NFT New York Nightlife

New York / Nightlife

If you ever get bored in New York City, you have only yourself to blame. When it comes to nightlife in particular, the only difficulty you'll have is in choosing amongst the seemingly infinite options for entertainment. You can just head out with your NFT and see where you end up, because many bars and venues open early and close late (can you say 4am?!). If you need a little more guidance, New York's top weeklies--The Village Voice and Time Out New York--offer tons of listings and round-ups of goings on about town, as do websites such as Flavorpill (, Brooklyn Vegan (, and Oh My Rockness ( A favorite for usually cheap and off-beat picks is The Skint ( For those of you who require more than your typical night out, NonsenseNYC ( is an e-mail newsletter with a ton of dance parties, interactive art shows, guerrilla theater and other unusual events. Just a quick word of caution: don't forget to pace yourselves.

Dive Bars
There is no shortage of dumps in this city, so we've done our best to single out the darkest and the dirtiest. The oldest on our list is, of course, McSorely's Old Ale House (Map 6), which has been in operation 1854, and looks it's straight out of Gangs of New York. Best experienced during the day and avoided like the plague on evenings and weekends, it's worth checking out the place where Abe Lincoln drank and soaking in all that old-school barroom atmosphere. A popular choice among our staff is the oh-so-derelict Milano's (Map 6). Tucked away on swiftly gentrifying Houston Street, it's been a boozy refuge since 1880. In the East Village Lucy has been a fixture behind the bar at Lucy's (Map 7) for over three decades. Other downtown favorites include Nancy Whiskey (Map 2), Puffy's Tavern (Map 2), Blue & Gold (Map 6) and Mona's (Map 7). In Midtown, Jimmy's Corner (Map 12) is the ultimate escape from Times Square tourist swarms, and the classic Subway Inn (Map 15) over on the east side. Near Port Authority keep New York City real by giving Holland Bar (Map 11) a few bucks in exchange for a beer. Uptown, we like Reif's Tavern (Map 17), Dublin House (Map 14), and 1020 Bar (Map 18). On the other side of the East River, check out Turkey's Nest (Map 29) and Greenpoint Tavern (Map 29) in Williamsburg and the Red Hook classic Sunny's (Map 32). Finally, we offer drunken shout outs to true dives that are gone but never forgotten: Mars Bar, Max Fish, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, Milady's and so many more. If you're new to the city, Google them and see all the grime and grit you missed out on...

Great Beer Selections
It's a marvelous time to be a beer geek in New York City. The number of watering holes with mind-boggling craft beer lists grows every year, so we'll do your liver a favor and suggest a few of the best. If you're braving a bar crawl in Greenwich Village, heavily trodden Peculier Pub (Map 6) and Blind Tiger Ale House (Map 5) offer large and diverse selections, and Vol de Nuit (Map 5) has a huge list of Belgian beers. Going several steps further with the Trappist schtick, the East Village's Burp Castle (Map 6) has a fine array of Belgians, but use your inside voice or you'll be soundly shushed. Nearby Jimmy's 43 (Map 6) and d.b.a. (Map 7) are our neighborhood favorites where beer is concerned, and over in Alphabet City, Zum Schneider (Map 7) offers a slew of unique choice to wash down its German fare. In the Lower East Side, Spitzer's Corner (Map 4) is worth checking out early on a week night (good luck on a weekend). Beer shop Good Beer (Map 7) is a great place to order a flight of four beers or a growler to go, Top Hops (Map 4) offers a great selection of bottles and drafts, as well as a standing bar area, and Randolph Beer (Map 3) shines with--surprise, surprise--a great brew list. In Midtown your best bets are Rattle n' Hum (Map 9) or Ginger Man (Map 9), which has an absolutely amazing selection with over 100 bottles and 60 taps. Chelsea has Pony Bar (Map 11) and Valhalla (Map 11) to get your hops fix. Our Uptown favorite is Earl's Beer & Cheese (Map 17), which has a small space but excellent beer list.

