Most neighborhoods in New York have at least three million bars, which means picking the best among them is nearly impossible — much like choosing who’s better amongst Kobe, Shaq, and that handsome devil Travis Knight. But that doesn’t mean the debate around it can’t be fun as hell. Here are our favorites at the moment — let the cogitation begin, down in the comments.
This was a tough one because we love a ton of bars here (7B, Boxcar, Pouring Ribbons, Drop Off Service, Evelyn Drinkery, Alphabet City Brewing Company, and a million others), but The Wayland is the best all-around spot because of reliably good drinks (like the kale & ginger Garden Variety margarita, or the smoked-with-actual-smoke I Hear Banjos), as well as occasional live music and spontaneous secret lobster parties.
Battery Park City
There aren’t a ton of spots this far downtown where you can get a great craft cocktail in a laid-back atmosphere. This is one of them.
It’s a great spot to start the night off with a happy hour, given its proximity to a ton of other cool stuff, but you don’t have to leave this tavern to have an amazing time. It’s a great spot to meet people or just take down dope cocktails, like their Wren Old Fashioned (Old Overholt rye, Punt e Mes, cherry liqueur, orange bitters), and bar eats like bacon jam & ricotta toast or excellent beef jerky.
This was another close call — Gallow Green’s enchanted rooftop almost took it, and so did the reliable good vibes at the Half King, but honestly you just need to sit on the Southernmost stool of this spot during sunset and then you’ll get it.
Sometimes we like to get weird, so we come here, order a million picklebacks and a goddamn bowl of bacon, and it happens.
Dead Rabbit is one of the best bars in the world, so it takes the title here, but a part of us will always love Jeremy’s Ale House and its giant styrofoam cups of beer, too.
Another neighborhood with a ton of super-strong options, but this tiny cocktail bar is our move, with some of the absolute best and most original cocktails in the city that focus on bitters and amaro and other less familiar liquor-age.
In addition to having some of the best wings in the city and the country, this old-school spot has the type of NY charm that other people are always trying super hard to recreate, plus some of the coolest urinals anywhere.
So what if the only time you go there is once a year and it’s packed and crazy, they’ve actually got a pretty tight schnapps list, and once you’re there it’s always fun. Pete’s Tavern, one of the oldest bars in the city, is more of an everyday best for sticklers about “seasons”.
It kind of depends on your vibe — if you’re looking for something a little more down-to-earth and rowdy, it’s tough to beat Half Pint or Bleecker St — but this spot’s cocktails, occasionally served in coconuts or other quirky boozeware, are superior, and always worth a visit.
In addition to being one the reasons it’s great to live Uptown, this spot rocks a great selection of craft beers, a bottomless brunch, and eats like the 1635 Burger with crispy onions, cornichon remoulade, cheese, and bacon.
It’s got live music almost every night of the week, vintage album covers all over the walls, and drinks like the mango mojito and the Baron with brandy, fresh lemon, simple syrup, and sparkling wine. It’s excellent.
As much as we like underground surf bars with frozen Coronas and a sandwich filled with wonton meatballs, french fries, and cheese, Reunion couldn’t beat out one of the best beer bars in the city with its constantly changing and impressive tap list and a chill, friendly vibe.
It’s got great cocktails, great coffee, and it’s next-door neighbor has the best burger in the area as well.
Dancing, drinking, Jenga, and ‘mosas & margaritas served in a mason jar, plus bar food like wings and crispy shrimp, make this place a go-to.
Lower East Side
Yet another area with a quagillion excellent options, but this relative newcomer is the move right now thanks to amazing cocktails, like the smoky-bitter Hempen Halter, and food that has no business being as good as it is, like the amazing white shrimp po’boy, fresh-as-hell oysters, and a pastrami salmon dish that’s one of our favorite bites in the city right now.
Ping pong, giant beers, and hot people. That is all.
Another neighborhood, another amazing beer bar — this is one of the OGs on the craft beer scene, and one of the only reasons to stay in this neighborhood past happy hour.
Just off of Times Square, this spot plies you with great cocktails while the occasional piano is played and song is belted out. You could do way, waaaaaayyyyyy worse here
Divey, laid-back atmosphere, good pub eats, and cheap, decent beer. Win, win, win.
The Cannibal is awesome and so is Waterfront Ale House, but those veer too far into restaurant-y territory for us to be comfortable putting them on this list. Middle Branch pours reliably great drinks made by top-notch bartenders in a bi-level space that manages to feel a little like New Orleans.
Just a great bar with zero pretensions, big beers, dart boards, lots of pool tables, and Buck Hunter. Botanica, Temple Bar, and Tom & Jerry are also completely solid, but our heart is with Bleecker.
One of those spots that manages to pull off seemingly effortless quality. It’s always a good time with excellent cocktails and good eats.
We’re gonna cheat here and lump both of the hotel’s bars together — the one in the restaurant is still completely legit, but the bigger, newer one around the corner makes amazing cocktails, sometimes big enough for eight people, and rocks a seriously excellent burger and an incredibly rich, flaky, and amazing chicken pot pie.
We would have picked Milady’s but it left us too soon, so we’re going with another simple, old-school bar instead, and this one has the bonus of having a good burger too.
This long, dark, beautiful bar can get crowded, but it’s worth it for the good times, bespoke cocktails, and house cocktails like the barrel-aged Illegal Negroni with mezcal, Campari, and sweet vermouth aged in new oak.
Upper East Side
The Upper East Side isn’t all Irish bars and frat bars anymore (they still have great versions of those, though), but the Gilroy doesn’t go too far in the other direction either — it’s just a neighborhood bar that’s really stepped up its cocktail game and also delivers good bar eats, like three cheese mac & cheese with bacon and bison sliders.
Upper East Side
One of the best sports bars in the city. Period
Top-notch beers like Bell’s Expedition Stout, SingleCut Bon Bon 2X TNT Double IPA, and Westbrook One Claw are paired with burgers and 10 types of wings, like cider BBQ, chipotle blueberry, and Buffalo at this way-uptown beer bar.
An amazing beer selection, good food, and knowledgeable staff/customers in a no-fuss atmosphere — this is what a beer bar wants to be.