The West Village’s sweeping, tree-lined streets may be wonderfully quiet and charming, but the neighborhood swells with bars and nightlife, too. Stop by any of these bars for a fancy cocktail, a cheap beer, a dance party or a sing-along around a piano.
Whisky fans: head to Highlands for a taste of Scotland. This Scottish gastropub is beloved for is staggering selection of scotch, found straight up or shaken into cocktails. Even the food is a nod to Scotland: Scotch eggs, haggis and smoked Scottish sea-trout mousse all feature on the menu. Although the main attraction is certainly brown liquor, there are a handful of Scottish beers on tap, too.
You’ll only see a sign for The Happiest Hour on West 10th Street, a tiki-style bar with lots of choose-your-own-adventure fruity drinks (try the Eat a Peach, made with peach, honey, lemon, cava and your choice of rum, gin or applejack) and a very good fast food-type burger. Downstairs is Slowly Shirley, the glitzy, old-Hollywood speakeasy. A list of house cocktails is always available, plus a rotating selection of seasonal ones and a few small plates.
For a bit of history, there’s the White Horse Tavern. The storied bar opened in 1880 and was a favorite among longshoremen working on the Hudson River piers. But the place is now best known as a haunt for writers and artists in the mid-20th century, where Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan would stop by for a drink. Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was the bar’s best-known patron, until the very end: in 1953, he tossed back 18 whiskeys, stumbled out to the street, passed out, and subsequently died at the nearby St. Vincent’s hospital. You can still imbibe in these artists’ footsteps today (perhaps just not as much as Thomas).
Anfora blends a bit of the old world and the new: at this wine bar, you’ll find a mix of natural, biodynamic wines, coupled with traditional labels. The focus is on wine, but there’s beer and cocktails as well. Grab a seat at the bar or at one of the candlelit tables, where you’ll be greeted with heavy pours of wine and some small snacks, too, like charcuterie and cheese plates, country pâté and flatbreads.
On any given night at Marie’s Crisis Cafe, someone’s belting out a ballad. That’s to be expected, after all, since there’s always a pianist gracing the upright piano in the corner, their fingers flying across the keys. Everyone is encouraged to sing along to the wealth of show tunes, and it’s not rare for bartenders to stand on the bar and sing a few Wicked solos.
Everyone is likely on a date at The Otheroom, a corridor of a space on Perry Street with low lighting and candles everywhere. There are plenty of nooks to cozy up in and comfy velvet couches to knock back a couple glasses of beer and wine (the only booze behind the bar). If the hunger pangs hit, you’re fresh out of luck (there’s no food here), but you can meander the tree-lined West Village streets and hit the nearby Malaparte for house-made pasta.
There are two floors to choose from at Katana Kitten, billed as an izakaya (a kind of Japanese bar where small snacks are served alongside drinks) making three kinds of drink: highballs, signature cocktails and boilermakers. Some are fancy but classic, like martinis served in handheld boxes with bite-size accoutrements; others are simply fun, blue concoctions daubed with maraschino cherries. The menu is rounded out with a small scattering of sake, wine and beer, along with some small bites, sandos (like crispy catfish bookended by two slices of soft bread) and skewers.
Due West serves as the kind of chameleon bar that can attract and please just about everyone. Swing by to watch the big game with a round of beer, or cozy up on the velvet banquettes for date night. Stop by with co-workers for happy hour (dollar oysters galore!) or show up with a big crowd, prepped to down cocktails, Spritzes and truffle-honey baked brie.