If you're seeking good beer in Brooklyn, make Wiliamsburg your first stop. In fact, just head to cozy, Belgian-focused Spuyten Duyvil (Map 29), which has over 100 bottles and a rotating cask ale. From there, Barcade (Map 29) achieves an awesome synergy between its classic '80s arcade games and stellar beer list--our only complaint is that we can't drink and play Dig Dug at the same time. If you're a real beer nerd, you must go sipping at Torst (Map 28), a sleek Danish-inspired taproom with incredible beers on draft. In Carroll Gardens, Bar Great Harry (Map 32) is not only a great hangout, but it also has tons of find beers to sample.

Outdoor Spaces
Outdoor space is a precious commodity in NYC, so couple it with booze and you've got the perfect destination for cooped-up city dwellers when the weather turns warm. Actually, you can find New Yorkers stubbornly holding court at outdoor venues in all sorts of weather short of electrical storms and sub-freezing temperatures, and they'll only retreat from those conditions when chased indoors by the staff. Although entry to many of the finest outdoor drinking dens requires supermodel looks or celebrity status, or at the very least a staggering tolerance for douchebags, there are plenty of options for the mere mortals among us. For example, the Vu Bar (Map 9) at the top of La Quinta Inn in Koreatown is a low-key establishment that'll let you in no matter what you wear or who you hang out with. For a little fancier but still accessible night out in the open air, try Bookmarks (Map 12), the rooftop bar in the Library Hotel. For drinks with a view, check out Berry Park (Map 29) in Williamsburg, which looks out across the river toward Manhattan, or if you're hip enough to get in, glide up to The Ides at Wythe Hotel (Map 29) for a perfect Instagram skyline moment.

Our favorite places to enjoy a drink outside are in the many back patios that turn the darkest, funkiest watering holes into bona fide oases, no matter how small and concrete-laden they may be. Beer lovers congregate in the backyards at d.b.a. (Map 7) in the East Village and Spuyten Duyvil (Map 29) in Williamsburg, and the aptly named Gowanus Yacht Club (Map 32) remains our Carroll Gardens favorite. More outdoor drinking can be had at Sweet & Vicious (Map 6) for frozen margaritas in the Lower East Side, The Park (Map 8) in Chelsea, The Heights Bar & Grill (Map 18) in Morningside Heights, The Gate (Map 33) in Park Slope, and Union Pool (Map 29) in Williamsburg. In Long Island City, there's an excellent beer garden called Studio Square (Map 27). Speaking of beer gardens, there's a seeming resurgence of these all-but-disappeared drinking venues, once popular with the central European immigrant set. Predictably packed results can be found at La Birreria (Map 9) or Spritzenhaus (Map 29). But if you can only visit one, make it the 100-year-old Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden (Map 26) in Astoria. Snag a picnic table in the massive outdoor area with a gang of friends, and knock back frosty pitchers of pilsner just like they did in the old days (polka dancing optional).

Best Jukebox
Personal taste factors heavily in this category of course, but here is a condensed list of NFT picks. For Manhattan: Ace Bar (Map 7) (indie rock/punk), Hi-Fi (Map 7) (a huge and diverse selection), 7B (Horseshoe Bar) (Map 7) (rock all the way), WCOU Radio (Tile Bar) (Map 7) (eclectic), The Magician (Map 4) (eclectic), Rudy's Bar & Grill (Map 11) (blues), Welcome to the Johnsons (Map 4) (indie rock/punk). For Brooklyn: Boat Bar (Map 32) (Carroll Gardens--indie rock), the Brooklyn Social Club (Map 32) (Carroll Gardens--country/soul) and The Levee (Map 29) (Williamsburg--good all around).

DJs and Dancing
New York's old cabaret laws make it tough to find free dance spots, but they do exist (albeit often with the velvet rope scenario that may deter the impatient). On the weekends, entry into the swankier clubs doesn't come without paying your dues in long lines and pricey cover charges. That's not our style. You'll find us dancing and hanging out at Santos Party House (Map 3) as well as Le Poisson Rouge (Map 6). In and around Williamsburg, we suggest checking out the lively dance scene at Bembe (Map 29) or combine shaking your best move with a few frames at Brooklyn Bowl (Map 29), which has frequent late-night DJ sets by the likes of Questlove.

