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New York City has more than enough bars to suit your budget, the kind of atmosphere you like, and your pick of ‘poison’ – be it craft beers, wines of the world to one-of-a-kind cocktails. Be sure to also take a look at our self-guided tour of historic New York City bars and pubs.
Here are the best websites to help you find that perfect watering hole.
Time Out magazine is a reliable source of information since they frequently update their list and keep an eye on new and upcoming watering holes. Here is their most recent list of Best bars of New York City. Among the many categories you can search by are cocktail lounges, breweries and craft beer bars, authentic Irish pubs, hole-in-the-wall ‘dive’ bars and rooftop bars.
Each neighborhood in New York has its own vibe so let a neighborhood bar be your destination and reason to visit a part of the city you might not otherwise check out. A helpful list is New York Magazine’s Bars by neighborhood. Many parts of Brooklyn, such as Williamsburg and Park Slope in particular, have some of the most lively drinking and nightlife scenes. It’s worth a subway ride. Speaking of subways, Thrillist has recently come up with a new way of finding your perfect bar – using the subway map. The maps can be viewed and downloaded at Bars by Manhattan subway stations and Bars by Brooklyn subway stations.
Bars and restaurants across the city offer special deals on drinks such as two-for-one drinks or reduced prices during specific hours. Happy hours typically starting at 4 pm and end at 7 pm. But there are many exceptions. Don’t be surprised to find happy hours starting at noon and ending at 8 pm or later. The ultimate source of hunting down the city’s best happy hours is NY Happy Hours.
Sipping up some history – New York City’s oldest drinking establishments
Make it a point to stop by one of these famous and historic bars and pubs. Want to drink where Abraham Lincoln, Babe Ruth, and Teddy Roosevelt did? McSorley’s (1854) is for you. Are you more the literary type? Visit the White Horse Tavern (1880) where Welsh writer Dylan Thomas is said to have drunk himself to death. Other famous patrons were Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan. If you are feeling revolutionary, head down to the Financial District and grab a pint at Fraunces Tavern (1762) where British generals dined and drank until America won the war in 1783. The tavern was where General George Washington bade farewell to his officers of the Continental Army.
Some helpful guidelines for drinking wisely in New York City:
The legal drinking age is 21. Especially on weekend nights and in neighborhoods with younger residents, many bars will “card” you (ask you to provide proof of age) before you enter the bar regardless of how old you are or look- so bring some form with you when you head out for the night. Student ID cards don’t always get you through the door, but passports and drivers licenses will.
Tip your bartender. The general rule is a dollar a drink for drinks under $10. Keep in mind that there’s a big difference between pulling a pint and spending 5 minutes muddling, mixing and shaking your cocktail. Up the tip according to the effort the bartender puts into making you smile.
Cash vs. credit/debit card. Not all bars accept credit cards, so be sure to have cash with you. Bartenders generally appreciate tips in cash.
Drinking in public (outdoors) is illegal and you can get a ticket or even arrested! While this law is conservative compared to many European cities, New York makes up for this restriction by our very lax drinking hours.
“Last call” to order drinks is usually 4 am, though some bars/restaurants may close the bar earlier. New York City is known as the city that never sleeps, but hey, everyone needs a few hours of shut-eye. In NYC, that would be between 4 am and 8 am…when the drinking can start all over again.
Written by Courtney Shapiro