You don’t need us to tell you there are a ridiculous amount of bars in Williamsburg. But sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder of the ones that are actually worthy of getting off the couch/putting on pants/leaving Netflix behind for.
Whether your goal is casual drinks or rowdy partytime, Williamsburg has you covered. Stick to this list - just updated with more spots - and you’ll be well on your way to a great night out.
If you want a view, go to Westlight. It’s the bar at the top of the William Vale Hotel, and it’s the best place in Williamsburg to drink something and stare at the Manhattan skyline and other far-away things. It feels a little more like Soho than Williamsburg, however, so expect a crowd of well-dressed people and a line to get in at peak times. (If you want to avoid that, make a reservation.) Bring a friend who’s visiting from out of town. They’ll be impressed.
Fresh Kills Bar
There are about 100 different cocktail spots in Williamsburg, but Fresh Kills might be the best. It’s unpretentious, but the cocktails are top-of-the-line, and every bartender knows what they’re doing. So even if you don’t know what you want, they’ll figure it out with a few questions. It’s also a great-looking space, and the booths can fit you and a few of your friends. Or stop by with a date. It gets crowded, but not in the packed-and-sweaty way.
Skinny Dennis is a honkey-tonk-themed dive bar, and it’s where you go to stand around and drink cheap beer with friends. They also have live music sometimes, so check the schedule if that’s what you’re looking for. Expect this place to be packed at peak hours, however, and take note of the little blue-and-white paper cups people are carrying around. These contain a slushy, alcoholic coffee beverage. By all means, order one.
Ba’sik is where you go for a relatively quiet night with friends. It might be busy (and it might even be hard to find a seat), but this isn’t the sort of place where people get blackout and use the bathroom exclusively in pairs. It’s just a nice, smallish bar with a minimalist design and a surprisingly decent selection of bar food. You can have a kale salad or a chili dog or a deviled duck egg. And if it’s warm out, you should be in the backyard. It’s bigger than you expect, and it’s perfect for a first date (although maybe bring some bug spray).
The award for smallest cocktail bar in Williamsburg goes to Little King. It’s about the size of a studio apartment, and it feels kind of like the bar car in an old luxury train. So if you’re looking for something more intimate, come here. They make good cocktails, and they do some small plates that you can pick at with a date - stuff like crudo, vegetables with tahini, and a burger. Kick off your night here, or just camp out when you’re trying to keep things a little more mellow.
It’s extremely hard to find a bar in Williamsburg where you can actually have conversation on a Friday night. Burnside happens to be one such place. It just doesn’t seem to ever get too crowded here - which might lead you to believe that it sucks. Not the case. It’s just a very casual cocktail bar where you can grab a table and hang out with friends. Other amenities include a shuffleboard table, a back patio, and burger filled with melted cheese. Plan your next low-key hang here.
It isn’t just a name. They actually allow dogs here. So if you love dogs, but your landlord won’t let you have one, or if you want to use your dog to get yourself a date, check this place out. Lucky Dog is a dive bar on Bedford Ave where you’ll pretty much always see a canine. Dogs are not required, however. Most people just come here for the good beer selection, the nice backyard, and the laid-back vibes.
Right under the Williamsburg bridge is Donna - a cocktail bar we have no idea how we didn’t meet sooner. Just like in that 70s show, Donna is definitely someone we want to be friends with - and you will too. The all-white, plant-covered space is straight-up pretty, and the tropical cocktails will have you feeling like you’re somewhere in Mexico. Get acquainted with Donna, especially for dates or your next birthday party.
Live music is great. But live music at a bar? We don’t usually have the best feelings about that. Few spots do it right - but St. Mazie is one of them. The live music here (usually some type of swing or jazz) is actually awesome, and adds to the feeling that you might have just stumbled into a bar in New Orleans sixty years ago. More reasons why we love this place: a great back patio, oysters, (relatively) inexpensive cocktails, and Flamenco Fridays.
Black Flamingo is divided into two very different levels. Up top: a vaguely 70s-themed bar serving Latin-inspired, fully vegetarian small plates. Down below: a full-on dance party. Which means there are three ways to use this place - for dinner and drinks, for a final dancing destination, or for some combination of the two. If you haven’t been to Williamsburg in a while and are wondering where people like to hang out right now, Black Flamingo is a good place to start.
Baby’s All Right reminds us of the kind of bars in Austin where you can stop in, grab a drink, and casually catch some live music - no tickets, no lines, no hassles. Use Baby’s - a bar/restaurant/live music venue - when you’re sick of your same old bar routine and need to experience a little more action than just sipping a cocktail. Whether you end up seeing a show, or having a dance party, or just casually eating and drinking - you can pretty much always count on Baby’s to be a good time.
One of Brooklyn’s original gay bars, Metropolitan is a straight-up dive - and one that’s always a good time. The drinks are cheap, the (tiny) dance floor is usually packed, and on Sundays in the summer they use their back garden to host free BBQs. Because meeting people is even better when burgers are involved.
Yes, it might still be the only place Manhattan interns know about in Williamsburg, but you know what? Radegast is still pretty great. The giant space makes it ideal for any big group gathering, there’s always a solid day drinking scene, and the grill counter at the back offers up sausages that are much better than they need to be. We might roll our eyes at Radegast sometimes, but we’ll never be mad at it.
