19 Best Bars in NYC for Young Adults

Come for the cocktail, stay for the company – the best bars in New York City are about more than just drinking.

These places are about more than just alcohol; they’re all about creating a great atmosphere where you can relax and have a good time.

From stylish speakeasies to cozy neighborhood taverns, there’s a bar for everyone in NYC.

So whether you’re in the mood for dancing or just want to sip on some cocktails with friends, read on for our insider recommendations on the best bars in NYC for young adults.

1. Bar Nine

Bar Nine is a Hell’s Kitchen original, just grungy and gritty enough to scream ‘dive bar’. The brick-walled hangout loves events, hosting weekly Drag Brunch, Talent Tuesdays, Thirsty Thursday, and their house special: Dueling Piano shows.

Enjoy the high energy up close or try your hand at the pool table. Trivia nights and themed parties create a close-knit community – visitors included.

If you’re feeling nippy, order some wings or wedge-cut fries topped with garlic aioli. Beers are a must.

Bar Nine NYC
Photo by Bar Nine NYC

2. Brass Monkey

The best bars in NYC for young adults often find a home in the Meatpacking District; the Brass Monkey pub is no different.

Decked out in true English pub style, wooden furniture and plants included, it’s an alternative to your typical New York swankiness.

The roof deck offers glimpses at the Hudson River and New Jersey, adding to the chill vibes. An extensive beer menu plus a set of signature cocktails caters to all tastes.

Hearty bar foods include beer-battered fish tacos, burgers, and sweet potato wedges.

3. Pig ‘N’ Whistle

Branded itself as ‘New York’s Premier Rugby Pub’, Pig ‘N’ Whistle certainly lives up to its premise: live streaming of games, team flags plastered everywhere, and incredible fan energy. Be sure to check their website for the game schedule.

The food is decidedly UK pub inspired. Mozzarella sticks, Irish Mac n’ Cheese bites, Reuben spring rolls, and heavy-handed burgers land on the table.

Daily specials are offered on drinks, switching between your reds, martinis, draft beers, and house cocktails.

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4. Refinery Rooftop

The open-air setting, strung-up light bulbs, and brick walls of Refinery Rooftop touch every hipster’s heart.

The retractable roof allows the perfect sunning spot in warm months, while the cozy indoor seating is a winter retreat.

Brunch, lunch, small bites, and late-night cocktails welcome a young crowd. The Cocktail Caddies is signature, featuring four servings of handcrafted cocktails.

It’s best paired with sliders, truffle fries, and bonbons. Do book ahead as people fight for those Manhattan skyline views.

Bathtub Gin NYC
Bar photo by Bathtub Gin NYC

5. Bathtub Gin

Everything really is better in the tub. Sneak through the backdoor of Stone Street coffee shop in your glammest outfit to find a 1920s hideaway.

Live jazz, moody lighting, and a legitimate copper tub act as your secret keeper.
As the name implies, this speakeasy-style bar mostly serves gin-based cocktails.

Draw from its list of themed names like Pistols At Dawn, or Staff Meeting. And if you’re wondering just how wild the roaring 20s were?

Disco nights, live burlesque, and weekly DJs delight every night.

6. The Dead Poet

The Dead Poet takes inspiration from, well, dead poets – all to liven up your soul. A narrow nook for word worshippers, the library-themed Irish pub is decorated with wood-paneled walls, portraits, poetic quotes, and passages.

Sip on cocktails named after dead poets while browsing their classical library collection.

Or, take advantage of Whiskey Wednesdays to try their range of Irish whiskey; Thursdays offer NYC draught beer at $4 a pint.

You’re also welcome to bring outside food as long as it pairs well with their pints.

7. Raines Law Room

Both editions of Raines’ Law Room evoke the same old-timey poshness. Think velvet seats, dim lighting, and vintage decor. Reservations are highly recommended.

The William hotel bar offers classic cocktails and enough space to host larger parties. Their outdoor seating is a welcome addition.

In comparison, the Chelsea location highlights a more intimate experience. From the unassuming doorway find to doorbell entry, then velvet curtains to muffle sounds; it’s a quintessential speakeasy.

Tailor-made drinks are offered here, with small bites to complement them. Mixology classes are now available.

Death and Company bar new york
Photo by Death and Company

8. Death and Company

Another speakeasy-era NYC bar for young adults is Death & Co. If you’re imagining sleek accents like marbled tables and fancy cocktail glasses – you think right. The East Village flagship is all about chic.

Having won Best American Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Cocktail Menu titles, they’re a legitimate cocktail connoisseur.

Choose your poison based on mood: light and playful, boozy and honest, elegant and timeless, bright and confident, dessert and digestif.

There’s even a cocktail series inspired by books.

Note: it’s first come, first serve.

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9. 169 Bar

Open since 1916, the 169 Bar is one of the oldest NYC bars in Manhattan. Funky, infamous, and now with outdoor seating, it remains a neighborhood staple.

When faced with unpretentious seating and decor from the 70s – leopard-print pool table included – who wouldn’t let out a smile?

Better yet, introverts can text their drink order from the table. It’s definitely a good pick for shyer young adults, or friends who want a low-key evening with billiards and OG Pickle Martinis.

