Bars & Clubs

  • Best Dance Club

    District 36

    When it started seeming as if the dance club was as lost a New York tradition as the porn store—thanks to the economy, city crackdowns, and the increasing power of neighborhood boards who detest nightlife as if it were trouble in River City—along came District 36, which got the licenses, beat the odds, and opened last year in a perfectly… More >>
  • Best Piano Bar

    Marie's Crisis

    There's still no topping Marie's Crisis, "where showtunes come to die—but you have a helluva time while they're doing it." The long-running West Village dive, complete with an always-smudged mirror behind the bar, is a zingy neighborhood party full of every boozy theater hound in town, uniting in multiple harmony to songs from Gypsy and Les Mis. It's as if… More >>
  • Best Fabulously Unfabulous Gay Bar

    Nowhere Bar

    Nowhere Bar could really be just about anywhere, with its unpretentiously comfortable Anytown, U.S.A., rec room feeling, straight out of the 19th century, decor-wise, but with a distinct hint of Twin Peaks-like eccentricity. The floors are wood, the walls are brick, and past the long bar and the single video screen (usually showing something wonderfully obscure and static), there's a… More >>
  • Best Insults

    Bianca Del Rio

    With an even quicker tongue than Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Bianca Del Rio has a quip for every occasion and a smear for every upstart. Like other up-to-the-minute comics, the New Orleans–born drag queen shatters stereotypes by embracing them—i.e., she doesn't really think Asians only do nails and laundry, but she'll invoke those clichés to get a laugh that… More >>
  • Best Comedy Club

    Peoples Improv Theater

    When owner Ali Farahnakian moved his Peoples Improv Theater from a tiny place on West 29th Street to its spacious new digs in Gramercy late last year, he made the seemingly impossible happen—he turned the PIT into a comfortable, hip space with a stellar nightly lineup and, miraculously, didn't have to raise ticket prices. Still as cheap as ever, the… More >>
  • Best Pool Parties

    Le Bain, Grace Hotel

    As the weather continues to chill, the city's indoor pool parties are more welcome than angora sweaters. They provide a lusty chance to strip to your most minimal swimwear and splash around as if it were 90 degrees and icky-sticky outside. And there are plenty of clubbies willing to delusionally play along with you. Parties at Le Bain, high atop… More >>
  • Best Place To Slum For An Uptown Dinner Show

    Feinstein's at Loews Regency

    With ticket prices that can veer to $142.63 (plus food and beverage charges), a visit to Feinstein's at Loews Regency might be advisable only if you've just sold off your entire Playbill collection. But for nostalgia freaks, it's worth it for the good sound, lack of snootiness, and overall high-quality experience, whether it be a star like Brooke Shields trying… More >>
  • Best Bar/Clubgoer To Hang With

    The optimal club buddy

    Going to a nightclub with the wrong person could turn a night of potential ecstasy into a noisy sampling of the eternal damnation of hell. To make sure things stay gleeful, the optimal club buddy needs to play by the rules, regardless of gender. Here are the absolute "don'ts" they must heed in order to be a worthy plus-one: They… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    Tobacco Road

    Simultaneously quaint and seedy, Tobacco Road is like a taste of the old Times Square via a Eugene O'Neill play about a sports bar. On a side street that puts it a few yards away from the Port Authority, the place (formerly called Port 41) is free of pretensions, starting with its red awning that states "Bikini, Pool Tables, Pool,… More >>
  • Best Tiki Bar

    Otto's Shrunken Head

    It might be the only tiki bar in town, but still, it would be hard to top Otto's Shrunken Head, which was founded in 2002 to combat the sad absence of places like Hawaii Kai and Trader Vic's. But this isn't an uptown tourist attraction, it's a 14th Street hangout on a block filled with value stores. And it's tiki'd… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar In HK

    Industry Bar

    Just when Hell's Kitchen threatened to become a bit of a gay cliché, Industry Bar opened with a splash late last year and injected some new life. The hangout—courtesy of the folks who brought you Barracuda and Elmo—peps up the neighborhood seven nights a week, from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m., with cruising, amusing, and drag queens. The bar is… More >>
  • Best People-Watching Bar

