Drink with reservations

If you don't want your party to fight for tables, reserve a space at any of these bars.



This out-of-the-way Soviet-themed haunt attracts a very specific crowd: The majority of patrons on an average night have wandered in from the numerous loft buildings in the area (the ladies from the neighboring Sisters of Mercy convent rarely stop by). But even if you don’t live across the street, the high-ceilinged room—filled with Communist propaganda murals and ’60s-style furniture—is worth checking out, as are the wide variety of events, which range from hip-hop shows and book-release parties to a monthly queer bash. 262 Taaffe Pl between DeKalb and Willoughby Aves, Bedford-Stuyvesant (718-398-6666, barsputnik.com)


Building on Bond
The next great hangout for the Brooklyn yupster set, Building on Bond has been open for just a few months. It still has that new-bar smell and is so far free of the sticky floors, stinky bathrooms and chipped pint glasses familiar at more lived-in taverns. Drink fare is standard, but the tunes are choice: Any place you can hear the season-one theme song from The Wire and selections off The Big Lebowski soundtrack gets a thumbs-up. But don’t make this your end-of-the-night spot: It closes at 1. 112 Bond St at Pacific St (347-853-8687)


Pete’s Waterfront Ale House
Most shops catering to thirsty longshoremen sell only grog and headaches. Pete’s bucks that trend with a nice beer selection, decent array of Scotches and even absinthe for our fancy Euro brethren. The burger-and-brew combo is always pretty sweet ($10.95 for the meat; $6 for a pint), as is the popcorn machine if you’re short on coin and want to nosh for free. 155 Atlantic Ave between Clinton and Henry Sts (718-522-3794)


Clover Club
A madhouse since its June opening (imagine, a bouncer on Smith Street!), this luxe throwback to the days of speakeasy charm earns its rep with expertly prepared drinks. Bartenders break out the swizzle sticks and homemade bitters for on-the-mark juleps, old-fashioneds, highballs and whiskey sours. The interior is retro: pressed-tin ceiling, dark mahogany bar, rich leather booths. Finally—a club worth joining. 210 Smith St between Baltic and Butler Sts (718-855-7939 cloverclubny.com)


Two words: hot lesbos. “We nicknamed the place 'Lesbian Island’ because most of the staff here are gay,” says Superfine bartender Lola RocknRolla (who also reminds us that drinkers of all feathers are welcome here). That—along with the orange-felted pool table, a constantly rotating drinks menu and straw-umbrella cocktails—is reason enough for us to label this swanky but unpretentious Dumbo go-to super-duper-fine. 126 Front St at Pearl St (718-243-9005)


Bar 4
At this shabby-chic hang, locals on broken-in couches unwind with pints of Delirium Tremens and Rogue Dead Guy Ale, as well as pressed-crisp Cubanos and Nutella-and-banana sandwiches. Paintings of music luminaries like Presley, Lennon and Cash signal the establishment’s sonic commitment, with a Tuesday open mike, Guitar Hero Wednesdays and weekend DJs spinning late-night. 444 Seventh Ave at 15th St (718-832-9800)

Beer Table
This is beer drinking for grown-ups. A small, well-curated menu offers a selection of artisan brews, mostly by the bottle, and with each drink comes a description that reads like wine-tasting literature. The diverse menu offers stalwarts like Dogfish Head alongside more obscure options like a dark, smoky Belgian Rochefort Ale—though picks change on a near-daily basis, so you may never drink the same thing twice. The draft selection is smaller, at about three offered daily, and each day’s menu is posted on the website so you can see what’s on tap before you go. 427B Seventh Ave between 14th and 15th Sts (718-965-1196, beertable.com)

