How does the home of the world’s largest Pride celebration honor LGBTQ culture throughout the year? By mingling, dancing, and drinking to how far the city has come at its best LGBTQ bars. From history-making spots to the new kids on the block, here are the best gay bars in New York City.
The Stonewall Inn
Bar, Gay Bar, LGBTQ Bar, American, $$$
A National Historic Landmark and the site of 1969’s historic Stonewall Riots remains New York City’s most prominent gay bar. The Stonewall Inn welcomes all at its drag bingo nights, “Lesbo-a-gogo” dance parties, and “Big Gay Happy Hours.” Tip: Expect to see some tourists and non-LGBTQ allies at this iconic New York City spot.
Cubbyhole is one of New York City’s last remaining lesbian bars and, arguably, one of its best, period. Vaguely grungy, eccentric features (think cardboard stars, a well-worn jukebox, and a BYO food policy) make this West Village hangout a favorite of female-identifying people across generations and, funnily, Bravo’s Andy Cohen.
You can thank this spot for helping shape today’s Williamsburg, a neighborhood it’s called home since 2002. However, at Metropolitan, the vibe is just as pretension-free as Brooklyn was in those days, and it has the pool table, worn-in sofas, and cheap drinks to prove it. Above-and-beyond features such as dual working fireplaces and a roomy outdoor patio make Metropolitan an all-season pick.
After surviving “blackouts, hurricanes, and crises in between,” the nearly 20-year-old Phoenix is here to stay. The multigenerational patrons who descend on the East Village staple each night will be pleased to hear it—if they survive Phoenix’s legendary Friday night party, that is. Tip: While the party is undoubtedly Pheonix’s main attraction, don’t miss the bar’s weekday programming, which may include a live DJ performance or drag show.
This West Village bar predates even Stonewall, dating all the way back to the 1840s when it functioned as a grocery store. About a century later, Julius’ was known across New York City as a full-fledged gay bar, which is still open today. Many of Julius’ patrons visit the bar as a New York City bucket-list experience, but more are longtime regulars who’ve been enjoying Julius’ cheap burgers for decades.
Therapy is the kind of New York City gay club you see in reruns of Sex and the City. Here, hundreds of sweaty men pack into a bi-level Hell’s Kitchen space to sip cocktails with names like “Psychotic Episode,” dance to a DJ-spun soundtrack, and stand too close for comfort (or just close enough) to one another.
Williamsburg’s “newest gay bar” comes courtesy of the same team behind nearby Metropolitan. A contemporary take on the gay bar, Macri Park is part club and part clubhouse, filling its calendar with dance parties and conversation series alike. Best of all, Macri Park is inclusive of everyone on the LGBTQ spectrum, and its programming reflects that.
These days, many of New York City’s gay men of color are opting to bolt to Brooklyn for one club in particular. Langston straddles the border between Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights and rightfully caters to the neighborhoods’ ethnic demographics. However, anyone willing to get down to reggae and dancehall tunes is welcomed with open (often buff) arms.
With the arrival of Boxers, gay sports fans finally have a bar of their own in New York City. Watch the big game (football, basketball, and baseball are all broadcast on even bigger screens) and bop to Beyoncé in one place, all while sipping beers served by a ripped waitstaff clad only in boxers.