Post Overview: Best Cocktail Bars NYC
All the great cocktail bars in New York City have one thing in common… they somehow convince you that the damn price tag is worth it.
Unfortunately I’m only half-kidding. With a $20+ price tag you want to make sure you’re getting as close to your money’s value as possible. This includes taking into account the quality of the drink, the level of service, and the ambiance of the bar.
The only thing worse than heartbreak is getting that $100 tab after a round of drinks with your friends and realizing nobody was impressed.
Fortunately New York City is home to nine of the 100 Best Bars in the World, so you’re not completely out of luck. The best cocktails bars in New York City are waiting for you, you just need to find them.
I’m here to help you do exactly that.
I’m your boozy friend in the city who doesn’t know how to keep her mouth shut. This means I chat-up the bartenders and ask questions about their wonderful alcoholic concoctions, and pass on my learning (and opinions) to you.
So without further ado, what do you say we start going over the best cocktail bars in NYC?
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Best Cocktail Bars NYC
#25. Nobody Told Me
I wish I could argue nobody told me that Nobody Told Me is one of the best cocktail bars in NYC, but that would be a lie. In actuality – Nobody Told Me is one of my most highly-recommended bars in New York City.
Of course, the drinks are the major draw but the quality was something no one prepared me for.
Unquestionably, the drinks’ craftsmanship is a skill that is unique and memorable. In a spot that is recognized as one of the top cocktail bars in New York City, it’s too difficult to single out one drink as the best. But if I had to choose I’d reach for the Copy of a Copy (mezcal, hibiscus, herbal bitters, lemon & mint).
In a lot of ways Nobody Told Me is exactly what the best neighborhood joints should be – small, under the radar, with friendly service and mouthwatering drinks. I suggest visiting before 6PM, because the bar is relatively empty and the sun is still soaking the bar with summery rays.
Address: 951 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025
#24. Dear Irving
With two stunning locations in Manhattan, Dear Irving comes highly rated when it comes to best cocktail bars in NYC. Aside from the elegant decor and jaw-dropping views (Hudson location) the craft cocktails are simply unmatched.
Drinks at Dear Irving clock in at around $19 a pop. Which I wish I could complain about but they really are damn good. When you visit one of the greatest cocktail bars in NYC, you can anticipate high-quality drinks made with classic recipes (with a twist) all while incorporating fresh ingredients.
The amazing cocktail courses offered at this New York City cocktail bar make it stand out from the competition.
You and a friend can sign up for a 90-minute course on any of the numerous cocktail classes available for $250. You can expect to learn about the history of unique cocktails, getting a lesson on how to mix them, and, of course, tasting the results.
Address: 55 Irving Pl, New York, NY 10003 & 310 W 40th St, New York, NY 10018
#23. Da Capo
On Columbus and 75th Street, there is a discreet bar called Da Capo. At first glance you wouldn’t assume it’s a popular spot in the Upper West Side, but stick around for a drink and you’ll understand why we consider this one of the best cocktail bars in NYC.
The small storefront gives way to a narrow bar with a surprisingly buzzing atmosphere.
The cocktails are innovative, tasty and worthy of a spot among the best cocktail bars in NYC. My personal favorite is called Caribbean Roast, made with dark rum and muddled coffee beans that I crave more often than I’d like to admit.
During the warmer months the outdoor seating area is as charming as can be. Both the inside and outside get lively crowds enjoying their drinks.
Even more surprising, they had managed to squeeze in a DJ! I had plans to bar-hop one evening, but my friends and I ended up just staying at Da Capo the whole night. This is one of the best unassuming cocktail bars in NYC that doesn’t get as much hype so crowds are few and far between.
Address: 322 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10023
#22. The Wayland
The Wayland is one of the best cocktail bars in NYC for date night. In fact, this is the spot I recommend the most when folks ask where to take someone for drinks and dinner.
It’s no easy feat to wear such a heavy crown. But as one of the best cocktail bars in NYC, The Wayland proves time and time again that good drinks and good food can be had under one roof.
This New York City cocktail bar is situated in the East Village. Additionally, getting a drink here is like dining in a treehouse. The inside is warm and inviting, playing up the rustic theme with its abundance of wood paneling.
Offering live music and a killer happy hour during the week, The Wayland is one of the best cocktail bars in NYC for oysters. From 4 to 7pm (Monday – Friday) select cocktails, beers and wine will cost you $4-10 and oysters will run you $10/half or $18/dozen.
