The Day Drinking Guide
The best NYC bars for having a few drinks while most people are still working.
There’s a time and a place for day drinking. The time is generally the day, and the places are the ones on this guide. Here are the spots where you can get a daytime drink and not feel like you’re hiding from a loan shark. For the most part, these bars A) open relatively early and B) have outdoor seating. And if a bar on this list doesn’t have outdoor seating, it should at least have a few big windows through which you can possibly get some vitamin D. Take a look at this list, and find your new go-to spot for drinking during the day.
Spritzenhaus is kind of like a vacation home in the mountains - it’s a great spot to hang out both when it’s snowing and when it’s sunny. During the colder months, this Greenpoint beer hall feels like a ski lodge, and it’s a good place to drink beers by the fireplace while playing giant Jenga. When the weather gets nice, they open up the garage-style windows, and put tables out front, where you can still play giant Jenga if you insist.
There are a lot of spots to day drink by the water, and some of them have nice views of things like downtown Manhattan, The Statue of Liberty, and, well, the water. Only a couple of those places have enough room for a big group, and if you also want to drink something better than watered down vodka sodas or $9 light beers, then your options are narrowed down to City Vineyard. The huge roofdeck of this spot on the Hudson River running path in Tribeca has a ton of seating and standing room, and they serve their own wines on tap, which are better and less expensive than anywhere else with these kinds of views.
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photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Everyone immediately said yes when you asked your text chain to day drink, but when you asked for suggestions, you got no responses except for two friends who said “something outside.” You could send out 10 specific ideas, and then bail on the whole thing after they all get shot down, or you could just meet at Harlem Tavern, a huge spot that should please just about everyone. There’s a ton of seating both inside and outside, with TVs, good bar food, frozen cocktails, and pitchers of any of the 30 beers on tap.
Sweet and Vicious
Sweet and Vicious isn’t the sort place you bring someone to prove that you’re a person of substance who can do classy things, but we like it anyway. It’s a divey space, but it’s big, there are plenty of seats, and the drinks are relatively cheap (for Soho). Also, they open at noon every day. We wouldn’t recommend you come here in the daytime and drink inside (that might be sad), but if it’s nice out, the backyard is a perfectly good place to drink a strong frozen margarita out of a mason jar.
If you really want to put yourself in vacation mode, go to Brooklyn Crab. It’s a three-floor seafood spot in Red Hook that feels like a place you’d find by the beach. Along with crab traps and fake sharks decorating the airy space overlooking the water, there’s cornhole out front and mini-golf in the backyard. When the whiskey-gingers start going to your head, get a table, put on a bib, and eat steam pots of crab with corn on the cob.
Boulton & Watt
The East Village and LES have about as many places to drink during the day as frat row at Arizona State, but most of them are dark bars that are either too empty or too packed. That’s why you should know about Boulton & Watt, a bar just off Houston that’s always busy, but never slammed - thanks to a big space with tons of seating. There are some picnic tables outside, but we actually like the indoor ones more, because the industrial windows keep it airy, and there are always people standing around interested in joining your game of Thumper.
Sisters looks like a Scandinavian wellness center, so even if you have two empty margaritas and a bowl of mac and cheese in front of you, you’ll still feel civilized day drinking here. During the week, this beautiful, high-ceilinged, wood and marble spot near The Brooklyn Museum is a good place for drinks while getting work done or having lunch meetings, and on weekends it fills up quickly with brunch crowds and stays busy throughout the day and night.
The Blind Tiger opens at 11:30am every day. We aren’t saying you should go there at 11:30am, but it’s kind of comforting to know that you can. Plus, there’s an excellent beer selection, and this place is one of the least-touristy bars you’ll find on Bleecker Street. Stop by the next time you’re giving someone a tour of the West Village and you need to take a breather. It’s a good spot to hang with a small group of friends, and it also has sports on TV.
The West—Coffeehouse & Bar
For whatever reason, your boss frowns down upon drinking in the middle of the day. But you’re not in the office, and you know that a couple of drinks spurs your creativity (or just makes hours of spreadsheets go by quicker). Check out The West, a cafe/bar hybrid in Williamsburg where you can get work done in the backyard while drinking one of the 12 beers on tap or anything else from the full bar. When your boss asks you to jump on a video conference for a few minutes, just splash some water on your face, order an espresso, and move to a table inside.
Once a month you have the same dream: It’s you in a field, chasing butterflies and rabbits and all the other animals that live in fields. What’s it mean? Probably that you should come here. Nowadays is a big outdoor bar in Ridgewood with a bunch of trees and picnic tables and even a little bit of grass. They also host the dance party called Mister Sunday on Sunday afternoons, and they now have an indoor space where you can drink when it rains.
With the exception of an NYU pregame on MacDougal and a break dancing circle in Washington Square Park, The Spaniard feels like a day party as much as any spot in Greenwich Village. The big horseshoe bar usually has crowds three-deep ordering bottles of wine or rounds of drinks for people they just met. Try to get one of the booths in the back room so that you can order some food and maybe even sit down.
