Where to drink in New York City right now

Ophelia in Midtown East stands out for its creative spins on classic cocktails and stunning East River views. | Credit: Ophelia

Bar hopping is never boring in New York City. Whether you’re in the mood to taste a trending cocktail, sip through a well-curated wine menu, or hang with a paperback in the corner of a moody dive, there are hundreds of drinking spots to choose from all over NYC.

Head to a Theater District rooftop for playful cocktails and unobstructed Empire State building views. Share a bottle of wine from an extensive Italian selection at a neighborhood gem in Williamsburg. In the East Village, a century-old hangout is a go-to for umbrella-topped daiquiris.

Skip the sidewalk waits by reaching for a reservation instead. Read on for a guide to 12 beloved NYC bars to grab a drink at right now.

Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge (Theater District/Times Square)

A pink and purple floral installation adorns the outdoor space at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge in New York City.

Seasonal floral decor decks the outdoor space at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge. | Credit: Tao Hospitality Group

Every hour feels magical atop this lofty bar and lounge. With unobstructed Empire State Building views and plenty of space to spread out, the Magic Hour is a rarity this close to Times Square. Pink furniture and seasonal decor—colorful flowers, fairy lights—make this indoor and outdoor space an influencer hotspot, but anyone can have a good time here. Drinks and bites are extra playful, such as curly fries, sliders on Hawaiian rolls, and an 18-ounce party punch made with grapefruit vodka, yuzu, and a hint of pomegranate.

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Broken Shaker – New York (Gramercy/Flatiron)

Broken Shaker brings tropical flare, bright interiors, and easy-to-sip cocktails to buttoned-up Gramercy. Drinks are intricate and balanced and often feature housemade infusions, syrups, and bitters. Case in point: the Cafe Con Fuego is made with pepper-infused golden rum, cold brew, coffee liqueur, and macadamia orgeat, while the alcohol-free Garden Variety combines salted pineapple, cucumber, cilantro, lime, and soda. For the ultimate getaway vibes, pair your beverage with Mediterranean-accented dips or a punchy Cubano sandwich. It all goes down on a rooftop oasis with equally delicious views.

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Julius’ Bar (West Village)

As New York’s oldest gay bar, Julius presides over a corner of the West Village and earned historical landmark status in 2022. The no-frills dive—the location of an important 1960s protest—beckons anyone eager to drink in a safe space. Regulars are fans of its faithful burgers, hot dogs, and grilled cheese sandwiches. There’s always a vibrant ambiance in the colorfully decorated bar, welcoming solo visitors and groups.

Grand Central Oyster Bar (Midtown East)

Under the rotund ceilings of the Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City, diners dig into oysters and cocktails at tables with red-checkered tablecloths.

Tourists and commuters flock to Grand Central Oyster bar for top-notch martinis and ice-cold oysters. | Credit: Grand Central Oyster Bar

This basement-level oyster bar is nestled in the depths of Grand Central Terminal and known for its rotund ceilings and spacious interiors, welcoming both tourists and commuters. Sit at a dining table or sidle up to a stool at the bar for top-notch martinis, ice-cold oysters, and historic ambiance unlike anywhere else in the city.

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Holiday Cocktail Lounge (East Village)

Holiday is a century-old East Village haunt that was revitalized in the 2010s. Its extensive and excellent cocktail list includes paper umbrella-topped daiquiris, an ever-popular espresso martini with cold brew and maple-infused syrup, and plenty of beer and wine by the glass. The U-shaped bar at the center of the kitschy but classy space is especially well-suited for catching up with friends—or making brand-new ones.

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Ophelia (Midtown East)

Checkerboard floors and sweeping East River views from the terrace at Ophelia in New York City

Stunning East River views are part of the draw at Ophelia, a cocktail lounge in the historic Beekman Tower. | Credit: Ophelia

Ophelia is an Art Deco-inspired cocktail lounge on the 26th floor of the historic Beekman Tower with stunning East River views. The bar feels nostalgic yet contemporary, serving creative spins on classics such as a martini smoked with palo santo wood and a Caribbean take on an Old Fashioned. A chic snack menu features bites such as truffle fries, duck confit spring rolls, and burrata and dragon fruit salad.

