NYC bars tend to be loud, crowded, and filled with drunk people who really like to sing along to Journey. And while all of that can be fun, your parents probably prefer something a little more mellow. So if you’re all going out for a drink, try one of these bars. They’re nice and lively, and they won’t make your parents wonder if they did a poor job raising you.
Fairfax feels sort of like a living room, but it’s actually a wine bar. This means that it has both couches and alcohol, as well as some comfortable chairs and a good number of potted plants. So if your apartment is too small to host your parents, try this place. It’s calm and comfortable, but still cool enough that you’ll want to hang out for a while. There’s also a small dinner menu, so you can always pick at some food if you and your parents run out of conversation. Have some pasta, steak tartare, or a surprisingly good Cuban sandwich.
If you’re showing your parents around Brooklyn Bridge Park or Downtown Brooklyn, and you decide that you’d just rather be drinking, go to Elsa. It’s a cocktail spot from the people behind Ramona, and, like that place, Elsa is so well-designed that it makes most other bars look like the Irish pub at JFK . The cocktails also happen to be very good, and there are usually several sets of parents in there at all times. This place is just north of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, which happens to be the Land of Cool Parents.
Maybe your parents are staying at a hotel in the East 50′s, or maybe they live in Westchester and hate getting too far from Grand Central. If, for whatever reason, they want to grab a drink with you in Midtown, know that The Campbell is a surprisingly good option. The space looks like a fancy old bank vault, and while it’s kind of pricey, your parents will probably prefer it to all the sports bars in the area that smell like a combination of Clorox and sweaty beer.
There’s a good chance that your parents will, at some point, want to take you to a Broadway show (and it will probably star Patti Lupone). For a drink before or after, Bar Centrale is where you should go. It’s in a townhouse on 46th Street, and besides Carnegie Hall, it’s the classiest thing in the neighborhood. As an added bonus, you might even see a Broadway star (or, more likely, a producer you won’t recognize). Make a reservation to be safe.
Let’s say your parents go out as often as you do. Bring them over to Narcbar. It’s in the space that used to be the front dining room of Narcissa in the Standard East Village, and it’s a great place to grab a cocktail next to some people who DJ part-time and have Instagram accounts that exceed 10k followers. That being said, it isn’t overwhelmingly sceney, and they serve things like ceviche, oysters, and a burger. The menu is actually pretty big, and it wouldn’t be weird if you ate a full dinner here.
Despite the fact that it now has a Whole Foods and an Apple Store, Williamsburg doesn’t have that many good places to drink with parents. There is, however, always Maison Premiere. At this point, it’s a classic NYC cocktail bar, and it’s still one of the best places to grab a drink in the city. It’s the kind of place where the bartenders wear suspenders, although, here, this doesn’t seem lame. You might even be able to find your next date if you stick around after your parents have taken off.
Why are hotel bars generally better for parents? Mostly, because they don’t get too crazy. They also tend to be better-maintained and less exclusive. The bar at the Marlton is the perfect example. It’s a very nice, cozy space spread out over a few different rooms. There’s a fireplace, some couches, and some diner-style booths in the main bar area.
Just inside the unmarked entrance of this fancy hotel in the Met Life Tower, there’s a nice and mellow lobby bar. You’ll find some couches, chairs, low coffee tables, and a relaxed/upscale atmosphere. Order one of the signature (very pricey) cocktails and hang out on a leather sofa while your parents ask when you’re getting married and why you haven’t gotten married yet.
Casellula is where you have wine and cheese in excess. Your parents will be into it, because they probably like both of these things. Grab a table in this space that feels like a gallery or a French cafe, and hang out for a few hours. If you parents happen to be staying in Midtown, it’s one of your best options.
Ardesia isn’t far from Casellula, and it’s also a wine bar with small plates - but it’s good for different situations, such as a drink with some parents who are kind of cool. Maybe your mom knows what Yeezys are and your dad recently discovered skinny ties, and now he won’t look back. Great. Bring them here. Ardesia is a modern wine bar, and you can tell they put some effort into the build-out. The drinks are also pretty affordable.
This is more of a restaurant than a bar, and you can, in fact, have a full meal here. We wouldn’t really suggest it though. Not that the food isn’t good - it’s just better to share some small plates and drink your way through the cocktail list. John Dory gets decently busy, but it stays tame enough for your parents, and it’s also pretty good-looking. When the drinking session is over, you’ll also be in a convenient enough position to make some moves downtown.
If your parents watch the Food Network, take them here. It’s across the way from Le Bernardin, and it’s from the same owners. Unlike Le Bernardin, however, you don’t have to spend over $500 here to have a good time. (Although you definitely can, if that’s what you’re looking to do.) Get a reasonably priced glass of wine and sit on a couch with your parents. It’ll remind them of all those hours of quality time with you at home, but better.
The Modern is a fancy restaurant inside of MoMA, and it’s separated into two different rooms. The first area has a long bar, some lounge-y tables, and a semi-casual dining area. Walk-ins are accepted for this part of the restaurant, but you can also make a reservation. Stop by with your parents the next time you find yourselves staring at squiggles of paint on canvas in Midtown, and have drinks with some bar food that’s better than any bar food you’ve had.
This is a French wine bar on the edge of Little Italy, and you’ll need to drink here after your parents drag you around Soho. There’s a menu with a lot of small things to eat (chorizo, burrata, etc.), and they do over 20 wines by the glass. It’s also pretty cool in here - like the apartment in Paris you don’t own.
If your parents come to visit and they aren’t the type to stare at shiny things in Midtown, bring them here. It’s a wine bar in the West Village with a little backyard that you weren’t expecting. The menu is comprised of many small plates, and the wines change frequently. This place is great for your parents, but it’s also good for date night if you want to schedule a Tinder thing for when your parent hang is over.
The Ship is in a basement on Lafayette, but it’s a lot nicer than your average basement bar. They serve some excellent cocktails down here, and it doesn’t get too crowded. Your parents won’t mind sitting in one of their large booths, and you can all busy yourselves trying to figure out why they went so hard with the nautical theme.