Sheep Station
Hit up this rustic expat bar for some authentic Aussie charm. Covered in corrugated iron, it features aboriginal art, a gas fireplace and eats from Down Under, like lamb sandies, homemade meat pies, and a traditional burger topped with pineapple and fried egg. Locals go for a beer from the vast and varied selections on tap, but the wine list—including local, Australian and international choices—shouldn’t be discounted. 149 Fourth Ave at Douglass St (718-857-4337, sheepstation.net)

Union Hall
Though bocce courts attract feverish competitors, bargoers need not toss a ball to have one. In the upstairs library, which is bedecked with vintage globes and tomes, a roaring fireplace and leather couches provide perches to drink Captain Lawrence pints and Bloody Pickles (tequila and Bloody Mary shots, with pickle chasers). Downstairs, taxidermy dioramas set the mood for acts ranging from indie rockers to science lecturers. 702 Union St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (718-638-4400, unionhallny.com)


Franklin Park
Not much has changed here since it opened this spring—the garden is still big, the beer selection is still local, and the crowds are still a varied mix of young newbies, neighborhood residents and the inevitable Park Slope parents. Now that the cold’s setting in, though, look out for a spankin’ new indoor space—complete with Skee-Ball and a DJ booth—opening any day now. 618 St. Johns Pl between Classon and Franklin Aves, Crown Heights (718-975-0196, franklinparkbrooklyn.com)


Melody Lanes
Little details can distinguish one house of strikes from the next, and Melody Lanes has them in spades: the surly yet charming desk attendant, the obnoxiously colorful paint job, and the mlange of hipsters, rowdy teens and Orthodox Jews who mingle while looking for a choice ball. Come here to escape the prices and pretentious airs of Manhattan and trendy faux-dive alleys; the barrage of urban pop (courtesy of whoever’s controlling the juke), silly animations on the scoreboards and a bar that looks like it was plucked from JFK are all real-deal. Bartender Peter Napolitano, who dresses like a ventriloquist-cum-lounge-singer, has been making bowlers throw gutter balls for years, thanks to his liberal pouring of spirits. 461 37th St between Fourth and Fifth Aves (718-499-3848)


Huckleberry Bar
This cavernous space is painted a fugly taupe and filled with dorm-grade furnishings, but damn if you won’t get wasted on $10 cocktails. Harvey Wallbangers and Pisco Sours complement seasonal favorites like hot buttered rum and spiked hot chocolate, all expertly shaken by funereal bartenders (though the sober shtick clashes with the hand-clapping hip-hop DJs and funksters breaking it down in the enclosed backyard). Delish sandwiches are prepared right behind the bar—good luck resisting the scent of bacon when you’re tossin’ back the Beefeater—and brunch lasts till 6pm on Sundays. 588 Grand St at Lorimer St (718-218-8555, huckleberrybar.com)



Bartenders—or are they druggists?—in white coats pour unusual potions (many of which are distilled in-house) from corked beakers in this former opium den, which now resembles a cross between a luxurious parlor and an old-fashioned pharmacy. Pretentious? A little. But popular too. Those in pursuit of such pleasurable alternative medicine are advised to make an appointment. 9 Doyers St between Bowery and Pell St (212-406-0400, apothekebar.com)

Good World Bar & Grill
This rustic spot plays to a Scandinavian theme (yes, in Chinatown) with rough-hewn wooden tables and a menu that offers meatballs and pickled herring. A giant stuffed caribou presides over the bar, but this place is chic; Miranda ate here in the Sex and the City movie. The ample selection of suds includes Swedish Pripps Carnegie, a bitter, chocolaty porter, along with a couple bubbly Belgians on tap. 3 Orchard St between Canal and Division Sts (212-925-9975, goodworldbar.com)


From the wallpaper that mimics red-velvet drapery to the floppy flapper hats displayed behind the bar, Ella makes you feel as though you’ve stepped into a 1920s starlet’s boudoir. Order the Joan Crawford--inspired Mommie Dearest (Milagro tequila, lime juice, orange bitters), and try not to squirm under the gaze of her oversize photo. Continuing the movie-star theme, the two red oval couches in the back are from the green room at last year’s Oscar venue. 9 Ave A between 1st and 2nd Sts (212-777-2230, ellalounge.com)


