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Supreme Court Doma decision celebration at Stonewall Inn
Photograph: Bertie Cheng

The best gay bars in the West Village

This historic neighborhood is home to some of New York's best and longest-standing LGBT and gay bars

By Ethan LaCroix
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The modern gay rights movement got its start in Manhattan's West Village in 1969, at the mafia-owned dive the Stonewall Inn. Today, the Stonewall is still standing (and was recently made an NYC landmark) and is just one of many LGBT watering holes still dotting the historic neighborhood. (In fact, Stonewall isn't even the neighborhood's oldest gay haunt; that honor goes to Julius's.) Gay bars here tend to veer toward the divey side, and that's just fine by us. There's a timeless and thoroughly accessible vibe here that just can't be replicated at the sleek drinkeries uptown in Hell's Kitchen.

RECOMMENDED: Find more things to do in the West Village

Best gay bars in the West Village

Photograph: Michael Skigen

10. Hangar Bar

Bars Beer bars West Village

Ever wonder why we can’t all just get along? At Hangar Bar, we can. Men of all ethnicities harmoniously mix, mingle and cruise. One bar, with a DJ area, stretches halfway across the room; another anchors the back. Music videos play overhead. Like the personal ads say, a lot of the guys are straight-appearing and straight-acting. Testosterone abounds, but the place has a mellow, sexy, down-to-earth ambience.

Marie's Crisis Cafe
Photograph: Glenn Wood

9. Marie's Crisis Cafe

Bars Beer bars West Village

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, and keep an eye peeled for legendary pianist Dexter Watson, who's been a fixture at Marie's for ages.

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8. The Monster

Bars Lounges West Village

A dance floor, a show-tune-playing pianist and cabaret acts add up to the ultimate gay package at this long-standing haunt. The diverse crowd assembles for happy hour (get a buck off well drinks Monday through Friday from 4 to 9pm and Saturday from 2 to 9pm) and sticks around for shows in the spacious basement. Drag queen Jesse Volt hosts High Voltage on Wednesday nights at 11pm, and Barbara Herr fires up another drag show, Sabor Latino, at midnight on Mondays. On weekend nights, the frisky go-go boys and upbeat atmosphere make the low cover charge ($3 to $7) a steal.

7. Henrietta Hudson

Bars Lounges West Village

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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6. Pieces

Bars Lounges West Village

What could be gayer than a queer bar on Christopher Street? This neighborhood watering hole is the place for cheap drinks, drag-queen hosts, theme nights and a friendly crowd.

5. Rockbar

Bars Lounges West Village

This reincarnated Christopher Street watering hole has a queer rock & roll theme, with frequent special events and a lively local crowd.

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4. The Duplex

Theater Off-Off Broadway West Village

Setting the pace for campy, good-natured fun (though not classic glamour), the city’s oldest cabaret is still going strong at age 55. A generous mix of regulars and tourists laugh and sing along with drag performers, comedians and rising stars in the cabaret room on the second floor. (Special showcases are still in the intimate game room, which is also upstairs and has a separate bar.) In the ground-floor piano bar, the merry singing waitstaff is entertaining enough to avoid charges of gimmickry, and the pianists are often excellent.

3. The Stonewall Inn

Bars Lounges West Village

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. Theme nights include the Latin house party Uncut Wednesdays, but true to the bar’s democratic spirit, everyone is welcome.

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2. Julius

Bars Sports Bars West Village

Established in 1862, this is New York’s oldest operating gay bar. You may feel a rich sense of history here, or maybe it’s the crowd: These days, you can count on your fingers and toes the number of salt-and-pepper-haired (or balding) patrons sitting with their drafts at the long wooden bar. Patsy Cline and Liza dominate the jukebox, though there are modern touches for the young’uns: Beyoncé and the Queer as Folk soundtrack are among the selections.

Cubbyhole
Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

1. Cubbyhole

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.

Find more bars in the West Village

Best gay bars in NYC

Atlas Social Club
Photograph: Liz Clayman

The best gay bars in NYC

LGBTQ+

NYC is home to so many LGBT drinkeries, the options can be staggering—but it's really hard to go wrong. Whether you want to cruise the Hell's Kitchen main drag, drink in the Village's historic watering holes, or hop on the train to check out the scenes in Queens and Brooklyn, you'll find a friendly crowd eager to make new friends—and maybe even an IRL hookup. Many of the best bars also have top-notch DJs, fierce drag-queen performances or fun cabaret shows, which are often free. 

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