Slideshow: Where Bartenders Drink in New York City

Leo Robitschek of The Nomad and Eleven Madison Park
Leo Robitschek of The Nomad and Eleven Madison Park

[Photograph: Alice Gao]

Favorite Cocktail Bars: Death & Company has some of the most creative, forward thinking cocktails while still rooted in the classics. I also think The Beagle has great cocktails and food. They also provide amazing hospitality.

Favorite Bars for Beer: Gramercy Tavern was one of the first restaurants to care about craft beer. They have a great selection of vintage beers Cannibal also has an amazing imported beer selection. They have small producers that you rarely see in restaurants or bars, as well as many large format beers which are fun when dining with friends. The Pony Bar has 50 draft beers daily from local producers. Need I say more?

What about wine? Corkbuzz has a great wine selection by MS Laura Maniec. They have one of the largest, most diverse by the glass selections. Terroir is another favorite: open late, good food, and a great affordable by the glass and bottle selection. I especially love their summer riesling selections.

Got a favorite dive bar? Daddy O's—the modern day Cheers! It is a laid back, fun bar that can make a mean Negroni. The cheesy tater tots with Tabasco ketchup are also delicious.  

Dan Greenbaum of The Beagle
Dan Greenbaum of The Beagle

Favorite Cocktail Bar:There are so many great cocktail bars in the city now, but Milk & Honey is still one of my favorite quiet spots to get a nice and cold stirred drink.  If you happen to get there early and order a martini when the mixing glass hasn't been out of the glass chiller yet—It will make you think that all other cocktails are stupid, which is about right.

Favorite Bars for Beer: Proletariat just opened nearby is my new favorite bar for good beer. They have some really tasty sour and funky beers.  Also, Spuyten Duyvil is great.  Retail shops: Good Beer on 9th street is excellent as well as Bierkraft in Park Slope.

What about wine? Terroir in the East Village.  I think that wine bars in the US can sometimes attract a particular breed of asshole, both in staff and clientele.  But Terroir is a friendly and warm place.  Nick and Tanner are a dynamic duo like Simon and Garfunkel or Ashford and Simpson or K-Ci & Jojo...  No, but seriously, they have free Sherry from 5-6, so sometimes I'll stop in there for a little pre-shift taste. Retail: I go to Tinto Fino on 1st Ave.

Got a favorite dive bar? O'Connors in Park Slope. Sadly, it's closed for renovations, and I hear is gonna be much different. There was no refrigeration or tap beer.  Sometimes you might find an older guy dozing off at the bar next to his Bud, which had been poured into a parfait glass for him by Tom, one of my favorite bartenders ever.  He can talk about anything with anyone.  It was nice when Freddy's was around the corner because you could usually still get a drink at either of those spots when you got outta work late. Around work, Sophie's has a place in my heart cause I used to go there in high school, but I sometimes end up at Coal Yard nowadays.

Joaquín Simó of Pouring Ribbons
Joaquín Simó of Pouring Ribbons

What's your favorite NYC-area cocktail bar: Milk & Honey is still my favorite cocktail experience—there's something so lovely about those heavy curtains opening into that bastion of civilization and deliciousness.  Of the newer ones, I continue to be impressed with the Experimental Cocktail Club. Just a great addition to the scene and such a versatile space for parties small and large.  The drinks are inventive and tasty and the hospitality is second to none. 

Where do you go for good beer in NYC? My favorite beer bar is located a few blocks away from my apartment in Brooklyn, Brazen Head on Atlantic Ave. I avoid the evenings there, as the place is overrun by Brooklyn Law students (the only thing worse than a bar full of lawyers is a bar full of law students) but the afternoons are a sheer delight.  It's filled with neighborhood characters, from bartenders to musicians to contractors to doctors to retirees, all just taking a midday constitutional and shooting the shit as Greg plays an unbelievably eclectic playlist.  They always have 2 casks of beer available and their other 15 or so tap lines rotate with a great selection of beers from around the country (and world).  They also have a bi-annual cask beer festival that is not to be missed.  