Fancy Cocktails
In recent years mixology has practically become a religion in New York, and its temples of worship are conveniently clustered in the East Village. For starters, head to Death & Company (Map 7), tell the knowledgeable servers what you like in a drink, and prepare to be converted. If wait lists aren't your thing (and there often is one) The Summit Bar (Map 7), Pouring Ribbons (Map 7), and bitters-focused Amor y Amargo (Map 7) are all solid options nearby. Mayahuel (Map 6), located among 6th Street's Indian restaurants is practically a crash course in all things tequila and mezcal. If hardly-secret speakeasies are your thing, PDT (Map 7) is accessible through a telephone booth in deep-fried-dog haven Crif Dogs (reservations recommended). In the West Village, Employees Only (Map 5) is located behind psychic's shop. And speaking of the West Village, be sure to check out Little Branch (Map 5) for live jazz and some of the strongest mixed drinks we've ever had the pleasure of meeting. The Dead Rabbit (Map 1) has brought a mixologist den to Wall Street in a historic building from the 1800's. Farther uptown, Rye House (Map 9) is our preferred after-work headquarters. In Midtown, the classy The Campbell Apartment (Map 13), tucked inside Grand Central Terminal, is a must -- especially if someone else is paying. The Penrose (Map 15) adds a touch of cocktail class to the Upper East Side. And for the blazer/cocktail dress set, there are your opulent hotel bars, such as Rose Bar (Map 10) inside the Gramercy Park Hotel, King Cole Bar (Map 12) inside the St. Regis Hotel, or Bemelmans Bar (Map 15) inside the Caryle Hotel. We're banking on our beverages to ease the pain of that tab.

Considering all the options in Manhattan, it's probably no surprise that Brooklyn has many bars offering just-as-high caliber cocktails, minus some of the crowds. Don't believe us? Head to Dram (Map 29), Hotel Delmano (Map 29), Maison Premiere (Map 29) or Huckleberry Bar (Map 29) in Williamsburg, or venture a little further east to Ba'sik (Map 29) or The Richardson (Map 29). Clover Club (Map 32) is our favorite for mixed drinks in Cobble Hill, while Hanson Dry (Map 31) keeps Fort Greene residents buzzing with stellar drinks.

If you find yourself in Long Island City, Queens be sure to check out Dutch Kills (Map 27) and marvel at that custom-crafted ice that won't water down your drink no matter how slowly you savor it.

Wine Bars
Terroir (Map 2) has some funky wines and a friendly atmosphere despite the self-described "elitist wine bar" label. If it's date night, cozy up in the West Village at Vin Sur Vingt (Map 5) for a glass of Bordeaux. Go rustic-chic in at Black Mountain Wine House (Map 32) with a working fireplace and country lodge experience. In Brooklyn of course.

New York caters to a wide array of tastes in everything, and music is no exception. From the indie rock venues of Brooklyn to the history-steeped jazz clubs in Greenwich Village to amateur night at the Apollo, your musical thirst can be quenched in every possible way.

Jazz, Folk and Country
There are plenty of places to see jazz in the city, starting off with classic joints such as the Village Vanguard (Map 5) and Birdland (Map 11). There's also the "Jazz at Lincoln Center" complex in the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle which has three rooms: the 1,000-plus-seat, designed-for-jazz Rose Theater, the Allen Room, an amphitheater with a great view of the park, and the nightclub-esque Dizzy's Club Coca Cola. For a smaller (and cheaper) jazz experience, try Jazz Gallery (Map 9) or Arthur's Tavern (Map 5) which always has a no cover charge policy. The Nuyorican Poets Café (Map 7) has frequent jazz performances. In Brooklyn, one of your best bets is the small back room at Park Slope's Barbes (Map 33). Easily one of the best weekly jazz experiences is the Mingus Big Band's residency at The Jazz Standard (Map 10). If you've never done it, do it--it's a truly great and unpredictable band that even surly Mr. Mingus (might) have been proud of. For folk & country, try Hank's Saloon (Map 33), Parkside Lounge (Map 7) or Jalopy (Map 32).

