Even locals will admit that they have a hard time keeping up with bar and restaurant openings in Brooklyn. Blink once, and you might miss a new wine bar that focuses on unsung heroes from Croatia and Slovenia, or take a few weeks off of Instagram, and you’ll be wondering when it became virtually impossible to get a reservation at the new Chinese-American spot that serves up a mean Martini.
Whether you find yourself starting a night out, or wanting to meet up with friends for a low-key afternoon, we’ve got a few ideas about where to go.
Here are the best places to drink in Brooklyn.
Best Place to Celebrate a Special Occasion: Francie
Veteran restaurateur John Winterman (previously of Bâtard and Daniel) knows a thing or two about creating a stunning space to celebrate everything from anniversaries to a Friday night at the end of a particularly taxing work week. If you’re cozied up in a dining room banquette, we recommend asking for the cheese cart (Winterman will, on most nights, wheel it out himself and take you on a dairy-fueled journey to heaven) and ordering an Appletini or French 75. At the bar, don’t miss sourdough with whipped lardo, or the duck mortadella, both of which will do a great job of soaking up all the drinks you’ll want to consume. Francie is everything that’s delicious about old-school New York City, but, you know, cooler.
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Tip Jar: The delightful bathroom playlist is absolutely not what you’re expecting, and you must experience it for yourself.
Address: 136 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY, 11249
Best Place for Low-Key Outings: Palmetto
Can’t make it to the beach? Palmetto is a fantastic substitute in the heart of Bushwick. With muraled walls that make you feel like you’re in the tropics, this is exactly the kind of spot for those nights when you don’t want to sit on your couch and drink a poorly made Margarita, but also can’t be bothered to get dressed up. Don’t confuse the laid-back vibe for a lazy beverage or food program, though — we’re big fans of the non-alcoholic offerings in particular, like the Port Antonio Punch with hibiscus, rose, and ginger, as well as the pickled veggie platter.
Address: 309 Knickerbocker Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11237
Best Place for Outdoor Drinking: Maison Premiere
Oh, Maison Premiere — how do we count the ways? Come for the best oysters in Brooklyn, stay for the staggering absinthe menu, and make sure to enjoy both in the lush backyard garden. Equal parts Parisian café and New Orleans backyard bash, Maison Premiere has been a beloved industry spot for years, and has the accolades (a James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program, to name just one) to prove it. After a pause in service during the pandemic, this is a spot we’re thrilled to have back open in the neighborhood.
Address: 298 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11249
Best Place for a Local Beer: Other Half
Other Half’s Domino Park outpost is a more polished take on the industrial tap room, and your dog is invited. If you come across something you love, buy a refillable growler and stop by the next time you’re in the area — Other Half’s exceptionally friendly staffers are always happy to top you up. Plus, there’s a crowd-pleasing DJ who seems particularly adept at reading the room and playing the tunes to match.
Address: 34 River Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11249
Best Place for Boozy Brunch: Llama Inn
If you’re looking to start your day with a bang (or an El Chapo cocktail with tequila, pisco, and Cocchi), you’ll want to visit Peruvian hotspot Llama Inn. Aim for a breezy, sun-drenched rooftop table, but know that the ceviche alone is good enough to make a seat at the bar worth your while, too. Llama Inn’s beverage program is full of tropical cocktails that make good use of rum, mezcal, and sherry, and taste as good as they look.
Address: 50 Withers St, Brooklyn, NY, 11211
Best Place for a Mixed Group: Tørst
What doesn’t Tørst do well? Exhaustive craft beer program? Check. A solid by-the-glass wine selection to placate the people in the group who don’t like beer? Check. An above-average burger? Check. While beer is the core draw for Tørst — expect most of the crowd here to geek out over the selection and fancy glassware — the true beauty of this spot is how perfect it is for a group in which no one ever seems to be able to agree on what they’re looking for.