10. Frying Pan

You can’t miss it – the big red Coast Guard lightship docked at Pier 66 at Hudson River Park. Frying Pan is a surprisingly chilled-out party boat to grab drinks from May to October.

Whether you board the retired vessel or stay grounded at the adjacent Pier 66 Maritime Bar & Grill, the coolness factor remains constant.

Chairs and tables take over the entire outdoor space for spectacular views. Their drinks tend towards strong liqueurs, with standard American fare to pad your stomach. Vegan options are available.

The Gem Saloon NYC
Photo by The Gem Saloon

11. The Gem Saloon

The Gem Saloon’s exposed beams and black-and-white portraits make you feel like you’re in the Wild West. Monday-Friday happy hour also sets you up for a good time.

The horseshoe bar on the main floor serves chilled draft beer from quirky tap handles; cocktail staples and wines are also on call.

Settle in on the mezzanine level for comfort foods. Starting with spicy wings, steak cuts, and sauce-drenched tacos, the menu turns sweet with skillet pancakes and French toast. The list goes on.

12. Dead Rabbit

Your luck only goes up at The Dead Rabbit, a 2-story Irish pub with traditional flair. Paper bills and postcards are tacked into every ceiling beam, while leather booths denote ‘cozy’.

The Taproom is for mingling. Wake up to full Irish breakfasts with whiskey syrup; all-day scotch eggs, fish & chips, chicken pot pie, and late-night sliders pair well with Irish Coffee or Irish Whiskey.

Move to the Parlor for vintage cocktails and house specials like the Mezcal Highball, scotch-inspired Young Blood, and chili-infused Wildfire.

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13. Mace

Mace isn’t just a New York best bar – it’s a world-recognized cocktail maestro.

Narrow and petite, it might not look like an official World’s 50 Best Bars contender, but it’s actually founded by famous cocktail-ers.

Emphasizing herbs and spices in both decor and cocktail culture, Mace features creative mixes of flavors.

You’ll taste potions with wasabi-infused rum, plantain garnishes, onion-infused cachaça, cauliflower soda – it’s like alchemy in a postmodern set.

The food runs more typical, featuring seafood platters and cleverly cooked greens.

Employees Only New York
Prohibition style bar photo by Employees Only

14. Employees Only

The pioneers of old-school cocktailing, Employees Only is another Prohibition-style bar you love to sneak into. Stumble through a fortune teller’s lair for the mysterious but hospitable hideout at the back.

You’re hit with art deco accents, spaced glammed up by overhead luggage racks, backlit paintings, and a curving bar.

There, you’re presented with signatures like the Manhattan with a twist, Ginger Smash, and the Amelia.

Popular plates include Bone Marrow Poppers, Skate Parikas, and the Hand Cut Steak Tartare.

15. The Penrose

A little moody, a lot vintage – The Penrose is an NYC Upper East Side bar for young adult to-dos like brunches and happy hours. Service runs from daily brunch to live music Sundays.

They serve mostly old-fashioned cocktails plus a hefty menu of beer and an exclusive line of Gins & Tonics.

The food menu blends British and American standards, ranging from dips and French toast sticks to egg benedict and fish tacos.

The Penrose burger and shareable plates are best for late-night parties.

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16. Bowery Electric

Young adult bars in New York are often packed with nightly entertainment, as proven by Bowery Electric and its rock and roll soul.

Doubling as a performance venue and dance club, it hosts everything from comedy shows to album-listening parties.

The bi-level bar is set in hip East Village to welcome university students, plying them with daily happy hour.

There are 14 taps and a selection of wines that come in red, white, and rosé. Specialty cocktails are also available on demand.

Best Bars in Queens:

The Deep End NYC
Drinks and Tacos Photo by The Deep End

17. The Deep End

Dark and illuminated in red hues, it’s like you’ve literally wandered into The Deep End. It’s no wonder why the younger crowd gathers here; the underground vibe and cheap, seasonal drinks say everything.

Admire colorful murals and whatever show is on – burlesque, circus acts or karaoke – just remember to order first.

The menu features globally-inspired bites: breakfast tacos, huevos diablos, and mimosas for weekend brunches; goat cheese balls, jalapeno poppers, gourmet burgers, and sandwiches on the regular.

Remarkably, they give free meals to neighbors in need.

18. Nowadays

Nowadays is the Queens bar for young adults that don’t sleep. Chill vibes encompass ample outdoor space and a minimalistic interior, with floor space prepped for late-night DJs and large groups.

You can even rent games like Cards Against Humanity to test your friends’ depravity.
The bar functions as a modern taproom that plug-in on local beers, on tap, or in cans.

House cocktails rock the classic Margarita, sangria, and mule. Hungry peeps will appreciate clever bites and the Saturday Backyard BBQ. Wagyu waiting for?

19. Dutch Kills

If you like your cocktails beautiful but deadly, Dutch Kills will test your mettle. You might have to fight for seats on busy weekends; both booth seats and counter spaces are hot commodities.

The dark and moody interior offers a sense of privacy, especially with limited patronage. Order a “choose your own” cocktail to enjoy the exclusive feel fully.

Otherwise, top-ranking drinks include Tiger Chilled Coffee and Lou’s Army Navy. Their list of spirits will impress too.