine Bar & Chef’s Table, a tiny (19 stools in total) resto with what’s sure to become an outsize presence in minds of the city’s many oenophiles, thanks to a carefully curated wine list that changes almost daily and excellent sommelier service. Four industry vets—chefs Josh Ochoa and Andy Alexandre and two full time sommeliers, Alexis Percival and owner Patrick Cournot—work in conjunction behind a 3,000 pound cream-colored concrete bar, producing small shared plates that pair nicely with the long list of food-friendly wines. Ruffian has already carved out a reputation for esoteric vintages, and even offers a few cloudy orange wines by the glass in response to the ever-increasing trend toward Georgian varietals. The food menu changes almost daily to incorporate the freshest ingredients available at green markets around the city. The constant flux of menu options amounts to what ultimately feels like a boutique experience—no two visits will be exactly the same. There is some sense of cohesion, though. The menu tends toward Eurocentric cuisine no matter the day; on a recent visit, warm vegetable dishes like roasted golden beets ($12) and a cauliflower soup ($10) were accented with Mediterranean flourishes, while the chicken liver pâté came with pickled grapes ($18). Like everything else at Ruffian, the food, while delicious, seems to exist only to complement to the superior wine selection, which leaves the most lasting impre
Venue says: “Now open Sundays from 3pm-10pm! Happy hour from 3PM-5PM; $10 glasses of wine and small plates from $6-$10.”