    Abilene

    Irish immigrants settled in Carroll Gardens in the early 19th century. Scandinavian immigrants followed, eventually crowded out by the wave of Italians still visible in the pork stores and red-sauce joints. More recently, it has become home to young singles, courting couples, and the sorts of families with children so delectable they make your ovaries twinge. To say nothing of… More >>
  • Best Unpretentious Mixed Drinks

    Fort Defiance

    It won't gild your drink with gold flake, it won't set it aflame, it won't muddle it with cloudberries grown by Swedish virgins and picked at the full moon. Really, it's not even a bar, more of a neighborhood café that just happens to serve some of the friendliest, most satisfying, and most reasonably priced cocktails in the five boroughs.… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Drop-Off Service

    The two most important things in judging a happy hour are the length of that "hour" and the price of the happy. Drop-Off Service serves on both counts, with a daily happy hour that spans from opening until 8 p.m., featuring $3 imperial (20 ounces, meaning large) pints. Which is a lot of happy. (Other happy-hour specials include "ALL drinks… More >>
  • Best Nostalgic Nightlife Trend

    Bottle service

    No, we're not really fans of bottle service, the hideous phenomenon whereby people with bottomless expense accounts and tireless credit cards plop their butts down on a banquette and summon busty blondes to bring them a bottle of designer vodka plus the trimmings for the price of a 30-year fixed mortgage. In fact, we feel this trend has long tried… More >>
  • Best Place To Get Drunk Inside a Gondola

    The Diamond

    We're hesitant to share this because then you'll come and ruin the vibe, so please use this information wisely: The Diamond in Greenpoint is one of Brooklyn's best neighborhood bars. What makes it such so special isn't the free shuffleboard table or the bathroom lined with old cassette tapes or the Michael Landon head floating on the back wall. It… More >>
  • Best Theme Party

    TV Party

    Netflix, basically the long-form version of YouTube, is the culprit for many wasted afternoons where we fell down the rabbit hole of entire series of obscure and/or cult television shows. Guess we weren't the only ones. Jerm Pollet and Michael Austin, co-producers of the NYC Zombie Crawl, found out almost two years ago that they weren't alone, either. Rabid fans… More >>
  • Best Queer Dance Party

    Woahmone

    The bears have Chelsea and the professionals have Hell's Kitchen, but where do the relatively hairless and broke gays go to play in Manhattan? Inhabiting the banquette-lined basement of Von, Woahmone might just be the party. Nath Ann Carrera and Savannah Knoop co-DJ this monthly, mixed-queer, mixed-genre soirée, while Nica Ross projects spacey visuals culled from found videos of homemade… More >>
  • Best Metal Bar

    Saint Vitus

    With all due respect to venerable Brooklyn hesher haunts like Greenpoint's Palace Café, South Williamsburg's jukebox-crusher Duff's, and Park Slope's pentagram-pit Lucky 13 Saloon, six-month-old Saint Vitus kills 'em all. A goth-noir joint sequestered at the furthest end of Greenpoint's Manhattan Avenue, Saint Vitus murders the classics simply because it's equipped with a back-room venue, where hardcore nights, karaoke assaults,… More >>
  • Best Whiskey Bar

    Beekman Bar & Books

    Something about being in East Midtown, within the proximity of the UN, makes us want to be a spy. We want to feel accomplished and well-traveled and multilingual and smart about things like fine liquors and secret cameras. And some of the watering holes in that area provide a platform to try on this other life for size. Beekman Bar… More >>
  • Best Gin Bar

    Madam Geneva

    The first time we visited Madam Geneva, we were told to enter through its sister establishment, the now-closed Double Crown. Even though there was a glass door on Bleecker looking right into the speakeasy, we were forced to sashay through the cavernous restaurant on the corner as a kind of punishment for wanting entry into a supposedly exclusive den of… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Bar

    Hotel Griffou - CLOSED

    The problem with douche-y bars is that they sometimes make the best drinks. Although we shudder at every mention of a "master mixologist," we secretly wish there was a place for us and our unpopped collars at the counter. But sometimes, when we're feeling just thirsty enough for some sort of herbal not-too-sweet retro cocktail, we're willing to ignore the… More >>
  • Best Bar with Snacks

    Jimmy's No. 43

    Deep in the confines of a nearly windowless basement on 7th Street, there is a transportive Euro-style gastropub featuring an array of beers from far and wide (12 on tap and 29 by the bottle) and wines (a good array, with several by the glass), as well as snacks that transcend the chicken fingers, nachos, and potato skins you'd expect… More >>
  • Best Bar Jukebox

