In New York, the perfect cocktail bar is more than a place to get plastered while maintaining some sense of class. It's your chance to slip out of your skin and into the alter-ego you never knew you had. You're probably content with a mediocre gin & tonic at your nearest watering hole, but your inner Carrie Bradshaw is itching to have an evening on the town, sipping something sweet and pricey.
The beauty of New York is that, in the same night, you can nurse a tiki drink in a replica of the Golden Girls' living room, then make like Clark Kent and sneak into a speakeasy through a hot dog joint's phone booth. There will always be an upscale leather-lined bar where you can bro out and pound negronis with reformed frat boys, and it's probably next door to a glamorous lounge brimming with ethereal NYFW model types. If you pick the wrong place, you run the risk of stifling your drunk doppelgänger's fun. Thankfully, we did the hard work for you in our brand new MUNCHIES Guide to New York under the "Cocktail Bar" filter. Head over to the city guide to get the full monty, but here's a nip of the list below.
Night of Joy: This Williamsburg watering hole actually lives up to its name with an awesome rooftop and funky house-infused spirits (go for the beet and dill vodka). Inside, it's almost as if you're hanging out in your grandma's living room, haunted by charming ghosts.
Achilles Heel: Andrew Tarlow's Greenpoint boozer would have made the area's dock workers of yesteryear proud with its seasonally-driven, delicious food from chef Lee Desrosiers, who knows a thing or two about outdoor cooking. The former butcher doesn't just prepare delicious hunks of meat over flames—he literally goes out of the frying pan, and into the fire. Behind the restaurant is a grill and fire pit that allows him to think outside the box when it comes to making simple, flavorful food that get its heat from a mini inferno. Paired up with good, strong drinks and an anything goes neighborhood vibe, Desrosiers's food is worth the pilgrimage to this quiet block.
Donna: This place manages to hit all the Brooklyn buzzwords: craft cocktails, DJs, and tacos without being an obnoxious caricature. The space is bright and breezy and a perfect escape from swamp-ass. If you're feeling overheated, order a frozen strawberry negroni, or put some Debussy in your earbuds and sip a floral and fruity Wander With Me; you'll be transported to somewhere with chill vibes.
Angel's Share: The bar that had a major hand in kicking off both the East Village speakeasy trend, and the city-wide obsession with Japanese mixology. Angel's Share can be tough to find—it's hidden behind a Japanese restaurant—but it's getting easier all the time thanks to the giveaway long line. Worth the wait if you need an oasis to drink fine spirits and reflect, or if you just really like following rules. Angel's Share has a lot of them.
Chilo's: This always-down-to-party Mexican theme bar stays crowded with great frozen drinks and an awesome outdoor space complete with a taco truck that turns out tortas and tacos late into the night. Michael Cera is one of Chilos’ co-owners if that’s what you’re looking for in a bar.
Ramona: This light and airy modern bar looks is the place to go for a “fancy cocktail.” Try the barrel-aged negroni, or come for one of the very good happy hour specials. With its long white marble bar, Ramona is a great place to drink by yourself without feeling like the degenerate that you are.
PDT: This is New York City’s worst kept secret. The cramped cocktail bar hidden behind Crif Dogs—which you must access through a phone booth—has been serving great cocktails and a selection of special chef-inspired hot dogs for a long time. PDT stands for “please don’t tell.” Oops.
Alameda: This little Greenpoint restaurant is exactly the kind of place we love: a place that offers strong rum cocktails, oysters, crispy chicken wings, an awesome burger, and some of the best people-watching in Brooklyn. Don’t leave without ordering the pimento cheese fries.
This is just a taste. For our complete list of New York's best cocktail bars, check out our interactive map in the MUNCHIES Guide to New York.