Updated: May 21, 2015

Guide to the Best New York Bars

As the greatest city in the world, New York is home to literally thousands of bars, clubs, and restaurants. Most locals already have their favorite hang out spots. But for tourists looking for the top bars in NYC, or for New Yorkers looking to try something different, take a look at our list below. These are some of our favorite bars, pubs, and clubs in New York City. Some have a particular location that makes them great, some are historic, some have great ambience or local flavor. If you are visiting NYC from out of town, you'll find some of these as you wander on your vacation - stop in, rest your feet for half an hour, and have a drink!



Popular NY bars and clubs

A hidden gem overlooked (or simply missed!) by most is the The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, on top of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the upper east side. The only way to get there is from the ground floor elevators in the southwest corner of the building (ie, if you are facing the Museum, the back left) - instead of going UP the big staircase right when you walk in the Met, keep going straight back and follow your way towards the left. Outside the 20th century gallery, you'll find the elevator (follow the signs). There are trellises and statues here, and a little stand that serves drinks and snacks. You'll get a great view looking over Central Park, and you WILL NOT be swarmed with tourists. Hours: closed Monday, Fri-Sat 10AM to 8:30PM, other days 10AM-4:30PM. Jump off the 6 train at 77th for closest subway access.

Also on the upper east side is Bemelman's Bar (35 E. 76th St). This classy, old-fashioned club has piano music, romantic ambience, and is named after Ludwig Bemeglman, creator of the popular Madeline kids books. Try any of their classic cocktails, sit back and relax.. In midtown, stop by The 21 Club (21 W. 52nd St, betw. 5th and 6th). This is an expensive, former speak-easy club, offering fine dining for lunch or dinner. To give you an idea, their 21 burger goes for $27! But the upscale crowd and scene make it a nice place to take a date, and you can sip a cocktail at the bar if you prefer to skip the pricey food menu. Finally, visit Cafe Carlyle at the Carlyle Hotel (35 E. 76th at Madison). This cabaret features live music, including Woody Allen and the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band on Monday nights. Cool fun!

Best Greenwich Village Bars and Clubs

If Greenwich Village is more your scene that midtown, try these two favorite bars. The Corner Bistro (331 W. 4th) is a low-key neighborhood bar, and it is often CROWDED.. They serve McSorley's beer and their famous Bistro Burger -- this is a big chunk of meat, and at $6, a greasy good deal.. The booths in the back are a little more private, but the crowd is usually pretty lively. Nearby is the Cedar Tavern (82 University Pl, betw 11th and 12th). Popular with the NYU crowd, this dark, classic NYC bar keeps people coming in until 2 or 3AM each night. Jack Kerouac used to hang out here, along with Jackson Pollock (both subsequently banned for bad behavior). It's alive with history, and the atmosphere will keep you coming back.

If you are looking for a bar with a view, check out the terrace bar High Bar on top of the 18th floor of the Gramercy Park Hotel (2 Lexington Ave, at 21st). They have outdoor patio heaters to keep things warm all night long, and the views of NYC (especially the Chrysler Building) are nothing to sneeze at. Popular with singles, it really comes to life after 8. If you are a beer drinker, then make a stop at Ginger Man (11 E. 36th St. between Madison and Fifth). They serve over 60 draft beers in this classic feeling Irish pub. They also have a large selection of scotch and whiskey. This is a popular casual after work spot, while lunch usually sees a business crowd. Grab a stool and try at least half of those draft beers! Other popular bars to try are the Bowery Ballroom, 40/40 Club, and McSorleys.