Address: 700 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009
#21. Raines Law Room
This well-known cocktail bar in New York City bears the name Raines Law, a state liquor tax designed to reduce alcohol consumption. Alcohol sales on Sundays were likewise prohibited by law, with the exception of hotels.
Saloons began expanding, adding rooms to qualify for hotel status and take advantage of the loophole. These became known as Raines Law rooms, and paved the way for one of the best cocktail bars in NYC.
Low lights and good drinks are just about all you need for a great date night, and Raines Law Room is looking to host. The intimate vibe helps conversation flow and makes it easy lose track of time.
If you’re looking for an engaging date night, consider taking a cocktail-making class. You’ll get to learn the history and technique necessary to make flavorsome drinks at one of the best cocktail bars in NYC.
Address: 48 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011
#20. The Rum House
One of the top cocktail bars in New York City is without a doubt The Rum House. An intimate, historic New York setting complements the bar’s distinctive Times Square location.
I’m about to get a lot of flack for saying this but The Rum House is one of the more affordable cocktail bars in NYC (in my opinion).
I know, I know paying $17 for a drink feels like highway robbery but compared to most other places that charge around $22 for a decent drink, the $5 discount goes far! Plus The Rum House offers happy hour daily from 4 to 6 PM.
The posh piano bar is wood-lined and cozy. Drinks can be enjoyed in a phenomenal atmosphere while listening to a soothing live jazz band.
The Rum House offers a massive list of specialty cocktails. And the best part is you don’t have to be a fan of rum to enjoy one of the best cocktail bars in NYC. On the contrary, the menu is made to fit anyones needs.
Before heading to Midtown to enjoy a fun night of drinking and music, check the calendar to see who’s performing.
Address: Inside Hotel Edison | 228 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036
Getting a table at Banzarbar, one of the best cocktail bars in NYC will require nothing short of a miracle. Not only does the bar serve some expertly crafted drinks but the place can only fit 20 people which makes it one of the most exclusive cocktail bars in NYC.
Sandwiched between SoHo and the Lower East Side, the bar is located inside Freeman’s on the second floor. A night of drinking here will cost you a pretty penny since the drinks range anywhere from $20 to $30 –ouch!
But with great power comes great responsibility. The small, intimate venue sets the bar high and fortunately exceeds expectation. I suggest ordering the Pineapple Sage (joven mezcal, gentian, pineapple vanilla shrub, jalapeño, lime, agave) — I could chug these they’re that good.
With a small food menu to boot, this is one of the best cocktail bars in New York City to celebrate a monumental occasion or a fun date.
It is important to note that since this is one of the best cocktail bars in NYC with limiting seating reservations are a must! Reservations open up 14 days at a time. Walk-ins are welcome but are never guaranteed a spot unless there is an opening.
Address: 2 Freeman Alley, New York, NY 10002
#18. King Tai
King Tai may just be the most affordable bar on our list of best cocktail bars in NYC… which means run, don’t walk.
Opened in 2015, King Tai offers fun, fruity tropical drinks that New Yorkers can’t get enough of. Always hosting events, pop-up and bringing in DJ’s you never know what to expect when visiting one of the best cocktail bars in New York City.
House drinks go for $13 and this is one of the few cocktail bars in NYC that constantly has daily specials that are too good to pass up on. One being that they offer happy hour, daily until 8 PM!
The atmosphere is bright and inviting and you know you’re in for a treat whenever you stop by King Tai. Serving CMarty’s Jerk every Wednesday through Friday you can also expect a handful of pop-up restaurants rotating delicious meals on the weekends.
Address: 1095 Bergen St, Brooklyn, NY 11216
It’s always so exciting finding a spot in the city that whips up mean cocktails and delicious food, all under the same roof.
Located in the Greenwich Village, Bandits is a classic old-school diner but with a modernized facelift. The retro atmosphere is nostalgic and charming, it’s not difficult to see why Bandits is considered to be one of the best cocktail bars in NYC.
Innovation takes over the menu and the craftsmanship is truly put to the test. Not only are the drinks stunning but they taste even better than they look. A personal favorite is Truth Or Pear which is made with mezcal infused with pasilla & guajillo chile’s, pear, rosemary, lime, dehydrated blueberry salt.
