In the heart of downtown Manhattan, Nolita has some of New York City’s top watering holes. Nolita is a hot spot for those seeking booze and fun. For the neighborhood’s best bars, look no further than these top 10.
Courtesy of Mulberry Project
Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
Mulberry Project, New York | Courtesy of Mulberry Project
The unmarked Little Italy-based speakeasy Mulberry Project is easy to miss, but well worth the hunt. Find the staircase underneath a sign for discounted purses, and you’ll enter a basement lined with red walls and black leather seating. The bar pays homage to NYC’s best street artists with graffiti lining the walls. In the summertime, it launches pop-up speakeasies in the backyard. It’s a small space, but don’t be fooled — it has a large ingredient list for all custom-made cocktails. Just tell the bartender what kind of drink you’re after, and he’ll whip up something special. For dinner or a snack, choose from Chef Michael ‘Kiwi’ Camplin’s (Boqueria) delicious calamari, steak tacos, or flat bread.
There’s no shortage of drinks at Spring Lounge, the neighborhood go-to since the 1920s. It originally opened as an illegal shop that filled buckets of beer for take-out. In the 1940s it was aptly named Wilson’s 10:30 — the time of the nightly craps game held in the basement. Now, though its official name is Spring Lounge, everyone refers to it as the Shark Bar. It’s easy to see why once you step inside. This no-frills spot serves plenty of beer as well as scotch, bourbon, and rye, but the weekly specials are worth a try. On Sundays at noon, Spring Lounge offers free bagels. And, every Wednesday, there are free hot dogs cooked in beer. Those are specials any customer can get behind.
Stylishly designed by Robert Jamieson, The Ship is a secretive den on Lafayette Street. It is complete with high ceilings and a beautifully lit bar and is owned by Little Branch’s Joseph Schwartz and Cervantes Ramirez. The space covers two floors with nautical-themed decor that includes white-leathered boat seats and industrial-grade wall sinks that make you feel like you’re in an underground vessel. The Ship’s cocktails include drinks like Baker’s Dozen, Maha Mai-Tai and Media Noche, served hot. The bar also serves food like roasted Brussels sprouts and a delicious cheese plate to accompany your drink.
Low-key, cash-only bar Tom & Jerry’s on Elizabeth Street is the perfect neighborhood hangout, complete with friendly bartenders, a beer happy hour and a full cast of charismatic patrons. One glance at the dishware displayed behind the bar and it’s easy to catch the name reference. Each dish is inscribed with the famous cat-and-mouse duo. Tom & Jerry’s is simple and spacious with a great selection of draft beers and in-the-know bartenders to serve them. Either grab a seat at the bar or on one of the wooden tables lining the walls – look up and you’ll see a large moose hanging above your head. Enjoy the divey, familiar feel in an otherwise bustling neighborhood.
Sweet & Vicious is a low-key spot on Spring Street lined with wooden benches that make the place spacious and perfect for schmoozing. On warmer nights, head out back to the plant-lined patio, great for intimate, date-night moments as well as an after-work group happy hour. The laid-back atmosphere — complete with a steady stream of techno beats — is conducive for staying a while. Drink the famous Frozen Jargarita or any of the bar’s other summer-themed cocktails. It’s a local hangout that’s bound to be packed with lively patrons both old and new, but no one’s complaining. Take a seat, stand, mingle, or talk to any one of the young bartenders. Conversation runs abound in this joint.
Right in the heart of Nolita is a charming space called Vig Bar. Established in 1997, the bar embodies sophistication and elegance, minus the pretentious attitude. Instead, its casual decor is inviting and complete with upholstered leather seating lining the walls, a DJ booth, and a back room that’s great for big parties and birthdays. Cocktails á la Vig Bar have cheeky names like Do It On The Road and Butnottoosweet. Its happy hour specials are the real crowd pleasers. Offering $6 margaritas and $8 house cocktails, Vig Bar will have you staying a while and into the late night. Bonus points for going on Friday and Saturday nights where the DJs are known to spin some jammin’ tunes.
Mother’s Ruin is a spacious Nolita bar owned by Timothy Lynch and Richard Knapp, offering some of the neighborhood’s best cocktails and bar food. The bar has a casual, unpretentious vibe with blond-wood tables, flower vases and an exposed brick wall. The small list of weekly drink specials is on a board behind the bar, each as inventive as they are delicious. All cocktails can be easily paired with the French onion soup-grilled cheese sandwich, Thai pork sliders or ginger-glazed duck wings. Drink, eat and stay a while in this friendly establishment that attracts a mix of the best kind of New Yorkers. It draws the ones who are always down for a good time and drinks to match.
Randolph Beer is a beer hall owned by the Randolph Group (also Randolph at Broome and Randolph Brooklyn) that serves an impressive assortment of craft brews in a rustic-chic setting. It’s got an Americana vibe, replete with Ford Model T headlights and oak tree tables that are suitable for parties big and small. The drafts are pulled from custom-built tap lines to serve the beers at their desired temperatures. Patrons can enjoy sipping on a cold brew accompanied with a fried chicken sandwich or baby back ribs. Customers fill the space daily after work and into the night, trying different brews and sharing foods.
Upon stepping into the casual Botanica Bar, the first things you’ll notice is its thrift store decor and intimate ambiance. The overall feel of the place is loungey with customers sinking into the couches and nodding along to the DJ’s eclectic mix of tunes. It’s the type of place that will make you want to order a house cocktail — the Dark ‘n Stormys and Ginger Yum Yums are a great bargain. However, the brews on tap are as great a choice as any. Grab a drink from the bar and sit at any one of the plush couches or antique tables — you’ll be staying a while.
Brinkley’s is an always-happening gastropub right on Broome Street with consistently great food and cocktail creations. The signature cocktails like the Flying Wasp and Pisco Fever made with Kappa Pisco, egg whites, simple syrup, and fresh lime juice will delight all tastebuds. This is especially true when they are paired with Grandma’s Meatballs or Fish Sammy. It’s a comfortable spot that brings a little slice of England to Nolita, complete with a great pub vibe, black-and-white checkered floors, and red couches on which to relax. Or, sit in any one of the bar stools for a prime match-watching spot.