Best Bars Upper West Side

Finding a place to grab a drink on the Upper West Side is not a difficult task, however, there are some bars worth visiting more than others especially if you’re looking for a specific vibe or ambiance. 

Whether you’re looking for a casual drinking hole for after-work drinks with colleagues or looking to scout out your next location for a potential date night, we’ll be recommending you some of the best bars on the Upper West Side so you don’t have to waste your time and also your money. 

The Mermaid Inn

570 Amsterdam Ave, NY, 10024

We’re starting our recommendations off with one of our favorite places to go to on the UWS and also when we’re around the East Village with friends. The Mermaid Inn offers one of the best happy hours around, incorporating their signature dish – oysters with discounted cocktails, wines, or beers every day between 4:30 and 6:30 pm. 

East Coast Oysters are only $1.25 at happy hour and go down a right treat when paired with a cold glass of sauvignon blanc. 

Many regulars would describe The Mermaid Inn as more of a restaurant than a bar, but that’ll all depend on what time you choose to go. Granted, you won’t find people dancing in the middle of the room but you’ll still be able to enjoy casual drinks at the bar or one of their many indoor or outdoor tables all night long. 

Prohibition

503 Columbus Ave, NY, 10024

Whatever day of the week you go out, Prohibition will always offer a good vibe whether it’s open mic night or they’ve got live music performances, you’ll never have a dull night out.

Prohibition is a great choice regardless of if you’re looking to destress after work with a strong one, a night out with friends on a Saturday, or even an easy ice breaker for a first date. 

Drinks are reasonably priced for the UWS, so you won’t have that fear of checking your bank balance the morning after when you thought it would be a great idea to buy a round for your buddies. All draft beer is $6 and you can even get a cocktail for just $8, half the price of what you’d find in some other locations in the neighborhood.

You may find it difficult to find a table if you rock up past 10 pm on a Friday or Saturday, so if you are looking to swing by then we recommend getting there early before the crowds build up.

The Owl’s Tail

215 W 75th St, NY, 10023

If you’re looking for a cozy date night spot that’s as warm and inviting as your living room, but that’s not your living room then check out The Owl’s Tail, the retro vibe bar services up to some exciting cocktails and global small plates that you can graze whilst you exchange glances over the table.

Service is The Owl’s Tail is notably quick as well, so if you do happen to have some awkward silence whether it be with a potential love interest or a casual drink with your boss, then you won’t be waiting too long.

Happy Hour is Tuesday to Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30, so if you’re lucky enough to live or work in the neighborhood then we recommend heading down there to grab yourself some cheap drinks.

Our fav tried and tested small plates are the fresh mozzarella crostini and the garlic soy steamed shrimp dumplings, however, we’ve got a glimpse of the rest of the menu when being delivered to other customers and everything looks delicious. 

Bodega 88

573 Columbus Ave, NY, 10024

Bodega 88 is not your typical sports bar (well it is kind of) as they serve up a top-notch menu that puts every other sports bar in the area to shame. Not only this but every booth in the place has its own TV, so you’ll always have the best seat in the house regardless of where you choose to sit. 

Bodega shows a variety of sports including basketball, football, and even some Premier League soccer games.

It can get pretty crowded in Bodega, especially on big game days, but staff always seem to stay positive and friendly even when the atmosphere gets pretty buzzed.

We’d recommend booking yourself a booth if you’re looking to head to Bodega on a game day as you’ll be guaranteed great service and also a good spot to watch the game as you tuck into your wings.

If you are looking for a bar that’s serving up some greasy grub, then Bodega may not be the one for you, however, don’t knock them before you try them as their classier take on classic bar menu items will have you surprised.

E’s Bar

511 Amsterdam Ave, NY, 10024

If you’re looking for a friendly neighborhood bar to make your second home on the weekends, then you’ll want to head straight to E’s Bar on Amsterdam Avenue. The atmosphere inside E’s is one of the best things about it as it’s super chilled out and relaxing, allowing you to let loose after a long hard day at work with friends. 

They’re open till 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays for you to let off some steam and even try your hand at some darts or challenge your friends to a classic board game from E’s selection. 

Everyone has their favorite go-to drink at a bar, and we do not doubt that the guys at E’s will have it for you, whether it’s frozen cocktails, an ice-cold Corona, or even a rare scotch to help you enjoy the night. They even serve up a decent bar food menu including a tasty falafel burger (we recommend getting guac on top as well) that’s served with perfectly seasoned fries. 

