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Club Cumming, Lance Horne
Photograph: Jeff EasonMondays in the Club with Lance

The best gay bars in NYC

The best gay bars in NYC are welcoming spots to drink and party the night away all year round

Written by
Ethan LaCroix
&
David Goldberg
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New York has played a major role in LGBTQ+ history, and it’s no wonder there are a slew of bars that have been community beacons (and prime party spots) for decades. The best gay bars in NYC range from dive bars to dance clubs, with historic spots like the Stonewall Inn anchoring them all. The West Village is a prime neighborhood for gay bars, but you’ll find them in pretty much any part of the city. And whether you're visiting during a major event like Pride — and NYC is the birthplace of Pride, after all — or on just any old night, you'll be sure to find hospitality that's warm, perhaps even a little spicy, and a place to be accepted.

You can check out the best drag shows or cabaret performances, but these gay bars all offer something unique, from cozy vibes and cheap drinks to high energy and brunch parties. Maybe your interests skew more trendy and urbane, or perhaps you're more of the down-and-dirty, "what happens on the weekends, stays on the weekends" type — we're not here to judge. There are plenty of LGBTQ+ things to do in New York, but these bars should be on your list of must-dos.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in NYC

Best gay bars in NYC

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

Daniel Nardicio and Alan Cumming took over the former Eastern Bloc bar in 2017 and reimagined it as a cabaret, comedy and party hub evocative of NYC's golden era of downtown nightlife. Count on Broadways singers belting out favorites by the piano, wild ’90s dance parties and stellar cabaret and comedy nights just about any time you drop in. 

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

Bushwick's thriving queer rennaissance converges at this laid-back spot, at which low-budget drag, dirty dance parties and backyard hang-outs are always going down. Grab a cheap happy hour special and sit back in the couches; you're certain to make new friends. 

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • West Village
  • price 2 of 4

The birthplace of gay liberation says “yes!” to empowerment and “hell, yes!” to go-go boys. The high-energy dance music draws a mixed, flirty crowd. Drink at one of two bars, or shake your groove thing on the dance floor upstairs. Daytime brings gawking tourists, but the evenings are still for partying. 

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Williamsburg
  • price 1 of 4

If it’s true that one in ten people is gay, and that Brooklyn is home to more than 2.5 million people, then the borough must be crawling with queers. Billyburg cuties can call this place their own. The cozy, 1950s ski-lodge–inspired space, with two fireplaces and exposed-brick walls, is home to a friendly crowd of guys and gals chilling with nightly drink specials at the weekly DJ parties. Count on subversive drag shows all week long. 

  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

A friendly, spacious bar with an intimacy-heightening low ceiling, Nowhere attracts attitude-free crowds—and the place is filled with everyone from dykes to bears, thanks to a fun lineup of theme nights. There's no official dance floor, but don't be surprised to find yourself moving to disco, rock, new wave and whatever else the DJ feels like spinning.

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  • Bars
  • Sports Bars
  • West Village
  • price 1 of 4

Established in 1864, this is New York’s oldest operating gay bar. You can feel a rich sense of history and community here. Thanks to a resurgence in popularity in recent years, the crowd has an intergenerational mix; longtime patrons sip their drafts at the long wooden bar as younger groups tend to gather at tables in the back and wolf down cheap eats from the in-house grill.

  • Bars
  • Ridgewood

This Ridgewood bar serves homestyle favorites for brunch and dinner, and hosts queer-skewing parties and performances later into the night. Bear parties, otter throwdowns and queer womens' bashes go down just about every week, so get ready to sweat on that dancefloor. 

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  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • West Village

Cubbyhole is one of the Village’s more festive and hetero-friendly gay-and-lesbian bars. Chinese paper lanterns, tissue-paper fish and holiday decorations hang from the ceiling. Barstools are upholstered with glossy vinyl bearing pictures of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig. Eclectic? You bet.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • East Village

This local watering hole has been a favorite on the queer East Village circuit ever since it burst onto the scene back in the ’90s. Expect various theme nights, drink specials and a straight-up good time.

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  • LGBTQ+
  • East Williamsburg

Enjoy drinks in the lovely Americana bar 3 Dollar Bill, which features shows and events like Sunday BBQ parties; then head to the fabulous warehouse space in the back of the venue, for thumping dance parties every night guided by sound systems inherited from venues like the Roseland Ballroom. Some of the best drag performers and DJs in the city have begun their takeovers of the new spot; get in early and join the community.

