Typically, when a bar is loud, that’s a good thing. But sometimes you just need a place where you can sit and talk to someone. That’s what these bars are for. All of these spots tend to stay pretty quiet, and they’re perfect for when you need to discuss things like your work life, your current relationship, or your theory as to why SpongeBob SquarePants’ pineapple house never decomposes.
Elsa is a Cobble Hill bar where you can make a reservation and have drinks surrounded by Art Deco light fixtures and neighborhood people on dates. It’s perfect for any type of one-on-one situation, especially because it’s attractive in the sort of low-key way that’s impressive without making it look like you tried too hard. They serve a few snacks like a meat and cheese plate, but mostly, you should just be drinking their cocktails. Which are excellent.
Raines Law Room is speakeasy-like bar in the basement of a townhouse near Union Square, and we’ve actually been shushed here before. In retrospect, we were probably being a little noisy, and we appreciate the fact that they like to keep things civilized. So if you want to drink a very good cocktail and have a conversation in a dark room with couches and armchairs, try this place. As an added bonus, there’s a patio in the back that most people don’t seem to know about. Just be sure to make a reservation here, or be prepared to wait.
You can’t stand at Hotel Delmano. Well, you can, but not while you drink. And to do that, you have to get seated by a host - a policy that keeps things from getting too out of hand. This Williamsburg bar consists of a few small, dark rooms that feel like they were constructed roughly a century ago, plus some little tables outside in the summertime. Wherever you sit, it’s perfect for a date when you’d like to actually hear what your companion is saying, and also eat some prosciutto or oysters while listening.
If your date on the LES goes well, there are plenty of spots where you can go afterward to drink tequila and forget that you don’t like to dance. But first, you need a place to get to know one another without shouting over people singing along to ’90s pop songs. That’s where The Dancer comes in. This is a low-key bar where you can have a very good cocktail while trying to decide if you like this person enough to take shots with them at 169 Bar around the corner.
Hartley’s is a very nice Irish pub in Clinton Hill, and it’s the sort of place where the bartender will know half the people drinking at any given time. Mostly that’s because it’s tiny - but it’s also very much a neighborhood spot. It’s on the first floor of a small brick apartment building, and if you spend time in the area, it should be your go-to spot for a quiet beer with a friend. There’s also some food like soda bread and beef stew made with Guinness, in case you’d like to pretend you’re on a culinary tour of Ireland.
As a rule, wine bars tend to be pretty quiet. Maybe that’s because things stay a little calmer when shots and cocktails aren’t involved, or maybe it’s because people like to talk about their wine, and you can’t do that while a DJ is exploring the discography of Diplo. Either way, Lois is no exception. It’s a small wine bar in Alphabet City where all the wines are on tap, and while it does get pretty busy here, it’s never too loud for you to speak at a normal volume. This place also earns bonus points for looking like a Scandinavian coffee shop.
This dark wine bar in Williamsburg is romantic, but not like the white-tablecloth spot you went to for your six-month anniversary - more like the living room of a real old house in Tuscany, complete with wooden tables, beams across the low ceiling, and baskets and tapestries on the walls. It’s a great place to share a carafe of Italian wine with a date. Sit at the four-seat bar or any of the candlelit tables, and chat (quietly) about the house-cured charcuterie you want to order.
Your apartment would be a good place to have a conversation with someone, if your roommates hadn’t decided to host a Mario Kart tournament in your living room. Get out and go to Jadis, which basically looks like an apartment that was turned into a wine bar. The all-brick space has a lounge area with bookshelves and leather couches, plus some small candlelit tables. And there are 30 wines available by the glass, all of which are more appetizing than the half-empty Red Bull cans currently decorating your coffee table.
Maybe you need to decide when version 2.6.1 of your app is going live - or maybe you finally agreed to get a drink with that person you met at the coffee bar in your WeWork. Whatever the reason, 68 Jay (which is just a couple blocks away from the archway and the water) should be your spot for after-work conversations in Dumbo. They keep the music pretty low, and even during Happy Hour, it’s always relaxed enough to have a casual conversation.
Your boss just handed you a new project, which means you need to postpone that long weekend trip with your significant other to a B&B/working goat farm upstate. Go to Hops Hill, a casual bar in Clinton Hill, where you can break the news while at least drinking some very good beer. You should be able to get seats at the long bar or one of the counters along the walls, and if you want something stronger than beer, they have a big whiskey selection as well.
Dick & Jane’s in Fort Greene is tiny. It has a couple of tables and a bar with about 10 seats, and that’s it. Obviously it isn’t great for groups, but if you’re looking for a dimly-lit place where you can sit really close to someone and have a cocktail, this is a great option. And despite the fact that it’s the size of a nice walk-in closet, you should be able to get a seat here pretty easily.
During the day, Upright Brew House is a coffee shop where you can eat a pastry, drink a latte, and work on volume three in your series of unfinished novels. But at night, you can sit at the bar (or a table in the back) and drink a glass of wine or one of the many craft beers they serve. Overall, this place is perfect when you’re looking for a low-key spot to drink in the West Village - and if you’re hungry, there’s also a full dinner menu with options like nachos and a burger.
You’re looking for a quiet place to drink in Park Slope, which means there’s a reasonable chance you also have some children you’re trying to avoid for a few hours. Brookvin, a simply decorated bar with a long list of wines available by the glass, carafe, or bottle, is a good place to do it. Hang out with friends at a table in the back garden surrounded by string lights and greenery, or, if you want to talk to someone your own age but forgot to actually make any plans, sit at the bar and ask the servers for wine recommendations.
The Bad Old Days looks like a really nice dorm room or the common area of one of the Hogwarts houses: it’s just one little room in Ridgewood with some couches, bookshelves, board games, and a fireplace. It’s perfect for when you need to catch up with someone while you sit on a stool and play Connect Four, and they do a great Happy Hour that involves $5 well drinks and $5 beer-and-shot combos.