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Ophelia
Photograph: Teddy Wolff

The 15 best bars in midtown

Midtown has terrific dives, divine rooftops and some of the happiest hours in NYC

Amber Sutherland-Namako
Written by
Bao Ong
&
Amber Sutherland-Namako
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New Yorkers love to joke about midtown, but there’s more to the neighborhood than the M&M’s store. It has the lights on Broadway, some of the city’s best restaurants, and plenty of places to drink. And midtown’s best bars go beyond the office happy hour destinations you might expect: You’ll find real deal dives, impressive rooftops and Old New York classics

RECOMMENDED: See all of the best bars in NYC

Best Midtown bars in NYC

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • price 3 of 4

Times Square is full of advertisements masquerading as attractions, spiders men and jostling crowds, but darn if you don’t have to pass through sometimes. And Dear Irving on Hudson is so nice it’s worth going to Times Square on purpose. The chic, mid-century modern space has new and classic craft cocktails, light bites and dramatic views of NYC from 40 stories in the sky.

  • Bars
  • Sports Bars
  • Midtown West
  • price 1 of 4

Jimmy's Corner has been one of midtown's finest bars since the late boxer Jimmy Glenn opened it in 1971. It's decorated in boxing memorabilia and skews a little divey, and for years our recommendation has remained: when you're looking for a normal, comfortable bar around midtown, one that has character rather than affecting the qualities that a bar with character would have, go to Jimmy's. 

 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Midtown East
  • price 4 of 4

If you were just passing through town and only had a couple of hours to lounge, The Campbell (née, The Campbell Apartment) in Grand Central Terminal is one of the finest places to do so. Famously formerly an erstwhile magnate's private office, it became a bar in 1999 with ownership shifts and aesthetic updates in the interim. Its present design highlights include original leaded-glass windows, a lofty hand-painted ceiling and stone fireplace. It has some relatively topical house cocktails (like a cold brew martini), but you’ll want to sip the classics here.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Midtown East
  • price 2 of 4

As chaotic as Grand Central can be, between its eponymous Oyster Bar and The Campbell it sure boasts a high concentration of iconic NYC destinations. This one first opened in 1913 and still serves all manner of shellfish, cocktails, wine and beer under arching tiled ceilings that mirror the greater terminal’s lovely design.

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Rudy’s Bar & Grill
  • Bars
  • Sports Bars
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • price 1 of 4

The "& Grill" here is somehow simultaneously an understatement and an overstatement. There is no grill! But there are free hot dogs with every drink, if you wish. With most of the dive’s pints priced at $5 and under, that’s a lot of dogs! 

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Midtown West

New to both the midtown and rooftop bar categories, Daintree has sweeping skyline views featuring the Empire State Building, a dedicated martini menu (along with other cocktails, wine and beer), cozy sofas inside and a roomy terrace outside. It also has a smattering of snacks (chicken liver bacon mousse, oysters, lobster rolls) and complimentary chicken salt seaweed popcorn.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Midtown East
  • price 3 of 4

If the Hatter (colloquially known as the Mad Hatter) moved to Manhattan and harnessed his love of menacing into the hospitality industry, the resulting operation might look like Ophelia. Everything just seems a little outsized here, including the black and white checkerboard tile floor, high ceilings, geometric windows behind the bar, velvety banquettes and the city view. 

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Midtown West
  • price 1 of 4

Wading through throngs of roaming tourists will feel like a mere stress dream once you reach The Rum House the Hotel Edison. Arrive in time for live jazz every night of the week and order a rummy tipple to make an evening to remember. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Midtown West
  • price 4 of 4

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.

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Midtown West
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Midtown East
  • price 4 of 4

This marvelous hotel saloon, whose centerpiece is a grand 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.

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  • 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.

Looking for more food and drink around midtown?

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