  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

A self-described “rock and sleaze fag bar,” the Cock is just the sort of dark, sketchy dive where you can unleash your inner sexy beast. The dearth of uptown attitude (or any apparent concern for cleanliness) pulls artists, musicians, writers, fashionistos, tourists and closeted rebels in stiff polos, all of whom can appreciate a little dirty fun. Weekends get so crowded (midnight to 3am) that there’s often a cover charge. Stuff your pockets before coming here; it’s cash only.

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  • LGBTQ+
  • Williamsburg
  • price 2 of 4

Brooklyn's best drag queens love this spot for a round of karaoke, performing or just a casual nightcap. Hang out in the chill backyard or head inside for a low-key kiki with the city's best performers on any given night. 

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • West Village
  • price 2 of 4

A can’t-miss combo of a Melissa Etheridge–heavy jukebox and strong drinks poured by cute chicks has kept this lesbian spot busy since 1991. Reggae and hip-hop spin most nights, inspiring a good bit of rump shaking among the young, flirty patrons. Weekends bring a higher bridge-and-tunnel quotient, but it’s nothing a Naughty Girl (blue curaçao, coconut rum and pineapple juice) can’t help you overlook.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Hell's Kitchen

The men behind longstanding Chelsea haunts Barracuda and Elmo Restaurant bring you this sultry midown drinkery. Unlike cozy Barracuda, Industry is a sprawling, high-ceilinged space, featuring a long concrete bar (manned by hunky, often shirtless bartenders, naturally) a stage hosting drag and music performances and a sizeable dance floor. Those seeking a more intimate scene will find plenty of private nooks and comfy couches.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Jackson Heights

A long and narrow dance hall dressed resembling Babylon from Queer as Folk, Hombres has a more Manhattan vibe than the other gay bars on the Jackson Heights strip. Cheap tequila/vodka shots and frozen margaritas (and near-nude Latino go-go boys atop the bar) keep the young and beautiful coming back, with the crowd overflowing the sweaty dance floor and spilling out into the street. A downstairs lounge is only open for private events, so if you’re not lucky enough to snag one of the few barstools, you may as well dance all night. Hombres is something of a destination for Long Islanders and Connecticut gays, perhaps thanks to the ample on-street parking just outside.

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  • Theater
  • Off-Off Broadway
  • West Village

Setting the pace for campy, good-natured fun, the city’s oldest cabaret is still going strong. In the ground-floor piano bar, the merry singing waitstaff and pianists are often excellent; drag performers often grace the tiny stage of the  lounge upstairs, which has a separate bar.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Chelsea
  • price 2 of 4

Whatever your kink, this fetish bar will satisfy with its array of beer blasts, foot-worship fêtes and leather soirees, plus simple pool-playing and cruising nights. In warmer months, the roof deck is a surprisingly lovely oasis.

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  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • price 2 of 4

City folk can party honky-tonk–style at this country & western gay bar. The spot is outfitted to look like a Wild West bordello, complete with red velvet drapes, antler sconces and rococo wallpaper. Throw back a shot and wrangle yourself a mate, or chow down on hearty grub like Texas red chili or Angus beef burgers. Don't miss the entertainment—performances by bartenders dancing in cowboy boots add to the raucous vibe.

  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • West Village
  • price 1 of 4

The draw at this beloved West Village institution ain't the drinks—cheap beer, vodka highballs—it's the old-school piano-bar experience. Belt out a Broadway tune with the rest of the bar, which draws a mixed crowd but still has a traditional gay leaning, especially on weeknights.

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  • Clubs
  • Hell's Kitchen

Gay nightlife honcho Josh Wood teamed up with veterans of Drom, Eastern Bloc and Splash to bring you this speakeasy-like homo haunt conveniently located in the middle of Hell's Kitchen's thriving gay strip.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Elmhurst

Evolution offers 360-degree bar access, nightly drink specials, three drag shows a week, parties like Saturday’s red carpet or “Lunes Picantes” (a Mexican night featuring $5 well drinks) and the most youthful crowd on Roosevelt Ave—the Christopher Street of Queens. This is where all the cute young things come to learn how to party under instruction of drag queens and a crew of bartending go-go boys whose uniforms consist of baseball caps, jeans and whistles around their necks. Occasionally the pool table gives way to create a secluded lounge for private parties and events.

Best gay clubs in NYC

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