Say no to sports bars.
439 Third Ave., nr. 30th St.; 212-481-1920
Marco Canora and Paul Grieco’s wine-bar mini-empire is fun for two big reasons: terrific yet toned-down wine-geek service and a cheekily wrought, deceptively comprehensive wine list, presented in a grade-school binder.
Drink this: by-the-glass sherries, two of which are free (yes, free) before 7 p.m.
Pod 39 Hotel, 145 E. 39th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-865-5700 Head to the hotel’s ground-floor restaurant, Salvation Taco, or its Instagram-perfect rooftop bar, complete with views of the Empire State Building, for Mexican cocktails, beer, and snacks.
Drink this: a Michelada with house chipotle sauce ($10).
154 E. 33rd St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-213-1350
Never mind the queue. The comically crotchety doorman will keep you entertained while you wait for a seat in the refined townhouse turned bar.
Drink this: It’s Sasha Petraske—let his bartenders do as they please ($12).
A million miles from NYU.
225 Ave. B, nr. 14th St., second fl.; 917-656-6788
Chat up co-owner Joaquín Simó, one of the friendliest guys in the business, at the retro-cool bar reminiscent of an eighties-television kitchen.
Drink this: Choosing the perfect libation ($14) is easy when the menu is a “cocktail matrix”—scales are spiritous, adventurous, comforting, and refreshing.
The Third Man
116 Ave. C, nr. 7th St.; 212-598-1040
Exposed brick and wooden beams give this cavernous, dark-lit bar a sexy vibe. The owners are behind nearby Austrian eatery Edi & the Wolf, so the charcuterie and bar snacks, like pumpkinseed ricotta served with toasted bread, are top-notch.
Drink this: a purist Old-Fashioned or Manhattan ($12).
162 Ave. B, nr. 10th St. dreambabybar.com
Regulars of Lakeside Lounge (the bar here previously) will be surprised by the classy makeover: black and white leather seating, pretty tiled floors. Co-owner Maria Devitt’s background as a CBGBer should hint at the scene.
Drink this: a Warsteiner pilsner or other draft ($6).
Cocktail’s kingdom come.
542 W. 27th St., nr. Tenth Ave.; 212-564-1662
The McKittrick Hotel’s lush outdoor roof deck has a fairy-tale-like, phantasmagorical feel and a punch menu by David Wondrich. Make reservations—the bar may feel clandestine, but the secret’s out.
Drink this: Claret Cup punch ($75 for six servings), made with sherry, Cognac, and lemon shrub.
158 Eighth Ave., nr. 18th St.; 646-596-8838
The din of food obsessives talking up the grub at Tien Ho’s French bistro is loud, but don’t forget the drinks; the staff at the tiny, seven-seat bar serve some of the area’s best cocktails.
Drink this: Thass It! ($13), sherry and aged tequila sweetened with floral syrup and topped with an edible flower.
Milk & Honey
30 E. 23rd St., nr. Madison Ave.; firstname.lastname@example.org
E-mail in advance to gain access to the notoriously haughty bar’s still dignified but far roomier uptown digs.
Drink this: Bartender’s choice ($16) is your only choice, but rest assured you’re in good jigger-wielding hands.
Respite from the tourists.
Macy’s Herald Square, sixth fl. (enter at 35th St. and Broadway); 212-967-9251
Drinking in a department store won’t sound so odd when you get a load of this bar: pretty, white-walled, streaked with sunlight, and surprisingly peaceful given its perch over Herald Square.
Drink this: the house Negroni, made with zesty Aperol ($12).
132 W. 31st St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-727-3666
This spot aims to best other Penn Station–adjacent options with a thoughtful libations list and an attractive, two-story room (marble bar, red leather bar stools). Were it not for the TVs on the wall, you wouldn’t recognize it as a sports bar.
Drink this: Empire’s White Aphro ($7).
Bar at the Lamb’s Club
Chatwal Hotel, 132 W. 44th St., nr. Seventh Ave., second fl.; 212-997-5262
Geoffrey Zakarian’s two-and-a-half-years-old but still under-the-radar theater bar boasts a large room with table seating and comfortable loungers.
Drink this: the hard-to-find Hemingway Daiquiri ($16), made with 10 Cane rum, grapefruit, and Maraschino.
Long Island City
Where families get friendly.
10-09 50th Ave., nr. Vernon Blvd.; 718-361-8589
This spacious pub is kid-friendly and convivial, just a block from the subway, and feels so neighborhoody suburban that it’s easy to forget you’re in New York.
Drink this: Goose Island’s refreshing Sofie ale ($6).
47-18 Vernon Blvd., nr. 47th Rd.; 718-606-6500
For kids: high chairs and a special menu; for you: the same Bistro burger that they serve at the West Village original, sans the line out the door.
Drink this: McSorley’s ale on draft ($4.50).
46-15 Center Blvd.; 347-527-1038
A big, airy coffee store–bar hybrid with cozy couches, terrific espressos, and serious cocktails (from Dutch Kills partner Richard Boccato).
Drink this: a cocktail made with the house coffee liqueur ($14), like the Castaway, which blends rum and fresh pineapple juice, or the Dominicana, with aged rum and fresh cream.