    EL-DJ

    When you talk about bars with great jukeboxes, you simply can't ignore the jukebox at Hi-Fi, which has its own name, EL-DJ, fitting for a bar space formerly occupied by live music club Brownies, where Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes, and Elliott Smith, among others, debuted in New York City. El-DJ been around since Hi-Fi opened in 2002, the… More >>
  • Best East Village Wine Bar

    Grape and Grain

    Situated in the middle of a tree-lined East Village block between Avenues B and C, just down from a school, there is an old-fashioned-looking lamp post stationed outside a wine bar called Grape and Grain. Next to it is its sister/brother bar, Against the Grain, a smaller, beer-focused spot with 20 some brews and stools crowded around a high table… More >>
  • Over-sixty bartending staff of Rosemary\'s Greenpoint Tavern

    Best Bartenders

    Over-sixty bartending staff of Rosemary's Greenpoint Tavern

    Respect your elders, as the dictum goes, especially when they're managing your alcoholic intake. That's the most important rule of thumb in befriending the decidedly colorful over-sixty bartending staff of Rosemary's Greenpoint Tavern (a/k/a "GPT"), a red-walled Williamsburg treasure that still serves four-dollar 32-ounce Styrofoam Buds. There's Peggy, a seventy-something Polish emigrant who glows with a grandmother's generous warmth but… More >>
  • Best Hookah Bar

    Egyptian Coffee Shop

    Forget the overpriced, glossy hookah bars littered across the East Village. If you're serious about your shisha, the real experience is in Queens, at the Egyptian Coffee Shop. Located in the heart of the borough's Little Egypt, this place is about as close to an authentic shisha café as you're likely to find this side of the Atlantic. The clientele… More >>
  • Best Punk Bar

    Trash Bar

    The heyday of Manhattan punk bars is long past: CBGB's and the old Max's Kansas City are distant legends, and even the Mars Bar succumbed to the unstoppable tide of gentrification this year. So where's a body to go for cheap beer and deafening three-chord stomps? The answer, inevitably, is Brooklyn, and Williamsburg's tiny, greasily atmospheric Trash Bar. The front… More >>
  • Best Bluegrass Bar

    Sunny's Bar

    Sunny's Bar isn't trying to be a secret. But its location—buried on a deserted block in the deepest corner of Red Hook—and its spotty hours—open only three days a week—keep its profile consistently low. Unless, that is, you are one of the fortunate few who gather every weekend in the cozy back room for the best acoustic circle in the… More >>
  • Best Trivia Bar

    Trivial Dispute

    Trivial Dispute isn't exactly the most polished trivia night, but it has extremely generous prizes. And whereas many trivia nights are dominated by long-standing teams of imposing experts, Trivial Dispute keeps a good balance between the regulars and the walk-ins. Even if you don't rustle up the courage to sign up for the written-answer portion of the event, every night,… More >>
  • Best Strip Club To Go To After Christmas Shopping

    Cabaret Gentlemens Club - CLOSED

    You did good. You got toys for the nieces and nephews, books for the parents, and you navigated Anthropologie to find something for the special lady in your life. You deserve to see the other special ladies in your life at Cabaret Gentlemens Club in Flatiron. It's close to anywhere you'll need to go for holiday shopping, so drop the… More >>
  • Best Karaoke Night

    Rock and Roll Karaoke at Arlene's Grocery

    Today, most of the city's hip karaoke joints offer a single, not all that social, option. You rent a room, usually for about 10 bucks per hour per person, and you and your friends pile inside, order drinks or BYO, and sing your hearts out in front of the small crowd. With the right people—and the right selection of '90s… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    Project Parlor

    Although Bed-Stuy locals have known about Project Parlor for just more than two years, the bar has only recently started to receive attention from those living in Manhattan or packed shoulder to shoulder in dives up in Williamsburg or Greenpoint. About time. Aside from the regular menu, which offers everything from flaming green absinthe to a $6 tallboy-and-shot combo that… More >>
  • Best DJ

    Funkmaster Flex

    When Jay-Z and Kanye West were ready to release "Otis," the soul-sampling, jet-setting lead single off their much-anticipated joint album Watch the Throne, there was only one DJ with whom they trusted this task. That DJ, of course, was Funkmaster Flex, the man who has been dropping bombs over New York's airwaves since Hot 97 began broadcasting his legendary sets… More >>
  • Best Dance Floor

