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The Ultimate Guide to Upper East Side Bars

People live in and visit the Upper East Side of New York City for a variety of attractions and benefits — great shopping, wonderful restaurants, and a central location near many of the city’s most popular tourist destinations.

the interior of the best bar in upper east side nyc

But one thing that the Upper East Side is well-known for is its bustling nightlife.

So if you’re hoping to find a cool spot to grab a drink on any night of the week, check out some of the following best bars in Upper East Side NYC.

The Penrose

1590 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028
Phone: (212) 203-2751
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The Penrose, near Comic Strip Live, has a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, with exposed vintage brick walls and a long wooden bar.

The menu features a variety of beer, wine, and cocktails, as well as bar snacks like pretzels, peanuts, and chips.

The Penrose is also known for its live music, with a different band or DJ playing every night.

Jones Wood Foundry

401 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021
Phone: (212) 249-2700
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Jones Wood Foundry is a neighborhood gastropub near John Jay Park with a chilled-out atmosphere, ideal for drinking beers and eating British comfort food.

I typically order their fish and chips or roast beef dishes, then pair those with light-to-medium draft beers, so I’m not overly full afterward.

Bemelmans Bar

35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021
Phone: (212) 744-1600
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If you’re looking for a lovely, artful, jazz-oriented environment with dim lighting, look no further than Bemelmans Bar, a high-end piano bar near the Ukrainian Institute of America.

The best drink to get at Bemelmans is their martini, which comes in a wide range of flavors. The bar also serves food, including burgers, sandwiches, and salads.


303 E 85th St, New York, NY 10028
Phone: (929) 279-1884
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Bondurants is a dark, candlelit cocktail bar on the Upper East Side near the 86th St metro station with a menu of classic and modern cocktails.

I appreciate the rotating craft beer, intentionally rustic design, and delectable buffalo chicken wings at this establishment.

Caledonia Bar

1609 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028
Phone: (212) 734-4300
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If you’re wondering where to get a drink in a classy, intimate pub environment, head to Caledonia bar, a relaxed Scottish bar near the Fairway Market.

I love coming to this bar with friends to share their extensive selection of small plates and bar bites while sipping on several beers from their noteworthy Scottish flight.

The Guthrie Inn

1259 Park Ave, New York, NY 10029
Phone: (646) 907-0169
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The Guthrie Inn is a modern dive bar near the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a dark, quirky, and cool atmosphere.

I usually come here when I’m craving a speakeasy vibe, as the space is very small and nicely decorated. I also appreciate that they give you warm mixed nuts with your beverages.

The Jeffrey Craft Beer & Bites

311 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 355-2337
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The Jeffrey Craft Beer & Bites is one of the most fun places to get drinks and bar bites because of its cool vibes, rustic interior design, and massive menu!

I like going with at least three or four friends so that we can eat family-style, choosing several different items and tasting each other’s cocktails as well.

The Jeffrey also has some of the best Brunch sandwiches in town.

JG Melon

1291 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10021
Phone: (212) 744-0585
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While the Upper East Side has its fair share of upscale bars, JG Melon is an old-school burger spot near Citarella Gourmet Market that’s perfect for a casual night out with friends.

There’s nothing too fancy about the space– it’s small and cramped, with basic wooden tables and chairs. But the burgers are juicy and delicious. Just remember it’s cash only!

The Milton

1754 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128
Phone: (646) 682-7019
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The Milton is a neighborhood pub near Ruppert Park with a fun, lively atmosphere and a great selection of beers, wines, and cocktails.

I like going here when I’m craving British eats like fish and chips or shepherd’s pie, but I always have one or two cocktails while I’m there.

I recommend The Ginger Bee, with gin, honey, lemon, and ginger.

2nd Ave Deli

1442 1st Ave., New York, NY 10021
Phone: (212) 737-1700
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There are several 2nd Ave Deli sprinkled throughout Manhattan, but the Upper East Side location is near John Jay Park.

It may seem like a casual deli offering pancakes, stuffed cabbage, and sliders, but it’s much more than that.

I like going for happy hours between 5-7 pm when I can get their hot pastrami sandwich and a house cocktail for a reasonable price.

The Auction House

300 E 89th St, New York, NY 10128
Phone: (212) 427-4458
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The Auction House is a swanky lounge with dim, mood lighting near Ruppert Park. This bar is one of the most fun places to go out on date night, as it’s cozy and intimate but still carries a lively, energetic feel.

