With absinthe-focused menus, down-to-earth food-and-drink combos and obscure ingredients, Brooklyn’s cocktail bars are as unique as the locals who love them. From Williamsburg to Red Hook and beyond, here are the best cocktail bars in Brooklyn, New York.
Bar, Restaurant, American, Seafood, Gluten-free, $$$
Part French Quarter New Orleans, part old-world Paris, Maison Premiere is entirely unmissable in trendy Williamsburg. Home to New York City’s largest collection of absinthes, the bar features cocktails made from premium spirits enhanced by coconut, pecan and more. Come by for oyster happy hour and slurp down some seafood with your drinks.
Leaning into its identity as a cocktail laboratory, Yours Sincerely serves drinks swirled in beakers and test tubes. Its drinks come with cheeky scientific names such as its take on the daiquiri, called the Lab Rat, as well as the negroni, known as the Critical Mass. Grab your lab coat and strap on your goggles to become your own mad scientist: you can concoct your own drink and channel that inventive spirit by plucking mixers and elixirs from the menu.
What was once a hole-in-the-wall watering hole has since expanded into a large coffee shop and cocktail bar. Having taken over the laundromat next door, Erv’s is now a comfortable joint filled with locals. The coffee shop is popular with folks looking for a place to work during the day, but the space transforms once the sun sets – laptops disappear and coffee-stained mugs are replaced with glasses brimming with vodka and whiskey. Be sure to grab something to eat as Erv’s brings in great chefs to make exciting culinary experiences, such as flavorful chicken kebab and breakfast tamales.
Don’t let the name confuse you: Cobble Hill’s Long Island Bar couldn’t be more convenient to reach – or more delicious. Brought to you by industry legend Toby Cecchini (the inventor of the Cosmopolitan), the Long Island Bar complements its retro setting with classics including gimlets, daiquiris, negronis and a fan-favorite double dry-aged beef cheeseburger.
Head to Bed-Vyne Cocktail for the chill ambiance, chic patio and live music. The place offers standard cocktail fare but also has quirky seasonal offerings like frozen punch in the summer and cold-weather drinks like the Nutcracker, made with rum, apricot, banana, pineapple and lime, in the winter. Plus, there are special weekly events, including karaoke on the first Sunday of the month and DJs, live music and tacos on Taco Tuesday.
Fort Defiance, New York | Image courtesy of Fort Defiance
With a drinks menu divided into brunch, dinner and after-dinner cocktails sections, Fort Defiance throws the ‘5pm rule’ out the window. (What could be more defiant than that?) Helmed by bartender and writer St John Frizell, this Red Hook haunt serves a breakfast martini invented by renowned London bartender Salvatore Calabrese, an Irish coffee the New York Times calls ‘the best in the known world’ and the Kensington, made famous by St John and Men’s Journal, just to name a few.
Headed by Pegu Club and Flatiron Lounge alum Julie Reiner, Clover Club gives cocktail connoisseurs a reason to visit Cobble Hill. A Victorian aesthetic pairs well with throwback beverages including royales, sours and fizzes, and communal punches at this bar scene that features a working fireplace and occasional live jazz.
The name Tooker Alley comes from a Chicago institution from the early 1900s that encouraged all kinds of people to come together and “elevate your mind to a lower level of thinking.” That sense of humor expands to the drink selection, such as the Hi Falutin’, which is a whiskey cocktail described as “a puttin’-on-airs, high-steppin’, diamond-pinky-ed, cane-twirlin’, dandy of a cocktail.”
Tiki bars have become hard to find, but Dromedary Urban Tiki Bar is here to satisfy all of your tiki-kitsch desires. The tropical cocktails swirled with rum and tequila are served in ceramic tiki glasses or with fun straws and colorful cocktail umbrellas. Pair your drink with some classic pub fare like fries, burgers and chicken tenders.
The expansive cocktail list at Grand Army, a Boerum Hill hang-out, is always evolving, thanks to seasonally shifting inspirations that have included everything from Brothers Grimm fables to Gilmore Girls episodes. Drinks inspired by the singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt included Fog Upon the Light of Day (vodka, cucumber, smoked salt, manzanilla sherry, honey) and A Summer Thursday (mezcal, cap course blanc, pineapple, italicus, absinthe). The only constant is the quality, which, of course, is always grand.
Sweet Polly gets busy on weekends | Courtesy of Sweet Polly
Tucked off Flatbush, Sweet Polly is owned by Murat Uyaroglu, who’s best known for working on Hungry Ghost, a Brooklyn coffee mini-chain. The cute space can get busy on weekends, with guests sipping cheekily named cocktails like #Instagramodel, which is stirred with St Germain, gin and fresh cucumber juice. As you drink, pad your stomach with a platter of oysters, carnitas tacos or roasted carrots bright with honey.
Instagram-friendly cocktails and tacos await at Donna, a pristine space you’ll hardly believe is located in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge. With a rum-driven drinks selection featuring frozen cocktails, tiki-inspired ingredients and more (all described via illustrated guides), Donna’s menu makes it difficult to choose which treat should make it onto your social media.
If you visit one rooftop bar in New York City, make it Westlight. Located 22 floors above ground level at the William Vale Hotel, this buzzy bar in the sky serves original cocktails with ingredients like curry and Swedish Punsch, with an unparalleled side of sweeping Manhattan and Brooklyn views.
Dick and Jane's Cocktail | Courtesy of Dick and Jane's
Hidden behind an unmarked door in an old carriage house, Dick and Jane feels like a well-kept secret. This cozy spot is perfect for a date as the intimate atmosphere lends itself to quiet conversation. The cocktails take center stage and change regularly, but past drinks have included the Roman King (rye, aperol, absinthe, brandy, cherry) and the Steve McQueen (gin, elderflower, herb syrup, pineapple, lemon, cucumber, chili pepper).