Finding a fun bar with a good vibe and even better libations isn’t a problem you’re likely to have in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The real problem? Actually deciding where to go. This beachside city is packed to the gills with cool, creative bars that serve inventive cocktails and delicious beers—all local and handcrafted, of course. Here, you can be sure that the only thing that flows more than the ocean waves are the drinks and good times.
Asbury Park Distilling Co.
Bar, Contemporary, Pub Grub
Asbury Park Distilling Co. | Courtesy of Asbury Park Distilling Co.
One of the latest bars to open in this vibrant city is the Asbury Park Distilling Co. It’s the city’s only distillery to have opened since Prohibition, and for now, it only distills handcrafted vodka and gin. Located in the heart of the business district, right off Cookman Ave, the Distillery serves traditional cocktails with a modern twist but also offers seasonally based spirits that are truly one of a kind. Run by a team of passionate brewers and distillers, they are also committed to being a sustainable business that even gives their waste back to local farmers to use as fertilizer.
Just above the boardwalk sits a sleek, sprawling rooftop bar and lounge with one of the best ocean views in town. The Watermark is a favorite of both locals and visitors thanks to its laid-back yet chic and lively atmosphere. There’s simply no better place to snag a front-row seat to watch the sunset and sip refreshing cocktails that go down way too easy after a day at the beach.
Porta’s laid-back outdoor bar is like a local landmark. When the weather is just right, set up camp here at one of their picnic tables, and order a few rounds of drinks with your friends while you play a game of bocce ball under the twinkling string lights. But wait, that’s not even the best part. You can do all of this while you’re waiting for your table inside to indulge in one of their famous pizzas. Locavores will love the seasonal menu that sources produce from nearby farms, beekeepers, and even breweries.
Every beach town needs a proper surf bar, and the Asbury Park Yacht Club delivers. A surf shop by day and full-service bar complete with foosball, live music, and beer at night, the A.P.Y.C. sits front and center on the bustling boardwalk, just a few steps from the beach. A favorite local hangout known for its prime location and drink selection, any sandy and sun-soaked passerby couldn’t help but wander inside for a cold one, too. While you’re there, you can stay for a show by local band Deal Casino and order yourself a beer or three.
For a true beachside bar, you can’t get any closer to the water than at The Anchor’s Bend. Located on the northern end of Asbury’s two-mile-long (3.2 kilometers) boardwalk, The Anchor’s Bend serves refreshing libations from both inside the Convention Hall and out on the beach when the weather allows. It doesn’t hurt that their tasty menu will keep you there all night, too.
Walk down Asbury Park’s main drag, Cookman Avenue, and you might not even notice the sign for Little Buddy—not because it’s bad advertising but because it’s a secret. To get into this hidden retro tiki bar, enter The Brickwall Tavern, walk past the Annex Bar and into this boozy bungalow marked only by a beaded doorway curtain. If you’re lucky, there’s a DJ or the movie Jaws playing on the bar televisions. Whatever you do, make sure to order one of their beach-themed elixirs, such as the Sharknado or the smoking Drunken Head, and drink up! Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.
When you’ve finished sampling spirits at the Distillery, head next door to Asbury’s authentic Festhalle & Biergarten. With 31 beers on tap and 60 in the bottle, it’s not hard to spend an entire night or afternoon here with family and friends. Their rooftop bar is definitely the main attraction (you can even rent a heated “igloo” for wintertime happy hours!), but their 9,000-square-foot indoor hall features family-style dining, an even bigger bar, plus a live polka band on weekends. Prost!