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Tiki drinks reign supreme at The Polynesian
Photography: Courtesy of Noah Fecks Tiki drinks reign supreme at The Polynesian

The best midtown bars in NYC

From divey hole-in-the-wall favorites to an elevated tiki bar, check out the best midtown bars in NYC

By Bao Ong and Time Out contributors

There’s never been a better time to drink at the best midtown bars in NYC. Whether you’re looking to grab a drink after seeing one of the hottest Broadway shows or need a happy hour deal, some of the best cocktail bars in NYC have popped up in an area known as a tourist trap. And if the drinks keep you lingering, chances are the best midtown restaurants are just around the corner.

RECOMMENDED: See all of the best bars in NYC

Best Midtown bars in NYC

Photography: Courtesy of Noah Fecks

1. The Polynesian

3 out of 5 stars
Bars Cocktail bars Hell's Kitchen

The Polynesian may be located steps from the heart of Times Square, but there’s nothing touristy about this tiki bar we love. A sampling of the cocktails created by bartender Brian Miller: a drink placed in a two-foot-long clam shell with dry ice billowing as if Venus was about to appear ($85) and another large format cocktail with multiple straws peeking out of a fish bowl ($65). If the tropical vibes of the tiki-themed bar don’t transport you somewhere happy, the drinks will do the trick.

Photography: Courtesy of The Rum House

2. The Rum House

Bars Lounges Midtown West

We promise you that fighting the throngs of tourists to find The Rum House is worth it. After you’ve found a seat at this bar tucked in front of the Hotel Edison, you’ll feel like you’re in a downtown boite. Order one of the rum-based cocktails and enjoy the nightly live jazz performances.

Photography: Courtesy of Major Food Group

3. The Pool Lounge

Bars Cocktail bars Midtown East

The Major Food Group gave new life to an iconic Four Seasons restaurant inside the Seagram Building. The Pool Lounge is where you’ll want to order an elegant, seasonally-inspired cocktail that could double as art complementing the Philip Johnson modernist space. From The Pool Lounge, you have a view of The Pool, one of the most stunning dining rooms.

Lantern's Keep
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

4. Lantern’s Keep

Bars Cocktail bars Midtown West

Haute cocktails weren’t always easy to come by around these parts, but this intimate salon—tucked in the back of the Iroquois Hotel—provides an inviting nook for enlightened tipplers. Marble tables, pale blue velvet chairs and Impressionistic paintings help conjure the European salon scene of the 1920s and 1930s. Meanwhile, a small library of cocktail tomes (The Savoy Cocktail Book, Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide) is reflected in the classic mixology behind the bar.

Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
Photograph: Filip Wolak

5. Aldo Sohm Wine Bar

Bars Wine bars Midtown West

Branch-offs can often snap under pressure, but Le Bernardin has sprung a stem as strong as its base. Sitting across the galleria from that vaunted seafood restaurant, Aldo Sohm’s annexed vino-hub is far less buttoned-up than its big brother—no reservations or suit jackets required—but the level of detail here proves this apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

The Bar Room at the Modern
Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

6. The Modern - Bar Room

Restaurants French Midtown West

Located in the Museum of Modern Art, the Modern's barroom is a slightly more casual analogue to the refined main dining room. Opt for a three- or four-course lineup of dishes like roasted watermelon with whipped creme fraiche and caviar, sautéed foie gras glazed in white sesame and pear, and comet-crusted beef with wile leeks and chanterelles.

Jimmy's Corner
Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin

7. Jimmy’s Corner

Bars Sports Bars Midtown West

This boxing-themed dive bar is certainly more colorful than its Times Square brethren: Owner Jimmy Glenn can be found telling tales of his days as a coach at a nearby gym, and mirrors are covered with photos of his right-hook big shots. These days, it’s magazine honchos, not KO kings, who slum it here. The joint ain’t fancy—the full bar is standard, four beers are on tap and there’s soul on the juke—but it covers the basics just fine.

King Cole Bar
Time OUt, Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

8. King Cole Bar

Bars Lounges Midtown East

This grand hotel saloon, whose centerpiece is a grandiose Maxfield Parrish mural of Old King Cole, is steeped in legend. The lounge’s best-known invention is the Bloody Mary—née the Red Snapper, right here in 1934.

Beer Culture
Photograph: Lauren Spinelli

9. Beer Culture

Bars Beer bars Hell's Kitchen
This cozy bar and shop ain’t your typical Hell’s Kitchen after-work joint. For one, it looks like a place your grandpa would have loved—fireplace, old brewery signs, simple pine bar and owner Matt Gebhard’s gramps’s 1952 Kelvinator refrigerator stocked full of Genesee Cream Ale, Schaefer and Pabst cans. Big spenders can try one of the 12 drafts—recent offerings include Saranac's bready and aromatic Clouded Dream.
Russian Vodka Room
Photograph: Courtesy Russian Vodka Room

10. Russian Vodka Room

Restaurants Russian Midtown West

This frenetic hangout is no Moscow memory lane; it lives for today. Glossy black marble, wall-to-wall carpet and sturdy green banquettes decorate the room. The vast horseshoe-shaped bar is always packed with a mix of young Russian and American rowdies with roving eyes. In the bright dining room, inebriated patrons feast on gravlax with potato pancakes and cabbage pie. Entrées like chicken tabaka (a split Cornish game hen broiled under a press) are unabashed greasy goodness.

The Monkey Bar
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

11. The Monkey Bar

Restaurants American Midtown East

When you're flush with cash and cachet in certain prominent fields—at the head of DreamWorks, the Yankees or even The New Yorker—it's expected you'll poach talent from everyone else. So why aren't there restaurants, like movie studios, sports teams and magazines, that are staffed top to bottom with the industry's most coveted gets? The Monkey Bar, owned by former Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter, may be the first New York restaurant-bar to give that model a shot.

Photograph: Courtesy Liz Clayman

12. Valerie

Bars Cocktail bars Midtown West

Located on a nondescript block of Midtown is Valerie, a new bar that actually offers you three different experiences. In the Gatsby Lounge, soak in the Art Deco-inspired decor as you sip a craft cocktail or head for the Den for a more formal sit-down experience, where you can dine on a menu of New American fare with favorites like burgers, smoked crispy duck wings and a retro wedge salad.

Dear Irving on Hudson
Photography: Courtesy of Noah Fecks

13. Dear Irving on Hudson

Bars Cocktail bars Hell's Kitchen

Your cocktails come with a sweeping view of the Manhattan skyline at the bi-level bar Dear Irving on Hudson in the Aliz Hotel Times Square. Bar director Meaghan Dorman’s craft cocktails pay homage to the Empire state as well as classics, think the Panorama Daiquiri (Owney’s Rum, pineapple gomme syrup, toasted coconut and lime) and Gibson, respectively. As you take in the views through the floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll feel swathed in warmth once you’re a room decorated with a James Bond and Art Deco vibe (or maybe that was the third cocktail you drank).

Looking for more food and drink around midtown?


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