John Street Bar & Grill
John Street rocks an unpretentious basement vibe, offering pool, darts, a jukebox, dark corners for drunken shenanigans and daily specials galore (we like Thursday’s all-you-can-drink drafts for $10—a little too much). Blue and white collars mingle with tourists and the odd Century 21 widower. A team of loyal everyday (no really, every single day) regulars credit the bar for its cheap booze, tough-love bartenders and relaxed biker-meets--Wall Street atmosphere. 17 John St between Broadway and Nassau St (212-349-3278, johnstreet.com)

O’Hara’s Pub and Restaurant
The 25-year-old neighborhood staple has little to look at (we’d call it typical sports-bar chic), but what it lacks in ambience it makes up for in camaraderie and service. During the week, a steady stream of locals, construction workers and suits constitute the after-work scene, while tourists frequent the joint on weekend afternoons. This is the place to escape the demands of relatives in town for the holidays, or bring in the family for a pint, or four. Take note of the impressive collection of patches adorning the ceiling panels: In what has become a tradition since 9/11, rescue workers from all over the city contribute theirs to the installation. 120 Cedar St between Greenwich St and Trinity Pl (212-267-3032)

Trinity Place
As the mac-daddy circular door adorning the entrance reminds us, this subterranean Wall Streeter hang occupies a bank vault dating back to the early 1900s. Mellow Mondays and Tuesdays give way to packed happy hours later in the week, when you can look on as the regulars get as tanked as the stock market. In fact, every day the market closes in the red, all drinks are $3 from 3:30 to 5pm. 115 Broadway, enter on Cedar St between Broadway and Trinity Pl (212-964-0939, trinityplacenyc.com)


Employees Only
Following the trend of faux-Prohibition bars, Employees Only is tucked away behind a psychic’s illuminated shop-front window. Cocktails are the tipples of choice here; Igor, a bartender sporting a mean gunslinger mustache, favors the Negroni, a smooth shake-up of vermouth, Campari and gin. For something to get you in the Thanksgiving spirit, try the ginger smash, a tart concoction made from Plymouth gin and Berentzen apple liqueur, ginger root and cranberries. 510 Hudson St between Christopher and W 10th Sts (212-242-3021, employeesonlynyc.com)


East Side Company Bar
Thanks to a brushed-aluminum front bar, cozy wood booths in the middle room and a shabby-chic rear lounge, ESCB feels like three separate spots. What the trio shares is a menu of creative cocktail selections that have come to be expected from owner Sasha Petraske (Milk & Honey, Little Branch and White Star, below). Be sure to check out the ceiling: Workers put up sheets of the stamped tin, and then realized they were crooked, and had to take them back down again. 49 Essex St between Broome and Grand Sts (212-614-7408)


This 4,000-square-foot bi-level space straddles the line between food and drink destination, but the thoughtful cocktail program tilts the scales toward the latter. High-end tipples include the Jezebel (rose-infused gin with strawberries, basil and Meyer lemon) and Pears and Herbs (cognac, lemon, and pear puree with sage and thyme). For the holidays, try the peppermint truffle: organic Rain vodka infused with mint and bittersweet chocolate. 244 E 51st St between Second and Third Aves (212-906-9066, havennewyork.com)

Attractive bartenders mix drinks like the elderflower lime rickey and the aai margarita amid canopied daybeds, striped couches and alabaster candles. An outdoor space may seem more suited for summer months, but the bar stays open all year—heated tents and two levels of indoor rooms keep the crowds coming. Since you were clearly wondering, the oversize, oval UFO chair was imported from Slovenia. There are only three chairs of its kind in the world, and it needed to be hoisted from 16 stories below using a crane. 251 W 48th St at Eighth Ave (212-956-1300, highbarnyc.com)

