The Best Craft Cocktail Bars in Manhattan

There’s a reason Manhattan believes it’s the center of the craft cocktail universe. Over a decade ago, a handful of bartenders pioneered the scene, employing fresh juice, revival spirits, rediscovered classics and a penchant for vintage furniture, which, eventually, fueled a modern renaissance that is now brewing around the globe. Today’s democratic mix of everything from formal reservations-only bars to looser, more casual cocktail lounges symbolizes a scene that is more confident and inclusive than it’s ever been. Today the city is truly awash with more well-crafted and unique cocktail programs than ever before. As such, this list is not meant to be comprehensive; instead it is an ever-changing snapshot of the many cocktail joints leading the city through its second golden age of drinking.

  • 1

    Bar Goto

    Kenta Goto's Japanese-style cocktail bar is an oasis of subtle, quality cocktails and small plates, all rooted in a deeply personal history. The former head bartender at Pegu Club features a number of Japanese spirits and ingredients as well as okonomiyaki—an omelette-like grilled pancake of egg and ingredients like pork belly or seafood.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
  • 2

    Amor y Amargo

    This shoebox of a bar has one thing on its mind: bitters. Before the rest of the country had caught on to the beauty of amari and aromatic bitters, Amor y Amargo was already deeply in love, and—despite its less than a dozen-seat space—has made a big name for itself as the mecca of all things mouth-puckering. Any spirit can be ordered as an Old-Fashioned, Manhattan or Negroni variation, and more likely than not, you'll leave with your own bottle of bitters tucked into your bag (the bar sells all its bitter wares for retail, including books and tools).

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • lots of amari
    • bar tools
  • 3

    Angel's Share

    Hidden on the upstairs floor of a Japanese restaurant, Village Yokocho, Angel's Share can be found through a door in the back of the room. Though an undisputed pioneer within the New York cocktail scene, Angel's Share has never been shouty about its art. In this quiet shrine to the cocktail, Japanese bartenders quietly build drinks (don't expect to make conversation with them), many of which lean classic and spare. It should be known, this is a bar with rules—and not the tongue-in-cheek kind.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
  • 4

    Attaboy

    Attaboy is the everyman's cocktail bar hidden in plain sight on an obscure bit of Eldridge Street. From Michael McIlroy and Sam Ross, the pair that helmed Milk & Honey throughout the late aughts, this understated beauty is the younger, less self-conscious sister that took over the space when M&H moved uptown (there's a window now, and no reservations are required). The two are the modern-day Abbott & Costello of the cocktail world, chasing and playing off one another's moves, while charming the hell out of whoever wants to watch and drink. With the same no-menu format as M&H, bartenders feel out your vibe and deliver ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
  • 5

    Boilermaker

    As its name alludes, there's nothing fancy about Boilermaker, the East Village venture of West Coast bartender Erick Castro and Cocktail Kingdom's Greg Boehm and Don Lee. There's also nothing immediately dive-y about it either. Still, it carries the shot-and-a-beer torch with pride. The oversized drinks menu details a half-dozen boilermaker combos, including pairings like stout and amaro and Tecate with tequila. But the real gems at this blue collar revival are the cocktails on draft rigged up by Don Lee, who manages to make each drink taste like it's straight from a shaker.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • cheap date
    • bar food
  • 6

    The Dead Rabbit

    A little slice of Ireland in the middle of the Financial District, The Dead Rabbit is a multi-pronged, choose-your-own-adventure bar with the most epic cocktail menu in existence. Both bars (there's an upstairs parlor and a downstairs taproom) are lined with tinctures, syrups and more Irish whiskey than you can shake a stick at. Watch carefully: These bartenders are some of the best you'll come across in all the world. (Really, they've got the awards to prove it.)

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
    • full menu
    • craft beer
  • 7

    Death & Co.

