Most romantic bars in NYC
Back when it opened in 2015, June helped put natural wine on Brooklynites’ radar. Today, interesting bottles continue to add to the allure of the ’20s-era Midnight in Paris vibes. With its curved oxblood banquettes, globe light fixtures and stemmed glasses hanging over a marble bar top, June is endlessly romantic.
A revivalist spirit is at the core of this retrofitted wonder that reimagines the midcentury greasy spoon. But the cocktail team does more than simply dig up old bones: It gave this joint a makeover with expertly executed tipples, like a refreshing gimlet and a boozy Boulevardier. The result is a hip Brooklyn bar that welcomes everyone.
One of our favorite romantic bars in Brooklyn is this special, small spot in Greenpoint, near McGorlick Park. The dark lighting, moody green wall colors and artful stainglass details make it one of our go-tos. It helps that most tables are set up only for two.
If you can get a table, Buvette, a French gastrothèque, is an excellent date spot. Stop by for just a glass of wine or a steak tartare at powerhouse, Jody Williams' West Village spot.
Elsa serves up its original (but now closed) East Village locale’s same fancy feels in this decadent Cobble Hill reincarnation designed by Home Studios, the team behind many of the city’s most aesthetically pleasing interiors. The drinks highlight lesser-used ingredients, such as cucumber tea, Szechuan peppercorns, wildflower honey and grapefruit in the Golden Fang.
Inspired by a Kuala Lumpur Hilton from the ‘70s (where the bar’s namesake cocktail was invented), drinks at Krissy Harris' Jungle Bird are complemented by Southeast Asian bites such as lotus chips and an excellent yam banh mi. The interior design looks to mid-century modern for cues, but it's made to feel modern without romanticizing tiki aesthetics.
Nora O'Malley (Alphabet City Wine Co.) and Phoebe Connell (ABC Beer Co.) exclusively pour vino via draft at this wine bar, outfitted with 16 taps and a small-plates menu featuring house-made pork rillettes, duck-confit corn cakes and sourdough slathered in Szechuan-peppercorn butter.
Pass three spiral staircases inside the just-opened Italian restaurant Gran Tivoli to get to this semisecret cocktail lounge. Practically lifted from the set of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Peppi’s is all retro cool, with deep, intimate booths, antique lights and a tiny stage for lively jazz combos.
Once you reach the 26th floor of Beekman Tower, you’re instantly welcomed into a decadent barroom fashioned with soaring cathedral windows, jewel-tone blue walls and glass showcases filled with vintage oddities. This intoxicating music-box–like space has four doors that lead curiosity seekers to the main draw: a maze of enclosed terraces snaking around the perimeter, outfitted with red-velvet couches, checkered black-and-white floors and sweeping views of Midtown East.
There’s no gleaming 1930s-style marquee beckoning you through the doors of Syndicated, a cinema-bar-restaurant hybrid, sitting inconspicuously in a barely marked former warehouse on Bogart Street. Instead, those Art Deco touches can be found within the 70-seat main dining room. Pro tip: While you're waiting for your table at Roberta's, cozy up here and watch one of the movies projected on the wall, for free.
This gorgeous NOLA-inspired salon—the green walls are fogged with a faux patina that suggests decades of patrons smoking Gauloises—is devoted to the twin pleasures of oysters and absinthe. Sip one of the potent varieties of the infamous anise-flavored liqueur, best enjoyed in the lush backyard.
By today’s standards, natural wines are hardly innovative. But Ten Bells was one of the first to set the trend with a roster of global pours. This vino depot is, oddly, named for Jack the Ripper’s hunting grounds, but you should be safe in the hands of the spot’s knowledgeable bartenders.
With its timeworn wood floors and fish-yard–view windows, Andrew Tarlow’s Greenpoint grogshop is loosely based on a dockhand dive. But instead of off-hours longshoremen, an art-house crowd streams in, armed with 35mm analog cameras and hand-painted skateboards. The faux-weathered joint is a cool-kid Cheers descendant, a neighborhood tavern where even the staff sticks around for drinks after throwing in the towel for the day. It's definitely more lowkey, but still romantic.