Inc. Lounge
Three mini TVs loop ’80s rock concerts (Iggy Pop, Bowie) over a dimly lit lounge clad in white, black and red. Friendly young bartenders serve cocktails like the Inc. Julep to patrons munching personal pizzas and filet mignon skewers as they recline on vinyl couches. If you stand close to the black and red wallpaper and tilt your head at the right angle, hidden nude women are noticeable within the elaborate floral pattern. Time Hotel, 224 W 49th St between Broadway and Eighth Ave, second floor (212-320-2984, thetimeny.com)

Le Cirque Wine Lounge
The 2,000-strong red-wine cellar located in the center of Le Cirque Wine Lounge is upstaged by two phenomena that’ll make your eyes cross: statuesque couples sipping $18 martinis and a menu of holiday cocktails (we love the spiked eggnog) created by chief mixologist Bill Ghodbane. 151 E 58th St between Lexington and Third Aves (212-644-0202, lecirque.com)

Salon de Ning
The main draw of this 1930s Shanghai-inspired bar in the Peninsula Hotel is its two terraces, outfitted with daybeds fashioned from ornately carved timber: One provides a Fifth Avenue vista, the other a view of the Hudson to the west. If you can’t stand the cold, come inside for holiday-themed drinks like the Poinsettia (framboise, champagne, and pomegranate liquor and juice) or the tiramisu martini, which will warm your insides with Absolut Vanilia, Kahla, amaretto and whipped cream. The Peninsula New York, 700 Fifth Ave at 55th St, 23rd floor (212-956-2888, peninsula.com)


Black Bear Lodge
Once it starts snowing outside, head for this mock ski lodge, with antique decorations from Rocky Mountain states. For added authenticity, the fratty bar boasts Western saloon prices ($10 buckets of six beers till 7pm) and Big Buck Hunter tournaments, in which the prized trophy goes to best costume—think camo-and-orange hunter garb. Beware: The bartenders don’t like to hear repeat songs from the jukebox and will dole out “punishment” shots to the offending parties...as well as to those who are caught dancing with the wooden black bear in the corner of the bar. 274 Third Ave between 21st and 22nd Sts (212-253-2178, bblnyc.com)

Filte Irish Whiskey Bar
This large (possibly haunted, just ask a bartender) pub distinguishes itself despite its seen-it-before “old country” decorations with a large selection of Irish whiskeys (24 on a recent trip) and specials like a noon--6pm happy hour, featuring plenty of drinks under $4 and free food during Monday Night Football games. There’s also trivia on Thursday nights, when the most important question and answer goes something like this: How much are your Bud Lights? One dollar. 531 Second Ave between 29th and 30th Sts (212-725-9440, failtenyc.com)


Pegu Club
Gin is the star ingredient at this second-story bar, apropos for a place meant to recall a British officers’ club in late 19th-century Rangoon, Burma. The original Pegu Club in Rangoon is mentioned in Rudyard Kipling’s From Sea to Sea (1899), where it is described as “full of men on their way up or down.” The decor here—brass lamps and carved wooden grilles on the windows—emphasizes that colonial vibe, but the prices (most mixed drinks are $12) befit modern times. 77 W Houston St at West Broadway (212-473-7348, peguclub.com)


Brandy Library
Labels are the primary reading material at this candlelit library, where shelves (complete with those old-fashioned wooden ladders on wheels) are stocked with bottles, not books. Lifelong learners can enroll in “spirit school” seminars that explore the history and production of particular boozes, or just study the hefty, leather-bound volume (complete with glossary) that passes for a drink menu. 25 North Moore St at Varick St (212-226-5545, brandylibrary.com)