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Orient Express Cocktail Bar (West Village)

Like its namesake train service, this dimly lit velvet-accented cocktail bar evokes the height of luxurious rail travel. Cozy up in the narrow space with travel-themed cocktails such as the No Vacancy (rye, cognac, amaro, peach liquor, cardamom bitters, and orange bitters) or the Stowaway (vodka, fresh pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup). Bartenders are at the ready to make custom mocktails, too, depending on your palate. Fuel your pseudo journey with snacks including tuna tartare and a well-crafted cheese and charcuterie board.

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D.O.C. Wine Bar (Williamsburg)

D.O.C. is a neighborhood gem that achieved Williamsburg classic status in 2002—long before tourists flocked to Brooklyn. Crowds now come for its rustic interiors and perpetually buzzing patio. Enjoy a romantic candlelit evening at a cafe table and linger over a bottle of wine from the extensive Italian list. It pairs well with D.O.C ‘s standout Sardinian fare, such as grilled octopus with roasted sweet baby peppers and cannellini bean puree or pasta with pistachio pesto and mascarpone cheese.

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Katana Kitten (Greenwich Village)

The brightly lit bar at Katana Kitten in New York City is stocked with liquors and tinctures.

Katana Kitten brings a slice of Tokyo’s renowned cocktail scene to Greenwich Village. | Credit: Katana Kitten

This acclaimed cocktail den (which scored a coveted spot on the World’s 50 Best Bars list in 2022) brings a slice of Tokyo’s festive Golden Gai district to downtown Manhattan. Katana Kitten is an adored neighborhood hangout and a destination drinking spot. Come for the meticulously prepared highballs, such as the Toki, with Japanese whisky, lemon oil, and pickled plum. But stay for the irresistible small plates, including a killer cheeseburger topped with melted cheese singles, chile sauce, dill-pickled Japanese cucumber, and crispy shallots—plus a side of crispy nori fries.

As You Are (Boerum Hill)

Pendant lights and wooden dining tables at As You You Are, a bar, cafe, and restaurant in Brooklyn

An evening at this bar, cafe, and restaurant hybrid at the Ace Hotel Brooklyn promises elevated cocktails and globally inspired fare. | Credit: Kent Johnson

As You Are is part-bar, part-cafe, part-restaurant, and an all-around good time in the Ace Hotel Brooklyn. The focal point is undoubtedly a kaleidoscopic Isaiah Zagar mosaic, dotted with food motifs. Cocktails are elevated but deceptively simple, such as the Apple Seed Sour, a blend of Cognac, aged rum, applejack, cinnamon, lemon, and egg white. Grab a seat at one of the comfy green banquettes and stretch your evening with a dish from the globally inspired food menu, including celery root latkes and baked brie with strawberries, rhubarb, and pistachios. Or skip right to dessert for sumptuous Earl Grey creme brulee. The Ace’s lobby turns into a major scene come weekend evenings, making for a seriously fun way to continue the evening.

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Evil Twin (Ridgewood, Queens and DUMBO, Brooklyn)

This quirky brewery comes from Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, twin brother of Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, who runs the global beer brand Mikkeller. Evil Twin’s tap room and beer gardens pour beers brewed onsite—such as a fruited sour fused with raspberries and blueberries—ciders, and wines from New York State producers. Visit with a group to do justice to the sprawling space (the Ridgewood location features an airy greenhouse-like area) and taste your way through 20-plus rotating taps. Four packs and growlers are sold to go, should you want to continue the party offsite.

Harlem Tavern (Harlem)

This easygoing beer garden and sports bar sits in the heart of Harlem and makes an ideal spot to meet up with a group, catch a game, or simply drink in the sun. Gather over cocktails, punches, and over a dozen beers on tap (many are local). Stretch the hangout a little longer with the tavern’s solid comfort food lineup, which includes wings, barbecue spareribs, and mac and cheese that can be customized with toppings such as grilled chicken, shrimp, or jalapeños.

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Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner is a writer based in Brooklyn, where she lives with her wife and rescue dog. You can follow her on Instagram @melissabethk and Twitter @melissabethk

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