The sheer amount of unforgettable bars in the Lower East Side makes it clear, this is NYC’s nightlife epicenter. As a matter of fact, the #1 ranked bar in North America can be found in the Lower East Side (more on that later). As a local, I’ve taste-tested more than my fair share of craft-cocktails (sorry mom) in search of the best bars in the Lower East Side. I’ve also considered energy, friendliness and everything in-between.
In this post I hope to share all my legwork with you. If you’re also interested in the best boozy bars in the Lower East Side, why don’t we dive right in!
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Best Bars in the Lower East Side
Table of Contents: Lower East Side Bars
Table of Contents: Best LES Bars
- Best Bars in the Lower East Side
- Best Lower East Side Bars (Post Summary)
- Map of the Best Bars in the Lower East Side
- Further Reading For the Lower East Side
- More Neighborhoods to Explore
Getting in to Attaboy can prove challenging since there’s no reservations, but I’ll gladly pitch my tent in hopes I get a sip of Ross’ Penicillin (scotch, lemon juice, ginger-honey syrup). The popular LES bar was named the #1 best bar in North America, which is no easy feat!
If you choose to make the pilgrimage pay extra attention to the address since there’s no signage. Similar to how Ferrari doesn’t advertise, neither do the best bars in the Lower East Side, their reputation precedes them. What’s more, once inside you won’t even find a menu! You have to have a conversation with the bartender, which adds to the mystique of the bar.
Double Chicken Please
The cocktails at Double Chicken Please are anything but traditional, serving up the likes of Japanese Cold Noodle & Key Lime Pie. Indeed, they deconstruct popular dishes and transform them into boozy beverages. Thanks to their unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries, they’ve become one of the best bars in the Lower East Side.
Double Chicken Please won the 2022 Disaronno Highest New Entry Award, which is presented to the bar with the best, first-time ranking on the list of the 50 Best Bars in the World. They remarkably debuted at #6!
Copper & Oak
At Copper & Oak, wood tones overrun the decor as well as the drinks, since whiskeys are their specialty. The swanky bar offers rare and exclusive spirits that you won’t find at just any old dive bar. Therefore, this is one of the best bars in the Lower East Side to celebrate special occasions and milestones.
The only downside to Copper and Oak is how small the bar room is! Narrow counters line the walls and finding seating can sometimes be a headache, especially on weekend evenings. However when you do find a seat you won’t regret staying. Not to mention, the coziness creates an air of intimacy with the person you’re sharing a drink.
When I first saw the leopard-print pool table on a friend’s Instagram story I immediately swiped up and asked where they were. The answer was 169 Bar, one of the best bars in the Lower East Side. If you’re looking for a unique drink you should consider ordering the pickle martini. Of all the bars in the Lower East Side, this is one we usually end the night at considering it’s open until 4AM.
Happy hour oysters for $1, daily? Take my money!
As one of the friendliest bars in the Lower East Side, expect to leave feeling like you’ve made new friends since the service here is incredible. Not to mention the live music which adds to the laid back vibes. Both locals and visitors alike find comfort in the unfussy LES bar. The drinks are expertly-crafted and the daily happy hour from 5 to 7PM makes it easy to keep coming back.
Amor Y Amargo
In 2022 Amor Y Amargo was ranked the 23rd best bar in North America which is sure to only boost their already booming cult-like following. At the entrance you’ll find a storefront selling bitters and mixology tools, but in the back room you’ll find one of the best bars in the Lower East Side.
It’s an intimate, standing-only space manned by knowledgeable and talented mixologists. Since it’s so small it’s not uncommon for strangers to jump into each other’s small talk, which can make for a memorable experience. For all these reasons I consider Amor Y Amargo among the can’t-miss bars in the Lower East Side. While Amor Y Amargo is technically in the East Village, I feel confident adding it to our list of LES bars due to its proximity.
If you’re looking for a dive-bar vibe with craft-cocktail quality you need look no further than Black Crescent. The fry-cook deserves a raise, I don’t care what they’re making because I’ve eaten my weight in Bang Bang Shrimp (Gulf-Coast shrimp, spicy aioli and lime). Furthermore, with daily happy hour from 5-7PM featuring $10 cocktails, how can this not be one of the best bars in the Lower East Side?
If you’re in the market for a laid-back spot to catch some sports action and enjoy a cold beer on the Lower East Side, Fool’s Gold stands out as one of the top choices. It’s a relaxed, “come as you are” spot where you can unwind with a game of darts or Jenga while savoring a selection of craft brews.
For a truly entertaining evening, don’t miss out on their trivia nights or Family Feud sessions! One of the reasons why Fool’s Gold is considered one of the best bars of the Lower East Side is their dedication to showing soccer games. Finding a sports bar that screens the Champions League, including those early matches, is like hitting the jackpot!
The drinks at Reception Bar are made with Korean-inspired flavors, so expect a lot of Soju (Korean liquor). I’m particular to the Matcha Meadow, which is made with matcha soju, korean pear shrub, and sparkling jasmine. With ample seating and a unique drink selection, Reception is one of the best bars in the Lower East Side to meet up with friends.