M by Megu
Those prone to late-night indulgences should try the bottle service at this luxe lounge, presented in the style of a Japanese tea ceremony. Nibble on kobe beef sliders or Crunchy Rice Cake Poppers while peering down at the giant Buddha ice sculpture in the Megu restaurant downstairs. Or just sip on a Tokyo Celebrity (sugarcane shochu, champagne and lemon juice) and keep your eyes peeled for New York ones. 62 Thomas St between Church St and West Broadway (212-964-7777, megunyc.com)


The Beauty Bar
This nearly 14-year-old salon-cum-bar still does what it does best: $10 manicures with a drink (Mon--Fri 6--11pm; Sat, Sun 7--11pm) in front of chrome hair dryers, a buck off beverages from 5 to 9pm, nightly DJs and holiday-themed beauty pageants (including a Christmas one). When it was still a functioning hair salon—the Thomas Beauty Salon—indie gods Pavement shot the video for “Cut Your Hair” inside. 231 E 14th St between Second and Third Aves (212-539-1389, beautybar.com/ny/home.html)

Flatiron Lounge
If feeling like you’ve just stepped into an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel is on your drinking agenda, then by gum, this is your type of hooch joint. The cozy Art Deco space is perfect for a winter’s eve, and the dozens of fancy though pricey cocktails will warm you up. With guest drinks by booze scientists all over the city, there’s something to suit every palate, whether you prefer Zelda’s flapper age or the latest mixologist creation. 37 W 19th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-727-7741, flatironlounge.com)


Go to Shrine if for no other reason than to order a Muslim Jew, a cocktail of vodka, Baileys, and chocolate and coffee liqueurs. But really, the bar’s rep as a music venue provides incentive enough; bands often play jazz or blues, with some gospel and reggae thrown in for good measure. Happy hour comes seven days a week, and lasts four hours: Just the way we like it. 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (Seventh Ave) between 133rd and 134th Sts (212 690 7807, shrinenyc.com)

Wine and Roses
Parents in town? Let a visit to this upscale vino bar prove what a sophisticate you’ve become since college. The place serves dozens of reds and whites by the glass, all from boutique wineries, and the list changes every few weeks. Laid out to encourage cross-pollination of groups, the nook seats just 35 inside and fills up fast—but doesn’t accept reservations. However, owner Jennifer Klein has been known to let a “really sweet” e-mail (jen@wrbar.com) persuade her otherwise. 286 Columbus Ave between 73rd and 74th Sts (212-579-9463)



Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
Prost! This authentic Czech beer garden (such an old favorite, it’s a clich) features plenty of mingle-friendly picnic tables, where you can sample cheap, robust platters of sausage, and of course, plenty to drink. Picnic tables, you say? Yes! The huge, tree-canopied garden is open year-round—we’re talking tents and heat. 29-19 24th Ave between 29th and 30th Sts (718-274-0043, bohemianhall.com)

The sprawling outdoor patio at Cvo may be useless in the colder months, but the cavernous restaurant and lounge has plenty of off-season draws—not the least of which are an array of Bellinis (strawberry, raspberry, mango), a belly dancer (Sundays at 8:30pm) and an ever-present DJ spinning Greek-inflected world music. 42-18 31st Ave between 42nd and 43rd Sts (718-721-1001, cavoastoria.com)

Vino di Vino
Trattoria L’Incontro chef-owner Rocco Sacramone is behind this wine bar, outfitted with U-shape booths and dim lighting, which is adjacent to his restaurant. Sip one of 60 wines by the glass (including feisty amarones and smooth Australian shirazes) or one of 300-plus bottles, delivered by elegant waiters who expertly advise on cured meats and cheeses. 29-21 Ditmars Blvd between 30th and 31st Sts (718-721-3010)


Terraza 7 Train Caf
Bohemia meets Latin America by way of the 7 train at Terraza, a funky bar (vibrantly hued walls, your abuelita’s mismatched comfy couches and a Virgin Maria statue). The locale, frequented by a largely Latino crowd on the weekends, regularly hosts South American musicians, English and Spanish poetry readings and an LGBT night, and will soon launch an indie-film screening series. 40-19 Gleane St between Britton and Roosevelt Aves (718-803-9602, terrazacafe.com)


