What we’ve comprised here is a small cheat-sheet of bars that the average tourist needs to take a look at when travelling to New York, United States. That’s basically it.
No frills, no punchlines or discounts, this is a small list of up-market cocktail bars, dive bars and some of the best speakeasy bars you’ll ever visit. The reason we’ve focussed on dive and speakeasy bars is because the average tourist won’t want to be visiting a regular bar – you can find these pretty easily yourselves – but they will want to treat themselves to the experience of secret cocktail establishments or cheap beers and free hot dogs.
Tempted? Read on…
Located in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, Rudy’s is a New York staple and has been around since the 1930’s. It’s the quintessential dive bar and is probably the one bar famed for keeping the dive bar scene alive. Beers are super cheap, hot dogs are free, and tipping is compulsory. You’ll walk in there and see plenary of dollar bills lying on the bar from customers tipping so don’t be afraid to leave your tip with the rest of them.
It’s one hell of a dive bar and you’ll always meet some interesting people, from students to regulars, celebrities to veterans. It’s an interesting place every single day in Rudy’s.
Location: 627 9th Avenue, NY.
Rudys Bar NYC
Notably one of the most popular and well known about barbershops in NYC, the Blind Barber is a speakeasy living up to the heritage of prohibition. The name Blind Barber is a call back to establishments like the Blind Tiger; a bar named in a way to let the police turn a blind eye to what happens behind the scenes.
The Blind Barber is a fully functioning barbershop, so get yourself a trim in the daytime, then go back for a cocktail in the evening. The entrance is a door at the back of the barbershop. Sometimes there will be a bouncer outside, killing a bit of the charm, but offset by the wonderment inside. Well worth a visit.
Location: 339 E 10th St, New York
PDT is regularly spoken about as one of the best bars in the city, but is notorious for being quite tough to get in without a reservation. So much so that there’s literally no point going down there if you haven’t reserved – even if you’re a celebrity.
Like many speakeasy bars in New York, the entrance to PDT is ‘hidden’. In this case it’s a red phone booth at the back of a hot dog joint. Just dial 1 and wait for the other side of the phone booth to be opened by the maitre-d. Inside you’ll find a small room with taxidermy adorning the walls. There aren’t many seats (hence the need for a reservation) but my advice is to sit at the bar. As nice as your own table would be, bartenders in the city have some of the best stories around and are very welcoming to tourists who aren’t idiots. Go enjoy some of the best cocktails you’ll ever taste.
Location: 113 St Marks Pl, New York
Going back into the vibe of dive bars, Reif’s Tavern delivers everything you’d want from a dive bar – cheap beer, great atmosphere and a place to grill your own meat. Hang on, what?
Yup. At Reif’s you can bring your own food to grill outside on one of their three grills, just make sure that when you go in you say that you’re a Yankees fan – it won’t hurt for you to say it but it’ll heighten your chances of getting on that grill. If you don’t fancy grilling, then just enjoy the cheap drinks at the bar and chatting to the locals there. You’ll make friends in no time.
Location: 302 E.92nd St, New York
Care to venture down the rabbit hole for these drinks? It’s a cliché they’ve heard a million times so maybe don’t say it when you’re in there, just be a good tourist and get some incredible drinks. Located in Greenwich Village, near many bars that cater to college students, the 124 Rabbit Club can be found by looking out for the door with a rabbit picture next to it (see picture above).
This is your way in but you will need to hit the buzzer and then wait to be let in. Once inside, you’ll find a dimly-lit room with walls covered in chalk scribblings – think Shawshank Redemption meets a chalkboard paint factory, but in the best way.
Location: 124 MacDougal St, New York
If you’re a tourist in New York, more so when you’re a couple in New York, this is one bar you do not want to miss out on. It’s possibly one of the most romantic bars you’ll visit and it’s been a neighbourhood favourite for more than 20 years despite constantly being called a ‘hidden’ bar. There is a dress code so remember no fur and be over 25. You don’t want to be turned away from this on date night.
Location: 300 E.98th St, New York
The Auction House NYC
That’s the end of our short list of bars you need to visit when you’re on a short trip to NYC but there is one last piece of advice to give you. These are cocktail bars and dive bars, but don’t you go muttering the word ‘hipster’ in or near any of these places. They’re anything but, so refrain from saying the one word that will get you kicked out!
Feature image credit: Flickr sanickelsLast updated on Feb 13, 2020
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