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.
This new Spanish seafood bar exudes “check out my graphic design portfolio” Greenpoint charm. On any given night, you’ll find a transistor radio playing indie music in the bathroom, a cartoon poster of a wine-drunk penguin hanging behind the bar, and a pack of neighborhood people wearing glasses and baseball caps seated in tiny wooden booths. In addition to their well-made cocktails and curated list of wine, sherry, and amari, El Pingüino also serves an impressive raw bar selection. You can spring for a $90 seafood tower extravaganza or eat some aguachile with saltines while you’re here—but you should know that the menu isn’t conducive to having a full meal. Come for drinks and snacks with a date or a friend, and keep in mind the daily Happy Hour from 4-7pm when oysters are half off and martinis cost $12.
Seeing as how it’s hidden behind the kitchen setup of a fake deli (complete with quart containers and large refrigeration units), we suppose you could call One19 Wine Bar a speakeasy. That’s all well and good, but you should think of this spot on Essex Street as less of a hidden venue to discover and more as just another fun place to drink mostly Italian varietals on the LES. This bar has a lineup of wine on-tap, reasonably-priced bottles that hover in the $40-50 price range, and a couple of flight options that allow you to try some of the stuff they’re excited about. The space is pretty small, but it’s cozy enough to feel like a party at times — and there’s a full food menu of the usual snacky options like marinated olives, charcuterie, and tinned fish.
Famous Last Words feels somewhat like a typical Brooklyn bar where people go on dates and hang out in the backyard — only the whole place is painted in a Miami Vice color palette, and the bartenders put serious time and effort into making the tiki cocktails here. The team behind the now-closed Hanson Dry opened this bar in the same space, but even if you live in Clinton Hill, it’s possible you haven’t noticed it yet. (The only sign outside reads “Bar,” yet, confusingly, this establishment is not called Bar Bar.) Bring a casual date or a friend you haven’t seen in a while for a well-made negroni or a bright pink Dragonfruit Hurricane Helper.
A good deal of natural wine-drinking happens on Bushwick rooftops, usually involving some combination of climbing a fire escape and a janky Bluetooth speaker. At Cherry On Top, things are a little more professional, though hanging out at this spot between the Dekalb and Jefferson L stops does feel a bit like being at a friend’s place. There’s a funky list of wines at reasonable prices (with plenty of glasses under $15 and bottles under $50), and a large rooftop with picnic tables on which to drink them. On our sunset-hour trip here, every single table was drinking orange wine. There’s also a small food menu with snacks like pickles, cheese, and salami, as well as an indoor area downstairs that we’d describe as extremely cute. The owner is an illustrator, and the indoor space almost feels like it could be the inside of her notebook.
The next time you want to go out or celebrate your birthday with a small group, and possibly rap “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” reserve a private karaoke room at Ms. Kim’s in Flatiron. Each room costs $120 per hour, fits up to 10 people, and has a special air filter that ensures you’re not sharing air with any other rooms. We had a dizzying amount of fun on a recent trip, in which we belted out ballads such as “Mr. Brightside” and “Just the Two of Us,” eating delicious karaage and tender garlic soy chicken wings, drinking many rounds of their tangy “Pear Planet” cocktail with rosemary syrup and lemon. Ms. Kim’s is one of the best places to celebrate your birthday in NYC right now, especially if your friend group is roughly the size of a small brass band.
The country’s only makgeolli producer just opened a taproom at the tippy top of Greenpoint, and you should change your weekend plans to include drinking Korean rice wine there. Get the makgeolli flight as a 101 crash course into the world of the high-ABV, milky-white drink. The three-glass flight ranges from a clarified and nutty Yakju that’s made from the slightly oxidized liquid at the top of the tanks, to the sediment-heavy and fruity Takju. But for anyone just looking to try one glass, we like the Omija makgeolli best. It’s not distributed yet, has a bright, lactic taste, and you’ll probably see a magnolia berry floating in your glass. Stop by Hana Makgeolli’s airy space with a friend for a several-hour heart-to-heart where you’ll get drunker than you realize. The anju snacking plate full of savory dried fish and crunchy nori should come in handy while you’re considering Citi Biking home.
You could treat Bar Blondeau like an upper level of Le Crocodile. Technically, that’s where Bar Blondeau is located - six stories above the French restaurant in the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. And while we fully endorse riding up the elevator, sitting at the bar, drinking a glass of chilled red, and snacking on salmon rilletes and olives, there are some important things you can do at Bar Blondeau that aren’t possible at Le Crocodile. The biggest one being: looking out at the Manhattan skyline. And while there’s a full food menu, there are less hearty entrees than you’ll find downstairs, and more raw fish options here, like crudo and chilled mussels. That’s why we like this place best as a preamble or nightcap to a dinner in the neighborhood. But Bar Blondeau also works great for an early-in-the-game date when you’re not sure if you actually want to have a full meal just yet.
Blinky’s in Williamsburg has what a lot of its neighborhood’s citizens want right now: a backyard crawling with ivy, regularly scheduled DJ sets and comedy shows, and a sassy drink menu with high school yearbook superlatives listed below each cocktail. Whether you identify with the passionfruit daiquiri “Biggest Flirt,” blue cosmopolitan “Class Clown,” or neither because you believe superlatives are limiting, come here with a few friends and sit in the backyard while you discuss who Blinky might be (the answer is the owner’s cat). We’ve noticed things start to get busy around 8pm on weeknights, so plan accordingly.
Like its next-door neighbor Mister Paradise, Sidney’s Five is a fun East Village bar where you should meet up with friends or take a date whom you might make out with in public. Unlike Mister Paradise, it’s not quite as busy, so it’s easy to grab an indoor booth or outside table. All the drinks at Sidney’s Five are under $15, plus there’s a whole martini menu if that’s your mood for the night. There’s a relatively long food menu as well, with stuff like lamb burgers, chicken skewers, and even a raw bar. We only stopped in for drinks, but we’ll be back to share a corn dog with a date.
Temperance in the West Village offers over 100 wines by the glass, which means you can drink a range of things like a nutty-savory French white or order a bottle of something that tastes as though a can of kombucha dressed up to go out on a Saturday night. Between the big, hidden backyard and helpful staff (say hi to Jon for us), consider Temperance the most useful new bar for a wine-fueled date night in the area. It also works when you want to hang out with a couple friends outside in the West Village without having to navigate the masses perched on sidewalk cafes. Glasses start at $12 and go as high as $50-ish for something like a Champagne brut rosé.
If you’re someone who often finds themselves drinking in Bushwick, we suggest you confidently add Palmetto to the ever-growing mental list of Fun Going Out Bars. This Knickerbocker Avenue spot near Maria Hernandez Park mostly focuses on cocktails (although there’s a natural wine list as well). We quickly slurped down an herbaceous play on a mezcal Negroni called the “Garden Variety” that’s made with cumin and a ton of cucumber. Keep in mind that Palmetto stays fairly calm during the day - in case you ever want to get a quiet drink in a chic leather booth. Otherwise come here starting around 11pm for a rowdier experience.
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.