Top bars in New York

Best New York bars

Home to a bunch of the world’s best bars, drinking is one of many industries where New York excels. Experience this vibrant scene firsthand with our holidays to New York, where the city's top-notch bars and nightlife are an essential part of the adventure.

  1. Death & Co
  2. Dante
  3. Dear Irving
  4. Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
  5. Angel’s Share
  6. Jimmy’s Corner
  7. Brandy Library
  8. Welcome to the Johnsons
  9. PJ Clarke’s
  10. The Dead Rabbit

There are, of course, the high-end cocktail bars where mixologists create drinks that are works of art.But New York bars come in every stripe: pubs, dives, beer gardens, speakeasies, exclusive hotel lounges and everything in between.As well as the legendary bars of Manhattan, many exciting and characterful places are popping up in the outer boroughs too – Williamsburg being near the top of the list.

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. Death & Co

A cocktail institution in Manhattan's East Village, Death & Co delivers a stylish speakeasy theme (bartenders in bow ties and braces) and a huge menu of lavish drinks. Try “Cloud Nine” (absinthe, rum, egg white and apple eau de vie) or “Clockwork Orange” (gin, vermouth, Mandarine Napoléon cognac and Mirabelle plum).

Best for: Theatrical drinks in eyebrow-raising vessels.

Borough: East Village

2. Dante

This cool black-and-white tiled Italian café was revived a century after it first opened, in 1915. And quite a revival it is: this Dante currently tops the list of the World’s Best 50 Bars. The all-day Greenwich Village bar-restaurant nails a modernised combination of wholesome Italian food, aperitivos and cocktails (Negronis a specialty).

Best for: Making like an Italian and setting aside time for “Aperitivo hour” in late afternoon.

Borough: South Village

3. Dear Irving

Up a flight of stairs on Union Square and behind an innocuous door, this speakeasy-lounge offers expertly made cocktails in a flashy setting. Its four rooms provide a sort of time-hop experience, from the JFK room to the French-inspired Marie Antoinette room. Tables come with a personal buzzer to ring for service.

Best for: A glamorous evening among chandeliers and gold-gilded stools.

Borough: Peter Cooper Village

4. Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden

Bars in New York aren’t all about the cocktails; they’re passionate about their beer too (you’ll find breweries and taprooms all over the state). This Czech bar in Astoria is the real deal, catering to old-timers and serving a good selection of pilsners as well as hard-to-find brews. Out the back, there’s a big beer garden, complete with picnic tables, trees, burgers and sausages.

Best for: Outdoor fun when the sun is shining.

Borough: Ditmars Steinway

5. Angel’s Share

This serene, Japanese-style haven in East Village is known for some of the best cocktails – and most elegant glassware - in the city. In a secret entrance through the Yokocho restaurant, and up the stairs. Inside is a sexy little speakeasy-style bar with a view of Stuyvesant Square

Best for: It’s a date place; groups of more than three are not allowed.

Borough: East Village

6. Jimmy’s Corner

You’d be hard pressed to find a more characterful dive than atmospheric Jimmy’s Corner, in Midtown between Broadway and Sixth Avenue. The walls of this long, narrow corridor of a bar, owned by an ex-fighter/trainer, make up a virtual Boxing Hall of Fame. Despite Times Square erupting around it since its opening in 1971, it’s kept its authentic charm and the drinks are still cheap.

Best for: Flicking through the jazz/R&B jukebox.

Borough: Times Square

7. Brandy Library

The drinks list is something to behold at this stylish lounge bar near Soho, with over 100 cocktails, rare single malt whiskeys and the signature cognacs. Rows of bottles lining the “bookshelves” and low lighting comes in the form of mini reading lamps.

Best for: A gentleman’s club atmosphere.

Borough: TriBeCa

8. Welcome to the Johnsons

All good New York holidays involve something a bit quirky: enter this 1970s-throwback dive bar, which is all about rockin’ out and chillin’ out. With faux-wood-paneled walls, a vintage brown fridge, sports-league trophies and a Ms. Pac-Man game, it feels more like your friend’s dad’s basement than a bar. In summer they put a mean margarita on the menu.

Best for: Good beers, great bartenders.

Borough: Lower East Side

9. PJ Clarke’s

One of the city’s most famous watering holes and a venerable institution, Third-Avenue saloon PJ Clarke’s makes a brilliant pitstop for a beer (although only Guinness is served in pints). With its giant mahogany bar, juke box and memorabilia of a long-gone age, it captures a golden era of New York neighbourhood bars. Its retro dining room out back features tables with red-and-white-checked cloths, where you can choose from a classic American menu.

Best for: A low-key pint and excellent snacks.

Borough: Midtown East

10. The Dead Rabbit

Their aim of “bringing the Irish Pub into the 21st century” is a bit of a humble brag, considered this is widely considered one of the world’s best bars. The two Belfast men behind it have certainly made a name for themselves. The fun bric-a-brac décor and comic-book menus belie their knack for a sensational, balanced cocktail.

Best for: A neighbourhood bar vibe with extra-special drinks.

Borough: Financial District/Seaport

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