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.
222 Ave. B, nr. 13th St.; 646-918-6700
Hidden behind barn doors in the back room of a sparkling new subway-tiled coffee shop is a beautiful secret: a sprawling beer-and-bourbon speakeasy with interesting draft offerings like Bell’s Kalamazoo stout or Empire’s British-American hybrid Amber Ale. Enjoy one under the dramatic pavilion skylights or take it to go in a growler.
115 Ave. C, nr. 8th St.; 917-475-1213
The owners have turned up the quirk at this new Japanese-and-Caribbean-accented restaurant-bar: They’ll hide your check in a book, and there’s wall art made from warped kitchen utensils. The wine list is curated by celebrity wine educator Steven Olsen, and there are 50 varieties, including many obscure selections from Olsen’s personal cellar.
13 First Ave., at 1st St.; 212-995-5151
This could have easily been too gimmicky (a ’70s–New York–themed bar). But the playful concept is well-executed, extending to the staff’s period dress and relaxed attitude; the Playboy-papered bathroom; and revamps of disco classics like the piña colada–and–strawberry purée–blending Lava Flow.
137 Sullivan St., nr. Houston St.; 212-533-1137
The newest from Matt Abramcyk is an airy and bright seafood restaurant that keeps its bar open till two for Soho-ers seeking a sleek place to pour one back. Rotating beer offerings include the Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout, Coronado’s Idiot IPA, and a Sly Fox lager on draft. As the name suggests, the décor has a maritime feel (distressed wooden floors painted white; blue-and-white-tiled counters arranged in ship patterns).
La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
249 Centre St., nr. Broome St.; 212-343-3660
Six hundred wines are on offer at this new brick-walled wine bar from the Experimental Cocktail Club crew. The huge list offers bottles for high-rollers (a 2006 Château Cheval Blanc, $1,670) and bargain-seekers (a $39 bottle of Bedell’s 2011 First Crush Red from the North Fork) alike.
Handy Liquor Bar
527 Broome St., nr. Sullivan St.; 212-390-1705
Nightlife chieftain Matt Levine has revamped the seemingly doomed space that’s been home to the Dalloway, Lani Kai, and Tailor. There’s a new baby-grand piano, plus a fresh crop of the young and beautiful. Try cocktails like the Old Umbrella French 75, which blends the usual ingredients with a fennel simple syrup.
The Cannibal at Gotham West Market
600 11th Ave., nr. 45th St.; 212-582-7947
At the outpost of the Kips Bay restaurant in upscale food market Gotham West, you can hunt for rarely seen brews like Smuttynose Smuttlab’s spicy, citrusy Pure Biss wit beer. Nothing to prove? Just relax with a charcuterie board and a 40 of Miller High Life.
218 E. 53rd St., nr. Third Ave.; 212-355-6607
Doug Quinn’s bilevel riff on a classic New York saloon is named for his two sons and kitted out with an array of artifacts: a deer head, the storied owner’s bow-tie collection. Try a glass of its freshly released branded wine: Hudson Malone Elegant White or Rustic Red, from the Napa Valley.
403 W. 43rd St., nr. Ninth Ave. 212-602-1910
Jason Walsh’s cocktail den is very un-midtown: Scenes from films like Grease or Mildred Pierce are projected on the white brick walls; there are Edison bulbs galore, two vintage hand-operated ice machines, and a glass-enclosed atrium with retro-soda-shop-style awnings. An attractive young crowd nurses craft cocktails like a thyme-infused G-and-T featuring gin from Portland, or the Lavender Monk with ginger candy and Tito’s vodka.
The Grange Bar & Eatery
1635 Amsterdam Ave., nr. 141st St.; 212-491-1635
This 74-seat spot was designed to resemble a farmer’s kitchen with its reclaimed-wood exposed beams and local-ingredient-heavy menu, so it’s no surprise that its rotating craft-beer offerings are strong. Since it’s open until 4 a.m. every night, it’s quickly become a hot spot for local downtown-commuting bartenders seeking a cold brew on their way home.
The Park 112
2080 Frederick Douglass Blvd., nr. W. 113th St.; 646-524-6610
Hip-hop and sports exec Lewis Tucker wanted to channel the LES in his childhood stomping grounds, and the result is a buzzy shared-plates restaurant-bar with a globe-trotting selection of bubbles, reds, and whites. Be sure to make a reservation on Sundays—post-church brunch gets wild.