Rock and Pop
In case you've just moved back to NYC from, say, ten years in Mumbai, the rock scene is now firmly entrenched in Brooklyn. However, Manhattan's Bowery Ballroom (Map 6) remains the top live venue, with excellent sound and a good layout. Other notable spots this side of the East River include Santos Party House (Map 3), Webster Hall (Map 6), and the Highline Ballroom (Map 8). Irving Plaza (Map 10), Terminal 5 (Map 11), and Hammerstein Ballroom (Map 8) aren't our favorites, but are worthwhile for the occasional top-notch acts. The best remaining small club in Manhattan is Mercury Lounge (Map 7), which gets great bands right before they're ready to move up to Bowery Ballroom. As far as the rest of the Lower East Side, it helps if you like your clubs to be punky basements (Cake Shop, Map 4) or former bodegas (Arlene Grocery, Map 4). Fat Baby (Map 4), and Fontana's (Map 3) all offer plenty of goings-on south of Houston Street as well.

When it comes to new talent, it's really the clubs in Brooklyn that shine. If you know your way around Bowery Ballroom, you'll feel right at home at Brooklyn's premiere venue, Music Hall of Williamsburg (Map 29). Then there's Trash Bar (Map 29), Cameo Gallery (Map 29), Pete's Candy Store (Map 29), Brooklyn Bowl (Map 29)...basically, the rocking never stops in Map 29. Maybe we'll even forgive The Knitting Factory (Map 29) for leaving Manhattan to move here. In Greenpoint, check out the Warsaw (Map 28) in the Polish National Home. We also love the The Bell House (Map 33) in Gowanus, Brooklyn Masonic Temple (Map 31) in Fort Greene and Union Hall (Map 33) in Park Slope.

A number of venues in New York provide a place for experimental music to get exposure. Experimental Intermedia (Map 3) is fully dedicated to showcasing the avant-garde. John Zorn's performance space, The Stone (Map 7), takes an experimental approach in the venue's concept as well as its music, with a different artist acting as curator for an entire month and artists taking in 100% of the proceeds. The Kitchen (Map 8) features experimental music in addition to film, dance, and other art forms. Le Poisson Rouge (Map 6) has brought an exciting mix of different sounds back to the heart of Greenwich Village, and is one of our favorite spots. In Brooklyn, the experimental scene is cranking away, especially at Issue Project Room's (Map 30) space in Downtown Brooklyn and Jalopy (Map 32) in Carroll Gardens.

Everything Else
A few places run the gamut of musical genres; folksy artists one night, hot Latin tango the next, and a slew of comedy, spoken word, and other acts. Joe's Pub (Map 6) presents an excellent variety of popular styles and often hosts celebrated international musicians. Keep an eye on BAMcafé (Map 31) for a variety of great performers. For cabaret or piano bar, try Don't Tell Mama (Map 11), Duplex (Map 5), or Brandy's (Map 15). For a more plush experience, try the Café Carlyle (Map 15). But for top cabaret talent at affordable prices, go directly to The Metropolitan Room (Map 9). If you're seeking some R&B or soul, check out the Apollo Theater (Map 19), though they mostly get "oldies" acts. The Apollo's Amateur Night on Wednesday is your chance to see some up-and-comers. The Pyramid Club (Map 7) has open mic MC'ing nights. Barbes (Map 33) in Park Slope hosts a wide palette of "world music" (for lack of a better term), including Latin American, European, and traditional US styles, plus more experimental fare. For more sounds of the south, SOB's (Map 5) has live South American music and dancing and should definitely be experienced at least once. Nublu (Map 7) is always reliable for a fun and sweaty night, especially on Wednesdays when they feature Brazilian bands and DJs. For African music, check out Barbes (Map 33) on Wednesday nights with the Mandingo Ambassadors. And oh yeah--then there's all that classical music stuff, at places like Carnegie Hall (Map 12) and Lincoln Center (Map 14)--maybe you've heard of them?

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Kate McCormick
Photo:  Kate McCormick

Blarney Cove
The first thing you should know is that Blarney Cove is not about options. Here are your draft beer choices: Yeungling, Budweiser, Rolling Rock. If you want anything else, it's possible -- but unlikely -- they have it in a bottle or a can. A friend tried to order a scotch and soda, but in the shuffle of the crowd the bartender heard "Stella." She politely disabused us of the notion that Blarney Cove would stock such a beer. Nestled in a strip of 14th Street where retail gates all come down at precisely 6 p.m., the Cove's small door is barely recognizable as an active entrance. But once you get inside and navigate the long, narrow bar, the real potential of the Cove emerges. We took our seats at the far end, a particularly tricky spot to set up camp, since it is exactly opposite the basement stairway. This meant the bartender had to slide us our drinks Tapper-style. It was a harrowing yet strangely pleasant experience -- an apt metaphor for a night at this East Village dive.

