296 Bleecker St., at Barrow St., second fl.; 212-675-6157
The “secret” sports pub atop Five Guys recently transformed into a skylighted bar (enter at the back of the burger joint). Weekends get crowded with West Village scenesters and NYU-ers pounding Cajun fries; downing beers from Brooklyn and Newburgh breweries; and admiring curios like a faux rhinoceros head. Be careful of the bathroom door when drunkenly exiting: Just one of the knobs (there are 90 of them) works.
157 Bleecker St., nr. Thompson St.; 212-260-1700
This 6,700-square-foot Italian spot is a respite on the NYU-beer-bro strip. Chalkboard menus offer a mostly Italian wine selection (almost all available by the glass, half-bottle, and bottle). Fans of the old tenant, Kenny’s Castaways, take note: There’s live music downstairs. You’ll find a subdued cocktail lounge upstairs.
Burning Waters Cantina
116 Macdougal St., nr. Minetta Ln.; 646-707-0078
643 Broadway, nr. Bleecker St. 212-253-7467
These cavelike basement cocktail dens offer top-notch drinks. BWC specializes in light, summery tipples poured over crushed ice. At Sweetwater Social, order the rum-, lime-, and demerara-based Lively Up.
502 Franklin Ave., nr. Fulton St.; 347-529-1944
1112 Bedford Ave., nr. Quincy St.; no phone
This sister to the Mission Dolores pinball-and-beer bar dynasty offers loads of neat drafts like Evil Twin’s Low Life pilsner and Slyboro Hidden Star. Plus, there’s monthly suds-themed trivia with the Beerded Ladies. Dynaco, a Do or Dine–adjacent spot, has an excellent beer list and what may compete for the title of city’s Best Chocolate Cake in a Dive Bar.
370 Tompkins Ave., at Putnam Ave.; 347-915-1080
The sister and neighbor bar to the Bed-Vyne Wine shop has a cabinlike feel and offers some 18 wines by the glass, including exciting pours like a chocolate-and-cherry-accented Aglianico and a Portuguese sparkling rosé from Luís Pato, among other weekly changing options. Bar stools are often occupied by beer and vino obsessives stopping by for a tasting or locals relaxing on the porch. There’s also a DJ station—things can get raucous on weekends.
1088 Fulton St., at Claver Pl.; 347-240-3350
Vibe to Fleetwood Mac records and swig drinks like the Loneliness, a pickled-tomato martini, from refreshingly unpretentious bartenders. The décor’s understated, too, but has a natural, Southwest feel (wall-hung woven rugs; candles). In the backyard garden there’s more seating, and later this season there’ll be Ping-Pong. Food—Morris Truck’s grilled cheeses—is served late into the evening.
Lower East Side
Antler Beer & Wine Dispensary
123 Allen St., nr. Delancey St.; 212-432-5000
Head here for a small brew list that offers some unusuals, like Avery White Rascal and Allagash Curieux Tripel, and bar snacks. The bar area has a rough-around-the-edges look; in back, the walls are papered with old Chinese newspapers. Plus: Jenga and Star Trek pinball.
Thelma on Clinton
29A Clinton St., nr. Stanton St.; 212-979-8471
The redo of the old Salt Bar gave the space a cleaner, airier feel. The wine list is expansive for the LES; pair mostly European wines, like Amizade’s medium-bodied 2010 Godello from Monterrei, with a special carried over from Salt: $1 oysters, daily till 8 p.m.
171 E. Broadway, nr. Rutgers St.; 212-933-1176
120 Rivington St., nr. Essex St., basement; 212-466-3361
Rosette’s flower-lantern-adorned front room is the area’s best spot for a well-crafted cocktail you can sip in peace (and classics like margaritas and French 75s are just $10). The evening’ll be rowdier at Nitecap, a cheeky-menu’d (Rodney Dangerfield quotes; a playful how-to-pick-up-fellow-drinkers guide) belowground offering from Natasha David (Donna) and Death & Co. owners David Kaplan and Alex Day.
The Brew Inn
924 Manhattan Ave., at Kent St.; 718-576-3345
Dirck the Norseman
7 N. 15th St., at Franklin St.; 718-389-2940
At the Brew Inn, a cozy 30-tap craft-beer bar, the draft offerings (Bluepoint Hoptical Allusion, Fire Island Lighthouse Ale) are primarily from New York State, and Brooklyn is spelled out in thumbtacks on the bar stools. You can, however, snack on Australian-style savory pies. Nearby, the gargantuan brewpub Dirck the Norseman has international suds and batches of its own wheat beer, pale ale, and brown porter.
180 West St., at Green St.; 347-987-3666
The Tarlow empire’s new venture is a casual bar in a former ’60s-era tavern. While the cocktails are impressive, Tarlow wine power-woman Lee Campbell has curated an especially strong list including Luneau-Papin Muscadet and Piollot Champagne that go well with oysters or clams from the raw bar.
The Moonlight Mile
200 Franklin St., at India St.; 718-389-3904
American whiskey is the booze of choice at this rock-and-roll bar named for the confessional Rolling Stones song. There are over 140 varieties of whiskey, an assortment of themed whiskey flights, and innovative whiskey cocktails pepped up with housemade bitters.