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Photograph: Filip Wolak

The 13 best themed bars in NYC

These themed bars in NYC are actually worth visiting—from a colorful tiki bar to a mezcal speakeasy.

Edited by
Will Gleason
Written by
Michele Herrmann
&
Abbe Baker
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Cocktail bars, wine bars, and dives, when it comes to local watering holes, New York City’s cup runneth over with countless options. The five boroughs are also home to the adorably quirky themed bar, so unique that it gets its own genre. From a vibrant tiki bar in Williamsburg to an East Village establishment completely devoting itself to all things Tim Burton, these 13 themed bars in New York City are worth seeking out.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in NYC

Best themed bars in NYC

  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Bushwick
  • price 1 of 4

At this Bushwick corner tavern, you’ll find an edgy vibe, a sociable staff and quirky yet noticeably well-suited decor (let’s just say it’s titillating). Drink prices are wallet-friendly, and long weekday happy hours extend to wine and drafts. Your inner child will happily break out here, as this dive bar has toys and classic board games—think Chutes and Ladders and Connect Four—that will attract patrons and friends.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Downtown Brooklyn
  • price 2 of 4

Don’t get shaken up by this pairing of mixology with macabre. Housed within the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, this full-service, downtown Brooklyn bar holds pieces salvaged from a 19th century wax sculpture museum in Berlin. This panopticon, a form of entertainment from that era, presents life-size realistic displays of curiosities such as anatomic figures and death masks. You’ll also find Victorian decor and themed cocktails along with a fine modern selection of wines and draft, bottled and canned beers.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • East Williamsburg
  • price 2 of 4

Sure, it has a silly name and proudly touts a midcentury dystopian sci-fi theme, but the industrial, LED-lit bar is much less a cheap play at Instagram likes than an earnest letter to the science-fiction genre. The bunker-like space is outfitted with orange fluorescent lights, dark turquoise booths and nostalgia-inducing tech tchotchkes.

La Milagrosa
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Williamsburg
  • price 2 of 4

The Mexican deli exterior in Williamsburg offers a hidden specialty behind its freezer door: a mezcal tasting room and haven. This speakeasy offers both mezcal- and tequila-based cocktails and agave spirits, as well as thoughtfully curated tunes played via specialty Hi-Fi sound system. And the music selection is quite vast: blues, disco, reggae or just about any genre can be heard here. A changing menu from the deli in which La Milagrosa is housed in, Cerveceria Havemeyer, is always on offer; required phone reservations are taken after 6pm daily.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Chinatown
  • price 4 of 4

Along Chinatown’s Doyers Street, this popular back-alley speakeasy is shaking up alchemy and mixology within its European apothecary and 19th century Parisian absinthe den setting. Bartenders in white lab coats mix up experimental cocktails with housemade ingredients. The menu lists drinks as remedies, with subcategories including Health and Beauty, Pain Killers, Stimulants, Aphrodisiacs, Euphorics and Stress Relievers.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Gramercy
  • price 1 of 4

The initial location for this nightclub chain, this Gramercy salon-turned-vintage bar offers the perfect selfcare special for a night out: martinis and manicures. For a mere $10 you can get your nails done whilst sipping a Manhattan — you can’t get any more New York than that. Chrome-dome hair dryers are visual remnants of the venue’s past, and its current scene is buzzing with a heavily rotating event calendar. Spend your evenings dancing along to spinning DJs, getting laughs from comedians or being entertained by burlesque shows.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

This East Village tiki bar has a Polynesian-esque ambiance and an eclectic mix of event bookings. The dive bar’s calendar extends to live music, movie nights, comedy and variety shows. Of course, classic drinks like mai tais and house specialties like Otto’s Octane and Pinky’s Potion come in funky mugs. Heads up: There is a $6 mug deposit. So while you sip, decide whether you’ll remember to return it or want to keep it as a souvenir.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • East Village
  • price 2 of 4

Fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas might not be able to get “This Is Halloween” out of their heads after a night drinking at this East Village watering hole dedicated to all things Tim Burton. Walk through the black storefront to discover a barroom decorated with ominous-looking surgical equipment, faux gravestones and tons of Jack the Pumpkin King memorabilia. 

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Chelsea
  • price 2 of 4

For those who appreciate live music by way of the piano or remain in search of the perfect karaoke bar, this Chelsea venue is for you. The modern uptake on the classic piano bar, your listening ears will pick up selections from a Baldwin Baby Grand that extend beyond standard songs, with rock, pop and even punk coming from the ivory keys. Divided into two sections, find an audience gathered around the piano in the backroom partaking in a group sing-along or taking individual turns at the mic. This house party is complemented by a marbled cocktail bar upfront serving wines, beers, bubbly and specialties like the classic scotch-based Penicillin.

  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Williamsburg
  • price 1 of 4

Cold beer, taxidermy on the walls, a portrait of Willie Nelson and a floor ladened with peanut shells is what you’ll find at this honky tonk bar in Williamsburg. Skinny Dennis has graced New Yorkers with their presence for almost a decade now, and with their One Pound Margarita, Bourbon Mint Sweet Tea and Willie’s Frozen Coffee, we are forever grateful. 

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  • Bars
  • Gastropubs
  • Williamsburg
  • price 2 of 4

Ahoy and greetings from The Commodore. Come for the kitschy cocktails and stay for the dope fried chicken — this nautical-themed bar in Williamsburg is as on brand as it gets. Located at the corner of Havemeyer St. and Metropolitan Ave, the space is outfitted with retro barstools (and matching lawn chairs in the outdoor space), wall-mounted fish and arcade games, making it the perfect backdrop for sipping on boozy cocktails like the Perfect Manhattan, Old Fashioned and the eponymous Commodore, a frozen piña colada with amaretto floater. 

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • East Village
  • price 4 of 4

Getting into this speakeasy on St. Marks Place involves a unique gateway – entering through a vintage phone booth. As an annex to Crif Dogs, go inside the hot dog joint to come across this golden access area. Then pick up the phone and press a button. Upon admittance, discover a small and dimly lit space with taxidermy decor. Classic cocktails get some twists and innovative drinks also have their place, and for bites, order from the PDT menu or put in a special dog request from next door. Tip: Get a handle on waiting by calling ahead for a reservation.

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  • Bars
  • Sports Bars
  • Chelsea
  • price 1 of 4

This bar on West 23rd Street pays homage to the humble trailer park, adorned with Christmas lights, license plates, and pretty much every tchotchke under the sun you can find. An optimal setting to grab brews with your pals, the food at Trailer Park Lounge is solid. Grab a burger with tots, a Jim Bob’s IQ cocktail and call it a night.

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