Bars

The 10 best bars in NYC
From dives to cocktail dens and craft-brew havens to wine haunts, here are the best bars in NYC to visit right now


The Dead Rabbit
At this time-capsule FiDi nook, you can drink like a boss—Boss Tweed, that is. In a redbrick landmark, Belfast bar vets Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry (of Northern Ireland’s acclaimed Merchant Hotel) have conjured up a rough-and-tumble 19th-century tavern. And it’s just the kind of saloon that the bare-knuckle Five Points gang the joint’s named after (its emblem was a dead rabbit impaled on a spike) would have frequented.


Clover Club
This standard-bearing cocktail parlor from mixology matriarch Julie Reiner (Lani Kai) expresses its Victorian bent in intricate tile work, curved leather booths, marble tables, vintage sofas and a functioning fireplace. The centerpiece is the 19th-century mahogany bar, where vest-clad barkeeps stir and shake throwback potions, handily defined in the novel-like menu. Choose among regal crystal bowls of punch or finely wrought drinks, both classic and new.


Death & Company
The nattily attired bartenders are deadly serious about drinks at this Gothic saloon, a pioneer in the current mania for craft cocktails. Behind the imposing wooden door, black walls and cushy booths combine with chandeliers to set the luxuriously somber mood. The barkeeps here are consistently among the city's best, turning out inventive and classic drinks such as the Sweet Hereafter, a Latin American martini riff made with floral pisco, St.-Germain, Dolin Blanc vermouth and Cocchi Americano.


Pegu Club
The far-reaching influence of New York's reigning queen of mixology, Audrey Saunders, is hard to measure. Her storied cocktail lounge, the Pegu Club, begat many of today's standard-bearers, including Death & Company, PDT and Mayahuel. Pay a visit to the urbane barroom, a second floor sanctum on bustling Houston Street, and explore Saunders’ eminent opus, which includes new classics such as the Gin-Gin Mule. She first served the drink—a vivacious elixir of homemade ginger beer with Tanqueray gin, fresh mint and lime juice—at the Beacon Restaurant & Bar in 2000. Equally renowned is the Earl Grey MarTEAni, a frothy and fragrant nod to English teatime traditions made with loose-leaf–infused Tanqueray gin, lemon juice and an egg white.


PDT
The entrance to this taxidermy-strewn saloon is hidden behind an old phone booth inside Crif Dogs. Pick up the receiver and a hostess opens the back wall of the booth. Inside, a team of barkeeps (led by industry icon Jim Meehan) offer thoughtful cocktail creations like the frothy Sixth Street, a complex, guava-spiked mix of house-made ginger beer, a kafir-lime cordial and a pungent curry powder. The staff is happy to talk you through any libation on the menu, or suggest an haute dog brought in from next door. It’s that kind of dedication that makes getting in worth the effort.


Maison Premiere
The trademark horseshoe bar—anchoring a dreamily appointed stage set with multitier oyster towers, tableside martini service and a bronzed Napoleon statue perched atop the green-marble absinthe drip—has not only been a veritable breeding ground for talent (Nitecap’s Natasha David, the Dead Rabbit’s Jillian Vose), but it’s also become the platonic ideal of what a Brooklyn drinks joint should be: a place where off-duty bar-industry types clink gorgeous sherry cobblers next to regulars downing Ram Island slurpers, where the folks behind the stick are as thoughtful and dapper as the drinks they’re serving.


Tørst
On the front line of the Scandinavian bar scene is Greenpoint drinkery Tørst—Danish for “thirst”—helmed by legendary “gypsy brewer” Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø and chef Daniel Burns, formerly of the planet’s hottest restaurant, Noma in Copenhagen. These warriors are laying waste to tired ideas of what a great taproom should be, with a minimalist space that looks and smells like a modernist log cabin, and rare brews from thoughout Europe and North America.


Attaboy
Not all spin-offs are created equal: The best retain what you loved most about the original, with enough new material to keep things fresh—Frasier from Cheers, The Jeffersons from All in the Family—while others simply crash and burn. Luckily for Gotham’s cocktail-swigging masses, this Milk and Honey offshoot falls into the former school, boasting characters as familiar as Frasier Crane to the Cheers crew, but with a livelier, lighter air than the late Sasha Petraske’s dim big-league cocktail den. From the up-tempo retro tunes (a little more Etta, a little less Ella) to the brightly lit, lived-in digs (whitewashed brick, tarnished a sign hanging on the wall), Attaboy proves a breezy evolution of the form.


Pouring Ribbons
Most big-deal cocktail dens were launched by a singular personality. Toby Maloney—a bartending O.G. at the legendary Milk & Honey and Pegu Club—boasts enough star power to roll out a spot on his own. But the gifted drinks slinger, along with business partner Jason Cott, recruited top cocktail talents Joaquín Simó (Death & Company) and Troy Sidle (the Violet Hour) to form something of a booze-powered Fantastic Four. The team has set up pioneering bars across the country in places like Nashville (the Patterson House) and Chicago (the Violet Hour), as well as working on consulting gigs in Gotham. Pouring Ribbons marks the all-star squad’s solo debut in NYC, with one of the most exciting new drinks menus and a capacious teal-daubed barroom.


The NoMad Bar
For the white-collared wayfarers wandering the streets north of Madison Square Park, NoMad is a depressingly apt name. Sure, the neighborhood has seen a much-welcome rise in upstanding restaurants, but finding an any-day gastropub that doesn’t reek of postgrad brewskies is harder to come by. Who better to fill the void than Daniel Humm, Will Guidara and Leo Robitschek, the James Beard Award–winning trio behind neighborhood stunners Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad, who expanded the latter to include this elegant saloon inside the NoMad hotel, teeming with lofty pub grub, digs worthy of 007… oh, and $198 cocktails.