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Well documented are the numerous languages spoken in Queens — between 160 and 300, depending on the source — and the borough’s status as New York’s gateway to the rest of the world, via the JFK and LaGuardia airports. Less often discussed is New York’s largest borough’s merits as a drinking destination.
Mirroring its rich cultural makeup, drinks excursions in Queens can take on myriad guises. Modern breweries and taprooms rub elbows with traditional beer halls, and drinkers can just as easily belly up to a bar serving world-class cocktails as they can cross the door of a century-old tavern pouring picture-perfect pints. And though it lacks the skyscrapers of Manhattan and, more recently, Brooklyn, drinking with a view is absolutely on the menu.
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Here are 8 of the best places to drink in Queens.
Best Place for Classic Cocktails: Dutch Kills Bar
The presence of the late Sasha Petraske, an individual who played a large role in America’s cocktail renaissance, can be felt in some way in all of New York’s best cocktail bars, but particularly so in those that opened under his mentorship as part of the Milk & Honey family. Long Island City’s Dutch Kills, opened by M&H doorman turned bartender and bar owner Richard Boccato, is one such location. In this dimly lit, wooden-clad tavern, Dutch Kills offers no reservations but instead a first-come, first-serve seating policy. Ice, once made in-house but now produced by a separate Boccato venture, cools each exacting cocktail with crystal-clear clarity. Guests can enter this fine bar safe in the knowledge that its bartenders can comfortably execute all of the classics. Equally deserving of attention are the bar’s proprietary creations and impressive array of spirits available on the back bar — especially cane and agave-based.
Tip jar: Dutch Kills’ no-reservation policy means arriving early on the busier nights of the week is a must. Be sure to do so with an appetite, and enjoy a sandwich from Troppo Stretto, which has been operating out of the bar’s kitchen since 2020.
Address: 27-24 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, N.Y. 11101
Best Place to Feel Like a Local: The Bonnie
Trips to The Bonnie feel like jumping into the regular hangout of a fictional group of friends in a popular sitcom. A gastropub beloved by Astoria locals, this neighborhood bar fits the bill for all occasions, whether you’re grabbing a quick, post-work IPA or Negroni, or spending brunch sipping Bloody Marys while reliving the night before. Just as approachable as the bar’s drinks selection is the food menu, which spans elevated bar bites to American comfort food like wedge salad and spicy chicken sandwiches. With bar seating, booths, and a backyard to choose from, bring a group of friends or venture here alone to make new ones.
Address: 29-12 23rd Ave., Astoria, N.Y. 11105
Best Place For a Proper Pint of Guinness: Donovan’s Pub
In a city where “Irish” bars are two a penny, Donovan’s delivers a hearty dose of truly authentic Irish-American culture. Sure, the pub’s burgers and wings have long garnered attention and accolades, and the Shepherd’s Pie will absolutely warm your soul on a chilly fall afternoon. But the jewel in Donovan’s crown lies in the perfect pours of Guinness that flow freely from its taps. The serving temperature, as well as size and creaminess of this particular pint’s head, live up to any poured on the Emerald Isle. In this case, you need only cross the East River to indulge.
Tip jar: The burgers at Donovan’s really do live up to the hype. And we do mean burgers, plural, with 17 to choose from.
Address: 5724 Roosevelt Ave., Woodside, N.Y. 11377
Best Place to Spend a Boozy Sunday: Astoria Bier & Cheese
While this Astoria mainstay primarily operates as a retailer — one brimming with imported fromage and an eclectic selection of domestic and international brews — don’t overlook it as a drinking destination. Ideal for boozy Sundays, snag a counter seat and pluck seasonal ales and sour goses from the fridge, or order from the 10-strong draft list. Grilled sandwiches as well as cheese and meat plates — naturally — await for when hunger strikes, allowing visitors to turn a quick trip to the cheese store into an afternoon outing.
Address: 3414 Broadway, Astoria, N.Y. 11106
Best Place to Drink Local Brews: Fifth Hammer Brewing Co.
In a six-block square that incorporates Hunter’s Point and Long Island City on the far west tip of Queens, one can find an impressive selection of craft breweries. Among them is Fifth Hammer, which promises to please even the most indecisive among us with more than a dozen beers on tap, and an expansive array of cans and bottles to enjoy on site or to go. Open seven days a week, Fifth Hammer also has you covered for eats via a rotating roster of food trucks regularly parked outside, and offers entertainment in the form of weekly trivia nights and live music.
Tip jar: Be sure to check out Fifth Hammer’s calendar when planning a visit, to stay on top of the events and the day’s food offerings.
Address: 10-28 46th Ave., Long Island City, N.Y. 11101
Best Place for Drinks With a View: Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill
A short, industrial stretch of 44th Drive connects Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill with the rest of Long Island City. Walking along it for the first time, you may rightly question if indeed a bar awaits. The answer is not only yes, there is a bar, but one boasting a view of the city that’s among the most impressive you can find across all five boroughs. With seating that’s entirely outdoors, this is a seasonal, riverside bar with a no-fuss drinks selection. Expect nationally available, one-time “craft” beer brands, two-ingredient cocktails, and rosé … lots of rosé. Simple as that sounds, we challenge anyone to sit under the sun, soaking in the Gotham skyline, and not feel like they’re drinking the best Aperol Spritz they’ve ever had.
Tip jar: Anable Basin is cash only, but there is an on-site ATM should you forget to load up your wallet before arriving. This place also gets really busy in summer, so if you’re heading with a group of friends, get there early and order buckets of ice-cold beers to avoid regular queuing at the bar (there’s no table service).
Address: 4-40 44th Drive, Long Island City, N.Y. 11101
Best Place For Outdoor Beers: Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
Decades before the style became a darling of the craft beer community, Astoria’s Bohemian Hall refreshed New Yorkers with crisp imported Czech and German pilsners. By modern standards, the brews on offer here may not feel particularly notable, but when you’re drinking in New York’s reportedly largest, and almost certainly oldest beer garden, who cares? Built in 1910 to honor and preserve Czech and Slovak culture in the city, Bohemian Hall continues to delight with a blend of European and American fare, refreshing beer, and occasional live music.
Address: 29-19 24th Ave., Astoria, N.Y. 11105
Best Place to Drink Up Movie History: Neir’s Tavern
The self-proclaimed “most famous bar you’ve never heard of” gains its tagline from high-profile appearances in Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy’s film “Tower Heist” and — more memorably — multiple scenes in the all-time classic “Goodfellas.” But this Woodhaven tavern deserves recognition for more than these cameos. Opened in 1829, almost 70 years before Queens became a part of New York City, this is among the most authentic watering holes in the five boroughs. The city almost lost it in January 2020, before a series of “miraculous” events kept the bar fighting for another day. Lovers of history, Hollywood, and basically just damn good neighborhood bars would do well to honor those events by crossing the doors at Neir’s and helping it inch closer to the 200th anniversary it deserves.
Tip jar: Neir’s runs a very popular trivia night on Tuesdays, which is free to enter and features prizes each round. Win-win?
Address: 87-48 78th St., Woodhaven, N.Y. 11421