The NYC Bar Hit List: The Best New Bars In NYC
Where to drink right now in New York City.
In order to help you figure out which new restaurants you should go to in NYC, we created The Hit List. It’s a guide to the very best of all the new openings we check out across the city. As always, we visit each and every single place highlighted, and write about what to order, when to go, and why we love it.
Now we’re doing the same thing for bars. Yes, we’ve taken on the (very challenging) task of drinking at New York’s newest spots. From bars where you can dance to wine bars and breweries, here are all the recently-opened places where you should grab a drink.
photo credit: William Jess Laird
Jac's on Bond
The hottest place to stand awkwardly with a drink is currently the area around the staircase in the middle of Jac’s on Bond. This Noho bar (in the old Smile space) is from the team behind Ray’s and Pebble Bar, and it’s where you should go to drink a $20 cocktail while you take in a scene. The dark, earth-toned room features a fancy pool table and framed photos of old-school hip hop artists, and there are some small tables you can reserve if you don’t feel like standing. Bring a date, wear an impractical scarf, and try the snacks from the Wildair people. The crab dip is a winner.
photo credit: Björn Wallander
The lobby of the Ritz-Carlton in Nomad is a very nice place, but Nubeluz makes it look like a Best Western. Located on the 50th floor of the hotel, this cocktail lounge from José Andrés has plush green carpets, curved velvet couches, and mirrored tables that you can use to check if you have any black truffle stuck in your teeth. The fancy bar food—dates with foie gras, tiny cones topped with salmon roe—is pleasant and pristine, and the cocktails are top-notch. But the biggest selling point is the unmatched view of Lower Manhattan. Even if you’ve lived here several decades, it’s hard not to be impressed.
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HiLot is from the team behind Joyface, an Alphabet City bar (right next door) where you can dance under a disco ball until 3am. But this is a different sort of place. There’s no standing room, and the space looks like a fancy home from the 1970s, with plaid carpets, a mirrored ceiling, and fringed lamps perched on top of a winding leather couch. It’s essentially a speakeasy that isn’t hidden, and it’s a great option for when you want to go out in the East Village but don’t necessarily need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with folks who might spill their espresso martinis on you.
photo credit: Nick Johnson
If you think you’re too cool to drink an appletini, you’re wrong. No one’s too cool for an appletini. Also, the version at Bar Americano is fantastic. This little Greenpoint spot was inspired by the aperitivo bars of Spain and Northern Italy, but the menu doesn’t always stay on theme. In addition to anchovies and a variety of European wines, they serve a burger, a house margarita, and the aforementioned appletini (which actually tastes like apples). Bring a date, and spend an hour or two in the candlelit room that features stucco walls, brass accents, and a few leather booths.
South Soho Bar
From the team behind The Tyger (right next door), South Soho Bar feels like a secret clubhouse for people who aren’t just in the neighborhood to return something to Zara. Behind a discreet entrance on Centre Street, you’ll find a small, dark room with a long bar, a few booths, and a massive shelf of booze complete with a sliding ladder. The cocktail list is filled with variations on classics, and there’s a brief food menu with options like a grilled cheese and some crispy chicken nuggets. Bring a date or a friend you need to catch up with, and order those nuggets.
photo credit: Daniel Krieger
Milady’s is back. Sort of. The old Milady’s closed in 2014, and it was one of the few divey places in Soho where you could grab a drink without spending a week’s grocery budget. This updated version, run by the folks behind Clover Club and Leyenda, isn’t remotely divey, but it isn’t too stuffy either. Yes, there’s now a host stand (which feels sacrilegious), and the cocktails are almost $20—but the drinks are great, and you can enjoy some cornbread jalapeño poppers alongside your fancy appletini.
photo credit: Brent Herrig
Musette Wine Bar
Musette’s menu has your horoscope, a wine-centric crossword puzzle, and descriptive tasting notes that seem like they could have only been written by a wine shop owner. (This wine bar in Central Harlem is from the owners of Pompette right next door.) The charming rustic corner space is a cross between a European bistro and a farmhouse, with fresh flowers on every table. When you want to show someone that you don’t suck at picking date spots, bring them here.
photo credit: Melissa Hom
Keys & Heels
When it comes to speakeasies, the more random the facade, the better. Keys & Heels is disguised as a locksmith and shoe repair shop (established in 1971), and that’s pretty damn random. Inside, you’ll find lots of bistro tables, a disco ball, comfy couches, and well-made cocktails with names like Barefoot & Topless and Late Night Lover. It always feels busy, but you’ll never feel packed in like sardines, and there are occasionally events like magic shows where someone will guess both your birthday and the code to unlock your phone (which will genuinely make you feel uncomfortable).