    Home Sweet Home

    Monday nights are really the perfect time to go out dancing: It's the beginning of the week, you're already a zombie, and you need to get out that pent-up energy from sleeping in and stuffing your face with brunch all weekend. The Good Kids, a newly formed crew of current and former downtown art students who fell into hosting parties… More >>
  • Best Smoking Patio

    Lady Jay's

    East Williamsburg and Bushwick are full of ersatz white-trash bars, but Lady Jay's is the only one that truly makes you feel enthusiastic about a night of listening to the Allman Brothers. An American flag and deer antlers dot the walls, and the vibe is down-homey and comfortable, all the way out to the rustic smoking patio in the back.… More >>
  • Best Spearheaders Of The Vinyl Revival

    Electric Cowbell

    Few labels have been as devoted to the cause of the 45 as the two-year-old concern Electric Cowbell, a Brooklyn–based label that takes a genre-agnostic approach to assembling its roster. Run by the Virginia transplant Jimmy Thomson, the label boasts releases by the booty-funk revivalists Superhuman Happiness and the improv-happy Brooklyn duo Talibam! alongside the first seven-inch put out by… More >>
  • Best Latin Bar

    Casa Mezcal

    The first thing everyone will tell you about Casa Mezcal: You can munch on a bowl of fried grasshoppers while sipping on your drink. Yes, this is an interesting little oddity, and yes, the grasshoppers actually do taste pretty good (no, really), but lost in this bit of culinary tourism is the fact that Casa Mezcal has so much more… More >>
  • Best Rock Bar

    Motor City Bar

    So many life-changing things hail from Detroit: Motown, The White Stripes, Insane Clown Posse, this Lower East Side's bar Wayne County spirit. A brick-walled rock-and-roll dive with a seedy-mechanic theme, Motor City Bar has Ford-tribute decor, hubcaps on the walls, a car-seat bench, and an affinity for the Red Wings. Almost as admirable as the cash-only joint's stiff drinks and… More >>
  • Best Bar to Play Games

    Fat Cat

    When you really want to play games—real games, the kind you played as a kid or college student—you should head to Fat Cat, the Greenwich Village bar (wine, beer, and cider), café (“modest” snacks, juices, soda, coffee, and tea), and, most importantly, giant rec-center-esque game room-cum-music hall with jazz and other acts (three bands a night). As for the games:… More >>
  • Best Place To Get Hammered and Eat a Man

    Barcade

    If it takes more than the dual promise of coin-operated Frogger and American-craft lager to convince you why Barcade is one of Brooklyn's awesomest bars, we shouldn't be friends. That's fine because with the rest of the OKCupid first dates, birthday-drink parties, and Kotaku-reading nerds milling around the seven-year-old grown-up funhouse, the Williamsburg destination doesn't need more bodies blocking the… More >>
  • Best Dance Night

    Ghe20 G0th1k

    Someone once described Ghe20 G0th1k to us as a fashion party. While art and fashion do play into Venus X and $haynes queer (but straight-friendly) club night, the wandering party has developed into a dance-driven study of the citys nightlife underground. The multiracial, bilingual, and politically charged hosts and actswho are also frequent participants in the citys DIY scenehave a… More >>
  • Best New Dance Club

    Drom

    The basement dancerie Drom celebrated its reopening in the spring after quietly shutting down more than a year ago. The time off did the space a service. Once just another bar hidden among the dives of the East Village, Drom has now fully embraced its original aim of bringing global dance music to NYC. The club hosts a cozy lounge… More >>
  • Le Bain

    Best Hotel Bar

    Le Bain

    Someone give the talent booker for Le Bain a high-five for making the Meatpacking District a realistic nightlife option again. We’ve been mourning the loss of the area’s APT as the neighborhood’s safe haven for DJs and the people who go out to see them, but the Standard’s rooftop bar has gracefully filled the void. Between afternoon happy hours like… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    Standings

    It would be kind of pathetic if we were truly able to name NYC's best sports bar. That would mean we'd indeed been to every single one in New York. But while we like a good sports bar, having that kind of comprehensive knowledge of every brew and hot wing and big-ass flat screen "spa" would suggest a level of… More >>
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