The Best Cocktail Bars in NYC: 11 Places with Unforgettable Drinks

New York City is a drinking town. There are bars of every stripe here: dive bars, generic Irish pubs, wine bars, craft breweries, sake bars, and drinking dens that specialize in specific spirits such as mezcal, gin, or absinthe. But what about the best cocktail bars in NYC?

Indeed, New York has some of the best on the planet. You could, in fact, say we are currently living in a peak cocktail moment, as bartenders (or “mixologists,” as they’re sometimes called) are better than ever at mixing and shaking up high-quality, perfectly balanced libations in the most atmospheric settings that may inspire you to have seconds (or thirds).

A full counter of bottles of spirits in front of a window looking out at the Manhattan skyline
Sipping a cocktail while looking out at the Manhattan skyline is a truly memorable experience. Photo credit: Loe Moshkovska

Keep reading to discover our 11 top picks for the best cocktails in NYC.

Bar Goto Niban

The younger Brooklyn sibling to the Lower East Side’s Bar Goto, this Prospect Heights cocktail bar serves up excellent drinks with Japanese flair. Niban is the domain of Kenta Goto, who mixes up highballs with Japanese whisky or Japanese white rice vodka. Don’t miss out on these drinks, which masterfully blend shochu and mezcal to create new sipping sensations.

3 fancy whiskey bottles lined up on a counter with a bar in the background
Looking for a highballs with Japanese whisky? Bar Goto Niban is your place. Photo credit: Pixabay

The Dead Rabbit

Often topping the list of best cocktail bars in New York and on the planet, The Dead Rabbit was started by Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, two bartenders from Belfast. The multi-floor bar, located at the southern tip of Manhattan, changes its cocktail menu every season. Expect complex but potent yet delicious cocktails here.

Several different colored cocktails displayed on a table at a dark cocktail restaurant
The The Dead Rabbit is a must if you’re hunting for cocktails in Manhattan. Photo credit: Daniel Cruz Valle

Temple Bar

Since way back in 1989, this NoHo cocktail bar has quietly been a favorite drinking den of cocktail aficionados. Then, at the beginning of the pandemic, it shuttered and regulars had yet another thing to fret about. Fortunately for us, Temple Bar reopened in 2022 (under new ownership) and it’s just as great as its earlier incarnation. Temple Bar is a classic for noshing on free popcorn in the impossibly dark room while nursing a classic cocktail.


You could easily walk right by Mace on West 8th Street in Greenwich Village and not realize it is one of the most innovative and best cocktail bars in New York City. Bartenders Nico de Soto and Greg Bohm opened this bar in 2015 to great fanfare. They use unorthodox ingredients to concoct harmonious drinks: everything from licorice syrup to brown butter to saffron to eggplant to corn puréee might find its way into your drink and your taste buds will thank you for it.

A cocktail menu shows photos and descriptions of cocktails made with cinnamon and celery seed.
Black pepper, dill, and celery seed are a few of the spices you’ll find on Mace’s menu. Photo credit: Lou Stejskal

Death & Company

Opened in 2006, when this golden age of cocktail shaking was first in its infancy, Death & Company is a pioneer, maybe one of the first bars to break out the bespoke ice. The bar mixes up seriously precious libations in a tranquil, very dimly lit atmosphere. This East Village bar doesn’t take reservations, so come early or be prepared to wait for a while. Expect to pay around $20 for a cocktail but expect it to be worth it.

A dimly lit cocktail bar with a man mixing cocktails in a cocktail shaker behind the counter.
Open daily from 6 pm to 1 am, Death & Co is the perfect place to relax while nursing a cocktail. Photo credit: zenjazzygeek


Located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Eavesdrop is a multi-sensory experience. The retro, ‘70s-ish vibes set the tone. Literally. The place was made for listening to and enjoying music. As DJs spin laid-back tunes, sip a cocktail or a glass of natural wine. If you use your imagination a bit, it might feel like you’ve been transported to some other dimension where you’re nursing a high-quality Negroni in someone’s hip, upscale rec room cerca 1977.

Insider’s Tip: Prefer to order your espresso martini behind a secret door? Check out our list on the speakeasy bars in NYC!

Employees Only

Before there were atomizers and fancy ice cubes, there was Employees Only. When this West Village speakeasy-ish cocktail bar opened in 2004, the place became a sensation for its well-made drinks. It’s not a surprise that the founders are Serbian, as Belgrade is one of the best cocktail bar cities on the planet. And they bring that expertise to the West Village with inventive and classic cocktails, as well as a menu of meat-y small plates to help soak up the spirits.

A darkly lit speakeasy with many people having drinks and cocktails at the bar
Art deco details add to the charm of New York speakeasy. Photo credit: Daniel Cruz Valle

Katana Kitten

This bi-level, Japanese-accented cocktail bar in the West Village makes near-perfect libations in a casual setting. Order a Meguroni #2 (shochu, ginever, aged umeshu, and bitters) or a Panda Fizz (haku vodka, pear brandy, calpico, and pandan) while grazing on some miso-laced deviled eggs or a mortadella katsu sandwich and be happy you’re in Katana Kitten, one of the best cocktail bars in NYC.

The Skylark

Rooftop bars and restaurants with great views don’t have to be good. It’s the eye candy that does all the work, goading the visitor into loving the place. But Skylark, located way up on the 30th floor on West 39th Street, and owned by David Rabin (who runs the show at Jimmy SoHo, Lambs Club, and American Bar in the West Village) manages to offer awe-inducing views of the Manhattan skyline and killer cocktails to boot. The menu tends to change based on the season but expect potent, delicious drinks with freshly sourced ingredients.

A woman drinks a cocktail at night with the lights of manhattan lighting up the background of the dark photo.
The view of West 39th Street is only part of what makes Skylark one of the best cocktail bars in NYC. Photo credit: Laura Peruchi

Nothing Really Matters

The year 2022 saw a series of totally secret and quasi-hidden speakeasy-type bars unearthed in the Big Apple. Nothing Really Matters, a reference to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” is one of the best of the bunch. Buried in the 50th Street subway station, this fun bar isn’t necessarily a secret: when the door opens, like a magpie, you might be attracted to the colorful backlit bar. The sophisticated space was once part of Siberia, the salt-of-the-earth drinking hole where punks and restaurant industry folks (like Anthony Bourdain) used to drink in the 1980s and ’90s.

Oddly Enough

A self-proclaimed “queer space for all,” Oddly Enough is true to its word. This bar, which first started shaking up cocktails in Spring 2022, is run by Laura Poladsky and Caitlin Frame. The bar mixes high-quality classic cocktails and the kitchen fixes up excellent Italian/French/Spanish small plates that complement the cocktails nicely.

An employee lowers a slice of lemon peel into an orange-colored cocktail.
Classic cocktail goes perfectly with the small dishes at Oddly Enough, one of the best cocktail bars in NYC Photo credit: Natasha Filippovskaya