New York City Bars & Nightlife
The Rose Bar
2 Lexington Ave., Midtown
By night, the Rose Bar comes alive, often with the who’s who of New York’s music, art, and fashion scenes thanks to a packed roster of cultural events. But we love to dip into the blush-colored bar for a cocktail in the early afternoon, when the scene is more mellow. Sinking into those pink velvet seats and simply admiring the beautiful rosy décor after a long day running around the city is—in our book—a form of therapy. Walls are heavy with works from the twentieth century’s heavy hitters like Richard Prince, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and in the depths of a New York winter, when the limestone fireplace is lit, there is nowhere cozier for an afternoon cocktail.
894 Broadway, Bed-Stuy
Whether you’re looking for a place to buy flowers, sip coffee, or enjoy a cocktail and dance to a live DJ set, you can find it all under one roof in Brooklyn. Cafe Erzulie—named after the Haitian Voodoo goddess of love, beauty, and dance—is a lush indoor-outdoor tropical cafe. A flower shop by day, it seamlessly transforms into an intimate cocktail bar at night. On Thursdays, there's live Caribbean jazz set under strings of lights in their outdoor space, and on the weekends, the dance floor opens up for some of Brooklyn's best up-and-coming DJ’s. Don’t leave without trying the green tempeh sandwich, and for a drink, the summer sorrel
247 Broome St., Lower East Side
On a quiet block of Broome Street, Ten Bells is easy to miss: It has a discreet facade and no obvious signage. Even though it opened ten years ago, it still exudes the vibe that it’s a local secret, which makes a visit here so fun on cold winter nights, when a quiet, empty corner is easy to find. While it’s billed as primarily a wine bar (they put a premium on organic and sustainable labels), the tapas are great, especially the boquerones (white anchovies in vinegar and olive oil) and the burrata with piquillo peppers and basil. There’s also a happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. with $1 oysters.
The Crosby Bar
79 Crosby St., SoHo
Like the hotel it inhabits, the Crosby Bar is an ode to bright colors and vivid patterns—a place where whimsically polished surroundings (designed by the Crosby Street Hotel’s founder, Kit Kemp) are just as eye-catching as what’s on the menu. High ceilings, oak floors, and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a garden on Lafayette Street add to the thoroughly pleasant atmosphere. There’s a long pewter bar that stretches down the entire room, for pre- or post-dinner or post-post-dinner cocktails, but it’s an especially lovely spot for breakfast, when you’ll find healthy-ish items, like a ten-grain gluten-free porridge with berries, cold-pressed green juices, and turmeric almond lattes. Given that it’s a British import (it’s part of the London-based Firmdale Hotels), afternoon tea is offered daily, and guests can choose varieties like wild rooibos or lemon verbena, along with pineapple-coconut upside-down cakes and scones with clotted cream.
93 Scott Ave., Bushwick
There’s no place like Honey’s—and not just because you feel like you’ve stepped out of Bushwick into some other realm as you sit in one of the wooden booths surrounded by cinder blocks and concrete. (Fun fact: The space, once a restaurant-equipment repair shop, was designed by one of the set designers for the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild.) Honey’s is the tasting room for Enlightenment Wines, as well as a meadery/mead bar—the only one we’ve come across in Brooklyn—and it serves exquisite cocktails infused with the ancient alcohol. (Made from honey fermented with well water and mixed with various spices and herbs, mead figures strongly in Norse mythology but is much older than that.) The herbalist owners pick many of their ingredients upstate, which is reflected in fresh, always-inventive drinks like the Montauk-seawater-infused Ocean Martini.
The Three Diamond Door
211 Knickerbocker Ave., Bushwick
Brooklyn vibes are strong at the Three Diamond Door, where the tattooed bartenders look as imposingly cool as they are friendly and easygoing. There’s no bar in the area more festive on Friday and Saturday nights, when every inch of the place is packed, including the yard and back bar room where amazing dance music blares. There’s prosecco on tap, an excellent selection of beers, leather booths to sink into, and incredible people-watching.
56-06 Cooper Ave., Bushwick
There’s no dearth of awesome tiny bars in New York City—but Nowadays is something else entirely. With its sprawling outdoor space that easily fits DJs, dance parties, and picnic tables, it’s the ultimate spot to while away summer Saturdays sipping cocktails and grazing on incredible food (the White Rhino sandwich is cauliflower-caper-Gruyere heaven). On the border of Bushwick, Brooklyn, and Ridgewood, Queens, the breezy hangout is a fantastic time day or night. In colder months, everything moves indoors—you lose the whimsy of partying with friends under the night sky, but you gain a legit dance floor (with a smoke machine).
Pearl’s Social and Billy Club
40 St Nicholas Ave., Bushwick
With rustic wall-hangings and candles tucked into cozy corners, and a curio-shop feel, the atmosphere at Pearl’s is a draw in and of itself, but the cocktails are incredible. There are shots of bone broth (the same broth also infuses their perfect Bloody Mary) or tequila-spiked kombucha; beers galore, and wine, much of it served in adorable Mason jars. The bartenders dole out delicious snack bowls with pretzels, sesame-crunchy-things, and other savory crisps to accompany your drinks. This is the sort of place that compels you to stay and sip into the night—unless you happen to be there on a sunny day, of course, when sitting outside with a bone-broth Bloody Mary is heaven on earth.
1057 Atlantic Ave, Bedford-Stuyvesant
The particular strip of Atlantic Avenue that Diamond Reef inhabits isn’t exactly a tropical oasis, but the tiki-themed cocktails designed by the famous barmen Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy absolutely are. With wood-paneled walls and bright-turquoise booths, the place is what we imagine a mid-century modern party house would look like. The drinks—like the Booze and Juice, a shot paired with fresh Granny Smith apple juice—are playful, and the backyard, which is huge and heated, is a good time almost any time of year. The bar’s version of the classic Penicillin cocktail (honey, lemon, ginger, and scotch), thrown into a slushy machine and renamed the Penichillin, is especially delicious.
The Flower Shop
107 Eldridge St., Lower East Side
This ‘70s-inspired Lower East Side bar-slash-restaurant is one of our favorite spots. Upstairs there are comfortable booths to melt into after a long day, short day—or anytime you just really need a cocktail. The bar snacks are good, especially the cauliflower steak on a bed of farro drizzled with tahini. Downstairs feels like a tricked-out version of your cool neighbor’s basement—pool table, sunken fireplace, and jukebox included, plus walls covered with tapestries and kitschy-cool posters.
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