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Photograph: Noah Fecks

The best West Village bars in NYC

The best West Village bars in NYC won't leave you thirsty with everything from bespoke cocktails to sudsy pints

By Bao Ong and Time Out contributors

The West Village is choke-full of our favorite restaurants and watering holes, including some on our best bars in NYC list. Whether you're looking to imbibe on the weekend after hitting one of the best brunch spots in town or looking to bar hop among the best gay bars in NYC, the Village has something for everyone. Perhaps our favorite thing about the best West Village bars in NYC is that each place keeps its charm just like the neighborhood.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the West Village

Best West Village bars in NYC

1. Little Branch

Bars Lounges West Village

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.

Photograph: Steve Freihon

2. Dante

4 out of 5 stars
Bars Cocktail bars 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 in 2015. After a century as a staple in the once predominantly Italian neighborhood, the original owners, a Fiotta family, sold the name to an Australian hospitality group helmed by Linden Pride, who revamped both the decor (green-leather banquettes, a pressed-tin ceiling) and menu, but preserves the storied history through classic Italian food and drink. Overseen by renowned Sydney-born bartender-journalist Naren Young, the bar program centers on the European tradition of the afternoon aperitivo, which is showcased finely through a daily $9 negroni session from 4pm to 7pm.

Katana Kitten
Photograph: Matt Taylor Gross

3. Katana Kitten

4 out of 5 stars
Bars Cocktail bars West Village

The translation of this bar’s moniker is “samurai sword” kitten, but let us be the first to warn you: There are no samurai, swords, kittens or (more distressingly) any cute memes of sword-wielding samurai kittens at this Japanese-American cocktail bar. Instead, you’ll step right into B-roll footage of a Master of None date scene. On a recent Friday night, the buzzy bi-level space was comfortably crowded with hip twentysomethings chattering under noirish red lights and sipping from some exceptionally purr-ty (sorry!) Japanese riffs on classic cocktails. Try the Gatorade-blue Calpico Swizzle, which appears to be more headachy than it is: Sure, it’s served in a fat margarita glass, but the savory sake blends smoothly with the spicy sansho pepper and fizzy champagne. Conversely, the genever-spiked Meguroni comes in a simple, subdued ceramic glass, but it’s bursting with flavor thanks to its mix of earthy red bitters and whispers of buttery cinnamon notes from the aged umeshu. The bar’s elaborate cocktails and flawless service are directly and playfully juxtaposed against its grungy dive vibes, from the vintage pop-culture posters to the checkerboard floors.

Photography: Courtesy of Bar Pisellino

4. Bar Pisellino

Restaurants Italian West Village

For all of us who can't squeeze into Jody Williams and Rita Sodi's megahit Via Carota, there are a few more seats across the street in the couple's all-day spot Bar Pisellino. The Italian jewel box sells coffee, pastries and sanwiches during the day and cocktails for an aperitif or late-night drinking.


5. The Happiest Hour

Bars Cocktail bars West Village

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Anfora / John von Pamer

6. Anfora

Bars Wine bars West Village

The team behind the West Village Italian restaurant Dell’Anima unveiled this neighboring wine bar in 2010. General manager and beverage director Cody Pruitt is behind the roughly 250-bottle natural wine list focused on Old World varietals from smaller producers. The kitchen turns out Mediterranean specialties like plates of charcuterie, lamb-pecorino meatballs, and a variety of pizza Bianca flatbreads.


7. Highlands

Bars Gastropubs West Village

This buzzing barroom marks the overdue arrival of a stylish Scottish tavern in NYC. The look is urban drawing room: Furnishings include stag heads, and the charming staff sports tartan ties. Scotch is the thing—sip from a collection of 100 whiskeys, or try one of the smart cocktails, which provide a perfect introduction to the spirit. We liked the citrusy Blood and Sand, made with 12-year-old Highland Park, Cherry Heering, orange juice and bitters. It’s worth bringing an appetite for the gastropub fare, too: Lamb sausage rolls with harissa aioli make for a topflight drinking snack.

8. Julius

Bars Sports Bars West Village

Established in 1862, this is New York’s oldest operating gay bar. You can feel a rich sense of history and community here: The walls are lined with historical materials, and the venue has been used as the backdrop for films such as Can You Ever Forgive Me? Thanks to a resurgence in popularity in recent years, the crowd has an intergenerational mix; longtime patrons sip their drafts at the long wooden bar as younger groups tend to gather at tables in the back and feed the well-stocked jukebox (as they chomp down on grilled cheeses and other cheap eats from the in-house grill).


9. Employees Only

Bars Cocktail bars West Village

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. 

10. The Garret

Bars Cocktail bars West Village

"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. 


11. The Spaniard

3 out of 5 stars
Bars Pubs West Village

If you’ve ever stepped one Sperry-clad foot inside downtown barrooms Wilfie & Nell or the Wren, you'll feel similar vibes here. The Sheridan Square gastropub is stacked with whiskey, preppy young professionals and the group’s signature worn-in, old-world touches: jewel-tone leather banquettes, maritime paintings and exposed-brick walls and ceilings. The cocktail list matches the bar’s rugged vibes with plenty of dark-liquor offerings—drinks are divided into House and Whiskey categories—and simple mix-ins.

12. Blind Tiger Ale House

Bars Beer bars West Village

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.


13. Vin Sur Vingt

Bars Wine bars West Village

New York's Francophiles have no shortage of places to go for Gallic comforts: haute-cusine temples with Michelin stars to spare, charming Lyonnaise-style bouchons and pedigreed patisseries at the ready when a macaron craving strikes. But one French institution that's a bit harder to come by is the bistro vins—the type of humble, caflike watering hole where you might while away a Paris afternoon sipping beaujolais. For a taste of what you've been missing, head to Vin Sur Vingt.

14. Kobrick Coffee Co.

Bars Cocktail bars Meatpacking District

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.


15. Daddy-O

Bars Sports Bars West Village

Two very different types of tipplers gather at this Village bar: those seeking PBR by the can, and those requiring a superb selection of Scotch (more than 30 single-malts, including the 15-year-old Islay Bruichladdich). Get there early to claim a snug corner leather booth or a table, and curb late-night hunger pangs with a top-notch burger (served until 4am).

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