City Guides: The best bars in New York

Dutch Kills, 27-24 Jackson Ave, Long Island

Though this Long Island City gem is modelled after an 1890s gentlemen’s tavern, its vibe is better described as a modern-day Cheers. Even if they don’t know your name, you’ll feel like a regular from your first visit. 

As for the drinks – served with hand-cut ice – owner Richard Boccato has put together a solid roster of tipples that are complex in flavour but simple in recipe and execution, a philosophy he developed under the tutelage of Sasha Petraske. 

Striving for excellence in classic cocktails is the signature here. Head bartender Jan Warren says it best: “It’s a Manhattan made with love, an Old Fashioned prepared simply, but whose life in a glass has a protracted and noticeable arc.” 

Though I’m not lucky enough to have this spot at my backdoor, I know I’ll be welcome anytime. And I look forward to sipping many more simply perfect drinks in its cozy booths or better yet, perched on a stool at the bar.

Dram Bar, 177 South 4th Street, Brooklyn

Drinking at Dram is like hanging out at a friend’s cozy cabin, if said cabin was transported to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And if said friend played choice tunes and had an extremely well-stocked and well-staffed bar. Here you can get a well-crafted cocktail, a craft beer, a canned beer or a shot, whether during the sun-soaked late afternoons or well into raucous late night hours.

The menu features a selection of seasonally changing house cocktails. When a new drink is added to the tightly curated list, the staff meticulously tests and tastes until they have improved it to be the strongest – in each sense of the word – drink it can be. 

I highly recommend putting your faith in the talented staff, led by head bartender Tonia Guffey, and go for the bartender’s choice. 

The supporting cast of house-made syrups, tinctures and fresh juices are impressive, but the focus is on really letting the spirits shine. Besides the killer drinks and relaxed atmosphere, Dram deserves a spot in this list because, at the end of the day, it’s never forgotten what it is – a bar. 

And, increasingly, that’s what
people are demanding – a comfortable chill place where they can imbibe without intimidation and, above all, have fun.