So many great bars in New York; so much history, so many cocktails, so many drunks. But again, if there were only ten NYC bars to save, what would be the ones we couldn't do without? I would say these ten.
Sometimes I feel ambivalent about McSorley's. It's the ultimate old-time New York bar, the subject of an essay which is itself a classic, and the framed pictures on the wall make the place essentially a museum you can drink (very good) beer in. On the other hand, it's too well-lit, too self-aware, and its frat-boy crowd is always threatening to turn it into an outright bro hole. The fine hamburger and corned beef hash always settle the issue for me, though: McSorley's is a treasure.
An unmistakable air of punk rock royalty lingers in the air of this Avenue B dive bar owned by Handsome Dick Manitoba, the front man for the legendary band The Dictators. It's less dangerous than in years past but still seedy.
Mostly known as a dark, ancient, utterly authentic Irish bar of a kind rarely seen nowadays, Molly's also happens to serve a wonderful if atomic-sized hamburger. Two people can easily split it, as long as both have a good pint of stout each.
I know that people come here for the food, but to me that's crazy. This is possibly the greatest sake bar in the city, if not the country, and the only purpose for the (admittedly fine) food is to keep you from ralphing. I'm sorry, but it's true.
Maybe the defining mid-century New York restaurant, The Four Seasons continues to be a gathering place for the most powerful and wealthy of Manhattan grandees. The food, as always, is an afterthought, but there is no better place than the Grill Room bar to have a martini.
Bemelmans Bar rightly has a reputation as being hoity-toity, a meeting place for Manhattan grandees and society matrons. And while that may be true to some extent, it's also a matchless example of New York at its most sophisticated and timeless. If you want to not look like a rube or a trendster, this is the move.
The Spotted Pig invented the New York gastropub, for all intents and purposes, and it's still the best, thanks to the brilliance and integrity of chef April Bloomfield.
The house cocktails are world class at this most elaborately secretive of all New York speakeasies. But I go there to have perfect Manhattans, Sazeracs, and Vieux Carre's.
The birthplace of the gay rights movement isn't technically still in the same location, but it's close enough to make this West Village bar a virtual shrine to all queer and trans people anywhere -- and it's a great bar too.
The oldest continually operating bar in New York city, and maybe also the best, Sunny's started by catering to stevedores and now caters to an eclectic bunch of loyal weirdos and non-conformists. There isn't a scintilla of artifice to be found here anywhere.