But if you really want to treat yourself to one of the best cocktail bars in NYC I suggest swinging by Bandits on the weekend when they serve brunch. From 11 AM to 4 PM, delicious meals like fried chicken sandwiches and biscuits and gravy are whipped up in the kitchen.
And if that still doesn’t convince you, there’s a portion of the menu dedicated to tater tots and all the glorious combinations you can make with them!
Local’s Tip: Every Monday Bandit offers Martini Mondays where they serve $10 martinis. Just another reason why this is one of the best cocktail bars in New York City.
Address: 44 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014
#16. Sunken Harbor Club
A modest, cozy maritime speakeasy called Sunken Harbor Club is hidden away in Brooklyn. The decoration is intended to resemble a ship’s cabin.
Committing to the theme you’ll find rope with “seaweed” strung everywhere along with planks of wood plastered on the walls. They even go as far as to play sounds of waves in the bar to feel like you’re in the ocean.
As one of the best cocktail bars in NYC you can expect the staff to know their stuff. They’re kind, friendly and extremely knowledgable when it comes to top-notch drinks.
The menu is broken up into sections that pay an ode to the theme. Like the “twilight zone”, “in the shallows” and of course for those staying sober “on dry land”. Drinks are poured in amusing drinking glasses, one of which being a porcelain fish, which is my personal favorite.
All of this is to say that Sunken Harbor Club is one of the most exciting and cutting-edge cocktail bars in New York City, and I guarantee you won’t find anything like it anywhere else.
Address: 372 Fulton St 2nd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201
#15. Bemelmans Bar
When it comes to iconic cocktail bars in New York City, Bemelmans Bar usually graces the top of the list. Found in the classy Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side, this NYC cocktail bar is best known for the alluring murals that adorn the walls.
The murals were hand-painted by none other than the beloved illustrator behind the famous Madeline books, Ludwig Bemelmans (for whom the bar is named). The beautiful murals were commissioned in the 1940s and depict Central Park in all four seasons.
Peel your eyes away from the handsome walls and you’ll notice the pianist serenading patrons. Allow your eyes to wander and watch generous pours of perfectly-executed drinks make their way from one table to the next.
In a lot of ways Bemelmans Bar is exactly what a New York City bar should be. The staff are dressed to impress, the bar is dimly lit and the aged leather banquettes offer an air of sophistication and class. It’s one of the best cocktail bars in NYC to celebrate a special occasion.
Address: 35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021
#14. The Up & Up
The beautiful West Village is home to the next fantastic New York City cocktail bar. When I first moved to the city, The Up & Up was highly recommended to me for quality drinks. And folks I’ll give credit where credit is due, The Up & Up is damn good.
Expect an intimate and small bar that still gives off a comfortable and casual vibe. If you visit in the evening the bar is dimly lit and romantic, perfect for a night out.
There isn’t much in the way of food, only snacks likes nuts and charcuterie. What The Up & Up lacks in food options, it makes up for in drinks. The menu boasts more than 2 dozen cocktails and mocktails, so rest assured nobody will leave thirsty.
As one of the best cocktail bars in NYC you can expect a wait any day of the week. Make sure to make reservations ahead of time to skip the line.
Address: 116 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012
#13. 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 a hidden gem, one of the best cocktail bars in New York City.
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 conversations, which can make for a memorable experience.
I consider Amor Y Amargo among the can’t-miss cocktail bars in the NYC that everyone should try to swing by, at least once.
Address: 95 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
Ask locals about the best cocktail bars in NYC and the honest ones will mention Apotheke. The dishonest ones still want to keep it a secret. The appeal at this Manhattan bar is the overall vibe, mixologists in lab coats create inspired cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere that doesn’t lack imagination or romance.
The menu is broken down into six distinct sections: Health & Beauty, Aphrodisiacs, Pain Killers, Euphorics, Stimulants and Stress Relievers. Cocktails are referred to as prescriptions, feeding into the whole old-school European apothecary experience.
Regardless of the drinks you choose to order at one of the classiest cocktail bars in NYC, one thing is certain, you can’t be disappointed. Using organic produce and house-made ingredients, everything tastes refreshing and satisfying.
Address: 9 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013
#11. Please Don’t Tell (PTD)
If you’re looking for one of the most fun cocktail bars in NYC look no further than Please Don’t Tell. It’s a speakeasy with a little twist.
You’ll enter through a little shop called Crif Dogs. At face value Crif Dogs appears to be your ordinary hot dog shop, when in reality it is secretly one of the top cocktail bars in NYC.
