Williamsburg bars are responsible for the bulk of Brooklyn’s glittering drinking scene. The neighborhood has watering holes for every type of drinker: straightforward beer bars for hops geeks, sophisticated date ideas for Tinder matches and a bevy of chameleon-like joints that are equal parts bars, restaurants and places to dance. Read on for the absolute best bars in the hood.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Best Williamsburg bars
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. Regulars know to order Willie’s frozen coffee: a heady mix of bourbon, coffee liqueur and brandy made creamy with milk, sugar and vanilla. Bonus: It’s even served in an authentic Anthora Greek paper coffee cup.
Lovingly dubbed a gastrodive, this no-frills spot delivers strong drinks, salty food and a seedy (in the best possible way) atmosphere that draws legions of fans. The nibbles here are no ordinary bar bites, either. Chef Stephen Tanner, formerly of Pies ‘n’ Thighs, churns out crispy, crackly fried chicken and pillowy biscuits with honey butter that are excellent complements to your can of Schlitz. And for a tipple a little more intricate, order up the namesake drink, which is a refreshing piña colada slushy topped with an amaretto float.
Venue says: “Beach Bar and Kitchen! Mon, Tue & Wed Happy Hour 4-7PM, Thur SUNDUB (Reggae & Roots) Live Band, Fri & Sat DJs 11-4am, Sat and Sunday Brunch!”
With peppy Latin-influenced drinks and spicy Caribbean-inflected food, no bar does fusion quite like this perky seaside-themed joint named after an abandoned beach bunker in Rockaway Becach. Its size is a big draw: There are over 140 seats and a wraparound deck, which makes it perfect for large groups. Fittingly, many of the drinks are rum-based, including the fragrant Double Impact, made with lemon, kumquat shrub, vanilla and orange-blossom water. Not looking for a drink that fancy? Never fear: There are nearly 20 beers and four wines on tap.
You will find no bar more elegant than this French Quarter–inspired haunt. One of the few watering holes in New York to offer a truly authentic absinthe experience—we’re talking slow-dripping ice water over a sugar cube—the menu carries 19 varieties of the anise-flavored spirit. Pair your cocktail with the venue’s other New Orleans specialty: oysters. Over two dozen are available by the shell along with plateaus featuring caviar, lobster and clams. When the weather is nice, ask for a seat in the dreamy, ethereal garden and laissez les bon temps rouler.
Barely a year old, this New Orleans–influenced bar in South Williamsburg has quickly become one of the neighborhood’s stalwarts. From the stylish midcentury modern design (don’t miss the bar made to look like a stereo cabinet) to the innovative cocktails created with house-made syrups, everything here is sleek and refreshing. To best experience bartender Nico de Soto’s deft hand, sample the frozen daiquiri, made with the unexpected addition of roasted plantains, lime and green tea. And don’t miss the stellar Louisiana eats like the shrimp po’boy sandwich or spicy blackened catfish.
For beer geeks, this homey spot on Metropolitan Avenue is the ne plus ultra for sampling rare and obscure labels. Owner Joe Carroll only keeps six beers on tap (plus one on cask), meaning the tightly edited menu never fails to impress. But the crowds don’t make the trek just for those pours: There are also a whopping 140 bottles on offer, most of which are hard-to-find Belgian varieties like a Wallonian Blaugies. Don’t forget to pair your suds with a tempting plate of salty cheese, meat or Brooklyn-sourced pickles.
It’s drinks, not rooms, served up at this labyrinthine “hotel.” The Victorian-influenced space, complete with black-and-white lithographs and leather banquettes, whisks patrons into another era far from the bustle of Berry Street. Cocktails are similarly transporting, like the San Francisco Handshake made with thyme-infused gin, St. Germain, lemon and a dash of Fernet-Branca. For oenophiles, the wine list features over 100 bottles, mostly from small, artisanal producers. Grab a snack while you drink: The menu of small plates of meats and cheeses is geared specifically toward matching the tipples.
One of Williamsburg’s most innovative cocktail programs, this speakeasy-type bar features a rotating cast of bartenders, all with an encyclopedic knowledge of rare yet tasty spirits and drinks. Try current mixologist Tonia Guffey’s refreshing Bride of Rain Dog, made with Bulldog gin, grapefruit, lemon, byrrh, blackberry and cucumber. For the less adventurous, half a dozen beers like Ommegang and Smuttynose are on tap, and there’s a delightfully annotated wine list. If you get peckish, try fun bar snacks like cinnamon and curry popcorn or herb-marinated olives.
A sophisticated cocktail den created by Leif Young Huckman (Marlow & Sons, Freemans) and bartended by Jeremy Oertel (Death & Co., Dram), it’s no wonder this Latin-influenced spot is one of the most popular bars in the neighborhood. The rum-heavy drink menu is divided into helpful sections like light and refreshing, frozen, and the enigmatic “Drink This Now,” featuring selected spirits and the cheeky option of a Pilsner chaser. The small bites are also worth the trip, especially the tacos filled with slow-roasted pork or root vegetables.
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 Horseman partner and wine consultant Justin Chearno 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 bites like fried potatoes with aioli and tomato chipotle sauce.
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Manny's on Second
At first glance, it’s impossible to differentiate Manny’s on Second from any other dive bar. The facade features a neon-lit Sam Adams sign in the widow and posters shouting happy hour deals. The line of TVs above the bar screened Modern Family, an NBA game and a boxing match on one recent night, which accurately encompasses the watering hole’s vibe and priorities. Easy listening tunes include “Blueberry Hill” by Fats Domino. The menu shows off bar snack staples like a basket of three Angus beef sliders with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion ($10) that are each practically the size of an actual cheeseburger, plus crispy fries ($5.50) and fried ravioli with marinara dipping sauce ($8), among others. Of course, as a sports bar, Manny’s on Second is required to serve chicken wings, which it does in a variety of sauces ($12.50 for 10 wings), and it also cooks regular-size burgers and sandwiches, like a BLT with avocado ($10.50). The suds on tap are similarly unsurprising. Beer aficionados might cringe at the presence of Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite (each $6), but also on deck is Southern Tier Pumpking, arguably the best pumpkin beer around, and Ballast Point Sculpin (each $8), a refreshing IPA out of California. Yet the real selling point on Manny’s is the crowd. Regulars come in to watch the night’s game and banter with each other and the amiable bartenders they know by name. By the time you leave, you’ll have made a few friends. All in all, Manny’s on Second offers n
Venue says: “Join us for Manny's Happy Hour. Every Mon-Fri, from opening to 7 pm. Half price on well drinks, wine, bottled beer, and most draft beers.”