Best West Village bars in NYC
As befits cocktail progenitor Sasha Petraske’s liquid legacy, the drinks at this clubby, low-ceilinged Village rathskeller are nigh perfect. If you choose to deviate from the menu, just give the neatly attired, polite bartenders a base liquor and a hint of your mood, and they can tailor a drink on the fly. A call for rye got us a spot-on Italian twist on a Manhattan, featuring maraschino liqueur, Carpano Antica vermouth and amaro. Custom-made cocktails—no password or secret handshake required.
A fortune teller greets patrons at this comfortably-worn reproduction of a prohibition speakeasy. There’s a rousing scene in front, a mix of diehard regulars and industry types who jockey for the attentions of the chef-coat–clad barkeeps. Of all of the city’s craft cocktail joints Employees Only is among the most populist, with enough nerd-baiting tipples on the menu to please aficionados without alienating everyone else. Easy sipping libations include the floral Provencal, a silky blend of lavender-infused gin, vermouth steeped with herbs de Provence and Cointreau. More seasoned drinkers can call for a Hi-Octane Fix, made with aged rum and scotch, Cocchi di Torino vermouth, Grand Marnier and bitters.
The burgers at this dimly lit Village standby are legendary, and the New Yorkers who love them legion. You may have to wait in line for a good hour to get your hands on one (and you will need both hands). Fortunately, several $2.50 drafts (including McSorley’s Ale) will help you bide your time, as will the Yankees on the tube, and a jukebox that plays everything from Calexico to Coltrane. Go for the Bistro Burger, a fat patty of broiled beef, cheese and smoky bacon on a sesame-seed bun for $6.75. A plate of crisp shoestring fries will run you $2.50, but they’re totally beside the point.
Long before craft entered the lexicon, there was Blind Tiger, one of the OGs of the New York beer scene. Since its arrival in 1995, Blind Tiger has achieved legendary status thanks to a meticulously curated program and some of the city's best bar food. The 28 taps ($6.50--$11), two casks and one gravity keg (usually $7), plus more than 80 bottles ($7--$55), make this the first port of call for brewhounds who want to track down pours they can't find anywhere else. Weekly events, including meet-the-brewer nights and frequent style showcases, help drinkers navigate the hunt.
After shuttering for two weeks in July 2014, Chez Sardine shook its Asian influences to reset with a more playful snack menu and a heavier concentration on cocktails. From the kitchen, chef Jin Kang dispatches elevated bar bites like black-garlic deviled eggs, herbed french fries with maple-mustard aioli and cod fritters with lemon mayo. The mid-20th-century space now has a larger bar run by Wisco alum Brian Bartels, who whips mint soft-serve ice cream into cocoa and cream liqueurs for the Black Pepper Grasshopper.
Picture Don Draper on vacation: rum cocktail in hand, wind blowing through that meticulous coif. While you may never have Jon Hamm’s cut-from-glass jawline (sorry), you can make like a Sterling Cooper adman at leisure in this retro-kitted tiki lounge, from Tijuana Picnic partners Jon Neidich and Jim Kearns. The bi-level bar is crammed with mid-20th-century curios—a ’60s pop soundtrack; mod, half-moon booths; waitresses in Chuck Taylors—but it’s the customizable cocktails and breezy vibe that win over the crowd.
The team behind the West Village Italian restaurant Dell’Anima unveils this neighboring wine bar. Beverage director Joe Campanale is behind the international selection of roughly 100 bottles (with about 25 available by the glass), most of which hail from organic, biodynamic and sustainable vineyards. Mediterranean snacks include lamb ragù sliders and grilled cheese with prosciutto cotto. Those who prefer something harder can choose from a frequently changing cocktail menu.
"Turn left at the ketchup dispenser,” a red-capped burger flipper will tell you after you’ve spent ten minutes lost and confused at the West Village Five Guys. Yes, tucked in back of the patty joint is a clandestine staircase leading to a second-floor loft, rigged with glass chandeliers, a fireplace mantel tumbling with dusty hourglasses, and a well-stocked bar run by Hotel Chantelle commodore Kyle O’Brien and Riff Raff’s alum Gavin Moseley. And with its art-house crowd (lanky, long-haired rockers, red-lipped broads in leather-daddy hats) and equally creative cocktails, this clearly ain’t your average burger bar.
This Hudson River–hugging nautical “dive bar” from Taavo Somer (Freemans) and Ken Friedman (the Spotted Pig) is a confusing—but successful—high-low hybrid. Faux Tiffany lamps and neon beer signs clash with the elaborate tiki cocktails (devised by Milk and Honey vet Toby Maloney), and with the foppish hordes who queue up outside the place. You’d never find the eponymous Rusty Knot—a refreshing, blender-whirred mix of rum, ice and mint—or eats like a luxe bacon–chicken liver sandwich at a grimy pub. But you would find three-buck pints of Busch and 50¢ rounds of pool. Happily, the Knot has those bases covered, too.
Let’s be real—coffee cocktails have never been cool. But when a century-old roastery debuts a bar program serving inventive iterations of those once-disreputable java drinks in the Meatpacking District, it piques our interest. Fourth-generation Kobricks, siblings Scott and Niki, put a boozy twist on the family business (great-granddad Samuel Kobrick established the roastery and distributor Kobrick Coffee Co. in 1920), teaming up with Hella Bitters founder Tobin Ludwig for an all-day coffeeshop–cocktail-bar hybrid that will give you all kinds of buzz.