What about wine? Terroir or Hearth.  They just get it. They're knowledgeable but never pedantic- their expertise comes through in their passion and enthusiasm, not in a dry recitation of winespeak.  Also, free sherry happy hour?  How is that not the greatest thing ever?!

Got a favorite dive bar? I don't think it's fair to call it a dive per se, but Bua on St Marks exemplifies what a great neighborhood pub should be.  Dale is just a magnificent bartender who deals with all the crap that comes from being on a busy college-bar street and never loses his cool or his smile.  That he pours a mean Left Hand Stout for me whenever I come in is certainly not hurting his cause.  But a shot and beer is the only thing I crave after a long shift and Bua never disappoints..

Jason Littrell of JBird and US Bartender's Guild NY
Jason Littrell of JBird and US Bartender's Guild NY

[Photograph: Jessica Leibowitz]

Favorite Cocktail Bars: I live in Brooklyn, and bars closer to my house tend to taste better (for some reason).  For this, I LOVE Ba'sik.  That's where I go A LOT.  Try the Papa's Pride, it's bangin'!  I also frequent Bushwick Country Club (for the Slushies), and Dram (for the EVERYTHING) more than I care to admit.  In the city, I love Booker & Dax, The Randolph, Death & Co. (duh).  Of course, Employees Only is also one of my "Desert Island" bars as well. These bars are well known because they do a good job consistently.

Favorite Bars for Beer: Beer Garden in Astoria. It's a magical world of malt, brats, and summer-ness. After that, you MUST check out Randolph Beer. It's not only a beautiful bar, but they have a great crowd, a brilliant selection, and a friendly, knowledgeable staff.

Got a favorite dive bar? A good dive bar should have a lot of darkness, "loud" walls, jukeboxes, and local derelicts. I like Sophie's on 5th St, Coal Yard, and of course the ultimate dive, Bushwick Country Club.

Aaron Polsky of Neta
Aaron Polsky of Neta

Favorite Cocktail Bar: PDT. Amazing staff, killer vibe, and fantastic cocktails that I can only get there. Really really admirably creative stuff going on up in there.

Favorite Bars for Beer: Proletariat. The bartenders there read your mind then proceed to pour you beers that don't exist. 

What about wine? Anfora and Terroir have the most intrepid lists of wines by the glass (for those orange wine cravings), which I really appreciate. 

Got a favorite dive bar? Lit to party, Bua to eat, and St Dymphnas to talk.

Brian Bartels of Fedora
Brian Bartels of Fedora

What's your favorite NYC-area cocktail bar: PDT is my favorite cocktail bar. Full disclosure: Jim Meehan is one of my best friends and we bartended together back in Wisconsin, so I'm biased. But honestly I hang out there a lot when Jim is not there, and the staff is incredibly knowledgeable and engaging, the drinks are made with boundless attention and balance, and the space itself inhabits a sustained timelessness.  It's a very well-designed little space.  Not a bad seat in the house and transcendent enough to feel a part of Old New York somehow resuscitated.

Got a favorite dive bar? Spring Lounge. (Full disclosure again: I worked there for about a year.) Not that I would necessarily call it a dive, but I guess not having a lock on the men's door, then watching women get really frustrated by the long line for the women's restroom, then use the men's restroom and not care about not having a lock on the door, then doing fourteen shots of Jameson sort of made me feel divey, in a sense.  I drank at the Lounge long before becoming an employee there.

Where do you go for good beer in NYC? Everyone's really stepped up their game and I celebrate how not only bars but restaurants take their beer program more seriously as a result. Bars like Swift and The Pony and Blind Tiger and, again, the Spring Lounge, always keep me on my toes for trying new things, and I have good friends who live in Park Slope, so every time I visit them it's also a chance to stop by Bierkraft and pick 2 varied six-packs of very unique product.

Theo Lieberman of Lantern's Keep and Milk + Honey
Theo Lieberman of Lantern's Keep and Milk + Honey

[Photograph: Alice Gao]

What are your favorite cocktail bars in NYC? Raines Law Room. What Meaghan Dorman has done there is absolutely incredible, she has adapted a one bartender bar to quickly and accurately make drinks for their 75 seat space. The menus are inspired, and the staff is dedicated. The Beagle is where I tend to drink by myself. The staff always makes me feel at home, and their sherry knowledge is amazing.  Beloved in Greenpoint is pretty great too, great cocktails, great staff, and amazing DJs.