For those who crave not just great drinks, but also the culture of drinking well, there’s a certain thrill that comes with encountering a bar that you want to get to know beyond the first date. The gorgeous Donna, a breezy, rum-soaked drinkery secreted away near the Williamsburg waterfront, is long-term relationship material: mysterious and sexy enough to seduce on sight, yet substantive enough to keep you coming back to dig deeper.
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a minor character in a David Lynch film, then slink into a black dress, smack on a dark-red lip and hightail it to the Art Deco treasure trove that is Slowly Shirley, a sultry hideaway beneath Jon Neidich and Jim Kearns’s West Village bar, the Happiest Hour. Shirley takes her late-1940s aesthetic mighty seriously, with glossy oxblood banquettes and barbacks kitted out in newsboy caps and suspenders like dancers in a Broadway musical.
This new Prospect Heights wine bar and restaurant highlights lesser-seen European natural wines and its still newish, so you can impress your date with being in the know. LaLou takes its name from Lalou Bize-Leroy, a "trailblazing" Burgundy winemaker. The space itself is all white, but elegant in the small details. There's even a cozy backyard, for alfresco drinks and bites.
It’s a scene straight out of Midnight in Paris—or maybe Back to the Future—all golden-age yearning and space-time shuffling. This dapper Gramercy lounge, from Raines Law Room operators Alberto Benenati and Yves Jadot, is a railroad space divided into period-piece quarters, including a tufted Victorian parlor and an ashtray-dotted hooch den worthy of Don Draper. Spend an hour at this luxe oasis and you’ll completely lose track of time—no DeLorean required.
Look beyond the tongue-tying menu of grapes, and you’ll discover a bar that’s sophisticated enough for snobby oenophiles but still approachable for the rest of us. Drinking champagne during Tracksuit Tuesdays as we snack on the Cacio e Popcorn? Pour us another one.
As befits cocktail progenitor Sasha Petraske’s liquid legacy, the drinks at this clubby, low-ceilinged Village rathskeller are nigh perfect. If you choose to deviate from the menu, just give the neatly attired, polite bartenders a base liquor and a hint of your mood, and they can tailor a drink on the fly. A call for rye got us a spot-on Italian twist on a Manhattan, featuring maraschino liqueur, Carpano Antica vermouth and amaro. Custom-made cocktails—no password or secret handshake required.
Walk through an unmarked side door at the front of Japanese restaurant Village Yokocho, and you’ll find yourself in perhaps the classiest joint in the East Village. Angel’s Share remains completely unknown to some of its neighbors; that duality is part of its charm. Standing around and groups of four or more are not allowed—but this is really a date place anyway, offering a stellar view of Stuyvesant Square, tuxedoed bartenders and excellent cocktails, including one of the city’s best grasshoppers.
Tucked inside the Gramercy Park Hotel, Rose Bar offers a luxurious alternative to other crowded cocktail bars. Modern artworks from the likes of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Damien Hirst line the walls, and the solid walnut bar and hand-carved limestone fireplace lend a high-society feel to the surroundings.
At first glance, Primo’s is an oxymoron: an inexplicably sexy space modeled on… a 1950s diner? On one hand, glass-block partitions, chrome-edged tables and doo-wop music set the scene. But when you swap the black-and-white checkerboard floor for soft-gray terrazzo triangles, the soda-fountain counter for a liquor-stocked bar and the squeaky plastic booths for jewel-tone velvet banquettes, you have the most downright sensual “diner” we’ve ever seen.
The downtown bar offers Korean-inspired elixirs—non-alchoholic drinks, that you add alchohol to, if you please. If neither you or your date drinks (or is in the mood to that night), you can take out the alcohol but leave in perfectly-mixed drinks and a funky spot for good conversation.
Gabriel Stulman is an A-list impresario in the making, with a trio of hot eateries—including Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey's Grocery and Fedora—clustered within a three-block West Village radius. Much like at Buvette, Fedora also serves food, but would be an elegant date night spot for a nightcap.
Yes, it's a dive. But it is also an excellent date spot. Started by Gabriel Florenz, Artistic Director of Pioneer Works (which is located just down the street) and Jason Grunwald (owner of the vintage furniture spot Otherwild) San Pedro Inn serves tacos, quesadillas and tostadas, with housemade fermented hot sauce, farm fresh vegetables and homemade tortillas, all made by Norberto Piattoni, formerly of Mettā.