At Hi-Note, the focus is on music. There’s a DJ station playing music all day, starting in the morning when this Alphabet City bar functions as a coffee shop. On Mondays, you can sign up to take over the turntable for half an hour with your own vinyl, and Thursdays are for electronica. It never seems to get too wild here, but if you need an escape, you can walk through the kitchen to get to a surprisingly big backyard. The whole space is soundproofed for karaoke, which is coming soon.
The first things you’ll notice at this East Village speakeasy are the Basquiat-inspired art and the creepy family portraits of people who look like they lock their children in the attic. The other thing that’ll get your attention is how big the space is, which is fairly unusual for a downtown speakeasy. This bar’s entrance is through a nondescript door under the sign for its sister establishment, Chicken & The Egg, and you can conveniently order anything off of that restaurant's menu here. Both the glow-in-the-dark graffitied bathrooms and enclosed booths in the red light-filled VIP room have one way mirrors, making Sincerely, Ophelia the perfect spot to hang with all your voyeuristic friends.
With so many craft cocktails out there fighting for their right to cost as much as a movie ticket, new cocktail bars need to bring something more to the table. Japanese lounge Martiny’s manages to do this, serving drinks that are genuinely surprising in a cozy, three-level carriage house in Gramercy. We’re still thinking about the clever caprese cocktail, which tastes exactly like its namesake salad thanks to a mix of whiskey, tomato water, grapefruit juice, and milk. Just as much thought goes into the small plates, which include a silky scallop custard, tiny miso river crabs, and a creamy wagyu tartare that gets its umami from a shio kombu and parmigiano topping.
Hekate Café & Elixir Lounge
If phrases like “botanical elixirs” and “Stevie Nicks” light up your brain’s pleasure centers, you’re going to love Hekate. This sober bar next to Enchantments in the East Village is a whole very niche vibe, and we’re here for it. They serve a combination of mocktails, teas, and coffee drinks, and it feels very much like the kind of place where those who like to shop for spell candles next door would want to hang out after. The bar is quiet enough to facilitate actual conversations, but happening enough that you still feel like you’re at a legit EV dive.
photo credit: Erik Bernstein
If you’re looking for a fun place to drink natural wine in the West Village, Moonflower should be your new clubhouse. With its pastel murals and mirror that looks like a disco ball, this little bar has an atmosphere that we would describe as Lisa Frank meets Henri Matisse, and it’s the perfect place to relax with a friend over a glass of Slovenian pet-nat. The wine list is old-world and natural, so don’t come looking for a nice Bordeaux—your wine will be a bit funkier than that. You can get some small plates like cured trout and tuna tartare, and there are few colorfully-painted tables where you can hang out, in addition to some bar seating.
photo credit: Melissa Hom
Deux Chats is from the team behind Le Dive and The Nines, two downtown bars where you’ll meet people who provide fashion advice to their 100 or so TikTok followers. Located under the Williamsburg Bridge, this Belle Époque-themed spot is a little less sceney than those other bars, and it’s perfect for a casual date night when you want to share some small plates. The bright, vaulted space is filled with distressed mirrors and ornate light fixtures, and the menu consists of interesting cocktails and a few fantastic seafood dishes. Try a Kinky Martini (slightly spicy, made with vodka), then eat some chilled sardines and a couple slices of salmon crudo so thick they qualify as filets.
photo credit: Annie Schlechter
Lobby Bar in Hotel Chelsea looks like the elaborate foyer of a chateau that was last renovated in the 1970s. There are rugs, couches, and cheetah print chairs, and you’ll see a big chandelier hanging above the long marble bar. It feels like the kind of place where your boss’s boss would grab a drink with their art advisor, and it’s a nice escape where you won’t hear any music, only bits of conversation from people wearing thick-rimmed glasses. Claim a barstool or a couch in the fern-lined garden room, and drink a house martini made with minimal vermouth and a to-the-brim pour of ice-cold gin or vodka.
photo credit: Art Gray
The first Apotheke opened in Chinatown in 2008, and that original location is part of the reason why there are speakeasies in every New York City zip code. Now, there’s an Apotheke in Nomad where you enter through an unmarked door on 26th street. The subterranean interior is lit mostly by candlelight, and there are several huge booths along with a central seating area that consists of what is essentially a large, partitioned ottoman surrounded by wobbly stools. Unstable stools aside, this is a fun place to drink, especially if you’re looking for something low-key but fancy.