Where do you go to drink beer in NYC? Lucky Jacks (right by Milk and Honey) is amazing. Zach and Matty are two of the best bartenders I know. Best pint of Guinness in the city as well.

Are you a wine drinker? I love Corkbuzz by union square, they have half off Champagnes after 10 p.m., and the sommeliers are always down to pour you some funky wine and/or sherry.

What's your favorite dive bar? My favorite dive bar is Jimmy's Corner down the street from Lantern's Keep. It's an old boxing bar and the juke box is amazing. They always get a little confused when you ask for a shot of Campari. 

Toby Maloney of Pouring Ribbons
Toby Maloney of Pouring Ribbons

What's your favorite NYC-area cocktail bar? The Shanty because it's great to sip gin while looking a a still, Mother's Ruin where it's always a raucous party, and The Evelyn Drinkery, because those guys are just so darn nice.

Got a favorite dive bar? The Blarney Cove on 14th between Avenue A and 1st Avenue. The Parkside Lounge: I can never remember where it is but I can stumble there every time. Also, The Horseshoe Bar on B and 7th.

Where do you go to drink beer in NYC? I love DBA on 1st, Berry Park in the Burg and the Frying Pan on the West Side Highway. 

Michael Neff of Ward III and The Rum House
Michael Neff of Ward III and The Rum House

What are your favorite cocktail bars in NYC? Employees Only, because they stay open late (always a plus for bartenders) and they know how to deliver both a good cocktail and a good time. Same goes for their sister-restaurant, Macao Trading Co., with the added dimension of a beautifully theatrical space. Angel's Share, an unsung progenitor of the "speakeasy" style of bars in New York, makes beautiful cocktails, and is one of the few places in the city to experience the meticulous Japanese style of crafting cocktails. And you can get a great Old Fashioned at the Ear Inn the one night a week that Michael Waterhouse is working there.

Where do you go to drink beer in NYC? For interesting and educational beers, I go to the bar at Megu which (kind of surprisingly) has a very inventive beer program. I like the rotating taps at Brooklyn Public in Fort Greene and Mudville 9 in Tribeca. Marshall Stack is great, as well.

Got a favorite dive bar? I like Jimmy's Corner on 44th Street. They are belligerently serious about their cheap prices and you can still find Jimmy himself around on many nights. The Raccoon Lodge has a bar that feels really good on your elbows. Shenanigans in Kensington feels like you're drinking in someone's rec room, though it has been around since well before Prohibition.

Brian Miller, Tiki Mondays at Lani Kai
Brian Miller, Tiki Mondays at Lani Kai

What's your favorite cocktail bar in NYC? My favorite places to drink are where my friends are tending bar, that way I am never disappointed. But Pouring Ribbons is my favorite new kid in the class.

Where do you go to drink beer in NYC? The Brooklyn Inn. The beer, the pool table, the jukebox...it's all better there.

Where do you go to drink wine? I really do enjoy a bottle of wine over an amazing meal at Petite Crevette.

What's your favorite dive bar?The Art Bar.

Kevin Denton of WD-50
Kevin Denton of WD-50

[Photograph: Jessica Leibowitz]

Favorite Cocktail Bars: I love Mayahuel. Phil takes a specific category of spirits (agave based: tequila, mezcal) and shows such a spectrum of flavor. The vibe is great and the food is a perfect complement to the drinks.

Favorite Bars for Beer: I live near Bierkraft in Park Slope. They always seem to have a good selection. In Manhattan the Blind Tiger has a great, cozy feel and a nice rotation on tap.

Got a favorite dive bar? I wouldn't necessarily call it a dive, but I do love the Jazz jam on Tuesday nights at Mona's. The Shamrock on 14th and Milano's on Houston is pretty great for day drinking. Sad to hear St. Jerome is folding. That was one of the best.