Brooklyn Tap House
Some people in your group want to watch sports, while others feel like it’d be a waste to spend a beautiful afternoon in a dark bar surrounded by buffalo wing bones and wet naps. Make everyone happy by going to Brooklyn Tap House. This Bed-Stuy spot is one of the best sports bars in the city, with 40 beers on tap and about as many TVs than any of the electronics stores Amazon put out of business. It also has a big backyard, with a bunch of picnic tables, games, and a few big screens of its own.
You want to day drink by the water, but so does everyone else in the city, which makes most spots feel just as crowded and sweaty as the subway platforms you’re trying to get away from. But Anable Basin is at the end of a side street in a quiet part of Long Island City, so even though it’s on the East River overlooking Midtown, you’ll rarely have trouble finding room at one of the picnic tables in the big, all-outdoor space.
Where To Hang Out By The Water
Let’s face it - after a couple of drinks and a few hours in the sun, any plans you had to be productive later aren’t going to happen. So you may as well make a day of it. Take the ferry to Governors Island, and hang out on the water at Island Oyster. Get oysters and wine at a table overlooking downtown, and then walk around the giant, all-outdoor space, and play some cornhole or ping-pong with strangers.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
The Brooklyn Barge
Brooklyn Barge is the premier outdoor drinking spot in Greenpoint, and it’s even worth a little trip if you don’t live in the area. Because if you try to hang out on a boat in Manhattan, it’s either going to feel like a frat party or someone’s going to yell at you and tell you to stop trespassing on their boat. Brooklyn Barge, on the other hand, is just a nice low-key place to drink outdoors. Stop by, have a beer and a hot dog, and pretend this boat is somewhere other than the East River.
Maybe you tried to go to Brooklyn Barge, but then you saw the long line of 22-year-olds waiting out front and thought better of it. Fortunately, The Springs is only a few blocks away. The huge outdoor courtyard has tables and couches with table service, as well as a bar and a bunch of communal picnic tables. This place usually has about as many dogs as McCarren Park, so keep that in mind if you have one, or just want to pet someone else’s.
Whether you finished taking pictures of The Oculus earlier than expected, or it’s a Summer Friday and you’re the only one who actually came to work today - you’re in FiDi and you want to get some drinks while the sun’s out. Walk over to Industry Kitchen on the East River by the Seaport. If the weather’s nice, sit at a picnic table outside, but even if it’s not, the floor-to-ceiling windows provide the same views from the huge space inside.
The patio situation here is truly one of the best in the East Village, and it’s where you should go to drink rosé like it’s lime juice and your doctor just told you that you have scurvy. Just get a table outside, pretend you aren’t eavesdropping on the people around you, order some drinks (and French fries), and watch the less-day-drunk pedestrians walk down Bowery. Seeing as how this place is in the bottom of a hotel, you can start hanging out here as early as 7am. If they serve you alcohol that early, please take a photo and tag us.
Are you one of those people who constantly talks about their dog? Here’s a bar for you. It’s called Lucky Dog and you can, in fact, bring your dog here. So you won’t have to tell people how worried you are about your Mini Frenchi while you drink. Hang out inside and have one of the many beers on tap, or head out back and let your dog play with other dogs and maybe get you a date. This isn’t the nicest bar in the world, but it’s a novelty and a Williamsburg staple.
The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club
You aren’t going to get any sun or fresh air at Royal Palms, but it still sort of feels like you’re outside here. The space is huge, the whole place is retro-pool-party themed, and there are bunch of full-size shuffleboard courts. They tend to fill up pretty fast, but you can reserve them for groups of ten or more, and there are a lot of board games you can rent while you wait for a court. Royal Palms is only open during the day on Saturdays and Sundays, but it’s a classic daytime birthday spot.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
If Royal Palms is just too full, however, you can always try Threes Brewing. There’s no shuffleboard here, but there is a big backyard, and they have food like burgers and steak (from The Meat Hook). Threes opens at noon on weekends, and it’s perfect for either a big group hang or an outing with your kids. You can have a beer, and they can have some French fries.
Pod 39 Rooftop Bar
If the sun’s out, and you’re in Murray Hill, and there’s nothing remotely urgent you have to do, you should probably just get a drink here. If you come during the daytime, you might even be able to avoid the crowds (unless it’s a weekend), and they also serve some food. Plus, the roof looks great (with little wooden stools and brick arches), and it’s hands-down one of the least-worst places to drink in the area.
From the outside, this place looks the sort of place that’s been open since the 70s where you can eat free peanuts and watch a bar fight. But it isn’t actually like that. It might not be the fanciest place in the East Village, but D.B.A. does have a surprisingly large craft beer selection as well as an excellent backyard. Plus, they open at noon seven days a week. So the backyard is a good place to hide if you decide to leave work early on account of your not wanting to be there.
This classic outdoor spot in Gowanus is a good place to get your weekend started. Grab a table out back and eat a burger. And feel free to bring your friends (there’s plenty of space). Just know that it gets crowded in the late afternoon.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Bearded Lady has a lot going for it, and if you live in Prospect Heights, it should be your go-to day-drinking spot. In the summer, they put a few tables outside where you can sit and drink a (very good) house cocktail, and if it’s raining you can stay inside and play pool. There’s only one pool table, but that’s more than most bars. Overall, this place feels like a vaguely retro cocktail lounge, although it’s extremely casual. They also have some big windows that let in plenty of light, so you won’t feel like a vampire or a vampire-culture enthusiast if you come here in the afternoon.