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The 10 Best Bars On The Lower East Side
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The 10 Best Bars On The Lower East Side

Picture of Derek Doyle
Updated: 9 February 2017
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.
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Whiskey Ward

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.

Whiskey Ward, 121 Essex Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 477 2998

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Mehanata Bulgarian Bar

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.

Mehanata Bulgarian Bar, 113 Ludlow Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 625 0981

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One Fifty One

While less pretentious, but still chic, One Fifty One is an easy spot to slide into for an old fashioned with a new-school twist.

One Fifty One, 151 Rivington Street, New York, NY, USA +1 646 490 4338

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No Fun

No Fun is a proper NYC rock bar. Co-owned by drummer Jay Weilminster of NYC noise rockers, A Place to Bury Strangers, the name, No Fun (fittingly) comes from an old Stooges song. This divey rock/DJ roadhouse is perfect to close out a hazy late night with a whiskey from their extensive collection.

No Fun, 161 Ludlow Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 477 1616

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169 Bar

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.

169 Bar, 169 East Broadway, New York, NY, USA +1 646 833 7199

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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.

Attaboy, 134 Eldridge Street, New York, NY, USA

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Experimental Cocktail Club

This is the NYC version of a Parisian cocktail den pouring creative drinks in a swanky setting. There are top-notch drinks and a jazzy music selection. Even the Experimental Cocktail Club’s bottled cocktails are complex and intriguing.

Experimental Cocktail Club, 191 Chrystie Street, New York, NY, USA

The Backroom Bar

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.

The Backroom Bar, 102 Norfolk Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 228 5098

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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.

Subject, 188 Suffolk Street, New York, NY, USA +1 646 422 7898

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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.

Donnybrook, 35 Clinton Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 228 7733