The Best Bars On The Lower East Side

Bars and restaurants in the Lower East Side neighborhood in Manhattan in New York
Bars and restaurants in the Lower East Side neighborhood in Manhattan in New York | © Richard Levine / Alamy Stock Photo
Derek Doyle

The Lower East Side is Manhattan’s most eclectic grit-meets-glam neighborhood. A slew of funky, chic and trendy bars and lounges can be found throughout. Here, we look at some of our favorite watering holes on the L.E.S.

1. Whiskey Ward

Bar, Pub Grub

Whiskey Ward is a solid, no-frills tavern. Aside from a pile of whiskey barrels, jugs, and other Wild West furnishings, Whiskey Ward doesn’t have any high-concept flourishes to bolster its modern-day saloon motif. The walls are painted a brownish orange, and the only chromatic appeal comes from the gleam of XXX bottles behind the bar. They have a huge selection of single malts, scotch and American bourbon.

2. Mehanata Bulgarian Bar

Bar, Nightclub, Pub Grub

Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Mehanata replicates the drunken fervor that you experience at a concert starring gypsy punk mustache gods Gogol Bordello. The bar embraces its Bulgarian heritage by serving rakia, a throat-stinging vodka-equivalent, as well as platters of hummus and kebapche. The real draw, however, is Mehanata’s events, such as the self-explanatory ‘Trans-global Gypsy Punk Dance Party’ and ‘Gypsy Punk Rock Meltdown.’ Downstairs, you’ll find the Ice Cage, a ‘Siberian paradise’ wherein one dons a Russian military outfit and downs shots or chilled vodka.

3. Bar

Bar, American

Columbus Park in Chinatown, New York, USA.
© Christine Navine / Alamy Stock Photo
On the edge of Chinatown, Charles Hanson’s 169 Soul Jazz Oyster Bar is a 1970s New Orleans-themed watering hole that has all of the above plus billiards, an oyster bar, blended cocktails, and a genuinely jolly crowd. 169 Bar is campy and rowdy and you can even text the kitchen your dumpling order until 4 am.

4. Attaboy

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub

Attaboy speak-easy bar in NYC: Interior
© Frank Rocco / Alamy Stock Photo
With no menu, Attaboy serves up mixology-dream cocktails from mustached and bow-tied bartenders. Unlike the original Milk and Honey, Attaboy does not take reservations. Knock or press the buzzer. Arrive before 9 p.m. for booths or a bar stool. By 11 p.m., especially on weekends, lines form outside because of space limitations in this small and industrial, but super hip spot.

5. The Back Room

Bar, American

The Back Room, New York
© The Garret
A Prohibition Era throwback hidden behind a toy store, this ’20s-style speakeasy (which claims to be in the same spot as an actual speakeasy from the ’20s) serves its booze in teacups. Decor of period-perfect chandeliers, velvet paisley wallpaper, tin ceilings, and a candlestick phone makes for authenticity throughout. Impress out-of-towners with The Backroom Bar.

6. Subject

Cocktail Bar, American

Subject is a brick wall cocktailery with high-top tables and a vintage Coke fountain they use to pour their own homemade sodas. A refreshingly laid-back change from the typical craziness of the L.E.S., Subject is a surprisingly sophisticated change of pace but still serious about cocktails.

7. Donnybrook

Bar, Pub, Pub Grub

Donnybrook, 35 Clinton St, New York, NY. exterior storefront of a bar in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan.
© Robert K. Chin - Storefronts / Alamy Stock Photo
The Donnybrook is an authentic Irish taproom and pub with barn-wood communal tables and a marble bar. Despite sharing the name of Ireland’s drunkest and most disorderly fair, Donnybrook is actually the kind of place that refuses to serve you a black and tan if it doesn’t have the proper mixing spoon. It’s muted class all around, from the young, affluent crowd to the smartly recycled backdrop.

Need a place to stay after checking out the bars on the Lower East Side? Book a stay at one of the best hotels near Manhattan Bridge through Culture Trip now.

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