LIC has that old New York feel: exposed brick walls, antique wooden furniture and a fireplace, all dating back more than a century. Battle it out with fellow Gothamites at Thursday trivia nights, or simply stuff your face with house panini. 45-58 Vernon Blvd between 45th and 46th Aves (718-786-5400, longislandcitybar.com)


Bar 43
Stocked with an Irish staff and menu, this feels like a modern update of Sunnyside’s old-school pubs. Nine plasma screens give the place plenty of sports-bar cred and during peak hours, a spiffed-up crowd makes it feel kind of clubby—like, B&T clubby. More often, though, Bar 43 exudes a casual, friendly vibe. 43-06 43rd St between Queens Blvd and 43rd Ave (718-361-3090, bar43.com)


Saints & Sinners
There’s plenty of space for penitents of all persuasions at this expansive spot. Locals are drawn in by Irish bands on weekend evenings, and every other Wednesday is the pub’s quiz night. The menu features organic specials including a moist, delicious roasted chicken—but after a few lethal apple martinis, you won’t be feeling virtuous for very long. 59-21 Roosevelt Ave at 60th St (718-396-3268)


Cargo Caf
You’ll know you’re at the Cargo because it’s the only electric-blue building in St. George (or anywhere?) with a picture of a scary toddler painted over the door. That’s not the only interesting piece of decor: Sharp-eyed patrons will notice a digital clock over the bar. Recently, the time read 3748:02:25:33. It’s supposed to count down to when a meteor is going to hit the Midwest, according to the bartender. “When it gets to be all 9s or all 7s or something, people just drink a lot,” he says. Drink specials abound: For Monday Night Football, it’s 50-cent pints of Miller Lite until someone scores a touchdown. Mondays through Thursdays, it’s $2 High Lifes after 10pm; Sunday is for trivia. There’s also pinball, a pool table, one of those fancy digital jukeboxes and, in classic Staten Island form, Jgermeister on tap. Who needs Manhattan, anyway? 120 Bay St at Slosson Terr (718-876-0539, cargocafe.com)

Jade Island
A tiki bar downwind from the Fresh Kills Landfill may not be the ideal spot to appreciate a sea breeze, but this irony-free place could help you forget the chilly season—and local geography. Take a seat in a bamboo booth illuminated by a taxidermic blowfish lamp, and enjoy rum drinks served in coconuts or hula-girl glasses. 2845 Richmond Ave between Platinum and Yukon Aves (718-761-8080)

Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn
Serious brew lovers make the trek to this 19th-century beer hall’s handcrafted mahogany bar to pick from the frequently updated roster of suds, ranging from hard-to-find German and Czech brews to American lagers like Fat Dog Stout. There’s a full menu of meat-and-potatoes beer ballast, too. 4254 Arthur Kill Rd at Sharrotts Rd (718-984-1202, killmeyers.com)

Martini Red
The Monday night open mike (bring your guitar, jokes, or random-ass party tricks) has become a mainstay at this artsy hang, which on other nights hosts local bands, comedy and songwriter showcases, and an excellent DJ. Culturephobes can stick to the pinball machine and rotating cast of beers. 372 Van Duzer St at Beach St (718-442-0660, martini-red.com)

R.H. Tuggs
On the shores of the Kill Van Kull, directly across from the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, you can grab a $2 beer, park yourself in front of a window and take in the majestic view of Jersey’s oil refineries. Daytime brings in the boating and Borough Hall regulars. 1115 Richmond Terr between Bard Ave and Snug Harbor Rd (718-447-6369)


They need a drink!
From Cosmo girls to finance guys, these recent victims of cutbacks share their picks for where to buy yourself (or them) a cocktail (or two).

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