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 in many of New York’s newest spots for it. Frankly, some of them were empty, and some of them pushed our socialization skills beyond their current functionalities - but there were also quite a few we liked a lot, and which we think you should consider trying. From bars where you can dance to the newest natural wine spots and breweries, check out the Bar Hit List below.
If you’ve been to Mexico City, would like to go to Mexico City, or simply swear each day you’re going to move to Mexico City in between jobs, Aldama in Williamsburg should be at the top of your personal drinking Hit List. In addition to a bar full of craft tequila and mezcal available (and daily Happy Hour specials from 5-7pm), they serve Mexican dishes - like tostadas and a cacao tamal with hoja santa. And while our time here was a bit hazy on account of all the small goblets of mezcal, what we remember well were the neutral-toned ceramic copitas and matching platters with refreshing orange slices to provide relief from the smokiness. Plus, their basement-level room has chic bar stools woven like wicker baskets. We’ll be back to try the food - since they’re soon launching a full dinner menu.
Bandits has taken over the former Daddy-O space in Greenwich Village with a diner-themed drinking hole that looks great both inside and out. Checkered floors, colorful banquettes, and globe lighting are consistent fixtures inside the dining area and outdoors on their open-air patio, which deserves some kind of design award. On a scale from dive to fancy cocktail bar, this place sits right in the middle, with beer-and-shot specials, and massive tiki cocktails on the menu. While you’ll definitely need a reservation to hang out here on weekends, it’s a great place to go with a big group and eat the type of food you’d expect at a kitschy diner, including four different kinds of loaded tater tots, deep-fried hot dogs, and a smashburger. Plus they’ve got a few late-night options for the vegans among us, like an excellent chickpea “tuna” melt and everything bagel shishito peppers.
You might remember Beverly’s as the now-closed neon-lit bar on Essex Street where your amateur DJ friend once had a birthday party. But in May 2021, the same people reopened an art gallery on Eldridge Street that hosts fun events on Friday nights. Starting around 7pm, the new Beverly’s starts to fill up with well-dressed people who likely just finished having dinner at Cervo’s around the corner. It’s the kind of place you should go on a Friday night to stare at some art, stand around with a cocktail in your hand like an extra in a music video, or make a new friend on a tiny dancefloor with a DJ booth. For more on these art shows, and other daytime events on Saturdays (which look just as sceney, but much less crowded), follow Beverly’s on Instagram.
After spending an hour or two at Accidental Bar, we promise you will walk away knowing more about sake than when you walked in (rice fermenters and brewers, we’re talking to you too). Their list is handwritten, scribbled with descriptions like “Paloma vibes” or “Summer BBQ creamed corn,” and all of the food on the short menu is meant to bring out different tastes in your beverage. This is especially true for their otsumami platter. When we were there, the seasonal platter consisted of strawberries, blue cheese, fava beans in sesame oil, sheets of crispy nori, pickled okra, and smoked oysters that further confirms any seafood product is delicious when cooked over an open fire. Most of all, the place just feels like a party where you could either hang with your friends and or take a date. Just know that they’re asking people to show proof of vaccination if you want to sit inside.
When you hear the name “All Night Skate,” you’ll probably picture a smooth wood floor full of stylish people gliding circles around each other on wheeled shoes. But in reality, it’s a rollerskating-themed bar on the border of Bed-Stuy and Bushwick that knows its way around a smoke machine. While you can’t actually wear your rollerskates here, you can dance all night under a disco ball, play a few arcade games, and listen to your favorite song from the ’70s on a jukebox. Plus, you’ll get a 10% discount for bringing your blades or skates, but then you might have to carry them to the apartment of a person you met here.
Alewife moved from Long Island City to Sunnyside in 2020. But their new sidewalk patio has plenty of outdoor seating for you, your dog, your baby, and maybe even a few friends. You can try nearly 30 draft beers here, including a bunch they brew themselves, and if you stop by over the weekend you might catch a food truck parked out front. Check their Instagram before you arrive for the latest updates, but in the past they’ve served everything from lobster rolls and birria tacos to pastrami sandwiches and empanadas.
There’s a new rooftop bar in town that doesn’t suck, and it’s called Happy Be. You’ll find it on top of the Walker Hotel where Soho, Tribeca, and Chinatown melt into each other, and it’s filled with thoughtfully planted vegetation and loungy enclaves loaded with cushions that will prop you up while you pretend that hanging out at rooftop bars is part of your lifestyle. Make a reservation if you want to secure one of these daybeds for a group, or don’t and get comfortable by the standing bar. Either way, you’ll have great views of the skyline, and you’ll be hard-pressed not to say, “Wow, what a city!” at least once. Order a shiso-infused vodka cocktail or a tropical Negroni, and take it all in.
Some people like divey pool halls, while others prefer sceney cocktail bars. And very few NYC spots can give you both under the same roof. But somehow, Twins Lounge pulls off both in a two-floor space in Greenpoint. When you walk into the dark lounge on the bottom floor and scope out the groups in the back corner shooting pool, you’ll feel the sudden urge to throw a few darts at a sticking board. But when you walk upstairs, and you’ll be met with a disco ball, shag rugs, and greenhouse-style window nook. This cash-only spot has two different bar counters on each floor so you don’t have to go in between the two completely different worlds to get your alcohol needs met. You should also know that Twin Lounge has a second-floor deck with a few patio tables out back.