Address: 615 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11222
Best Place to Taste and Learn About Natural Wine: Lalou
Whether you’re new to natural wine or call yourself the category’s biggest fan, you will find something new at Lalou. The by-the-glass wine list of this modestly dressed restaurant is an exciting mixture of beloved natural types and classic grapes like Cabernet Franc. The staff is friendly and ready to give suggestions or even a small lesson if you find the list too enticing to choose just one glass. The restaurant’s minimalist charm also extends to its straightforward food menu, which includes an assortment of wine-adjacent snacks like marinated anchovies and larger bites like head-on prawns and Toulouse sausage.
Tip jar: Come for the wine, but be sure to grab a Martini before leaving.
Address: 581 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11238
Best Place for Low-Key Weeknight Hang: Leyenda
In a seemingly residential neighborhood, Leyenda stands out with its intimate interior and creative drinks. Co-owned and operated by award-winning bartender Ivy Mix, the vibe here is a mellow one, accented by craft cocktails featuring Latin American and Caribbean spirits. Perusing the menu, you’ll find a few liquors you’ve likely never heard of playing the starring role in some of your favorites, such as a Mexican corn whiskey Old Fashioned, or the Leyenda Daiquiri made using house-blended white rums. It’s a perfect atmosphere for catching up with a friend over weeknight drinks.
Address: 221 Smith St, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201
Best Place to Start Your Night: Long Island Bar
Looking for a diner feel with cool drinks to kick off your night? Head to Long Island Bar. Originally opened in 1951 as a local neighborhood restaurant, Long Island Bar has become well known for its Martinis and Gimlets. With reasonably priced cocktails and comfort-food classics like fried cheese curds and deviled eggs, Long Island Bar is the perfect way to start a night of drinking.
Tip jar: We highly suggest trying the “A Martini” made with Dassai 50 Junmai Daiginjo Sake. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed!
Address: 110 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201
Best to Feel Like a Local: Seaborne
The final project of the late cocktail legend Sasha Petraske (formerly of Milk & Honey), Seaborne is a Red Hook landmark that honors the esteem and passion he had for great cocktails. Enthusiasts may recognize the interior design, as it’s modeled after his famed speakeasy. In this intimate setting with close-quarter seating, patrons will find well-balanced cocktails with Petraske’s signature Prohibition-era mixology that are affordably priced and equally exciting.
Address: 228 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11231
Best Place for Pasta and Italian Wine: Terre
There’s just something special about a piping bowl of well-made pasta and Italian wine to sip with it, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Park Slope’s Terre. This casual restaurant offers traditional dishes and an array of delicious small plates perfect for sharing with a group of friends. Its dedication to Italian agriculture and small producers is at the forefront of its wine list, which features over 100 natural wines. Even more appealing, each of the wines is offered by the glass so you’re free to try them all over the span of several visits, which we’re guessing won’t be hard to resist.
Address: 341 5th Ave, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215
Best Place to Try Something New: Bar Goto Niban
Bar Goto Niban is the Brooklyn extension of the original Lower East Side location. If you’ve never experienced izakaya-style dining, you’re in for a treat with this mixed menu of custom and Japanese-influenced American dishes. And while you’re enjoying your korokke, a traditional Japanese croquette, you can wash it down with an inventive cocktail like the Hakumai Highball. If cocktails aren’t what you’re looking for, Bar Goto Niban offers a curated selection of sake, shochu, and Japanese whisky. No matter what you choose, the unique experience will be one to write home about — or at least share in your group chat.
Address: 474 Bergen St, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217
Best Place for Date Night: The Binc
Nestled on Henry St., the atmosphere inside The Binc is the perfect setting for a first, second, or even anniversary date. A dimly lit room filled with candles and chill music gives a romantic feel to the space, as bartenders swiftly work in black aprons, white shirts, and neckties. The classic charm extends to the cocktail list, which boasts complex cocktails served in Art Deco-style coupe glasses. You’ll find the bar top lined with various multi-colored tinctures and bitters, and though they’re used for cocktails, they easily add to the romantic mood and experience of The Binc.
Address: 60 Henry St, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201