A Proper Cocktail Travel Guide to New York City

A Proper Cocktail Travel Guide to New York City

As we continue on our cocktailing journey, we were thinking about what we love that could potentially add value to your lives. With the joy of travel on the brain comes the pursuit of new places to enjoy cocktails. So we’re going to start up a little series of city guides for the cocktail curious, beverage marauders amongst us. Many of us at Tip Top have lived in New York City and our time there has helped inform many of the things we put into these tiny cans so only fitting that we start there.

While we’ve got a lot of ground covered here, there are still many top-notch NYC spots for cocktails that we have not included due to our own familiarity with them or maybe it’s just been a while since we’ve been there. Let us know if you think we’ve overlooked some important ones and we’ll make it a point to visit soon so we can assess adding them in.


Amor Y Amargo
NEIGHBORHOOD: East Village, Manhattan
WHAT’S GOOD: This spot is billed as a bitters tasting room. Super small, focused on Amaro and bitter drinks; we’re big fans of the owner/bartender Sother Teague (and his books). One of the things we love to do here is just sit at the bar (hopefully in front of Sother) and get tasted on all kinds of amaros. And if you do get a cocktail get the Sharpie Mustache and the 8 Amaro Sazerac.
WORTH NOTING: Number 23 on World’s 50 Best Bars North America. Possibly the smallest bar in NYC and does not take reservations so best not to come with a large group.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Lower East Side, Manhattan
WHAT’S GOOD: Speakeasy style cocktail bar and one of the best in the city. One of the owners Sam Ross is responsible for creating a whole slew of modern cocktails classics such as the Penicillin and Paper Plane. 
WORTH NOTING: No reservations; no menu; knock on the door with the letters AB on it. You may get lucky or you may get put on a list and called back in 2 hours. If you do have to wait, go to Bar Goto down the street until they call you back.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Greenwich Village / West Village, Manhattan
WHAT’S GOOD: You can’t go wrong with anything here but some favorites are the Upside Down Dirty Gibson and anything on their Negroni Sessions menu - yes, they have a separate menu of 10+ Negronis and Negroni variations.
WORTH NOTING: Known for cocktails but food is also great. Number 1 on World’s 50 Best Bars list in 2019. Greenwich Village is the OG spot and our slight preference as far as atmosphere. West Village location is newer but also a solid option, especially if you can’t get into the West Village location.

Death and Co
NEIGHBORHOOD: East Village, Manhattan
WHAT’S GOOD: One of the cocktail bars that helped drive the cocktail renaissance in the mid 2000s; this place is amazing and the menu changes seasonally.
WORTH NOTING: No reservations so be prepared to put your name down on a list. If you have to wait try walking down the street to Amor y Amargo.

Double Chicken Please
NEIGHBORHOOD: Lower East Side, Manhattan
WHAT’S GOOD: Super cool vibe, unique cocktails, great food. Two different spaces & menus available. Front room is more casual with cocktails on draft. Back room is more upscale with a full bar, larger food menu and one of the most interesting cocktail programs in the country - each drink is meant to mimic a food dish like Cold Pizza and Red Eye Gravy!
WORTH NOTING: Awarded #6 on World’s 50 Best best bars in the world and #17 on World’s 50 Best North America in 2022; don't go without a reservation or plan to wait a while.

Katana Kitten
NEIGHBORHOOD: West Village, Manhattan
WHAT’S GOOD: Japanese cocktail bar and restaurant with a super fun and casual vibe. My go-tos here are the Shiso Gin and Tonic, Hinoki Martini (add an order of Nori Fries for a Japaneese version of the NY Happy Meal) and the Meguroni #2 which is their take on a Negroni. 
WORTH NOTING: Also on Worlds 50 Best Bars list.

Llama San
NEIGHBORHOOD: West Village, Manhattan
WHAT’S GOOD: Modern Japanese/Peruvian (Nikkei) spot; Food is incredible and drinks are as well. They have had three iterations of their Nikkei Martini on the menu since opening of which I have had all three. Make sure to get this. And the milk punch. And you can’t go wrong with anything on the food menu. 
WORTH NOTING: If you’re in Williamsburg check out their other spot Llama Inn - it is also fantastic.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Greenwich Village, Manhattan
WHAT’S GOOD: From Greg Boehm—Katana Kitten, Existing Conditions (RIP), and more—this spot has a super unique and seasonal menu where each cocktail is based on a single ingredient that incorporates unique spices from around the world.
WORTH NOTING: On the World’s 50 Best list North America.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Soho, Manhattan
WHAT’S GOOD: From NYC bar icon Julie Reiner—Clover Club and previously Flatiron Lounge and Pegu Club—comes the reopening of this SoHo bar with super fun vibes and even funner cocktails. I highly recommend their mini (AKA cheeky) martini and daiquiri (aka Snackerie). 
WORTH NOTING: On the World’s 50 Best list North America for 2023.

Please Don’t Tell
NEIGHBORHOOD: East Village, Manhattan
WHAT’S GOOD: True speakeasy and home of the Benton’s bacon fat-washed Old Fashioned.
WORTH NOTING: Enter through the phone booth inside Crif Dogs (pick up phone to talk to hostess); They are also accepting limited reservations last we checked.

