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.
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. The kitchen churns out crispy, crackly fried chicken and pillowy biscuits with honey butter that are excellent complements to your can of Schlitz.
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 more than a dozen varieties of the anise-flavored spirit. Pair your cocktail with the venue’s other New Orleans specialty: oysters. When the weather is nice, ask for a seat in the dreamy, ethereal garden and laissez les bon temps rouler.
For beer geeks, this homey spot on Metropolitan Avenue is the ne plus ultra for sampling rare and obscure labels. The team keeps 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.
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 with house standards and seasonal specials. For oenophiles, the wine list features over 100 bottles, mostly from small, artisanal producers.
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.
Westlight is a stylish glass box capping the the Williamburg’s tallest skyscraper, the William Vale. Take the dedicated elevator 22 stories up to the industrial yet swank space—set with black-and-white tiled floors, bright globe lights and a beamed ceiling—to experience a hotel rooftop bar that has all the goods to be a standalone New York cocktail den.
A sophisticated cocktail den created by hot shots from Marlow & Sons and Death & Co., 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 large-format. The small bites are also worth the trip, especially the tacos, guacamole and nachos.
Billyburg’s bar scene skews divey, but this bi-level drinks den offers laid-back boozing sans the stench of stale beer. The vibe is vaguely Victorian, complete with ottomans, throw pillows and antique-looking tchotchkes. Well-priced, simple cocktails feature herbs and house-infused spirits. While the ground-floor bar also stocks beers and organic French wines, the real draw is upstairs—scale the steps in the back to find a roof deck with a frozen-margarita station.
No place in New York offers a better selection of whiskey than this friendly spot on Grand Street. Over 400 varieties are available here, divvied up by country of origin. Aficionados of the spirit also frequent the bar for its regular whiskey tastings and quiz nights. And pad your belly from the menu of seven different grilled cheese sandwiches, ranging from the classic New York cheddar to wilder variations.
A massive space created from the gutting of two warehouses, this Austro-Hungarian beer hall is popular with everyone from giddy undergrads to parents with babies in tow. Beer is obviously king here: 22 drafts are on tap and over 50 are available by the bottle. Live daily music keeps the hall buzzing and a retractable roof in the garden means the steins are always clinking, rain or shine.
This Williamsburg bar pays homage to the Gatsby age with 1920s decor and a menu of classic cocktails. At a marble-topped counter, bartenders make era-themed drinks. Slurp bivalves on the cheap during the nightly happy hour, or snack on heartier fare for dinner. Entertainment also kicks up each evening: There's live music most nights.
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.
This multi-hyphenate spot—restaurant, bar and music venue, to be exact—truly has something for everyone. Horror fan? Check out the dance floor, where the maze from The Shining is painted on the ground. Into astrology? A vending machine sells Chinese horoscopes and lit wall panels reproduce constellations. As for drinks, there’s everything from Bud Light to a elevated cocktails. Pick your poison and head over to the stage, where there’s a different live act daily. If you’re hungry, don’t miss Don Muang Airport, a Thai-fusion eatery located inside the venue.
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