As soon as you step foot into the shop there is a phone booth to the left of the entrance. You step into the phone booth and call a specific number. The phone booth triggers a doorbell to ring and a door will open up for you to enter into.
You’ll walk into a small and intimate set up where you can spend the night ordering impressive cocktails (or hotdogs) from the spot you originally came from. The atmosphere is dark and moody making it a fun way to end the night with friends or just to escape the city for the day.
Address: 113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009
#10. The Lab at Patent Pending
Another great speakeasy that has made our list of the best cocktail bars in NYC is The Lab at Patent Pending.
Patent Pending is a popular New York City speakeasy, but what some folks don’t realize it that there’s now a second bar tucked behind it called The Lab. Opened in 2021 and seating only 30, the space is tiny but memorable.
This newly-opened Manhattan bar is housed in the building where Nikola Tesla lived. This is the very building where he performed various experiments on radio waves.
Today you can experience the world he surmised a century ago whenever you pull out your phone and connect to WiFi. This bar is located in the heart of innovation and action and is one of the best cocktail bars in New York City.
Serving some of the most exciting cocktails in Manhattan, the Lab is all about creativity. I’m partial to the Suspicions of Espionage (Peruvian Pisco, Single Malt Scotch, wildflower, passion fruit and egg white) and the Radio Waves (Tequila, Mezcal, basil, Thai chile, lime and cucumber).
Address: 49 W 27th St, New York, NY 10001
#9. Employees Only
Greenwich Village’s Employees Only is one of New York City’s best cocktail bars for well-crafted drinks. And in typical New York fashion, it is yet another speakeasy to add to the list.
Folks have to walk passed a tarot card reader in the foyer before finding the hidden bar. But I promise the hunt is worth it for some amazing drinks. And don’t just take my word for it!
In fact, Employees Only has recently been voted the 30th best bar in North America and 47th best in the world. The recognition is well deserved too, every time I visit I’m tempted to order well past my limit to try “just one more drink”.
Whether you’re after classic manhattans or negronis, or a specialty cocktail like the Strangers Punch (Havana Club Rum with Clarified Milk, Torres 15 Brandy, Tibetan Tiger tea, cinnamon syrup & a twist of orange) Employees Only is hands down one of the best cocktail bars in NYC and will not disappoint.
Address: 510 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
#8. Bar Goto
Are we surprised to see yet another New York City cocktail bar has ranked on a list of best bars in the world? Absolutely not!
Not only was 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).
Known for recognizing exceptional talent and skills, it should come as no surprise that Bar Goto has made our list of best cocktail bars in NYC.
The first time I tried Bar Goto, I actually came for the miso chicken wings which came highly (highly) recommend, And for good reason! These are the best chicken wings I’ve had in all of NYC (yes, this is a hill I’m 100% willing to die on).
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 cocktail bars in NYC in hopes I can change at least one of your lives.
Address: 245 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002
Started by an adventurous duo, Nico de Soto and and Greg Boehm, Mace has graced the list of World’s 50 Best Bars for three years in a row. An astonishing feat, considering this popular Manhattan bar was opened in 2015, merely eight years ago.
The concept of this trendy cocktail bar in New York City is simple: incorporate adventure and travel into every perfectly-crafted drink. The menu boasts extravagant drinks feature exotic spices from around the world. The bar’s popularity grew like wildfire as evidenced by the fact they had to relocate to a bigger space in the heart of Greenwich Village.
Getting a reservation at Mace, one of the best cocktail bars in NYC, may require nothing short of a miracle. Unless you’re willing to toast before 5pm and after midnight, make sure to make reservations well in advance.
Address: 35 W 8th St, New York, NY 10011
#6. Double Chicken Please
Double Chicken Please is one of the best cocktail bars in NYC thanks to its unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries.
Their cocktails 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.
Even the shots are fun, my favorite being the Oolong Whiskey. Safe to say, if you’re after uniqueness Double Chicken Please is among the best cocktail bars in NYC.
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!
As one of the best cocktail bars in New York City you’re going to want to make reservations ASAP.
There are two rooms to choose from. The front room is more your typical bar-style where they have quick “taptails” to choose from. But to get the food-flavored craft cocktails you’ll need to reserve a spot in the back room.
Address: 115 Allen St, New York, NY 10002
#5. The Dead Rabbit
The next spot to hit our list of best cocktail bars in NYC is The Dead Rabbit…cute name, huh?