    Dark, brooding and considerably obscured from prying eyes, Death & Co. is everything one expects a New York speakeasy-style bar to be. Heavily decorated with awards, the East Village legend has never wanted for attention or a roster of incredible bartenders. While it's been around for years, it's still one of the most reliable places to get an ambitious drink.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
  • 8

    Little Branch

    One in a handful of New York City's first classic cocktail bars, Little Branch's aesthetic is deeply rooted in the evocation of 1920s speakeasies—a style that was big back in the mid-aughts. Unlike many other venues of the same ilk, Sasha Petraske's underground bar has weathered the changing of eras and still feels secreted away in the sexiest way possible. Hidden below a nondescript building in the West Village, LB has and continues to see some of the city's best bartenders pass through this always-bustling den. As such, dealer's choice is never a bad decision here.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • live music
  • 9

    Mother's Ruin

    When Mother's Ruin opened its doors in 2011, the term "cocktail bar" stretched a little to pull this odd little dive under its umbrella. This is a no-bullshit bar, first and foremost. Cheap beer, strong whiskey and a consoling ear can all be found here. But it also flies under the radar as one of the most inventive cocktail bars in the city, with a menu that changes daily and a staff of skilled bartenders who can handle a crowd three deep while simultaneously mixing Boulevardiers to perfection.  A bare-bones room with a big center bar that's seen its share of crying, laughing and dancing, Mother's welcomes in the ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • cheap date
    • bar food
    • brunch
    • singles scene
  • 10

    Mayahuel

    Perhaps one of the first single-subject spirit bars (outside of whiskey) in New York, Mayahuel is fervently dedicated to the worship and preservation of agave. The work of Phil Ward, one of the cocktail world's surliest and most endearing bartenders, this place is unabashedly idiosyncratic and proud of it. A mix of Mexican tile, dark wood and dozens upon dozens of tequila and mezcal bottles, Mayahuel is an escape for those looking for so much more than just a good Margarita; it's an embodiment of the most intentional of cocktail programs—with really good tacos to boot.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • lots of tequila
    • lots of mezcal
    • bar food
  • 11

    NoMad Bar

    The hotel bar so popular it outgrew its hotel, the NoMad Bar is a clubby, wood-paneled stunner that began winning awards the minute it opened in 2012. So far it’s racked up a Spirited Award and a James Beard Award for outstanding restaurant bar program. Bar manager Leo Robitschek’s epic list of original cocktails has rendered it a must-stop for global cocktail pilgrims. Drinks lean toward the spirit-forward and complex, and a reserve list employs rare, luxury spirits in classics like the Jungle Bird and Vieux Carré.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • hotel bar
  • 12

    PDT

    When hosting friends or family in New York, there is a requisite list of a dozen or so activities to include on the itinerary: a Broadway show, strolling through Central Park, at least one late-night pizza pitstop and, new to a century’s worth of NYC traditions: drinking cocktails at PDT. For such a tiny bar, its reputation is vast, much due in part to its phone booth-in-a-hot-dog-stand entrance and ubiquitous bartender-proprietor Jim Meehan.  Seven years after opening, its popularity remains intact thanks to always solid cocktails, Meehan’s tireless ambassadorship and the success of The PDT Cocktail Book, a guide ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
  • 13

    Pegu Club

    One of the original cocktail bars to spur the New York renaissance, Audrey Saunders' Pegu Club is still a bastion of beautiful drinks. While it might not be as progressive today as it was a decade ago, it still remains one of the most elegant and fast-paced cocktail bars in the city. And, undoubtedly, it's the best place to order Saunders' modern classics, like the Gin Gin Mule, French Pearl and the Earl Grey MarTEAni.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
  • 14

    Pouring Ribbons

    Above an ungentrified little stretch of Avenue B, Pouring Ribbons is a labor of love from Joaquín Simó and Alchemy Consulting. The bar—rendered in all shades of greens and blues—is well-versed in the art of the classics, but going off-piste is certainly rewarded. Sherry, tequila and mezcal all are in liberal use here alongside more eccentric ingredients like seven-spice-pumpkin-coconut mix, corn milk and yogurt.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
  • 15

    Wallflower

    Wallflower is a tiny dressed-up French bistro fronted by a cocktail bar. The drinks by Xavier Herit, formerly of Daniel, are all miniature works of art, delicately garnished with streaks of Angostura, curling citrus peels or thick layers of foam. There's always a bottled cocktail option, and at least a handful of drinks employing either sherry or one of Herit's house syrups.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
    • full menu
    • good wine

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