The Best Bars for Drinks in the Upper East Side

The Best Bars for Drinks in the Upper East Side

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The Upper East side wasn’t always the bustling dining and residential area we know today. Before 1837, the area consisted of mostly farm land, breweries, and piano factories. By the late 1800s, elevated railroads helped spur a population boom among the German, German-Jewish, and Irish heritage business class. The old elevated railroads are long gone, replaced by our subway system along with old world German bars, rustic dining, $1 oysters, live music, and more. Check out our list of recommended spots to grab a drink in the Upper East Side.

1. Caledonia Bar

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What: Grab a Scotch or try a variety of Scottish beers
Where: 1609 2nd Ave, New York
 
Scotch lovers, look no further than this humble Upper East Side neighborhood bar. Run by a Scot, Caledonia Bar offers an extensive menu of top-shelf Scotch hailing from the major Scotch-producing regions of Islay, Highlands, and Speyside. If Scotch isn’t your thing, don’t worry – they’ve got Scottish beers. If you’re hungry, the Scotch eggs are a can’t-miss treat. Try to make it there for happy hour, when you can take $2 off beer, wine, and house cocktails.
 

2. Heidelberg
What: Oldest family-run German bar in NYC with a vast selection of beer
Where: 1648 2nd Ave
 
Once upon a time, Yorkville was a busy German neighborhood. So it should come as no surprise that Heidelberg’s main claim to fame is as one of the city’s oldest family-run German spots, having opened in 1936. Today the servers wear lederhosen and the decor is old-school Old World. This makes it perfect for campy fun. You’ll be heading to Heidelberg for two-liter boots full of fine German brews. Heidelburg was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Their food menu is classical German done well. Add in imported schnapps, a huge beer list, and bar televisions and you’ve got your next World Cup watching spot.
 

3. Earl’s Beer and Cheese
What: Cheese, beer & comfort food
Where: 1259 Park Ave
 
Do you love beer and cheese? Then this is the bar for you, bringing casual comfort food and craft beer back to the Upper East Side. Choose from the rotating craft brews on draft or the extensive list of cans. With only a handful of bar seats, this place gets crowded. It’s not the spot to bring your crew, but if you want a laid-back evening with beer and board games, take a couple friends to Earl’s. Menu favorites include grilled cheese (they’ve got 3 kinds) and mac and cheese.
 

4. Dorrian’s Red Hand
What: Late night drinking, holiday go-to and sports
Where: 1616 2nd Ave
 
If Dorrian’s Red Hand isn’t your go-to bar for birthday parties, sports or karaoke, it should be. There’s always a line (yes, even on weekdays), it’s been a neighborhood favorite since the 1960s, and it brings a full mix of people. It’s also one of the best late-night scenes in the UES, so give it a try next time you are looking for a fun place to go.
 

5. The Penrose

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What:Brunch or late night drinks & hotdogs
Where: 1590 2nd Ave
 
If you like The Wren or Wilfie & Nell, this is the UES drinking spot for you. Developed by the same people, The Penrose offers cocktails and a decent beer list, as well as tasty comfort food dishes. We recommend this one for brunch, where you can choose between four types of Bloody Marys. The Penrose can get crowded at night, but don’t let that stop you from impressing a date here.
 

6. Jones Wood Foundry
What: Authentic British drinks and eats
Where: 401 E. 76th St
 
Don’t let the rustic communal dining area or homey vibe fool you. Jones Wood Foundry offers up some banging British fare and carries a ton of UK and craft beers. The chef is British, so the pub food here is authentic. The outside garden is a great spot for brunch, and you’ll love catching up with friends at this casual, friendly pub.
 

7. The Jeffrey Craft Beer & Bites
What: Early & late-night happy hour with good eats
Where: 311 E. 60th St.
 
With a pre-7 p.m. happy hour and a late night happy hour, The Jeffrey might be your next favorite drinking spot. Not only does The Jeffrey have a huge beer list, it’s also a great place to get cocktails. It’s proximity to the 4/5/6 and N/Q/R make it an easy meeting spot for your friends who don’t live in the UES. The backyard is a favorite place to hang in the summer.
 

8. Eli’s Night Shift

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What: Dollar oysters & open seating
Where: 189 E 79th St
 
Basic cafe by day, secret drinking spot at night. Eli’s Night Shift is under the radar, but don’t expect it to stay that way. Between the big bar and the long tables, it’s pretty easy to get a seat, even if you come during prime pre-dinner time. Food favorites include the free kettle chips and the $1 oysters. The Eli in the bar’s name is “that Eli” – Eli Zabar, of Zabar’s fame.
 

9. ABV Wine Bar

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What: Extensive wine selections
Where: 1504 Lexington Ave.
 
More of a wine drinker than beer or cocktails? ABV Wine Bar has you covered with an extensive wine by the glass and bottle selection. They’ve also got great brews for your beer-loving pals. ABV makes a great date-night spot around dinnertime. If you’re looking for a social place to drink, you’re better off waiting until after peak dinnertime.
 

10. The Guthrie Inn
What: Great music & cocktails
Where: 1259 Park Ave
 
A tiny spot, The Guthrie Inn packs a big punch. From the amazing music they always seem to be playing to the spot-on cocktails, it’s a great place to hang solo, bring a date, or round up a few friends. Cocktails are the real star here, but if you’re there during happy hour, know that beers are 2 for the price of 1. Bonus? It’s right next to Earl’s Beer and Cheese, so a bar crawl is super easy.
 

11. The Gilroy

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What: Live music * craft cocktails
Where: 1561 2nd Ave
 
One of the better places to grab a drink and hear live music, The Gilroy makes for a fun weeknight hang. This place is best known for their craft cocktails, but you’ll also find beer and wine. The food is simple but tasty; don’t miss the flatbreads. The Gilroy has brunch in the works, which will give you even more excuses for cocktails and catchy tunes.
 

12. Infirmary

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What: Cajun-infused cocktails
Where: 1720 2nd Ave
 
A Cajun-infused cocktail bar, Infirmary has great drinks, yummy Southern staples, and charm to spare. Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 and includes both food and drink specials. Favorite include the char-baked oysters, fried chicken and biscuit sandwich and pulled pork sliders. Try the Lady Voodoo at least once, as well as the classic New Orleans Sazerac.
 
 

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