Manhattan’s West Village is also home to some of NYC’s best nightlife. From dive bars to speakeasies, custom cocktails to craft beer, the West Village’s bars are perfect for any night (or day) out on the town.
Blind Tiger Ale House
Bar, Cocktail Bar, American, $$$
Blind Tiger, New York | Courtesy of Employee's Only
Beer lovers should head straight to Blind Tiger Ale House, a staple of New York City’s beer scene that opened in 1995. This laid-back bar specializes in craft beer, with an ever-changing selection of 30 draught beers, including a few cask-conditioned ales. There are also more than 80 bottled beers. Blind Tiger makes a point of showcasing brewer’s lesser-known beers as well, meaning even the most seasoned beer drinkers are likely to find a new favorite here. It’s also worth checking out the bar’s events, which include a weekly ‘Beer and Cheese’ night on Wednesdays that features free cheese from Murray’s.
This venerated cocktail bar is hidden in plain sight on Hudson Street. Keep an eye out for the illuminated ‘Psychic’ sign and nondescript awning marked only with a key, a clever rearrangement of the bar’s initials. Once inside, however, you’ll find a classy experience in this dimly lit speakeasy, which features an impressive selection of well-crafted cocktails like the Billionaire — Baker’s Bourbon with fresh lemon juice, grenadine, and absinthe bitters. You can also dine in style at Employees Only, with such sophisticated food offerings as bone marrow poppers, a caviar board, and truffled grilled cheese.
NYC is a city full of great burgers, but few are as renowned as those at Corner Bistro, a laidback bar at the corner of Jane and West 4th. Their popularity means there’s often a wait at this popular joint, so coming by at off-peak meal times might be best. But those looking for something to drink should also make a point of stopping by. The bar declares itself as ‘the last of the bohemian bars’ in the West Village. Its old-school status is typified by its beers on tap, which are cheap for one of NYC’s priciest neighborhoods.
This cozy yet airy bar features a wide selection of drinks, including a cocktail list that features several different bloody Marys plus gin and tonics. Opening at noon each day, Bar Sardine is also known for its food offerings. Choices include weekend brunch, elevated bar snacks like deviled eggs and summer corn fritters, and the bar’s renowned fedora burger. These food offerings, along with the tall windows that look out onto the corner of West 10th and West 4th, make Bar Sardine an ideal spot for some relaxed drinking, snacking, and people-watching at any time of day.
Situated on West Street directly across from Hudson River Park, The Rusty Knot is a dive bar founded by the owners of The Spotted Pig and Freeman’s Sporting Club. Its kitchy, retro nautical theme will make you feel like you’ve been transported to a beach town far from the skyscrapers and traffic of Lower Manhattan. This laid-back scene is accentuated by the bar’s signature cocktails. They range from mai tais to their signature ‘Rusty Knot’ drink. These are mostly served out of tiki glasses. For those with an appetite, there’s also some bar food on offer, including the pretzel dog.
Those who know the West Village have probably walked past this nondescript white building on 7th Avenue South before. They may not have realized that behind its door — into which ‘Little Branch’ is etched ever-so faintly — and down the stairs lies one of the neighborhood’s best cocktail bars. This speakeasy serves up expertly crafted cocktails by its team of mixologists. While Little Branch does offer a regular menu, more adventurous drinkers should go with the ‘Bartender’s Choice’. This is a custom drink mixed specifically based on whatever liquor/type of flavor you request. Also important to note: be sure to stop at the ATM beforehand, as the bar accepts cash only.
Whiskey fans and those looking for a taste of Scotland should head to Highlands, a Scottish-themed gastropub known for its staggering selection of scotch. Though the main attraction is the whiskey, there are also some Scottish beers on tap. There are also themed cocktails like ‘The Royal Mile’ and ‘The Catholic Guilt.’ To complete the Scottish experience, be sure to enjoy their food. Included are such offerings as a scotch egg, beef wellington, and haggis.
White Horse Tavern | Courtesy of White Horse Tavern
This spot on the corner of Bedford and Leroy feels like your typical neighborhood bar, but it’s well-stocked enough to impress anyone seeking out a good drink. Daddy-O’s menu features a selection of custom cocktails and craft beer. Its herbaceous mojito was even featured by Anne Burrell on Food Network’s ‘The Best Thing I Ever Drank.’ But those looking for something a bit stronger should take a look at ‘The Book,’ Daddy-O’s list of more than 500 rare and fine spirits. Food-wise, the place is known for their tater tots and dry-aged cheeseburgers. Their kitchen is open until 4am, giving the spot the reputation of being a ‘bartender’s bar.’
Those looking for some NYC history should seek out White Horse Tavern, which opened in 1880 and was a favorite among longshoremen working on the Hudson River piers. But the place is best known as a haunt for writers and artists in the mid-20th century. Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was the bar’s best-known patron — he died just a few days after taking in a record 18 whiskeys at the tavern. Other visitors included Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Bob Dylan, among many others. You can still imbibe in these artists’ footsteps at the Tavern today, which retains many of its original furnishings and is now full of tributes to Thomas.
An unadorned sign on Greenwich Avenue with ‘BAR’ in neon letters is your beacon to this hole-in-the-wall spot. Johnny’s Bar is a quintessential dive bar, serving up cheap beer without pretension and offering a shot of the day. With a well-stocked jukebox and decor that includes a chess board on the ceiling, Johnny’s Bar has a laid-back vibe. It is perfect for anyone looking for a solid bar without the frills of some of the neighborhood’s more chic spots.