Named after an Irish gang that ran rampant in lower Manhattan, the Dead Rabbit was opened in 2013. The founders, Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry hail from Belfast, Ireland and had a simple goal. They wanted to create one of the best upscale cocktail bars in NYC with the atmosphere of an Irish Pub. And they delivered.
The phenomenal cocktails being crafted at this New York City cocktail bar have earned it several awards, most notably #1 bar in the world in 2016. But it’s the hot toddy that steals the show for me.
The staff at The Dead Rabbit always have the best recommendations so I suggest asking them if you’re stumped choosing a drink.
Address: 30 Water St, New York, NY 10004
#4. Katana Kitten
The recognition come thanks to Katana Kitten’s director of deliciousness Masahiro Urushido. The creative mixologist is perpetually donning a smile, all while creating some of the best cocktails in the world.
In fact, Urushido has been named New York’s top bartender. But enough of the awards, at the end of the day the best cocktail bars in New York City deliver delicious drinks, and Katana Kitten checks all the boxes.
The Japanese-American bar has mastered the art of high-balls (a drink made with a spirit and mixed with a larger amount of a chaser). The melon-lime soda is made with absolut lime, midori, lime, matcha, lime leaf and is the perfect drink for a sunny day!
Address: 531 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
#3. Caffe Dante
Caffe Dante dates back to 1915. It served as a staple for the community before slowly fading into oblivion before two Australians decided to breathe new life into the iconic NYC restaurant 2015. The result was striking, Dante was named the best bar in the world in 2019 (4 years after re-opening!) and appeared on the list again in 2020.
And I dare ask, what better way to cap off a romantic day in the Big Apple than by getting a drink at one of the best cocktail bars in NYC?
The menu is well curated with small fare but the drinks is where this popular NYC bar truly shines. The hardest part about this iconic experience is getting reservations because this is one of the busiest spots in the city.
After visiting Dante on several occasions, I can confirm that their drinks are some of the best (and strongest) I’ve had in the city. The dirty martini is particularly memorable but my partner is partial to the negroni.
Dante boasts two iconic restaurants in New York City — Dante West Village and Caffe Dante, the two bars are located a few blocks apart. I haven’t had luck getting into Caffe Dante without a reservation, so I suggest booking in advance.
Try to book Friday evening during the spring and summer because they usually have a pleasant live jazz band. Just another reason why Caffe Dante is one of the best cocktail bars in NYC.
Happy Hour: Both Dante locations have generous happy hour between 3pm and 5pm. Dante West Village offers martinis for $10 and Caffe Dante offers negronis for $10. The price/quality ratio can’t be beat!
Address: 551 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014 & 79-81 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012
After Attaboy was named the #1 best bar in North America, I knew I had to make a pit-stop. I have been back many, many times since and couldn’t agree more, it’s hands-down one of the best cocktail bars in NYC.
Getting in isn’t easy since there are 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 drink has become my favorite in all of New York City.
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 does one of the best cocktail bars in New York City. 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.
Address: 134 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002
#1. Death & Co.
Getting into Death & Company is nothing short of a miracle. As one of the best cocktail bars in NYC that doesn’t take reservations, long lines are all but guaranteed.
The dimly lit speakeasy is charming and timeless. The bartenders are the backbone of this establishment and their craft along with their skills deserve all the recognition.
Death & Company offers one of the most extensive cocktail menus. Breaking down the drinks into categories like “light & playful” and “boozy & honest” folks have a better understanding of what they’re getting themselves into.
With a menu as great as this one and all the awards that follow it’s not hard to see why Death & Company sits high on our list of best cocktail bars in NYC.
Address: 433 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009
Quick recap of the best cocktail bars in New York City
- Nobody Told Me
- Dear Iriving
- Da Capo
- The Wayland
- Raines Law Room
- The Rum House
- Banzar Bar
- King Tai
- Sunken Harbor Club
- Bemelmans Bar
- The Up & Up
- Amor Y Amargo
- Please Don’t Tell
- Patent Pending
- Employee’s Only
- Bar Goto
- Double Chicken Please
- Dead Rabbit
- Katana Kitten
- Caffe Dante
- Death & Co.
Best Cocktail Bars New York City (Helpful Map)
And there you have it, folks! My roundup of the best cocktail bars in NYC. As always, don’t hesitate to let me know if I missed anything.