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The best bars in New York City: Our top picks

Here's where to belly up to the bar in NYC

The Quixote Bar.
Mark Stock / The Manual

If you’re known as The City That Never Sleeps, you probably have a few good bars to your name. New York is the ultimate beehive, going strong regardless of the borough or time of day. That makes for a pretty rich NYC bar culture.

Sure, there are trending establishments that draw huge lines—look at you, Double Chicken Please. But there are also excellent dives, tremendous wine bars, and watering holes that make you reexamine the definition of a great cocktail.

Here are the best bars in NYC.

Attaboy

Cocktails at Attaboy.

There’s nothing quite like Attaboy. From the nondescript door with a tiny sign written in stickers outside to the lack of written material inside, the place is shrouded in mystery. At the bar, you’ll enjoy some of the best cocktails imaginable, made from memory by skilled barkeeps operating under your flavor and spirit preferences. All the details- fresh juices, house-made mixtures and tinctures, impeccable service, superior lighting and minimalistic interior, and music- make for a singular and truly spectacular bar experience. There are no reservations and you can usually count on a line but it’s well worth the wait.

Death & Co

Death & Co NYC.
Mark Stock / The Manual

Now famous, thanks to some incredible craft cocktail recipes (and fine cocktail books), Death & Co started in NYC. The East Village haunt is dark and moody, with a long cocktail list that appeals to every palate type. The presentation is gorgeous, and while the snacks are mostly meh, the drinks are deftly engineered, utilizing unexpected ingredients and lesser-known liqueurs before they go viral.

Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Bar Compagnie in New York.
Facebook/Bar Compagnie / Compagnie des Vins

About to open its second location in NYC, Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels is a model wine bar. The place is an excellent example of a bar that’s more than a bar — an arena in which you converse, learn, enjoy, laugh, and come away with a new favorite wine varietal. You’ll want to be a usual here right from the start. Please put your trust in the informed staff and let them guide you to a great glass pour from regions like Alto Adige or Long Island.

Katana Kitten

Katana Kitten interior.

Home of Japanese-inspired cocktails and tremendous bar food, Katana Kitten is a must in NYC. The aesthetic strikes an ideal balance between casual and higher-end, and the energy at the bar is palpable. Go for the Highballs, stay for the nori fries and mortadella katsu sandwich. Also, the shochu cocktails are outstanding, and the Amaretto Sour is one of the best we’ve had.

Julius

Cocktail

The city’s oldest gay bar is a classic, set in Grenich Village and dating back to 1864. Not always technically a gay bar, Stonewall changed that in the mid-60s and the place has been a favorite hangout spot since. Expect a warm atmosphere and solid drinks in a building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. You can feel the presence of icons like Truman Capote, who once frequented the place.

Sharlene’s

boilermaker
Sam Slaughter/The Manual / The Manual

The ultimate dive bar, Sharlene’s, is a Brooklyn wonder. Locals recall that the location has just about always been a bar of some kind, but the most recent installment is the best version yet. Creative types like to come here, drawn to the agreeable priced food and drink. Go with a beer and a shot, and grab a burger if you’re hungry. And don’t forget to peruse the jukebox.

Sip & Guzzle

Sip&Guzzle bar in NYC.
Sip&Guzzle / Sip&Guzzle

This new bar near NYU and Washington Square Park checks all the boxes. Sip&Guzzle features a duo of venues aptly named Sip and Guzzle. Both feature great bites inspired by the bar culture of Tokyo and an impressive list of spirits ranging in variety.

I look forward to tremendous infusions and crafty cocktails utilizing things like Japanese whisky and sake. The feel is like a sophisticated izakaya and that’s enough to keep us coming back time and time again.

Bar Calico

Bar Calico NYC.
Bar Calico / Bar Calico

Inspired by the American Southwest, Bar Calico is a fetching spot in the Flat Iron District of Manhattan. That means great drinks made with agave spirits like sotol and tequila. Try the Machu Picchu, made with Pisco, Midori, aloe vera, citrus, and mint, or the Georgia Bonita, made with hatch chili-infused Angel’s Envy Bourbon, Capelletti, pineapple, pecan orgeat, and lime.

Be sure to patronize one (or all) of the above next time you’re in the Big Apple. And if you’re still thirsty, check out our features on the best bars in America and the best rooftop bars in the land. Just take your time and opt for a DD or taxi.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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