Best beer bars in NYC
Greenpoint drinkery Tørst—Danish for “thirst”—is helmed by legendary “gypsy brewer” Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø and chef Jesus Cervantes. These warriors are laying waste to tired ideas of what a great taproom should be, with a minimalist space that looks and smells like a modernist log cabin, and rare brews from thoughout Europe and North America.
It’s not shocking that three hops-head buddies would transform a 5,000-square-foot warehouse into a brewery. It’s more unusual, however, when that concept evolves into a bi-level beast with a bar, an event space and, of all things, a coffeeshop. The unlikely combination aligns under the direction of Sycamore cofounder Justin Israelson, entrepreneur Joshua Stylman and lawyer Andrew Unterberg. Their multipurpose space sprawls over concrete floors with all the whitewashed brick and reclaimed wood you’d expect from a Brooklyn bar, along with draft beers and cocktails that you wouldn’t.
With its deli fridges stocked with ales and lagers, and its aged steaks and whole hams dangling from steel hooks, the Cannibal could double as the set of a new dude-food show on the Cooking Channel. Run by guys and packed with them, the place is so unabashed in its bromance for craft beer and artisanal meat it’s almost a parody of a manly restaurant. If you like meat and beer, though, it’s pretty close to paradise. For restaurateur Christian Pappanicholas, the beer-obsessed carnivore behind the place, it’s the physical manifestation of some very personal passions. The spot is an unusual retail-restaurant hybrid—a beer store and a butcher shop but also a laid-back place to eat and drink.
Long before craft entered the lexicon, there was Blind Tiger, one of the OGs of the New York beer scene. Since its arrival in 1995, Blind Tiger has achieved legendary status thanks to a meticulously curated program and some of the city's best bar food. The 28 taps ($6.50-$11), two casks and one gravity keg (usually $7), plus more than 80 bottles ($7-$55) make this the first port of call for brewhounds who want to track down pours they can't find anywhere else. Weekly events, including meet-the-brewer nights and frequent style showcases, help drinkers navigate the hunt.
Named after a family farm that once grew on Park Place, this local-focused taproom is festooned with decorative plates from old-school NYC breweries like Piels and Schaefer. On the menu, find 16 craft beers, including Other Half's Forever Simcoe DIPA and Kent Falls Apricot Gose, as well as soft pretzels and loaded grilled cheese sandwiches.
What we appreciate most about Proletariat—a slim ten-seat suds parlor from Ravi DeRossi (Death & Company, Cienfuegos)—is that it offers a new stage for craft brewing. One of the most exciting brew lists in town features rare, new and unusual beers; for beer nerds looking to escape the pub, the sometimes-overpriced and often-overcrowded place nevertheless exerts a curious magnetism.
The pared-down lineup of six drafts and one cask here speaks to owner Joe Carroll's reverence for beer. "With too many lines, the beer can sit around and get stale," he says. Spuyten's minimal draft offerings, as well as its 100-plus bottle list ($5-$45), are focused mainly on tiny European breweries. Sample old-world rarities like the thick, sherrylike Samichlaus lager from Austria or cellar-aged Cantillon lambics of various vintages ($15-$30). The cozy interior is chock-full of flea market finds, most of which are for sale. There’s also a tasty bar menu of smoked meats, pâtés, cheeses and terrines.
With bars in Park Slope (Mission Dolores, the Owl Farm) and Carroll Gardens (Bar Great Harry) under their belt, beer-loving brothers Ben, Seth and Mike Wiley venture farther north for their latest hangout. Housed in a former Bed-Stuy hair salon, the bar joins spots like Bed-Vyne Brews and Black Swan in bolstering the neighborhood's craft beer scene. This 55-seat drinkery echoes the divey, low-key vibe of the trio’s other watering holes: exposed brick walls, linoleum floors and two rock-themed pinball machines. Twelve taps rotate among drafts both local (Bronx Brewery, Barrier Brewing Co.) and out-of-state (Michigan’s New Holland, Maryland’s Stillwater Artisanal Ales). A bottle-of-the-month program highlights one large-format brew, while four types of chili (lamb, chicken, beef and vegetarian) are available to accompany the booze.
Located deep in the Bronx’s historic Little Italy—where red sauce runs as thick as blood (Robert De Niro discovered Joe Pesci here)—is the best indoor bazaar that most New Yorkers have never heard of: the Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Neighborhood-bred brothers Anthony and Paul Ramirez shook the dust off the tradition-bound institution and opened a fresh-faced beer bar, whose on-trend offerings (cider, half-pints, canned craft beers) and handsome, modern digs (salvaged-wood counters, white-tile walls) have provided a jolt of youthful energy to this uptown fixture.
Throw back a bourbon-spiked sweet tea—served in a Texas-sized mason jar—at this Williamsburg honky-tonk, from the owners of Luckydog. Imbibers can also sip 18 five-buck draft brews (Shiner Ruby Redbird, Southern Tier Hop Sun) and beer cocktails like Micheladas and the Bud Driver (OJ, Budweiser, lime and mint) while listening to local musicians on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Sought-after seating includes a 1981 Ford F100 pickup bench and a cushioned church pew.