Five Great Beer Bars in NYC
Here’s an exercise in futility: try to think of something that you cannot easily find in New York City. For the most part, anyone on earth could walk into Manhattan and find whatever they want with relative ease. This is nothing new. There is one thing, however, that is not necessarily easy to find in that great city: a good beer bar.
Now, I don’t mean that there aren’t plenty of good bars that serve beer, because there are. There are hundreds. When I say a beer bar, I mean a drinking establishment that exclusively serves good beer. They might also carry liquor and wine, but they should not be the focus of the bar menu. There are many great beer bars in New York City, but it’s not always so easy to find them. We’ve compiled a quick list of five bars that serve excellent beer. If you’re a New Yorker, maybe you know these places. If not, make sure to visit them next time you’re in town.
1. The Ginger Man (11 East 36th Street, NYC)
The Ginger Man takes its name from the J.P. Donleavy’s novel of the same name. They have over sixty draft beers at a time, including two on cask. Their bottle list is well over 100 beers, so there is more than likely a beer for everyone here. The draft list always has the most interesting American beers, and their Belgian selection is equally impressive. For fans of Japanese brewery Hitachino, look no further, as The Ginger Man has eight of them in bottles and one or two more on draft. Like any place in New York, it can get very crowded here on weekend nights, so try to get in earlier for a better shot at a bar seat. I’ve not had much of the food here, but their “Ginger Man” hot dog is absolutely delicious, as are the pretzels. The menu is typical gastropub fare, but done very well.
2. Edi & The Wolf (102 Avenue C, NYC)
Unlike some other bars on this list, Edi & The Wolf doesn’t really have the greatest range of beer, but what they do have is excellent. Their draft list is mostly German and the beers are available in several sizes. The large comes in a traditional stein that probably packs at least 40 ounces. I highly recommend one of these, but you might want to stick to just one. The star of their draft list is Schneider Aventinus, with the Schneider Weisse a close second. For many beer drinkers, Aventinus is the holy grail and it’s hard to argue against it. I did not get to try the food, but the authentic German/Austrian menu looks quite good. It was fairly easy to get in for drinks around 7 on a Friday night, but tables can be hard to come by.
3. Valhalla (815 9th Avenue, NYC)
Valhalla’s beer list is split equally between American beer and European beer (or, as it’s written on their chalkboard, “here” and “there”). Their impressive range of American beer is equaled by their Belgian selection, which features some hard to find draft beers like La Chouffe Houblon. Valhalla is perhaps the smallest bar on this list, but it’s usually not too hard to get a seat. Their food selection isn’t too great, and they only offer a few choices, like pretzels or sausages. I’ve only had the pretzel here, and unfortunately it was quite plain. This is not important anyway, because the beer is what matters here. For really hard to find stuff, you’ll want to stick with Valhalla.
4. Spitzer’s Corner (101 Rivington Street, NYC)
Spitzer’s Corner is one of the coolest looking bars in a city filled with cool looking bars. The industrial decor inside is actually very comfortable, even on a packed weekend night. The bar doesn’t seat more than ten but the bench tables throughout the rest of Spitzer’s are more than adequate. The beer list is impressive, both in volume and quality, and usually offers a lot of New York beers like Six Point, Ommegang, and Brooklyn. This would also be the most “liquor-friendly” place on this list, so if you’ve got non-beer heads in tow, this would be a great choice. The food is delicious and inventive, and the menu puts a unique spin on a lot of bar food classics like sliders and fish & chips.
5. The Pony Bar (637 10th Avenue, NYC)
The Pony Bar is around the same size as Valhalla, but it focuses almost exclusively on American beer. Inside, its got a very simple and clean layout. The bar is small and there are only a few seats around the perimeter, but the draft menu here is wonderful. Like Spitzer’s, you’ll find quite a few New York beers. I haven’t had the food here but the menu looks good enough.