7 Classic New York Bars

Toast your trip to New York City at one of these classic tippling spots

From sophisticated to casual, there is a classic New York City bar that will appeal to just about everyone. Whether you just want a spot to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail or are looking for a place to linger all evening, check out this list of inspiration and ideas.

01 of 07

The Oak Bar at The Plaza

The Oak Room at The Plaza Hotel
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

Impressionist murals by Everett Shinn depict New York City scenes on the walls, but the classic cocktails and oak panels stand out at this classic New York drinking establishment. Featured in the opening scenes of North by Northwest, the Oak Bar has been an important meeting place since it opened in 1907.

  • Address: 768 Fifth Avenue at the Plaza Hotel
  • Phone: 212-546-5320
  • Dress Code: business casual, no shorts, sneakers or sandals after 5 p.m.
02 of 07

Bemelmans Bar

the beautifully lit bar at Bemelman's Bar in The Carlyle Hotel
arvindgrover/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Named after Ludwig Bemelmans, who created the Madeline books and painted the bar's famous murals, Bemelmans Bar is one of New York City's classic piano bars. The gold-leaf-covered ceiling and black granite bar combine to create an elegant environment for sampling classic cocktails. Live entertainment takes place Tues - Sat from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 - 12:30 p.m.

  • Address: Carlyle Hotel, 35 E. 76th St. (at Madison)
  • Telephone: 212-744-1600
  • Hours: noon - 2 a.m. (12:30 p.m. on Sundays)
  • Dress Code: business casual
03 of 07

The Bar at Bull & Bear

Bull and Bear Restaurant and Pub
Curt Teich Postcard Archives / Getty Images

Best known for its beautiful mahogany bar, the Waldorf=Astoria's Bull & Bear is also credited with creating the Robb Roy and the Bronx Cocktail. The Bull & Bear keeps investment bankers and financial types comfortable with a stock-market ticker and tables the color of money.

  • Address: 301 Park Avenue
  • Phone: 212-872-4900
  • Dress Code: business casual
04 of 07

King Cole Bar

St Regis Hotel Bar
FPG / Getty Images

Located in the St. Regis Hotel, the King Cole Bar is popular with guests and non-guests alike. The Red Snapper (better known as a Bloody Mary) was invented here, amidst the Maxfield Parrish mural depicting Old King Cole.

  • Address: 2 East 55th Street at the St. Regis Hotel
  • Phone: 212-753-4500
  • Dress Code: business casual, no sneakers after 5 p.m.
Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

Old Town Bar & Grill

Old Town Bar
Heather Cross

First opened in 1892, Old Town Bar & Grill retains its classic charm with pressed tin ceilings and the oldest operating dumbwaiter in New York City. Featured in many TV shows and movies, including the opening credits of David Letterman during his NBC days, Old Town Bar is a casual place to enjoy beers and burgers. Men should be sure to check out the first-floor bathroom, for with its impressive fixtures.

  • Address: 45 East 18th Street
  • Phone: 212-529-6732
  • Dress Code: casual
06 of 07

Pete's Tavern

Pete's Tavern
Heather Cross

The longest continually operating bar in New York City, Pete's Tavern opened in 1864 and remained open throughout Prohibition, disguised as a flower shop. In 1904, O. Henry wrote much of Gift of the Magi in one of his favorite booths by the front doors. This classic bar serves a full menu at reasonable prices, including nightly specials.

  • Address: 129 East 18th Street
  • Phone: 212-473-7676
  • Dress Code: casual
07 of 07

White Horse Tavern

USA, New York State, New York City, Manhattan, Greenwich village,White Horse Tavern
Stephen Rafferty / Getty Images

One of the few wood-framed buildings remaining in New York City, the White Horse Tavern opened in 1880. Famous patrons include Dylan Thomas, who is rumored to have drunk himself to death here in 1953, Jack Kerouac, and Bob Dylan.

  • Address: 567 Hudson Street
  • Phone: 212-243-9260
  • Dress Code: casual