The 10 Best Bars On The Upper East Side

Photo of Caitrin Kelly
9 February 2017

Often thought of as a sequestered neighborhood of “Old New York,” the Upper East Side is frequently overlooked by New Yorkers headed out for a night on the town. To save you from making this mistake and missing out on the numerous new developments, here are our 10 favorite bars on the Upper East Side.

The Penrose | Image Courtesy of The Penrose

The Penrose

Bar, Restaurant, Pub Grub
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The Penrose is known for its innovative cocktails
The Penrose is known for its innovative cocktails | © Oleg March
The Penrose is a piece of Williamsburg transported uptown to 2nd Avenue. With a great drink menu and delicious beer battered fried-pickles, The Penrose is an obvious choice for this list. Add the fact that all of their food is locally sourced, the crowd here is impressively attractive in that uptown-hipster kind of way, and they make an amazing brunch. Check out this bar for a great time with a fun crowd.

Caledonia Scottish Pub

Bar, Pub, Pub Grub, $$$
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Bemelmans Bar
Bemelmans Bar | © Arvind Grover/Flickr
Caledonia Scottish Pub’s scotch list is almost as long as the line at Halal Guys. Stepping through the black curtain at the entrance, you are greeted by a long bar stocked with enough scotch and whiskey to serve the entire Upper East Side, taxidermy deer heads on the wall, leather couches in the back, and low lights to set the chill mood of this pub. The house rules support this atmosphere, offering all Tinder dates a discount (but only if you show your initial and subsequently very awkward messages as proof).

Bemelmans Bar

Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
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Seamstress | © Oleg March
Located on the ground floor of The Carlyle Hotel, Bemelmans Bar is old New York. Containing Ludwig Bemelmans‘ (creator of the Madeline books and namesake of the bar) famous murals and art deco design, the physical bar itself is reason enough to don your nice evening clothes, pretend you can afford to live on Madison Avenue, and visit Bemelmans for an evening. Also known as the spot where you can listen to Woody Allen play jazz, Bemelmans has live music every night that will transport you to a time when you still thought New York was purely glamorous.


Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
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Seamstress’ cocktail menu stays true to the theme of textiles and the art of sewing. This bar is fun and comfortable without being overly cute or kitschy. Wine is available by the glass, which adds nice variety, but the main event at Seamstress is without a doubt the mixed drinks. They can make a cocktail you definitely do not want to miss out on.

Guthrie Inn

Bar, Pub Grub, American, $$$
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Some of the best bars on the Upper East Side cultivate the feeling of “Old New York.” Guthrie Inn on the other hand perfectly captures how living on the Upper East Side feels in reality; a bit isolated and quiet at times, a haven from downtown at other times, comfortable yet on the rise, and full of an interesting cast of characters. The bartenders know what they’re doing, so come check out Guthrie Inn tonight.


Bar, American, $$$
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The Jeffrey by the Beerly Legal Group
The Jeffrey by the Beerly Legal Group | Courtesy of The Jeffrey
With a regularly rotating draft and whiskey list filled with small batch distilleries, Bondurants is the place to take your alcohol aficionado friends. The atmosphere, people, and food are all notable, but the carefully crafted craft beer and whiskey selection is what makes Bondurants stand out.

The Milton

Restaurant, Irish, American, European, $$$
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If you want the aesthetic and cocktails of Upper West Side bars without the crowd and noise, head to The Milton. Located in a quieter portion of the Upper East Side, The Milton pulls a great crowd each night, but always has room for more. Perfect for grabbing a drink with a friend you want to be able to hear, a nightcap, or a drink by yourself.

Jones Wood Foundry

Restaurant, Gastropub, British, $$$
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Fish and Chips
Fish and Chips | © pixel1/Pixabay
A bar with a beer menu containing amazing cask ale, large format bottles, and bottles doesn’t really need anything else to prove itself as a worthy establishment in our opinion. Jones Wood Foundry becomes incomparable with its extensive beer menu, along with an impressive wine list, respectable cocktails, and unbelievable food. Top that off with a toast menu, proving the authenticity of this British taproom, and it’s obvious why Jones Wood Foundry is an Upper East Side favorite.

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