Williamsburg • Nightlife, Bar
Donna 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.
Bedford-Stuyvesant • Mexican, Cheap eats
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.
Lower Manhattan • Bar, First/early in the game dates
Walk through Chinatown’s stench of rotting fish and garbage and enter this alternate universe: a dark, cozy, unpretentious neighborhood bar with cheap, delicious cocktails inspired by the neighborhood (try the salty plum old-fashioned or the vodka tonic, a mixture of Chinese-celery infused vodka and lime juice). There’s no door policy, although the crowd—which tends to attract the fashion industry—often makes the bar’s interior look like a scene from a Vogue photoshoot.
Greenpoint • Seafood, Cocktails
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. WATCH: Chef's Night Out with The Four Horsemen
Cobble Hill • Bar, Nightlife
We are so grateful that The Long Island Bar exists in all its beautiful, historic, art deco diner glory. One of the very most pleasant places to drink in Brooklyn now serves food—the Buffalo-fried cauliflower and Long Island burger are a thing of beauty—we don’t see why we should ever leave.
Greenpoint • Cocktails, Day drinking
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.
Bowery • Italian, Cocktails
This Chinese Italian mashup with pizza and pasta upstairs in a room that would be perfect for a mafia hit, and a “mysteries of the East” kind of Asian-inspired cocktail lounge in the basement below manages to—against all odds—actually work.
Long Island City • Lounge, Cocktails
This Long Island City saloon started by the late booze-hero Sasha Petraske’s mentee, Richard Boccato, serves up excellent cocktails in turn of the (20th) century surroundings. This is the kind of place you order drinks based on what kind of flavors you like or what mood you’re in and leave it up to the bartender: “floral but sharp, like a rose,” “gin and loneliness,” or “something that tastes good.”
Williamsburg • Seafood, Cocktails
This New Orleans by way of Paris oyster bar is well-known for its superlative oyster selection and the largest premium absinthe collection in New York City. If you want to find out what absinthe is all about, take a hit from their vintage absinthe drip. No, you won’t meet the green fairy, but yes, you might wake up with oyster shells in your hair if you have one too many absinthe pina coladas here. Head to the bar or tables in the back if you want to eat one of their famous seafood towers, and don’t miss oyster happy hour, from Monday-Fridays from 4-7 PM.