NYCGuide

The Best Bars In Williamsburg

All the Williamsburg bars that are actually worthy of your time, money, and hangover.

The Best Bars In Williamsburg guide image

photo credit: Liz Clayman

There are a million bars in Williamsburg, and that's only barely an exaggeration. Fortunately, we're here to help you narrow down your drinking options. Whether you want to grab a casual beer, have a first date, or play some cornhole before joining a dance party, you'll find the appropriate venue right here on this list.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Liz Clayman

Bar Blondeau review image

Bar Blondeau

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The team behind Le Crocodile opened this flashy French wine bar six floors above their Williamsburg restaurant on the bottom floor of the Wythe Hotel. Bar Blondeau is full of green velvet banquettes and wooden two-tops where you can snack on tuna tartare, order several rounds of oysters, and take in some great views of the Manhattan skyline with friends. You can also choose a bottle from their natural wine list—full of up-and-coming wine regions around the world—to enjoy on their large outdoor terrace.

Blinky’s has what a lot of the neighborhood’s citizens want right now: a backyard crawling with ivy, regularly scheduled DJ sets and comedy shows, and a sassy drink menu with high school yearbook superlatives listed below each cocktail. Whether you identify with the passionfruit daiquiri “Biggest Flirt,” blue cosmopolitan “Class Clown,” or neither because you believe superlatives are limiting, come here with a few friends and sit in the backyard while you discuss who Blinky might be. (The answer is the owner’s cat.) We’ve noticed things start to get busy around 8pm on weeknights, so plan accordingly.

Horses And Divorces is a Williamsburg bar that looks like it’s from the 1970s. It’s a long, dark room with vinyl booths and vintage stained glass light fixtures, and all the way in the back there’s a big portrait of a naked Burt Reynolds. There’s also a pool table, a jukebox, and a decent list of draft beers. So bring a few friends for a relatively quiet drink, or stop by when you’re looking for a not-overcrowded place to kill a few hours on a Saturday night. Get a round at the bar, then just hang out in a corner and pretend you’re an extra in the movie Dazed and Confused.

Going to Sauced in Williamsburg sort of feels like hanging out at a friend’s garden apartment—if that friend happened to collect and study hundreds of bottles of French, Spanish, and Italian wine. There’s technically no menu here. Instead, all you need to do is tell the friendly staff a bit about what you like to drink (or what you’re excited to try for the first time). Whether you’re looking for a single glass, a $35 bottle, or something vintage that predates many Williamsburg inhabitants, the people at Sauced are going to bring you something delicious every time.

If you want a view, go to Westlight. This is the bar at the top of the William Vale Hotel, and it’s the best place in Williamsburg to drink a good cocktail and stare at the Manhattan skyline. It feels a little more like Soho than Williamsburg, however, so expect a crowd of well-dressed people and a line to get in at peak times. (If you want to avoid that, make a reservation.) Bring a friend who’s visiting from out of town. They’ll be impressed.

Masquerade is a bar where you'll find underground DJs and your typical Williamsburg crowd wearing short fringes and dirty white sneakers. But the Iranian cocktails and food bring something truly new to the neighborhood. They currently have a short menu of mezze like hot-pink mast-o-laboo and creamy kashk o bademjoon, which comes with sangak bread from beloved New Jersey Persian bakery Gandom. We especially love the small mound of crispy tahchin and its yolky, custard-like inside.

There are about 100 different cocktail spots in Williamsburg, but Fresh Kills might be the best (top five, at the very least). It’s unpretentious, but the cocktails are top-of-the-line, and every bartender knows what they’re doing. So even if you don’t know what you want, they’ll figure it out with a few questions. Swing by with a few friends, and claim one of the booths. Or stop by with a date. This place gets crowded, but not in the packed-and-sweaty way.

Skinny Dennis is a honkey-tonk-themed dive bar, and it’s where you go to stand around and drink cheap beer with friends. They also have live music sometimes, so check the schedule if that’s what you’re looking for. Expect this place to be packed at peak hours, however, and take note of the little blue-and-white paper cups people are carrying around. These contain a slushy, boozy coffee beverage. By all means, order one.

Ba’sik is where you go for a relatively quiet night with friends. It might be busy (and it might even be hard to find a seat), but this isn’t the sort of place where people shotgun beers and use the bathroom exclusively in pairs. It’s just a nice, smallish bar with a minimalist design and a surprisingly decent selection of bar food. If it’s warm out, you should be in the backyard. It’s bigger than you'd expect, and it’s perfect for a first date (although maybe bring some bug spray).

It isn’t just a name. They actually allow dogs here. So if you love dogs, but your landlord won’t let you have one, or if you want to use your dog to get yourself a date, check this place out. Lucky Dog is a dive bar on Bedford Ave where you’ll pretty much always see a canine. Dogs are not required, however. Most people just come here for the good beer selection, the nice backyard, and the laid-back vibes.