I recommend starting the night with a bottle of Tuffo Pino Grigio or Bennett Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Hunterian

413 E 70th St, New York, NY 10021
Phone: (212) 825-1525
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The Hunterian is a small, cozy, and friendly bar near the Bank of America Financial Center. This spot provides an ideal hangout if you want to get away from massive touristy bars and enjoy a nice evening in a dimly lit setting.

I recommend grabbing their gin gimlet or gold rush during happy hour or attending their karaoke night on Thursday!

Ryan’s Daughter

350 E 85th St, New York, NY 10028
Phone: (212) 628-2613
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Ryan’s Daughter is an Irish pub near Adams Tower Parking with a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Ryan’s Daughter is one of my favorite places to play games, as they have various options such as pool, basketball, and darts. They also have great food, including the free potato chips you get!

The Sefton

1373 1st Ave., New York, NY 10021
Phone: (212) 812-8942
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The Sefton is a classic, old-school neighborhood bar near Bark Place, NYC. This bar has incredibly friendly vibes, delicious craft beer, and tasty bar bites like beef sliders and truffled tater tots.

The Gaf

1696 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128
Phone: (917) 388-2115
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The Gaf is a highlight on the Upper East Side, as it’s small and unassuming on the outside but a lively sports bar on the inside.

This watering hole is one of the best bars in Upper East Side NYC for watching Sunday football games because they have plenty of TVs.

Plus, you can partake in some friendly competition yourself by playing darts while sipping on a cold beer.

The Five Lamps

1586 York Ave, New York, NY 10028
Phone: (646) 684-4022
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The Five Lamps, right by Dorian’s Seafood Market, is a no-frills bar with an authentic, local atmosphere.

The Gaf, it’s a great spot to watch games on the TV, but I love going there for their Thursday trivia nights. I’ll usually get a gin lemonade or an espresso martini if I’m trying to get my head in the game!

The Pony Bar

1444 1st Ave., New York, NY 10021
Phone: (212) 288-0090
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If you’re hoping to find a one-stop shop for an extensive array of craft beers, The Pony Bar might be your new favorite hangout.

Right by Bark Place NYC, the Pony Bar offers a space to try out new and old craft beers, munch on delightful pulled pork tacos, and engage in fun conversations with friends and strangers alike.

Dylan Murphy’s

1453 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10028
Phone: (212) 988-9434
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Dylan Murphy’s is an old-school Irish bar near John Jay Park. This bar is a fantastic place to go with a large friend group, as it’s spacious and always has a lively atmosphere.

I recommend grabbing one of their Irish coffees or a pint of Guinness to start your night off right.

Reif’s Bar

302 E 92nd St, New York, NY 10128
Phone: (212) 426-0519
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Reif’s Bar is a neighborhood bar near Ruppert Park with a great selection of beers and a pool table. This bar is a great place to relax and unwind after a long day, as it has a cozy and laid-back vibe.

I recommend grabbing a burger and trying out their Stoli Blueberry Club Soda.

Vanguard Wine Bar (Upper East Side)

1372 1st Ave., New York, NY 10021
Phone: (212) 288-9463
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Vanguard, a delightful and cozy wine bar, has several locations, but I appreciate their Upper East Side location the most because the bartenders are always so kind and attentive.

I go here when I’m feeling like sipping on wine all night and pairing it with a thoughtful charcuterie board.


1583 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028
Phone: (212) 861-6070
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Brady’s is a well-loved cocktail bar that’s been running since 1961 and has some of the best cocktails in the neighborhood.

I appreciate the old-school vibes, the ability to play video games and darts, and various menu items at reasonable prices for Manhattan.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a place to grab a drink, you’ll have no trouble finding a bar on the Upper East Side. But with so many fantastic options, it can be hard to know where to start.

I hope this list of the best bars in Upper East Side NYC has helped with your next bar-hopping adventure. Which one will you go to first? Let us know in the comments below!

Best Bars in Upper East Side

  1. The Penrose
  2. Jones Wood Foundry
  3. Bemelmans Bar
  4. Bondurants
  5. Caledonia Bar
  6. The Guthrie Inn
  7. The Jeffrey Craft Beer & Bites
  8. JG Melon
  9. The Milton
  10. 2nd Ave Deli
  11. The Auction House
  12. The Hunterian
  13. Ryan’s Daughter
  14. The Sefton
  15. The Gaf
  16. The Five Lamps
  17. The Pony Bar
  18. Dylan Murphy’s
  19. Reif’s Bar
  20. Vanguard Wine Bar (Upper East Side)
  21. Brady’s
Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Paul Kushner

I have always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. My restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time I turned 17 I was serving tables, and by 19 I was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, I opened my first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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