It is said that New York never sleeps and constantly changes. If anything stays the same in this megapolis, it is the need for variety and transformation, and its most cherished hangout places are not excused.
However, there are rare spots that resist modern New Yorkers’ fast pace. They still bring their visitors back to the era of style, class, and above all, delicious food, exquisite drinks, and enjoyable music. If you’re wondering where to land your next vacation, the answer’s right here. The magical lights of the Big Apple are ready to dazzle you. Beware, the most iconic bars in Manhattan will quickly get you drunk on life.
1. Bemelmans Bar
Most first-time visitors aren’t aware of how much history is behind this bar’s doors. They quickly get mesmerized by the place, though. Perhaps the most captivating feature of the bar is the murals painted by Ludwig Bemelmans, the author of the classic Madeline children’s books. The bar’s name is a tribute to this great artist and old-time New York but also to good cocktails and ambiance. Visit Bemelmans Bar and enjoy its elegance and timeless atmosphere.
2. Fraunces Tavern
Founded by Samuel Fraunces some 260 years ago, the Tavern has changed a lot to this day. Luckily, it evolved alongside the building landmark it’s a part of, and today, it is a place for history buffs who like a good sip and bite. Fraunces Tavern is listed as a National Historic Site and is truly a treasure, not only for the museum dedicated to the Revolutionary era and George Washington but also for the old school dining it offers. If the restaurant is too formal for your taste, slip into the tavern and unwind to the loud live music and an excellent selection of drinks.
3. Keens Steakhouse
If you’re a fan of the juicy mutton chop and the prime rib, then Keens is the place for you. Arguably the best chophouse in Manhattan, it is also one of New York City’s oldest bars. Its decor is unique; over 90 thousand smoking pipes adorn the ceiling and part of the walls. Why the pipes? Back in the day, it was a gentlemen’s smoking club where even the famous used to come and relax. So, go get those documents for a US visa and treat yourself to the best of NYC.
4. King Cole Bar
During your tour of the most iconic bars in Manhattan, stop at the King Cole Bar, the “home of the Bloody Mary”, at the St. Regis Hotel. If you’re not enchanted by the elegant atmosphere of the bar, you will be by the famous Mayfield Parrish’s mural illuminating the bar in warm light. This quaint bar is one of the finest, not only for being a part of the 5-star NYC hotel. It offers a vibrant yet relaxing experience with a classy and not in the least snobbish environment. Still, it’s not for the faint of wallet.
5. Pete’s Tavern
Pete’s definitely doing something right, as they have been around since 1864 and are obviously here to stay. The place is so popular that Saturdays are wall to wall full. There’s beer on tap, great food, and an overall feel of an old-school tavern. It’s one of those places where you can relax, get comfortable and enjoy a good meal accompanied by generous drinks.
6. Ear Inn
Prepare yourself for phenomenal food, great ambiance, and a full plate of local history at the Ear Inn. The anecdote says the place got its quirky name from the broken neon sign BAR, missing a part of the letter B. It is where locals go for a drink or lunch, which is how you know it’s any good. Take your time to explore the Manhattan restaurant and bar scene but don’t forget to try and live like the locals for the duration of your stay. It’s going to be a memorable experience.
7. Old Town Bar
An authentic Manhattan bar, Old Town is full of history and devoid of pretense. A simple place with simple food and simple drinks, it attracts with the sheer power of old-school bartending. This unassuming place is a true gem and highly appreciated by its patrons. Many of them are ready to return often and feel the bar’s personality and homey atmosphere.
8. The Landmark Tavern
This Irish style tavern is where you can escape the hubbub of NYC for a while. You’ll appreciate the white table service, gentle music, and friendliness. The friendly and welcoming atmosphere conveys the soul of Irish hospitality. And let’s not forget about the splendid food and pints. That’s why you will see so many regulars here.
9. McSorley’s Old Ale House
McSorley’s Old Ale House is an old-style establishment and a true time capsule. Get ready to step back in time, and enjoy its authentic and rugged atmosphere and old wooden tables. One doesn’t expect sawdust on the bar floor in NYC, nor that the simplest things can be the best. Rightfully among the most iconic bars in Manhattan, McSorley’s offers light and dark ale in pairs. You don’t come to the Old Ale House to dress up but to enjoy as they did back in the day.
10. Peter McManus Cafe
Still stubbornly standing when all others winked out, Peter McManus Cafe is cherished by the locals and visitors alike. If you’re a people watcher, beer drinker, and chicken wings eater, you will love this authentic spot. If it looks too old fashioned for your taste, that’s the whole point. Besides, it was featured in the movie Highlander so, whatever we say next, it just can’t make it more iconic than that.
An extra tip
Planning your itinerary is only a part of the preparations for your vacation. Make sure to get a comprehensive travel insurance policy before embarking on this trip of a lifetime. By letting yourself relax, you’ll get the best of the most iconic bars in Manhattan.
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