“Hard work pays off” applies to making it on the 30 Under 30 list and also to getting to the backyard of this divey queer bar. If you're willing to squeeze through a crowd, we highly recommend having a drink in the huge outdoor space. Inside, you'll find a small dance floor adjacent to the DJ, with a surrounding elevated platform that someone will inadvertently fall from sometime during the course of the night. Drinks are inexpensive, but anticipate a long line for the bathroom.

Live music is great. But live music at a bar can sometimes be annoying. Few spots do it right—and St. Mazie is one of them. The live music here (usually some type of swing or jazz) is usually awesome, and it adds to the feeling that you might have just stumbled into a bar in New Orleans sixty years ago. More reasons why we love this place: a great back patio, oysters, and occasional flamenco.

Baby’s All Right reminds us of the kind of bars in Austin where you can stop in, grab a drink, and casually catch some live music. Use Baby’s—a bar/restaurant/live music venue—when you’re sick of your same old bar routine and need to experience a little more action. Whether you end up seeing a show, having a dance party, or just casually eating and drinking, you can pretty much always count on Baby’s to be a good time.

One of Brooklyn’s original queer bars, Metropolitan is a straight-up dive, and it's always a fun choice. The drinks are cheap, the (tiny) dance floor is usually packed, and on Sundays in the summer they've been known to use their back garden to host free BBQs. Because meeting people is even better when burgers are involved.

Yes, it might still be the only place Manhattan interns know about in Williamsburg, but you know what? Radegast is still pretty great. The giant space makes it ideal for any big group gathering, there’s always a solid day drinking scene, and the grill counter at the back offers up sausages that are much better than they need to be. We might roll our eyes at Radegast sometimes, but we’ll never be mad at it.

It’s impossible to come here and not order the fried chicken. So don't try to fight it. Get that fried chicken, and grab one of the signature frozen house cocktails while you're at it. It can be a crowded mess here (especially late-night), but this divey place happens to be a neighborhood institution, and all that fried chicken will give you the stamina to push through the crowds.

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Turkey's Nest Tavern

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If someone described Turkey’s Nest to you, you’d probably assume it was a college bar in one of those Midwestern states that starts with a vowel. It’s a total dive complete with both a pool table and Buck Hunter, and they serve their drinks in huge styrofoam cups that are known for being easy to take on-the-go, perhaps into McCarren Park. Not that we’ve ever done that.

“I JUST WANNA DANCE!” is the drunken rallying cry that results in 98% of nights out in Williamsburg ending at Union Pool. If your group wants to get down, this is the place to do it. That said, there’s also plenty of space on the outdoor patio for people who would rather stoically sip their beers and/or have drunken heart-to-hearts. Come before 11pm, or risk having to wait in line in order to get in.

Spuyten Duyvil is the ultimate Williamsburg beer snob bar. While the craft beer options are impressive (i.e., we haven’t heard of any of them), this place is surprisingly unpretentious, and there's a great back patio for when you want to drink outside in the summer. The indoor area can get crowded, so we wouldn’t recommend it for a group outing.

Night of Joy is a perpetually-dark bar full of old couches and antique decor, and the last time you were here, you were on a Tinder date. Probably. We highly recommend this intimate, relatively inexpensive spot for any casual first dates, and the second-story rooftop is a great spot to hang out for an hour or two when it's warm out.

Another date-night classic, Hotel Delmano is Williamsburg’s best third-date bar. This is not where you bring some person you’ve never met before. This is where you come when you want to seem like a Williamsburg insider and have a fantastic time with someone you already know and (hopefully) like. Everything about this place—from the excellent (albeit expensive) drinks to the speakeasy-ish atmosphere—is impressive. This is where the magic happens, people.

Apologies to all other neighborhoods of New York, but Williamsburg really has you beat on the solid rooftop bars count. We’ve spent many an afternoon here, and the McCarren park-adjacent location is ideal for when you need to walk off your buzz.

Rocka Rolla has all the fun parts of a dive bar (classic rock, cheesy decor) without the bad parts of a dive bar (bathroom smells and general filth). Like many Williamsburg bars, Rocka Rolla is also nice and spacious, so it’s a fun place to come with a group. Play some pool, and drink from the giant beer goblets.

Maison Premiere is one of NYC’s true adult funhouses where you can drink an absolutely perfect cocktail while enjoying all of the raw bar offerings your heart desires. For a cocktails-and-oysters night in Williamsburg, this retro, New Orleans-inspired spot should be your move.

Freehold is a work/hangout space by day and a bar/venue by night. It's sort of like a big hotel lobby bar, but without the hotel. The space is giant and hangar-like, and it includes several large rooms and an outdoor area where people play corn hole. No, we’re not on Frat Row, we’re in Willliamsburg. But Freehold is proof that those two things aren’t that different anymore. Expect a line to get in on weekends.

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