The perks of going to Skin Contact are twofold: you get to drink unusual natural wine, and you get to do it on a busy sidewalk on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. Whether you study wine or don’t quite know how liquid can be described as “chewy,” the condensed list of options and friendly staff will help you find something exciting within an affordable price range - most of the glasses cost around $14.
Another great new option for drinking natural wine - this time in Brooklyn. Sauced feels like a house party for people who like wine and disco balls. When you ask to see a wine list at this Williamsburg wine bar, the bartender will inform you that no such thing exists. So just tell them what you like to drink, and they’ll let you try some stuff until you find what you’re looking for. You may end up with a nice chenin blanc, or it might be a natural Spanish wine with notes of blackberries and pickle juice. The ordering process can feel slightly anarchic - especially when there are multiple people trying to make eye contact with the bartender - but just distract yourself with some charcuterie or make some new friends while you wait.
If you’re at all interested in bright, refreshing sour beer or the city’s newest breweries, bump Talea in Williamsburg to the top of your drinking to-do list. Talea’s beers are often fruit-forward, even if they’re not technically sours - like a hazy double IPA made with papaya and lime. Bring a group of friends, and show up close to when they open on weekends if you don’t have a reservation (since it gets packed during peak hours). We like their $20 flights if you’re drinking in the open taproom that looks like a coworking space you’d actually want to spend eight hours in, but you can always grab a four-pack to-go and head to McCarren Park a block away.
There aren’t a lot of rooftop bars in this city where we actually like to spend our time, but The Ready is one of the few exceptions to that rule. This massive spot above The Moxy Hotel East Village has a bunch of spaced-out seating areas where you can sit with a date or a small group under a galaxy of twinkling lights. They’ve got a few different tacos on the menu and some canned wine, but you’re really here for the frozen drinks - especially the watermelon sugar which has Red Bull, tequila, and lime. If you’re the kind of person who only ventured to rooftop bars if you were guaranteed ample personal space (even prior to the pandemic), this is the spot for you.
When a vegan wine bar serving Italian food makes perfectly al dente pasta and pine nut ricotta-covered carta di musica, we want to tell everybody we know about it. That’s why we’re writing about Soda Club in the East Village. In addition to a large wine list featuring different orange bottles and chilled reds by the glass, the pasta dishes - including the simple standout bucatini arrabiata with focaccia breadcrumbs - are some of the most properly cooked we’ve had in a long time. This place now has a permanent spot in our date-night rotation, since nothing says romance like sitting in a velvet chair over a glass of wine and some pasta.
If you walk the perimeter of Tompkins Square Park on a nice night, you’ll notice that getting drunk in the East Village is still very much a NYC pastime for a self-selected group. For all those looking to initiate themselves into said self-selected group (even just for a night), we’d suggest heading to this cocktail bar that opened in the spring of 2020 on East 6th Street between A and B. The Pineapple Club sticks pretty close to its tropical theme, which means you should come here expecting to drink colorful rum drinks (they use one of our favorite brands, Ten To One Rum). In addition to a greenhouse-like indoor area, Pineapple Club has a sidewalk patio that’s always busy on weekends.
Runaway Roof’s charm is that it’s a rooftop without the annoying rooftop scene. That’s in part because of how massive this Bushwick spot is. Much like Citi Field or an elite Crate & Barrel, this relatively calm spot has three levels of seating. But unlike those urban institutions, here you can participate in weekly yoga sessions, brunch service on weekends, and Happy Hour from 6-8pm on weekdays. They even have their own diner (which happens to serve perfectly crispy fried pickles). You can check out their schedule and reserve a spot here.
There’s no other wine bar in the city where you can order meats and cheeses like the ones you’ll get from Di Palo’s Wine Bar. That’s because they’re connected to the fine foods shop that’s been around for almost 100 years, and all of the prosciutto and Grana Padano at the wine bar come from the shop’s supply. Not to mention the wines that come from their connecting wine store as well. The wine bar just reopened after being closed throughout the pandemic, and it’s a top spot if you’re looking an under-$15 glass of wine, a refreshing spritz, and/or a meat and cheese plate that’s even better than what you’ll get at Eataly.
Threes Brewing’s offshoot location in Greenpoint isn’t necessarily new, but the reason it’s on our Bar Hit List is because The Meat Hook’s Burger Shop has taken over the kitchen. Now, along with Threes’ typical (and excellent) beer, you can eat a smash patty draped in cheese on a squishy potato roll. There’s plenty of outdoor seating available on their sidewalk and street-side patio, and if you encounter a wait, you can always take a couple of beers to-go and enjoy them at Transmitter Park two blocks away.
Evil Twin Dumbo
The city’s second Evil Twin taproom recently opened right by the water in Dumbo, and it’s a great place to meet a couple friends for a busy, indoor hang since their outdoor space isn’t quite ready yet. There’s just one big bar in the center of the room, so you will inevitably interact with strangers while you wait (remember strangers?). Evil Twin is known for their experimental beer flavors, incredibly long names (a recent favorite of ours is “I ALWAYS LOOK FORWARD TO THE SUMMER OF HEDONISM,” and frequent new releases. As of late, they’ve been releasing special new beer and seltzer flavors every week for pick-up at both locations on Fridays starting at noon.