RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do outside in NYC
Follow an afternoon of wandering in Central Park with a drink in the back garden at this cozy neighborhood wine bar and restaurant. Or snag a spot on its sidewalk patio for a better view of the neighborhood passersby. The drink options include a full bar and eight bottled beers, but Tolani is a wine bar: Opt for one of the globally diverse reds, whites or bubblies available by the glass, such as the Greek Assyrtiko ’09 ($9).
Now that you’ve got a buzz, up the ante with a cocktail or three at this Australian beach-themed party spot. You can take a break from the UV rays without missing the sunshine in the rowdy, glass-roofed dining room, and indulge in the anytime happy hour—just drop $20 to drink as many beers and bottom-shelf mixed drinks as you’d like for two full hours. For something more adventurous, try the Calf’s unique mixed creations, such as the mango-lime Moo-jito (made with muddled fresh fruit, $8) or one of the signature Moo Juices like the fruity Sunburnt ($7), a combo of passion-fruit-infused tequila and fresh strawberries served in a baby bottle.
To wind down from the afternoon revelry, continue along West 79th Street straight to the Hudson River. There you’ll find this sprawling bar-eatery, where you can sip a cocktail while taking in the sunset over New Jersey. Choose a seat on the open-air patio for the best view of the marina, then share a 54-ounce pitcher of frozen margarita ($30) or a cold beer like Blue Moon ($22).
This converted auto garage boasts the charm (and the square footage) of a basement rec room, complete with Skee-Ball, sports on a projector TV and vintage family photos on the walls. The sprawling front beer garden is perfect for knocking back a Franklin Lemonade (vodka, Campari, simple syrup, fresh lime, seltzer; $9) and a hallway in back leads to the six-month-old Dutch Boy Burger, where you can grab postpark treats including bourbon-spiked milk shakes ($6) and stout floats ($7) made with Blue Marble Ice Cream.
This corner bar may not have Franklin Park’s spaciousness, but it does have 16 craft brews on tap, knowledgeable bartenders who are happy to offer a recommendation or a sample of the suds, and some of the most entertaining bathroom graffiti around (look at the ceiling and you’ll be advised to “pay attention”). Grab a bright, hoppy Captain Lawrence Rye Ale ($6) and head out back to the multicolored picnic tables where you can rub elbows with an eclectic mix of locals (and their dogs).
Beyond the unmarked, white-tiled facade of this cocktail den you’ll find a sultry space and artfully mixed renditions of classic drinks (and why not, with several Sasha Petraske–trained mixologists behind the bar). Sip on a Monk Buck (cognac, fresh lime, ginger syrup and Yellow Chartreuse; $11) or a Revolver (bourbon, coffee liqueur and orange bitters; $14) while catching the last of the afternoon rays on the sizable back deck.
After taking in Astoria Park’s incredible views of Manhattan, get ready to savor something just as good. Exit the park on its southeastern edge and mosey over to Hell Gate Social’s back garden, where you can relax with an ice-cold Red Stripe ($5) or a summery cocktail such as the Blueberry Fusion ($8), a blend of rosemary-infused blueberry vodka and limoncello. Something that’ll help you relax even more: Drinks are two-for-one from 7 to 9pm daily.
Club 21 Bar & Lounge
For a change of scenery, migrate three blocks to this Czech beer garden. Snag a seat at one of the patio’s umbrella-covered wooden picnic tables and ask for the $15 bucket of five domestic beers (available daily 4–9pm), or stick to Czech beers such as Krusovice Dark for more authentic imbibing. Stay grounded with a kielbasa ($8) from the outdoor grill (opening late March/early April), which the barkeeps diligently fire up daily during warm weather.
Walk off that growing beer belly with a 17-block stroll down 30th Avenue to MexiQ (or keep the paunch and hop on the Q18 bus). Tex-Mex barbecue and 48 taps await you. Grab a seat at one of the sidewalk tables and then order any draft you like in a 64-ounce growler for the table (yours to keep, $18–$55), or opt for the ever-changing $3 daily half-liter draft special. Tequila drinkers should pop in during weekend brunch, when bottomless margaritas (and Bloody Marias, mimosas and Mexican brews) are just $7 on top of an entrée price.
Ruffian Wine Bar & Chef's Table
Tompkins Square gains a notable addition in Ruffian Wine Bar & Chef’s Table, a tiny (19 stools in total) resto with what’s sure to become an outsize presence in minds of the city’s many oenophiles, thanks to a carefully curated wine list that changes almost daily and excellent sommelier service. Four industry vets—chefs Josh Ochoa and Andy Alexandre and two full time sommeliers, Alexis Percival and owner Patrick Cournot—work in conjunction behind a 3,000 pound cream-colored concrete bar, producing small shared plates that pair nicely with the long list of food-friendly wines. Ruffian has already carved out a reputation for esoteric vintages, and even offers a few cloudy orange wines by the glass in response to the ever-increasing trend toward Georgian varietals. The food menu changes almost daily to incorporate the freshest ingredients available at green markets around the city. The constant flux of menu options amounts to what ultimately feels like a boutique experience—no two visits will be exactly the same. There is some sense of cohesion, though. The menu tends toward Eurocentric cuisine no matter the day; on a recent visit, warm vegetable dishes like roasted golden beets ($12) and a cauliflower soup ($10) were accented with Mediterranean flourishes, while the chicken liver pâté came with pickled grapes ($18). Like everything else at Ruffian, the food, while delicious, seems to exist only to complement to the superior wine selection, which leaves the most lasting impre
Venue says: “Now open Sundays from 3pm-10pm! Happy hour from 3PM-5PM; $10 glasses of wine and small plates from $6-$10.”