Vin Sur Vingt

66 W 84th St, NY, 10024

Vin Sur Vingt offers the classiness of a Parisian night out but on the Upper West Side of New York and is a popular venue for first dates. 

The wine list extends to over 250 wines, so if you consider yourself a wine connoisseur then this place will be essential for you to visit. 50 wines are available by the glass, with some of the more eclectic or unique wines being only available to purchase by the bottle, so it might be worth coming with a group of friends.

The UWS location does not take any reservations and tables are available on a first-come-first-serve basis, so if you’re lucky you may be able to grab a table in their indoor or outdoor dining area. 

If the wine has worked up your appetite then ask to take a look at their delicious menu that’s filled with authentic French cuisine from steak tartare to escargots (snails for those less familiar with français) 

Dive Bar

732 Amsterdam Ave, NY, 10025

Dive Bar is a favorite watering hole amongst the locals who come regularly to grab drinks with their buddies, watch sports and even grab a bite to eat whilst the kitchen is open.

This bar has been located on the UWS for over 25 years now and has earned itself a great reputation due to their epic beer selection as well as some locally sourced food that is above and beyond what you’d find on a typical bar menu.

Staff are super friendly and will be up for a good chat if you’re drinking on your own at the bar or even if you’re getting a bit unruly with your group of friends picking out songs on the jukebox. 

Those who don’t live on the UWS still find themselves returning here weekend after weekend as the location is easy to get to and they’re open till late so you can have a good ol’ night in whosoever company you’re in. 

Jacob’s Pickles

509 Amsterdam Ave, NY, 10024

We know what it’s like after you’ve been downing beers like no tomorrow on a Friday night after work… hunger soon strikes, and you’re ready to devour anything and everything you can get your hands on. That’s why we’ve picked out the perfect venue for those who get the munchies after a few drinks or even for those looking to dine out for dinner/brunch as well as having a glass of wine or quirky cocktail.

The bar or restaurant, depending on your preference serves up southern-accented comfort food and an extensive selection of craft beer that’s served in a modern-rustic setting that oozes 

In the Summer, they open the front completely to create a blended indoor and outdoor dining/drinking experience, which is ideal when you still want to enjoy the warm nights of NYC instead of sitting inside with the air con on.

We also listed Jacob’s Pickles in our best breakfasts in Manhattan article, so you can truly see that this restaurant has earned itself quite a reputation with both locals and tourists.

The Empire Rooftop & Lounge

44 W 63rd St, NY, 10023

Drinking or dining at a rooftop venue in NYC is a right of passage regardless if you’ve lived here all your life, or you’re in town for the first time, and The Empire is one of the best places to drink with a city view on the UWS. You may have come across The Empire’s famous red lettering on the front of the hotel, but it’s rooftop bar and lounge may have been concealed up until this point.

The blended indoor and outdoor rooftop has enough seating for over 350 guests and can become a great social hub if you go at the right time.

There’s a working fireplace on the roof to help keep you warm when those NYC summer nights start to come to a close and there is enough of a retractable roof if you get caught in a rain shower midway through your evening.

Granted, this is a very popular hotel in NYC and you’re going to have that reflected in the price you pay for a drink here, but getting to enjoy this venue and the city landscape is priceless. 

The Hamilton

998 Amsterdam Ave, NY, 10025

Last but by no means least on our list of recommendations for the best bars on the Upper West Side is The Hamilton located on Amsterdam Avenue. If you’re a whiskey connoisseur then this bar may have already been on your radar as this venue specializes in American whiskeys. 

This 18th-century style tavern is a good spot for a first date, a quick drink after work, or even an evening out with a small group of friends as the menu offers something for every kind of taste preference. 

It’s not the biggest venue so it may not be the ideal choice for a big group of friends, but that being said, they are open until 2 am, so you may be able to swing by later in the night when the rush has died down.

They have a small snacks menu complete with salty mixed nuts, salsa & chips, and rich marinated olives to help you curb the munchies when you’ve sunk a beer or two. 

The guys who keep The Hamilton are straight up and have some basic house rules that you can check out on their website to ensure your time there is spent well (they’re nothing crazy so don’t sweat it).