Posted By:  Sarah Enelow
Photo:  Sarah Enelow

XL Nightclub
New York is fabulous! Not only can you see a drag show on a random Wednesday night, but you can take your pick of clubs. Hot Mess is a great option, taking place in the spacious, sleek hotel club XL. For only $10 you can see two hours worth of talented drag queens, including Lady Bunny and a line-up of hilarious, high-kicking, lip-synching, sometimes-singing queens, one or two of whom have been contestants on Ru Paul's Drag Race. Sugga Pie Koko is a riot, and let's face it, we go to see drag queens for humor and debauchery and singing into a dildo like it's a microphone, not for a serious evening at the theater. My only complaint was that even though I was ready for crude jokes, the emcee was shockingly racist, but what can you do. If any of you have the nerve to tell a queen what to do, be my guest.

Posted By:  Sarah Enelow
Photo:  Sarah Enelow

Bowery Poetry Club
Choosing a literary reading can be tough in this city, and not just because you have to plan that über-intellectual all-black outfit. There are so many writers and styles that may or may not suit your tastes, and who can keep up with all the indie publications anyway? Thankfully, the annual Lit Crawl (born in San Francisco) served up three hours of readings all over the East Village and Lower East Side last weekend. Fiction, memoir, poetry, improv, word games, and performance were all on the menu. You could sample a cadre of talented authors without committing to more than 45 minutes at a time. This year I heard short stories about stains at the Launderette (an actual Laundromat that was open for business), comical poetry at the Bowery Poetry Club, and a dramatized scene from a new novel at Dixon Place. It was all completely free -- one Saturday night extremely well spent. Watch out for Lit Crawls in these NFT cities next month: San Francisco October 7–15 and Austin on October 22.

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Courtesy of Midtown Lunch

City Winery
This Saturday is an amazing event that you will not want to miss. Especially if you love food. The awesome website Midtown Lunch is turning a ripe old age of five wonderful years. To celebrate this grand achievement, they're throwing a big old party at City Winery. From Noon-3 pm you can mingle with Midtown Lunch's editors, writers, photographers, and fans while munching on some of the best street food in New York including Kelvin Slush, Biryani Cart, Wafels & Dinges, Eddie's Pizza...we better stop, because now we're starving. Quench your thirst with all you can drink beverages from Brooklyn Brewery and Gus Soda. To top it off, all the profits go to the Street Vendor Project, a respected organization that lends a hand to food trucks throughout the city. So let's recap: a great cause, a great space, great food, and great company. Don't wait, get your tix right now!

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Courtesy of Time Out

Who doesn't love Brazil? Beautiful people, gorgeous beaches, incredible music--it's a country that has the total package. But how often can us hard working New Yorkers jet down there on a moment's notice? Yeah, didn't think you've done that lately. Here's a solution: head out to SOB's on Monday night for the Time Out Dining and Libation Society's Flavors of Brazil, part of the annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic. Join Time Out Food & Drink editor Jordana Rothman to sip Leblon Cachaça caipirinhas, along with original cocktails such as the Terra de Sol, all conjured by Leblon’s mixologist and "Professor de Cachaça," Jacob Briars. Pair the quaffs with unlimited meats from a churrasco station and additional beverages by Chartreuse. To top it there will be a live samba band playing so you can really feel like you're in Rio. It all goes down this Monday May 16 from 7-9 pm. Get your tickets right now!

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NFT Top Picks:
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1020 Bar
7B (Horseshoe Bar)
Bemelmans Bar
Bowery Ballroom
Cake Shop
Camaradas El Barrio
Dublin House
International Bar
Jimmy's Corner
Le Poisson Rouge
Lobby Bar
Marshall Stack
Nuyorican Poets Café
Rudy's Bar & Grill
Russian Vodka Room
Sake Bar Decibel
Santos Party House
Smith & Mills
Subway Inn
Sweet & Vicious
The Campbell Apartment
The Ear Inn
The Other Room
The Stone
Ward III
WCOU Radio (Tile Bar)
Zum Schneider