Even as favor switches from neighborhood to neighborhood, it’s possible to find a good bar just about anywhere in New York City. However, it just so happens that right now a slew of well-designed hotspots with excellent drink options have opened across lower Manhattan’s east side—most within walking distance from one another. Whether you’re looking for a subterranean treasure or an outdoor bar with stunning views, you can’t go wrong with these new watering holes.
Since 1985, regulars have frequented 2A, an unassuming bar with large windows on the corner of 2nd Street and Avenue A. Most had no idea that just beneath them was a vast space with vaulted ceilings that rise beneath the sidewalk. This location went unused until only a few weeks ago, when it opened under the name Berlin. From the rich red lighting to the long wooden bar, it feels like an emboldened remnant of a bygone era—in the most remarkable way possible. It’s an ideal late-night spot (doors open at 10PM), with a stage tucked into one corner for live performances. Along with its well-stocked back bar, 2A is worth checking out for the energy and design elements. 25 Avenue A, East Village
When the weather is on your side, there’s nothing quite like a well-made tiki cocktail outdoors. That’s exactly what’s on offer at Tiki Tabu, a summertime pop-up bar on the seventh floor of the SIXTY LES hotel. From the lush decor to cocktails served in brass pineapples, it’s a respectably chill bar that also stakes claim to an awesome view of the city. It also happens to be helmed by some of the drink world’s finest, Jon Neidich and Jim Kearns, meaning the cocktails are tip-top (like the lesser known tiki class, the Samoan Typhoon). 190 Allen Street, Lower East Side
Delightfully refined, dimly lit and with nuanced cocktails of the utmost quality, Bar Goto feels like the first of its kind: a lower east side Japanese-style cocktail bar with a food menu designed by Bohemian chef Kiyo Shinoki. Of equal importance, this space belongs to Kenta Goto, the longtime head bartender at acclaimed cocktail bar Pegu Club. Goto’s vision for signature drinks—most bearing Japanese influence—remains on point, with uncommon ingredients supporting everything from sake to spirits. Perhaps the most charming touch of all, a 100-year-old kimono, once belonging to Goto’s grandmother, has been turned into a stunning piece of wall art. 245 Eldridge St, Lower East Side
Mother of Pearl
If you’re really into tiki vibes, regardless of the season, the brand new Mother of Pearl delivers a chic, open-to-the-street energy peppered with kitsch. The worthwhile cocktail menu—developed by Dram’s Thomas Chadwick and the NoMad Bar’s Jane Danger—offers up lots of fun options (like the Shark’s Eye) and incredible cleverness (like the Plantino Dominicano, which features banana, rum and an otherworldly absinthe cream). The food menu also appeases the senses—with the seafood and small bites clear standouts. 95 Avenue A, East Village
With a stroll further south, into the heart of Chinatown and beneath the Manhattan bridge, one may stumble upon Mr. Fong’s. There’s local bar spirit inside, with a jukebox set among bar stools and a series of booths—but something more takes hold. Fitting for the location, Asian-inspired cocktails grace the menu and small Chinese food bar bites are offered. From the colorful art on the walls to the reasonably priced cocktails the space delivers something easy but lovable. Altogether, it manages to be distinct, yet familiar—and a good place to spend a few hours with a group of friends. 40 Market St, Two Bridges
Mr. Fong’s, Berlin, Tiki Tabu and Mother of Pearl cocktail image by David Graver, all others courtesy of respective venues