W15th Recommends | New York Drinks Guide


{photo taken at The Beach – the pool bar at Dream Hotel, Meatpacking}

It goes without saying that New York has an abundance of drinking establishments to suit all needs and wants. From dive bars to jazz bars, glam bars and secret bars, cocktail bars or sometimes just a really good pub-kinda-bar. Another factor for consideration when getting your drinking shoes on is seasonality. Summertime is all about the rooftops and Wintertime is for cosiness. Obviously.

A few tips. First bit of advice is actually about tips, for those who don’t know, it’s customary in USA to tip the bar staff for every drink you have. Regardless if you’re on a tab or paying piece-meal, the rule of thumb is $1 per drink at least. I tend to stick to $1 per beer and if there’s something more fancy like a cocktail, i’ll make it $2.

My second piece of advice is to make sure you take photo ID out with you everywhere. If you haven’t got it, you won’t get in to most places, there’s no such thing as sweet talking a bouncer here. Finally, the hosts at some of New York’s scene bars can be complete morons (just being honest), but it’s all part of the NY charm. As long as you apply the water and duck’s back mentality, you’ll be hot-stepping your way around New York all footloose and fancy free having an absolute corker of a time.

Wilfie & Nell – West Village. This is our all-time favourite drinking hole. We found this place while wondering through the village last Christmas Eve. It was postcard pretty with snowy streets, Christmas greenery and fairy lights surrounding their outdoor windows. There’s a rustic, old school pub feel inside with big old chunky tables that random people gather around, so you can often share a table with people you don’t know, but never feels awkward.

The bar snacks are so good (order the Scotch eggs and Pate!) and the drinks menu offers a great choice. Everything from their cocktails to porter and wine list are really yummy. We loved it so much after our first visit that we went back there in the evening on Christmas Eve and bought tickets for their New Years Eve party (and needless to say consider it our regular). At Christmas time this place as a really festive atmosphere. But the crowd and vibe is always amazing year-round. Real locals in a real local pub with that New York edge, just so you remember you’re in Manhats.

Top of The Standard – Meatpacking. This place is opulent, fancy and can be a little bit snooty, but it’s a total hit and I always take friends here for an (expensive) cocktail (about $20 a pop). But the slap-yourself-in-the-face view of New York, with a live Jazz band and/or singer makes it worth it. It’s one of these places where you have to go to the bathroom – even if you just go for a freshen up, make use of the facilities, you won’t be disappointed!

What’s great about TOTS is the rooftop option during summer, but the main gold and glistening cocktail bar is completely undercover, which makes it a year-round hit. There’s some dress code restrictions, so check those out (the main thing is to make sure you don’t wear trainers). Prepare yourself for a sparkliscious time, my lovelies!

Employees Only – Lower East Side. If you’re enamored with the roaring 20’s and prohibition era then New York has many, many options for you. I haven’t made my way around all of them just yet but of the handful I’ve been to Employees Only stands out and therefore has made it to my fav drinks list. It’s energetic and loud, you can eat in the teeny tiny restaurant at the back (food is great by the way) but it’s also worth coming in for the inventive cocktails, excessive atmosphere and hipster crowd. I want to put some sequins and red lippy on and get a coupe in my hand just thinking about it!

Hotel Chantelle – Lower East Side. I went to HC for my birthday after reading the rooftop “transports you to a Parisian garden”. Tick, I was sold! And boy oh boy, it was a super fun night! There’s actually three floors at HC, all offering a different kind-of-party, from the sophisticated Parisian rooftop with really good dance music down to the den, which as you’d expect has a heavier and grimier vibe.

We actually moved down from the rooftop as it was so loud and busy you couldn’t talk as a group (old fart alert!), so we went to the lobby on the middle floor and then went back up to dance under the stars and drink lemon drops. This is a bit of a scene bar so the door can get busy. Call to make a guestlist if there’s a group of you to ensure you can all get in. Ooh, there’s a happy hour between 5-8pm Tuesday to Sundays and if you like to have fancy bottle service, they offer that too. This is a winner!

Marie’s Crisis Cafe – West Village. This is a showstopper. Literally. It’s a small, dive-y, gay piano bar that’s quite simply a man playing a piano with people stood around said piano drinking and singing their lungs out to songs from Broadway musicals. The talent in the room is seriously amazing, there are lots of locals who just know what they’re doing – harmonies and all. It’s pretty awesome when you hear the intro to a popular musical you know and can sing along (they play songs from a really wide variety of shows, it’s for the die-hard Broadway fans, not just those who like Grease and some Mama Mia). There’s a wicked dollar pizza place just next door so when you stumble out, you can re-fuel.

I’ll have a whiskey sour and meet you at the bar.

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