A Guide to the Best Cocktail Lounges in New York City

Most New York apartments are barely big enough to house a queen-sized bed, much less entertain a crowd of people. For this reason (and many more), New Yorkers have perfected the art of the cocktail lounge. Dark, sexy and mysterious, a good cocktail bar often hits a few marks: high-quality ingredients, bartenders who care, and possibly a hidden location known only to the most adventurous imbibers. 

From places like Dead Rabbit, a two-story speakeasy in the Financial District with over 72 cocktails on the menu, to Pouring Ribbons, a joint with a dedication to chartreuse and a laid-back atmosphere, the city's best cocktail lounges don't disappoint.

If you're looking more for lounge-y ambiance than a perfectly crafted beverage, you'd do well to check out Rockwood Music Hall. A cozy space that packs a big crowd, the music changes hourly, so you can settle in for an evening of live entertainment to match your drink(s) of choice. 

Though it can be difficult to know what you're looking for when you're in a new city, this list will point you in the right direction, down a few staircases and back into a few dark alleyways to uncover the best cocktail lounges in the Big Apple. 

West Village
Little Branch

On first glance, Little Branch doesn't look like much at all. This teeny, narrow space lives behind a discreet door in the Village – often the only clue that you've found the right place are the people queuing up outside. Upon further...  Read More

Lower East Side

If your definition of a fantastic lounge includes good tunes alongside your cocktails, you've just found your new favorite bar. Rockwood Music Hall is a cozy space where artists rotate hourly. This means if you don't like a performer, they'll be...  Read More

Brandy Library

Upscale, decadent and set in the heart of TriBeCa's legendary restaurant and entertainment scene, the Brandy Library is a great place to catch your breath (and look good doing it!) at the close of the day. Booze, not books, line the...  Read More


Finding this Chinatown speakeasy is your first task. Apotheke is located down a dark, quiet alley - at first, you may think the cab has dropped you in the wrong spot. Once inside, you'll find bartenders donned in white lab coats dolling out...  Read More

Walking into The Mulberry Project, you can almost picture Frank Sinatra schmoozing with a beautiful lady in the corner booth. Hidden in plain view, this bespoke cocktail joint is easy to miss - keep an eye out for the unmarked red door and don't...  Read More

The Library Bar
Photo courtesy of Benoit Linero

The NoMad Hotel's Library Bar is anything but bookish. Jacques Garcia, of Paris' L'Hotel fame, designed the interiors of this smart cocktail den and the adjoining NoMad restaurant. Walk through the dining room (it's a little awkward, yes, but...  Read More

East Village

At Pouring Ribbons, cocktails are rated on two sliding scales: one teeters between refreshing and spirituous, the other comforting and adventurous. Drinks like the Chain of Command with gin, lemon, Earl Grey tea, dry curacao and amaretto fall on...  Read More

Ink48 Hotel
Photo courtesy of Kris Tamburello

The Press Lounge at Ink48 Hotel is perched atop the city, rewarding patrons with unobstructed views of Manhattan and the Hudson River. It's won accolades the city over, including from The NY Times' Frank Bruni who wrote it was "without question,...  Read More

East Village

The Wren is where you envision yourself drinking when you finally "grow up." Reminiscent of a country cottage, the Wren turns out drinks that are delicious, inventive, and yes, pricy. Unless you're a finance "mogul" or PR "maven," this certainly...  Read More

Financial District

Regulars have their preference on whether they'd like to sit upstairs or down, but it really comes down to what you're drinking. The Taproom (downstairs) is more informal, with a long list of whiskeys from around the world. The Parlor (upstairs)...  Read More


Meet Andrea Wien

Andrea Wien was bitten by the travel bug from an early age, and has lived in New York, Seattle, Cleveland and Sydney, Australia since 2007.

When she's not traveling or planning a trip, you'll...  More About Andrea

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