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This post was originally supposed to be an ‘Ultimate Guide to the East Village’ but as I was going through the different sections, I realized that I had significantly more ideas for bars than for anything else. So alas, here is yet another post on my favourite pastime (the Ultimate Guide to the East Village post WILL happen in the near future). All of the spots on this list are located within a 15-minute walk of each other, so feel free to make a bar-hopping trip out of them. Without further ado, here is a list of the (tried and true) best bars for every type of alcohol in the East Village.
Heading into the city from Laguardia Airport? Check out our guide on how to get from Laguardia to Manhattan to ensure a seamless travel experience.
I pass by Lovers of Today on my way to the gym, and I used to constantly remark to myself that I should check it out (especially after seeing the sign for 1/2 price cocktails from 5-8 PM every day). When I finally did, it was during peak hours on a Friday night. The bar is located underground and has a pretty casual, dark ambience. It was an optimal level of crowded for a Friday, and we had no problems finding somewhere to sit. Some of the ingredients they used, such as the yuzu peppers and house-made tamarind, were a bit of a head-scratcher. However, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by all of the drinks I tried and definitely recommend it as one of the best bars in the East Village.
Address: 132 1/2 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009
Joyface is the singular best bar in the East Village that I have raved about most to my friends. The outside of the bar is covered with a red velvet curtain, which accurately sets the scene for the inside of the bar. Aside from the simultaneously haunted mansion but cozy feel of Joyface, the drinks are the reason I keep going back. At Joyface, you can ask the bartender for anything – and I mean anything. Do you want a drink that will make you feel like you’re skiing down the slopes of Switzerland? Sunbathing on a beach in the Caribbean? Floating in OUTER SPACE? No matter the absurdity of the request, the bartenders will make it for you. There is a flat fee of $15/drink, so let your creativity run wild and see what you end up with.
Address: 104 Loisaida Ave, New York, NY 10009
Mother of Pearl transforms tiki bars from ‘casual beachside’ to ‘aesthetic luxe’. The interior is certified instagrammable, with a perfect blend of tropical deco and interior design. It can get pretty loud and crowded on weekends, but is an ideal spot to chat with friends during quieter weekdays. There are some classic tiki drinks such as the Sugarcane Magik (essentially a pina colada), and other more unique drinks such as the Shark Eye, which is served in a shark mouth splattered with edible ‘blood’.
Address: 95 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
This is the ‘casual beachside’ to Mother of Pearl’s ‘aesthetic luxe’. Otto’s Shrunken Head regularly hosts live bands and DJ’s, giving it a rock-meets-tiki vibe. It’s definitely a little grungier than my other picks for best bars in the East Village, but I guarantee it is a worthy adventure. One of their drinks is the Volcano Blast, which I discovered when I heard the bartender repeatedly yelling ‘Volcano!’ and bringing out a large flaming bowl of liquid. Naturally, I had to try it and was not disappointed. Another great thing about Otto’s is that the drinks are all served in tiki-style mugs, and you can keep the mug if you forego your $6 mug deposit.
Address: 538 E 14th St, New York, NY 10009
Keep your night (or day) going with these happy hour deals in the lower east side.
If you’re looking for a hidden speakeasy, Pouring Ribbons is the place to be. It’s so hidden that I went 8 months living two blocks away before I was taken there by a much more in-the-know friend. The bar is located on the second floor, and has minimal signage on the outside. Once inside, Pouring Ribbons has a comfortable, lounge-like atmosphere. They also have a menu-map where you can see where all the drinks fall on a spectrum of refreshing, spiritous, comforting, and adventurous. I had the Venus Xtravaganza because I was intrigued by the pandan in it, and would highly recommend it as a refreshing, not-too-sweet drink.
Address: 225 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009
This is the be-all-end-all for beers in the East Village. Alphabet City Beer Co (also known as ABC Beer Co) has over 350 types of bottled craft beers, and has 12 beers on a regularly rotating tap. I first tried ABC Beer Co when Diana came to visit, and we were both happy with the selection and quality of the beer we ordered. For context, Diana is a huge craft beer enthusiast so her praise does not come easily when it comes to beer. The atmosphere is intimate and casual, and it is a great spot for grabbing a beer with friends after work.
Address: 96 Loisaida Ave, New York, NY 10009
The Roost is a coffeeshop by day, and a hidden bar by night. During the day, the bar section of the Roost is hidden by a wooden sliding door. At night, the bar opens but is very inconspicuously located at the very back of the coffeeshop. My favourite thing about the Roost is that on Wednesdays, their entire wine menu is half-price (bottles included). Admittedly, I only go to the Roost for drinks on half-price wine Wednesdays, but they also have a rotating draft list, as well as cocktails and bourbon offerings.
Address: 222 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009
Side note: This is a great place to do work during the day. Outlets, wifi, and bathrooms – check!
Zum Schneider (Honorable Mention)
Zum Schneider is the resident East Village restaurant and beer-garden. They have all the weissbier, pilsners, and helles you could ask for, as well as other German specialties such as gluhwein. You can also satisfy your German food cravings with currywurst, bratwurst, and more. Zum Schneider often hosts events for things like the Oscars, soccer viewing parties, and more. They also host an Oktoberfest event by the East River, where you can buy tickets to enter a tent that closely resembles the actual Oktoberfest (not to scale). Unfortunately, Zum Schneider was unable to renew their lease and are closing at the end of February. However, they are actively looking for a new location and have already confirmed Oktoberfest 2020, so fingers crossed!
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