The Commodore can be a risky move, because it’s impossible to come here and not order the fried chicken. And good luck continuing on with your night instead of getting in a horizontal position after that. It can be a sh*tshow here, especially late-night, but you’ll be more than fine as long as you keep sucking down their delicious piña coladas.
If someone described Turkey’s Nest to you, you’d probably assume it was a college bar in one of those Midwestern states that starts with a vowel. It’s a total dive complete with both a pool table and Buck Hunter, and they serve their drinks in huge styrofoam cups that are known for being easy to take on-the-go, perhaps into McCarren Park. Not that we’ve ever done that.
Williamsburg’s best rooftop. Yes, the cocktails are expensive and yes, you’ll have to deal with the worst kind of tourists and other equally obnoxious people. But for views like this, deal with it you will. Make it a point to spend a summer evening here, or if you’re here during the cold months you can hang inside the rooftop room and pretend you’re outside, thanks to the giant windows.
“I JUST WANNA DANCE!” is the drunken rallying cry that results in 98% of nights out in Williamsburg ending at Union Pool. If your group wants to get down, this is where the place to do it. That said, there’s also plenty of space in the covered outdoor patio for people that would rather stoically sip their beers and/or have drunken heart-to-hearts.
Spuyten Duyvil is the ultimate Williamsburg beer snob bar. While the craft beer list is impressive (i.e. we haven’t heard of any of them), this place is surprisingly unpretentious and a great place we frequent in two key situations: when waiting for a table at St. Anselm next door, and for hanging out in the back patio in the summer. The indoor area can get crowded, so we wouldn’t recommend it for a group outing.
All the coziness (borderline creepiness) of the living room of your grandma’s dreams, mixed with the satisfaction of a solid cocktail. Not down for the old-timey schtick? Head to the roof. Night of Joy also has a sleeper hit of a Happy Hour.
Richlane is the platonic ideal of a “chill” neighborhood bar. It’s never too crowded, the tunes (out of a jukebox) are on-point, and it’s got enough industrial design to give it that cool “Brooklyn vibe” you’re probably looking for. This is a great spot for a laid-back one-on-one meetup/escape from the horrors of Bedford Ave.
We’re going to go ahead and call it – Hotel Delmano is Williamsburg’s best third-date bar. This is not where you bring some person you’ve never met before. This is where you come when you want to impress and have a fantastic time with someone you already know and (hopefully) like. Everything about this place – from the excellent (albeit expensive) drinks to the speakeasy-ish atmosphere – is impressive. This is where the magic happens, people.
By day a low-key coffee place/cafe/bike shop, by night a packed bar with great music. Kinfolk 90 has a bit of everything, and it’s the perfect place to go when your group is being annoyingly difficult about deciding what kind of vibe they’re in the mood for. Placate them with good drinks, a bumpin’ dance floor, and booths in the back and everyone will be happy. If you want to keep the party going with a change of venue, head next door to Kinfolk 94, the same owners’ even dance-ier club.
This neighborhood bar is perfect for two things and two things only: grilled cheese and whiskey. If you’ve just spent an afternoon in Williamsburg, head over to Noorman’s Kil to simultaneously indulge your inner child and your grown-up need for alcohol.
Sorry all other neighborhoods of New York, but Williamsburg really has you beat on the solid rooftop bars count. We’ve spent many an afternoon here, and its McCarren park-adjacent location is ideal for walking off your buzz.
Rocka Rolla has all the fun parts of a dive bar (classic rock, decor that makes you feel like you could be in Middle of Nowhere, USA) without the bad parts of a dive bar (bathroom smells and general filth). Like many Williamsburg bars, Rocka Rolla is also nice and spacious, so it’s a fun place to come with a group. Play some pool and drink from the giant beer goblets.
Dram is the reliable cocktail bar we tend to forget about from time to time, but is always there for us when we most need it. This isn’t the place you come for partytime, but it’s a great, low-key move to start or end your night. It’s also an ideal First/Early In The Game date spot.
In addition to rooftops, Williamsburg is also king of the well-executed theme bar. OTB is inspired by horse racing, and it’s always a safe bet (sorry) for great cocktails and very good French/American food – don’t leave without trying the wings. It’s owned by the same people behind Post Office, so if that’s your kind of place, you’ll love OTB, too.
Loosie Rouge is the kind of place you almost hate because it reminds you that no matter how hard you try your apartment will NEVER look this cool. It’s a mashup of the kind of midcentury minimalist interiors all over your Instagram feed and charming New Orleans-inspired touches, like an upright piano. Come here early in the night for a really tasty cocktail in a low-key atmosphere, or later on in the evening for several of those really tasty cocktails in more of a party atmosphere.
Similar to Kinfolk 90, Freehold is a work/hangout space by day and a bar/venue by night. But while Kinfolk is no bigger than the loft apartment of a very rich person, Freehold is a giant, hangar-like space that includes several big rooms and a big outdoor area where people play corn hole. No, we’re not on Frat Row, we’re in Willliamsburg. But Freehold is proof that those two things aren’t that different anymore.