Manhattan’s Financial District often conjures images of polished men and women toiling in the nation’s busiest financial center all day, only to disappear from this Lower Manhattan enclave before the sun sets. However, this neighborhood surprisingly exhibits vibrancy and energy at any hour. In addition to dining hotspots and cultural and historical destinations, the Financial District can provide a memorable evening out sampling brews, wine, and ingeniously devised cocktails in an unexpectedly charming area. Here’s a list of the 10 best bars in the area.
The Dead Rabbit may be the most fascinating bar in this neighborhood and perhaps the most unique in all of downtown Manhattan. Situated a stone’s throw away from Wall Street, this cozy bi-level bar recalls an Old New York characterized by dirt roads, a communal spirit, and a propensity to share a drink with your friends and neighbors. At this Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award winner, choose from the ground-level taproom or upstairs parlor and imbibe a wide array of pristine drinks; a well-known craft beer, a slightly mysterious punch, or one of their 72 historically accurate cocktails.
Some destinations have it all – water views, historic origins, numerous seating options, and an unparalleled location. Pier A Harbor House is one of those places. This Battery Park stalwart may be a relative newcomer to the Financial District bar scene, but it can trace its origins to 1886 when it served as the chief stomping grounds for the New York Harbor Police. Visitors will appreciate the details woven into the fabric of Pier A; the industrial framework and equipment located behind and above the first-floor bar, the luxurious wood-paneled Commissioner’s Bar, and the jaw-dropping views from the whiskey-driven Harrison Room.
No examination of Financial District bars would be complete without mentioning Stone Street. A quaint cobblestone alley with a startling amount of restaurants and bars manages to be furtively tucked behind the surrounding corporate towers. Business booms on summer nights as the festivities spill out onto picnic tables and drink pitchers make an appearance. Although several Stone Street establishments offer a pleasant experience, jovial groups often flock to Beckett’s Bar and Grill. Housed in a pre-American Revolution building, this edifice once stored Manhattan’s first printing press and now serves both a local and international clientele for a memorable evening out.
Fraunces Tavern Museum, New York | Courtesy of Fraunces Tavern Museum
In an area rich with early New York history, Fraunces Tavern distinguishes itself. Opened in 1762 by Samuel Fraunces, this colonial structure dates to the early 18th century and has withstood the test of time to serve such legendary patrons as John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington. Today, Fraunces Tavern has a museum, a changing roster of historical exhibits accompanied by a fine dining experience and multiple bars. Managed by an Irish brewery, guests can expect a dizzying array of beers, a thoughtfully-created whiskey bar and a live music scene that has been known to host traditional Irish music.
This watering hole may not have the age of other establishments in the area, but its commitment to a high-quality, hospitality-driven experience is classic. This family-run bar boasts a friendly and helpful staff, a dimly lit and intriguingly moody interior, and a focus on expertly manifested cocktails, craft beers, and ciders. Sample inventive small plates such as mushroom flatbread and tuna tartare tacos. The New York-themed, culturally relevant cocktails like ‘The Donald,’ ‘Avenue of the Americas,’ and ‘Your Next Ex’ sum up the relevant experiences, aspirations, and cultural figures to which all New Yorkers can relate.
Vintry Wine and Whiskey | Image courtesy of Vintry Wine and Whiskey
Eataly may dominate Madison Square Park but there is a new international cuisine emporium on the Manhattan scene. Le District, located in the World Financial Center, has been slowly accruing a following due to its artisanal French cuisine. Le Bar is a romantic venue offering outside views of the Hudson River and cozy seats indoors to relax with a glass of wine. Tastes of mini croque monsieurs and beef boulettes are the perfect pairs for the seasonal rosé and sparkling drinks. After savoring a dreamy concoction like the ethereal ‘Palais Royal,’ Paris and its charms do not seem so far away.
‘Vintry’ may not be a familiar term in your vernacular but Vintry Wine and Whiskey is attempting to change that. The union of wine and whiskey makes for an alluring bar concept, but with the addition of inventive cocktails, top-flight international whiskies, and an artisanal approach to beverages, Vintry deserves its status as a stellar Financial District destination. Vintry makes a mundane evening feel truly special with a thoughtful wine selection and delectable dishes like Chianti-braised meatballs. If brunch is your vice, do not miss their take on brunch cocktails; the Bloody Redemption and Bloody Maria are calling your name.
Every neighborhood needs a hidden gem that is just as adept as serving a post-work beer with friends as it is offering a hearty repast in the middle of the day. The Full Shilling has catered to downtown work crowds for years with its pub fare lunches and spirited drinking environment after quitting time. First-time visitors are often enamored by the century-old interior of the bar, which has traveled from the old country of Belfast, Ireland to Lower Manhattan. With a heaping plate of fish and chips and a tall Guinness, this bar remains highly regarded for its cultural, authentic and welcoming vibe.
If you possess an aversion to pretension and gravitate toward a local crowd and a boisterous milieu, Jeremy’s Ale House has you covered. With locations in the South Street Seaport area and in Freeport, Long Island, Jeremy’s thrives off of its nautical vibe, roomy space, knowledgeable bartenders, and a beer-heavy menu. A diverse crowd of locals, travelers, and financiers visit this establishment, and its oversized 32-ounce styrofoam containers of your favorite brew that are perfect for sharing.
Not every Financial District bar has notable historic origins or airs of sophistication. Some bars simply want to give their guests a fun night out and excuse to let loose. The Iron Horse remains a popular dive bar in the Financial District and never fails to entertain regulars or impress first-time customers. Come for an affordable beer and stay for good old-fashioned bar entertainment like billiards, pyrotechnic tricks and line dancing from the bartenders, and consistently fascinating New York people-watching.