My Favorite Things: Bars in New York City
My Favorite Things is a series to help you quickly find and save all my recommendations. From sites to see, places to eat, and everything else - if I find a new favorite, I want to share it with you!
There have to be something like a million bars in New York City. (Well, maybe not a million, but you know what I mean…) Having that many choices always goes from luxurious to overwhelming very quickly in my mind. This post is a small smattering of options to help you if you need some inspiration or want a more condensed list to choose from.
The Empire Hotel
If you’re a Gossip Girl fan then you understand why feeling like Chuck Bass and having a drink at the Empire is a must. If you couldn’t care less about an early 2000s opulent TV drama for teens and tweens, then know that the view from the rooftop bar is pretty spectacular, whether enclosed in the winter or open in the summer. The hotel’s iconic reputation and prime real estate on the Upper West Side across from Lincoln Center mean that this isn’t a budget recommendation, at least to those of us not used to city prices.
230 Fifth Rooftop Bar
I have heard a range of reviews of 230 Fifth. Some of my friends claim it’s the coolest spot in NYC. Others claim it is totally overrated. We visited one winter night to see the heated igloos and the great view of the Empire State Building. One of the complains my friends have is that this place is perpetually crowded and that was true to our experience. There was no room in any of the igloos to sit down, so we didn’t end up staying. However, there was no cover charge and no one bothered us as we walked around admiring the view, so I’m not complaining.
The tagline of Rudy’s restaurant reads ‘Rudy’s – Dive Bar NYC’ and that is probably the most apt description I could provide. With duct-taped booths and a perpetually dark interior, even in the middle of the summer, you can’t beat the local feel and cheap drinks that Rudy’s provides. A trip to NYC is not complete unless we’ve had a beer and a complimentary hot dog at Rudy’s.
*Rudy’s is only a ten minute walk from Times Square, so you never have to be duped into paying too much for a pre-show drink again.
Maybe you just read about Rudy’s, but don’t want to walk that far for your pre-Broadway drink. I might be judging you a little bit (since Rudy’s is only ten minutes), but, never fear, Jimmy’s Corner is similar to Rudy’s and located in right off Times Square on 44th. While it looks small from the outside, the bar seems endless under the twinkle of Christmas lights and the memorabilia of professional trainer and owner Jimmy. Take a break from the tourist lined streets and feel like a local for a few minutes.
UES is a cute, little ice cream street spot on the Upper East Side. Get some ice cream to satisfy your sugary cravings, or, depending on the time of day, check out the storage room for an adult sweet treat. While I love this modern day speakeasy with a pastel sweet theme, the drink I ordered ended up being an overpriced four sips.
The Back Room
According to their website, The Back Room is one of the only speakeasies that operated during Prohibition and still operates today. Down the alley and through the nondescript door, this was the kind of speakeasy I had always dreamed of visiting. I felt like I had walked into an art deco time-warp and I never wanted to leave. I’m usually a tough sell on cocktails, but the Pink Slipper was the perfect combination of not too strong and not too sweet.
The Stonewall Inn
Due to its role as one of the catalysts for the modern LGBTQA+ rights movement, The Stonewall Inn is a bar, but also doubles as a National Historic Landmark. While the walls are full of photos and other reminders of the bar’s history, this place also just feels like a regular bar in most ways. Our interest in the history was what led us to an early evening drink during one January trip to NYC, but with a packed schedule of events and shows, there doesn’t seem to be a bad time to visit Stonewall.
Undoubtedly you know of other great bars in NYC. Share them below in the comments!