Tokyo Record Bar
NEIGHBORHOOD: West Village, Manhattan
WHAT’S GOOD: Prix fixe Japanese dinner paired with a guest created playlist played through a hifi vinyl soundsystem for your sipping and savoring soundtrack enjoyment.
WORTH NOTING: Super small and underground so don't go with a big group and have a backup plan in case there's no table available. The menu is pre-fixe izakaya style so come prepared to go with the flow as they guide you through the experience. Great sake selection and all cocktails are sake-based.

The Up and Up
NEIGHBORHOOD: Greenwich Village, Manhattan
WHAT’S GOOD: Really great speakeasy style cocktail bar; If you’re seeing a comedy or jazz show or eating in the area; this is a great spot to start or end your night.
WORTH NOTING: Would recommend trying to get a reservation ahead of time. No reservation? Try your luck, put your name down, and wander the village until they call you back.

Barely Disfigured
NEIGHBORHOOD: Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
WHAT’S GOOD: One of our favorite cocktail bars with chic / sexy vibe inside and cool Tulum vibes outside. Everything they make is great but some standouts are The Harlot’s Progress, The Persistence of Memory, Tenancingo, and The Little Death.
WORTH NOTING: The space used to be a brothel which should help explain some of the signage and decor.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Gowanus, Brooklyn
WHAT’S GOOD: Pre-fixe Oaxacan spot with fantastic food and drinks (both brunch and dinner). They also have an insane mezcal selection… can’t decide? Get a mezcal flight.
WORTH NOTING: This spot has one Michelin star.

Clover Club
NEIGHBORHOOD: Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
WHAT’S GOOD: One of the best cocktail bars in the city that also has really solid food and a great brunch. Cocktail maven and Drink Masters judge Julie Reiner is the owner and beverage director here. Their house martini, the Gin Blossom, is a must order. And if they have it on the menu the Coyote Negroni and Negroni Hunter are some of the best negroni variations I have ever had.
WORTH NOTING: Wednesday nights they have live jazz that is a perfect backdrop in this incredible bar. Not able to get a seat? Put your name down and head across the street to Leyenda, another one of our favorites…

NEIGHBORHOOD: Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
WHAT’S GOOD: Super cool and bright cocktail bar. Some of my favorites are the Cloudbusting Daiquiri, Barrel-aged Negroni, and Frozen Painkiller.
WORTH NOTING: They don’t have much food but you’re here for the drinks!

Frankies 457
NEIGHBORHOOD: Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
WHAT’S GOOD: Great classic neighborhood Italian spot. Make sure to get their Cavatelli with Hot Sausage & Browned Butter Sage (one of the dishes they are famous for) and their Olive Oil Martini. 
WORTH NOTING: Make sure to get a reservation.

Grand Army
NEIGHBORHOOD: Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
WHAT’S GOOD: Awesome cocktail bar with a seasonally changing themed menu (for example Nicolas Cage, Monster Trucks, or as of this writing, Game Shows). Their food is also solid. Get the oysters … they come with a wide variety of mignonettes and tinctures.
WORTH NOTING: Great option for a neighborhood pop-in.

HiHi Room
NEIGHBORHOOD: Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
WHAT’S GOOD: Super casual spot from the geniuses behind Court Street Grocers with great cocktails, burgers, and fried chicken.
WORTH NOTING: They have a lovely backyard.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
WHAT’S GOOD: Another one of the best cocktail bars in the city with a focus Latin & Caribbean - think tequila, mezcal and rum drinks. The food here is also really great (both dinner and brunch). The Tia Mia is their signature and a must order but you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
WORTH NOTING: Owner and beverage director Ivy Mix is also a cofounder of Speedrack, an all-female bartending competition that benefits breast cancer research. Also, if you’re in Brooklyn in December make sure this is on your list. It turns into Sleyenda, their version of a holiday themed bar and its the best (order a Coquito Ho Ho).

Long Island Bar
NEIGHBORHOOD: Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
WHAT’S GOOD: Unassuming bar that has an amazing cocktail program and incredible burger. Go here for burgers, cheese curds, and cocktails. Order a Boulevardier and Long Island Gimlet.
WORTH NOTING: Fun fact, owner Toby Cecchini is credited with the creation of the Cosmopolitan cocktail.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
WHAT’S GOOD: Seasonal oyster and cocktail bar on a boat docked on the north side of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6. Great drinks and great view of the city.
WORTH NOTING: It’s on a boat so only open during the warmer months of the year. Check the website.

Red Hook Tavern
NEIGHBORHOOD: Red Hook, Brooklyn
WHAT’S GOOD: Hands down one of our favorite places in NY. Classic NY style tavern with the best burger I have ever had alongside fantastic classic cocktails. Everything on the menu is incredible but be sure to get the burger, croquettes, and wedge salad. Drinks are also done well—they make a fantastic Alaska—with a really great wine selection.
WORTH NOTING: Red Hook is not particularly easy to get to by train but this spot is worth the trek. And if you find yourself here, make sure to hit up Sunny’s for a night cap and some live music.for hours & reservations.

Weather Up
NEIGHBORHOOD: Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
WHAT’S GOOD: Small, speakeasy-style, neighborhood cocktail bar that does cocktails really well.
WORTH NOTING: There is no sign so just look for the white subway tile and black door.

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