Shocker shocker, another Lower East Side bar has ranked for a spot on a list of best bars in the world. Not only is Bar Goto ranked the 83rd best bar in the world in 2022, it was also a James Beard Awards semifinalist in 2017 & 2018. For anyone unfamiliar with the James Beard Awards, they’re essentially the highest honors someone can receive in the culinary world (think of it as the Oscars, but for food).
The menu Kenta Goto (the founder) was able to curate is unlike anything else I’ve ever had. The Japanese inspired cocktails and street food that make up the menu at Bar Goto deserve every award under the sun. Since I don’t have that authority, the best I can do is include them on this list of best bars in the Lower East Side in hopes I can change at least one of your lives.
Up until dusk, Lullaby is your quiet, neighborhood bar; after that, it gets packed like a frat house on homecoming night. Opened in March of 2022, Lullaby has quickly become one of the most popular bars in the Lower East Side.
The vibe is immaculate, with rotating DJs keeping the energy levels top-notch. Since the bar is technically in a basement it’s hard not to have a relaxed, laid back energy. The Whiskey Drink (that’s its real name) is made with cream corn and is surprisingly addicting. Plus at a relatively low (for NYC) cocktail price of $15, this is one of the most affordable bars in the Lower East Side.
Verlaine is a dimly lit, sophisticated little spot on the Lower East Side. Inspired by Asian-flavors, you can expect to find a full menu stocked with the likes of lo-mein and sake shrimp skewers. Verlaine is more of a restaurant than a bar but the drinks, chef’s kiss. The lychee martini is especially memorable and at $8 during happy hour, keep ’em coming! Plus, happy hour runs from 5-10PM so there’s no need to rush.
If you’re looking for one of the best bars in the Lower East Side to meet up with friends, Verlaine has you covered. They offer reservations for parties of 6 or more, so bring them all! Even that coworker you don’t really like.
The Back Room
Two authentic speakeasies from the Prohibition era remain operational in New York City, and The Back Room is one of them. The entrance is the same one used 100 years ago, behind a gate that reads “Lower East Side Toy Company”. Rumor has it, The Back Room was frequented by mobsters such Meyers Lanksy and Lucky Luciano during the Prohibition era. After visiting myself I can attest that the Lower East Side bar feels authentic. The 1920’s decor and cocktails served in teacups can make you forget you’re in the 21st century.
Something to note: The Back Room only accepts guests 25 years and older on Fridays and Saturdays. Also – The Back Room does not allow real fur. If your clothing has it, you’ll be turned away.
If you’re a sucker for the mesmerizing New York City skyline and love a good rooftop bar, make a beeline for The Crown located at Hotel 50 Bowery. Not only is this one of the best bars in the Lower East Side, but the views of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines are some of the best in the city.
The Crown offers a small food menu for anyone looking for a quick bite, but the specialty drinks are where they truly shine. Local’s Tip: Make sure to visit during sunset to see the city light up from 21st floor!
Garfunkel’s is a speakeasy accessible via a vault door in a restaurant called The Burgary. Let me fill you in on a little bit of history, this bar is named after Garfunkel & Tauster. They were two felons who used the building the bar is housed in as home base of their delinquent bank nearly 100 years ago!
In the present, Garfunkel’s still has a similar 1920’s vibe. The bartenders are dressed in waistcoats and there’s often a live jazz trio, which create a Gatsby-esque aura. And this isn’t just a fun or a pretty bar, the drinks are among the best you’ll find at any Lower East Side bars. I’m partial to Upmann the Banker, which uses a base of of cigar infused scotch, my mouth is watering just typing this.
Fun fact: If you’re a New York Times subscriber you can read the article from 1924, when Tauster was sentenced 2 to 4 years in jail for the crimes he committed with Garfunkel.
Best Lower East Side Bars (Post Summary)
- Double Chicken Please
- Copper and Oak
- Reception Bar
- Black Crescent
- Fools Gold
- Bar Belly
- The Back Room
- The Crown
- 169 Bar
- Cafe Goto
- Amor Y Amargo
Map of the Best Bars in the Lower East Side
Further Reading For the Lower East Side
Where to Eat: 15 Flavorful Lower East Side Restaurants in New York City (Everyone Must Try)
Things to Do LES: 15 Things to Do in the Lower East Side
The Best Cafes: 15 Essential Coffee Shops in the Lower East Side (You’ll Adore)
Satiate a Sweet Tooth: 15 Breathtaking Bakeries in the Lower East Side (You’ll Love)
More Neighborhoods to Explore
The Best of Greenwich Village: 20 Great Things to Do in the West Village (+Helpful Advice)
SoHo’s Top Things to Do: 15 Fun Things to Do in SoHo (Local’s Guide)
Highlights of the Lower East Side: 15 Exciting Things To Do in the Lower East Side (You’ll Love)
The Best of Brooklyn: 15 Best Things to Do in Brooklyn (Helpful Guide & Tips)
Things to Do in Greenpoint: 15 Great Things to Do in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Local’s Guide)
Hope you found our list of the best bars in the Lower East Side helpful! And as we continue to try new bars in the Lower East Side, this post will be kept up to date.
Cheers, and don’t forget to tip your bartender!