5 Types of Bars in New York

Many visitors flock to the Big Apple more for its apple martinis than its culture. Luckily, there are thousands of bars where you can grab a drink (or a few). Most of them are even open until 4 a.m. No matter what your budget, you’ll find plenty of beers, cocktails and wines to wet your whistle.

High-End Bars

Some of the richest people in the world live in New York City, so it’s no surprise there are plenty of bars willing to take their money.

Bemelmans Bar

Located in the Carlyle Hotel, Bemelmans Bar is one of the swankiest bars in the city. Named after muralist Ludwig Bemelman, who adorned the bar’s walls with his cartoon character Madeline, Bemelmans is a must-see for visitors who are willing to drop around $20 per drink.

You can also enjoy live jazz music here every evening (Woody Allen’s band is known to play on select nights).

Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room

Bar SixtyFive might serve up some of the priciest drinks in the city (think $25 cocktails), but this swank establishment might be one of the best deals in town. Located in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, it’s only one level below the Top of the Rock observatory–and offers an equally stunning view of the city.

Just make sure you ditch the flip flops and tank tops before trying to get on the elevator. The Rainbow Room is one of New York City’s most iconic high-end establishments.

Budget Bars

Some visitors have a $100 budget for a night out on the town; some have $100 for their entire trip. If you fall into the latter category, head to these bars to save some cash without sacrificing your New York experience.

Jimmy’s Corner

Though it’s located in one of the priciest parts of town, Jimmy’s Corner is the place to head for some cheap libations. You can easily spend under $10 per person at this Midtown mainstay. Drinks are no-frills here. If your idea of a good night is a shot of Jameson or a Budweiser, this is the spot for you. The walls are covered with boxing memorabilia, and there’s a jukebox in the corner playing classic and 1980s rock.

Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern

Hipsters always seem to know where to find the cheap booze. Though no longer located in Greenpoint, Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern still serves up some of the cheapest liquor and beer in a dive bar setting to match. Drinks are served up in Styrofoam cups and cost less than $5 each. You won’t find anything else this cheap in the trendy neighborhood of Williamsburg.


Prohibition “halted” the sale of alcohol in New York (and the rest of the U.S.) in the 1920s. Yet the ban didn’t stop the mass sale of alcohol in the city. An estimated 100,000 establishments sold illegal alcohol in Manhattan during this period, and some are still open today.


One of the most famous speakeasies in New York is Chumley’s in Greenwich Village, located at 86 Bedford Street. The term 86’d (referring to the lingo for getting kicked out of a bar or restaurant) allegedly originated here. The owner would pay the police to tip off the bartender a few minutes before a raid. The bartender would then “86” the customers and hide the liquor.

Chumley’s has opened and closed many times over the years, but it has since reopened in its original location for dinner and drinks. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Historic Bars

History is all around in New York. Even the bars have got a story behind them. Check out a few historic haunts that will make you feel as though you’ve traveled back in time.

White Horse Tavern

Just a few minutes’ walk from Chumley’s is the White Horse Tavern. Originally opened as a tavern and flophouse in the 1800s, this was where poet Dylan Thomas drank his famed 18 shots of whiskey before stumbling back to the Hotel Chelsea and perishing from alcohol poisoning. Known as a writers’ bar in the 20th century, the White Horse hosted many famous patrons including Jack Kerouac, Jane Jacobs and James Baldwin.

McSorley’s Alehouse

McSorley’s claims to be the oldest bar in the city. Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen (many establishments claim this fact). Yet the atmosphere doesn’t lie. The bar only offers two types of beer (light and dark). The food menu is equally limited (crackers and liverwurst). Until the 1970s, the bar banned female patrons, leading to one of the most famous legal battles of the Women’s Rights Movement.

Theme Bars

Some New York bars can’t simply be places to drink; they need to be experiences as well.

Jekyll and Hyde

Jekyll and Hyde is one of those places to be experienced. Step inside the dark and cavernous walls of this 7th Avenue bar, and you’ll meet quirky characters like Tobias the Werewolf and Dreadmina the Vampire. Of course, menu items stick to the theme, too. Beers are imported from faraway lands, such as Scotland. If a cocktail is more your speed, you can order one of many options, including Sweet Poison, Alter Ego or Bermuda Triangle.

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