Nicky's Beer Garden
Don’t be fooled by the dark, narrow interior of this Prospect Heights drinkery: A large, airy backyard, lined with 13 picnic tables, can be found just past the intimate seating at the back of the bar. Although it fills up on weekends, if you arrive early you should be able to snag a perch—and the yard is shaded by trees, which helps keep things cool on hot days. The beer list offers rotating craft selections, including brews like Blue Point’s Toasted Lager ($5), along with an extensive selection of bottled beer (at 4.7 percent ABV, Fuller’s London Pride [$5] is a good choice for extended drinking sessions).
Venue says: “Gold rush happy hour - Monday through Friday 4:20 - 7pm. Late night Happy Hour Sunday-Thursday 11pm - to close”
The cozy deck of Long Island City’s best craft-beer bar may lack amenities—such as a view—but it has yet to be overrun with crowds. The breezy space is kitted out with wooden walls and benches, as well as a long bar down the middle; once you’ve settled in, begin the task of choosing from the rotating list of 28 brews. You can also opt for a bucket of five cans ($20), with options that go beyond your standard trough of Buds, from brewers like Oskar Blues, Cisco and 21st Amendment.
Since it opened last summer, crowds have descended upon this bar, located mere steps from the Gowanus Canal. The multitiered outdoor deck (which seats about 100) gets packed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a spot; just be prepared to show up early. It’s less crowded on weeknights, and if you plan your visit right, you may stumble upon an outdoor movie screening. Sip a seasonal beer—we recently had Peak Organic’s light Summer Session Ale ($6)—or one of the bar’s cocktails, such as the Street King ($11), which combines tequila, lime, house-made ginger syrup, Tecate and sriracha.
Thanks to Manhattan’s space constraints, it can be tricky finding an outdoor bar in the borough that doesn’t feel crowded. But this Harlem spot, located right above the 116th St B/C stop, offers plenty of room: Its 3,000-square-foot patio accommodates hundreds around communal picnic tables. Stop by for happy hour (weekdays 4–7pm), when Yuengling and Shock Top pints are $5; for weekend groups, there’s plenty to appease beer ($6–$8), wine ($8–$12 by the glass) and cocktail ($8–$14) drinkers, along with a selection of higher-end pub grub.
If you’re up for making the trek to the Bronx, you’ll be rewarded with a seat at this spacious beer hall. While there are some fratty elements (beer pong, college nights), the suds selection offers an upgrade from dorm-room fare, with Blue Point, Goose Island and Lagunitas among the brews that have appeared on the rotating tap menu. The outdoor courtyard can seat more than 200, making this a prime spot if you’re planning a group excursion—assuming you can get everyone to travel to the upper reaches of the 6 train.