NYCGuide

The NYC Bar Hit List: The Best New Bars In NYC

Where to drink right now in New York City.
a deep blue lounge at only love strangers

photo credit: Ori Harpaz

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.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Bryan Kim

Bar

Lower East Side

$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good WineDrinks & A Light Bite

There’s a line outside Attaboy every single night. The Lower East Side neo-speakeasy is one of the best cocktail bars in the city, so that makes sense. If you don't feel like waiting two hour for your drink, try the spot next door. From the same team, it's called Good Guy’s, and it has more of a coastal Mediterranean feel, with plants hanging from the walls and a menu of refreshing spritzes made with lambrusco, passionfruit, and various amari. Stop by before the place gets as busy as its neighbor, and eat a few seafood snacks while you’re here.

At Only Love Strangers, a bi-level jazz club on the Lower East Side, you can listen to live music six nights a week, and have a nice midweek date for under $50 a person. You could eat dinner here too (the mezze board is a nice snack), but we’d rather save our money for the cocktails. Our favorite, the Bossa Nova, is a refreshing mix of mezcal, yellow pepper juice, and pineapple. The bar is painted in the rich blue and stark white, there’s a disco ball downstairs, and—gauging from our experience sitting next to a group of people dressed entirely in 1940s clothing—a sense that anything could happen.

The Commodore II straddles the border of the East Village and the Lower East Side, and their crunchy fried chicken and fun frozen drinks make it a perfect jumping off point (or final destination) for a night out in either neighborhood. Don’t expect cocktails with 5,000 ingredients at this Florida-esque bar—the drinks are simple, sugary, and craveable, and their fried food—especially the chicken platter and shrimp po’boy—make a great foundation upon which to build your drunk castle. With a DJ booth and fake plastic fish, this sequel to The Commodore feels like a below-decks party on a Miami yacht, and their kitchen is open until 2am on weekends.

Sometimes it's critical to sip sweet cocktails through a bendy straw and eat a bathtub's worth of queso—that's what this new Ridgewood bar from the Rolo’s people is all about. Sure, you’ll drink more balanced rum cocktails in your lifetime (we hope). But the red-lit space with giant jaguar taxidermy and good Mexican bar food makes Hellbender worth visiting. The next time you're looking for a fun place to hang out in the neighborhood, bring a couple of friends and order lamb carnitas on soft corn tortillas and churros with a rich chocolate sauce.

We often question whether precious cocktails feel worth our precious rent money, but L’Americana’s do. Everything about the drinks at this Gramercy bar from the Martiny’s people is thoughtful and balanced, down to the garnishes. A yuzu mustard sour has a pile of yellow mustard seeds on its foamy head, packing a ballpark perfume. And the olive on the caper Negroni does similar, albeit brinier work. Come here with friends for an expertly made $21 cocktail in a comfy booth. And if you get hungry, try their octopus arancini or lasagna bolognese.

photo credit: Brandyn Liu

All the current trends, all in one place. Mr. Melo is a new vinyl listening bar in Williamsburg where you can (and should) drink a savory martini made with olive and feta brine. On our most recent visit, the guest DJ was playing ‘80s electro-funk, and the intimate space grew progressively dimmer as the night went on. Grab a small table along the back wall, then snack on a vegan caesar while you drink a few fancy Long Island Iced Teas. This already appears to be a certified go-to first date spot.

photo credit: Willa Moore

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Mary's has a disco ball so large it could probably land you briefly in the hospital if it fell from the ceiling, but that's just what it takes to be a successful Lower East Side bar these days. This sort-of dive-y, sort-of dance-y bar from the people behind Park Slope’s The Commissioner is where you should come on a Friday night when you need to listen to Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything” while drinking a beer shot combo, and then eating some french fries. It’s great for a casual birthday, and you likely won't find anyone using a fake ID here.

There are a lot of things to like about Ask For Janice in Greenpoint. It's located inside a slice joint, so if you get hungry and want to eat something heartier than a chilled romaine salad or one of their other "pizza-adjacent" snacks, you can ditch your friends and muck a quick slice or two. It's also a listening bar, but rather than vinyl, they play cassettes off a fancy system that lights up the dim room. The groovy, wide-ranging music might make you want to dance, but there isn’t really enough room for that. So drop by on a low-key night to lounge behind some retro frosted windows and drink a gin cocktail with basil and olive oil.

Lots of wine bars claim to have great bar snacks, but Ernie’s on the Lower East Side actually adheres to the strictest definition of the word. And those snacks are a perplexing and mind-bending mix of deliciousness and value. We paid $5 for a bowl of cheesy risotto with chanterelles, and $2 for foie gras toast. What is this, 1937? No. This is Ernie’s Wine Bar, and while there are some peculiarities here—it’s in a part of Basque restaurant Ernesto’s that includes their open kitchen—it’s a great place to pop in for a glass of Spanish natural wine and a bite. Especially if you’re waiting for a table at Ernesto’s and want to save money on some appetizers.

photo credit: Kate Glicksberg

We’ve all let a new book or two sit totally untouched on a shelf forever, and that’s exactly why we’re not going to judge the reading-as-a-lifestyle aesthetic of Bibliotheque. This bookstore, bar, and cafe in Soho looks like the home library of someone with a roman numeral in their name: it’s filled with couches, chandeliers, and wall-to-wall shelves of books that no one is reading. Soho’s best-dressed come here to drink wine, eat charcuterie, and discuss the new Marni, not the new Murakami, but we’d be lying if we said it isn’t an enchanting space to do all of those things. This is a nice spot for a date in the area, and real bookworms can come during the day to get some coffee and crack open a novel.

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