206 W. 118th St., nr. St. Nicholas Ave.; 212-243-2222
The decades-old jazz club has been resurrected for the second time in less than ten years. There’s a house band and standout cocktails like a classically prepared mint julep. (They’re just as good at the Cecil, Minton’s next-door sister, a second option if the jazz club’s too busy.)
Long Island City
Dutch Kills Centraal
38-40 29th St.; 718-606-8651
American draft beers accompany a modern-comfort-food menu at this quaint gastropub with lamppost light fixtures, a 1940s wooden bar, and a tiled floor. Thursday and Friday nights are packed with a friendly local crowd mingling with Euro tourists from the bevy of nearby hotels.
41-26 Crescent St.; 718-784-5065
This little wine-and-cheese bar may be the only one in the city that lets you open a bottle of Champagne with a sword (sign a waiver, and the staff will guide you through a hands-on sabering tutorial). There’s a range of white, red, green, and pink wine (one of the owners is a trained sommelier) and regular events like karaoke Saturdays.
Front Toward Enemy
40-11 30th Ave.; 718-545-2269
38-02 29th St.; 718-606-2468
The precisely made drinks at Front Toward Enemy rival those of top Manhattan boozeries; cocktails are labeled with a grenade (stronger) or parachute (more refreshing, like the Rockefeller, a Dark and Stormy variant). Food is served all day, and happy hour has $9 cocktails. If caipirinhas are more your speed, head to Brazilian restaurant-bar Beija Flor.
Black Bear Bar
70 N. 6th St., nr. Wythe Ave.; no phone
104 S. 4th St., nr. Bedford Ave.; 718-599-0412
The latest venture from Jessica Wertz (No Name Bar, Lone Wolf), Black Bear Bar is a sprawling warehouse-y affair outfitted with motorcycle parts and a thrash-metal soundtrack. Standard draft beers like Pacifico and Brooklyn Lager can be paired with shots. Alternatively, geek out at the hood’s new ’70s-style outpost of Broome Street’s Randolph, where there are 12 taps and a serious list of American craft brews.
The Grand Bar and Grill
647 Grand St., nr. Leonard St.; 718-782-4726
At East Williamsburg’s prettiest new gastropub, New York–focused wine offerings from the Finger Lakes and City Winery come on tap. The construction project was headed by the Isa team: Think old fire extinguishers repurposed as draft-wine towers. The staff are mostly regulars at the bar’s grimy sister, the Second Chance Saloon, and they’ll warmly help you navigate the drinks list and food menu: The short-rib-and-brisket cheeseburger with caper mayo is a must.
Bar Below Rye
247 S. 1st St., nr. Roebling St.; 718-218-8047
229 Kent Ave., nr. N. 1st St.; 718-782-8500
The secret-feeling BBR has a low ceiling and music courtesy of DJs like Inbetween, who spins mostly ’50s and ’60s jams. There’s a clever special—bottle service of pre-batched Old Fashioneds (which, at $50, can serve about six people). If you’d like to see sunlight while you imbibe, head to Grand Ferry, home to stiff drinks like the tequila-and-amaro-based Captain Badass and a newly opened patio.
Upper East Side
303 E. 85th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-249-1509
Five Mile Stone
1640 Second Ave., at 85th St.; 212-933-0913
Pressed-tin ceilings and concealed TVs give the beer-and-bourbon-focused Bondurants a quiet dignity. To soak up the beers (the list rotates; recently, it included a group of hard-to-find Sierra Nevadas like the Ovila Quad), there are plates with a southern lilt. If you’re seeking a frattier liveliness, move next door to Five Mile Stone, which offers a New Orleans–esque outdoor balcony.
1591 First Ave., nr. 83rd St.; 212-249-4080
The companion bar to Italian stalwart Felice offers daily specials that make this a perfect spot for a wine nightcap (Wednesday is $6-glass night) or something more committed (on Tuesdays, all bottles are 25 percent off). The bar feels like a classy piano bar, minus the piano, or an Italian café: clean lines, shiny metal bar stools, and wooden tables.
1561 Second Ave., at 81st St.; 212-734-8800
338 E. 92nd St., nr. First Ave.; 646-998-4600
The Gilroy’s conceit (Negroni-themed bar) may be hokey, but the drinks are solid; try the Oaxaca Negroni, which subs mezcal for gin. Or head to Drunken Munkey to take in classic Indian films and try the paanch of the week (the Hindi word for five, from which “punch” originated).