Flashing lights, mega billboards and Broadway marquees: Times Square is one of NYC’s most visually striking neighborhoods. It’s also among the City’s most hospitable. The area teems with enticing bars, some of which provide sweeping views of the neighborhood (as well as pre-theater snacking). Whether you’re after handcrafted cocktails at an upscale rooftop lounge or in the mood to experience one of NYC’s most charming dives, Times Square has a watering hole to suit your taste. Throw back a few at our favorite neighborhood staples.
What is it? At this laid-back supper club beloved by the Broadway crowd, you’re likely to see a jazz performance or a show-tune extravaganza. Come here for intimate, well-executed performances, complete with lighting and sound produced by Broadway pros.
Why go? Nightly cabaret shows, performances from Broadway stars and a ritzy evening.
What is it? This lounge and restaurant atop the Sanctuary Hotel is in an ideal location for pre- or post-theater drinks. Try the Haven mojito (Bacardi, mint, ginger liqueur and ginger beer) or a frosé, a slushy rosé concoction that’s one of our summertime rooftop go-tos.
Why go? The pre-theater prix-fixe menu for $49 is a bargain, as are the $10 margaritas at happy hour.
What is it? A throwback to the 1970s, Jimmy’s Corner may be the only bar in Times Square where you can get a well drink and a beer for under $10. The boxing-themed spot is cluttered with pugilist memorabilia (photos of retired fighters, newspaper clippings and the like) and is usually crowded, but once you squeeze past the barstools to the back tables you’ll find slightly more room to enjoy a beer on tap.
Why go? Good music, cheap drinks and a convivial vibe.
What is it? A boutique hotel that boasts two bars with wildly different vibes. Bar Moxy is open and bright, cleanly designed and features a foosball table. The signature Got Moxy cocktail is made with Bacardi Dragon Berry rum, lime and black cherry purée—strong enough to keep the party going after the foosball high wears off. Meanwhile, there’s an anything-goes feel at Magic Hour, the Moxy’s expansive rooftop bar—the largest of its kind in NYC. The space has a carnival theme, with carousel seating (yes, it rotates), four holes of mini-golf and entertainment that includes DJ sets and Thursday night circus performers.
Why go? All-night entertainment and a young crowd.
What is it? An offshoot of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, this multilevel venue has an open dining and bar space, plus live performances every night of the week. Opry City Stage pays homage to country music stars of the past and present through its displays of costumes and other memorabilia throughout the space; the bar is also themed after 650 AM WSM, the radio station that has been broadcasting performances from the Grand Ole Opry since 1927.
Why go? Southern hospitality. The menu offers biscuits, fried chicken, brisket and drinks made with Louisiana rum. There’s also the fourth-floor Bluebird Café, which features live music.
What is it? A relaxing spot with floor-to-ceiling windows that frame a perfect panoramic view of Times Square. This cushy bi-level bar, located on the third floor of the Renaissance Hotel, has table and bar seating and cocktails like the brash Walk Faster—keep up with the pace, people!—made with whiskey, dry vermouth, amaro and bitters.
Why go? Pre- or post-theater drinks and snacks. Boozy hot chocolate in the winter. Incredible views.
What is it? A beach-themed bar on the edge of Hell’s Kitchen with a menu devoted to all things tropical, this hideaway owes its name to Reunion Island, a remote destination east of Madagascar. Boozy refreshments include the Coco Loco (a piña colada by another name), mai tai (Trader Vic’s recipe) and Acid Drop (grapefruit vodka and fresh grapefruit juice). A back-room fish tank—and one too many Acid Drops—just might take your mind on a trip to the Indian Ocean.
Why go? The secretive vibe. It’s a downstairs space that’ll make you feel like you’re on a vacation (even if you’re already on vacation).
What is it? A sleek ’40s-styled cocktail den, situated inside the Hotel Edison, specializing in rum drinks. (Note for concerned parties: other spirits are available.) Mixologists have worked up quite the drinks menu—intricate libations are accompanied by quotes from notables like Ernest Hemingway and Dorothy Parker—but, as you probably gathered from the bar’s name, it’s the premier selection of rum that’s the reason to go. One example: Black Tot rum ($150 for a glass) is from the last of the British Royal Navy’s supply, served daily to crews for 300 years until 1970.
Why go? We mentioned the rum, right? Also, live jazz every night of the week.
What is it? The bar at Sardi’s is a history-filled hangout for actors, reporters and Broadway folk. Old Hollywood film stars like Milton Berle and James Cagney often frequented the restaurant known for its steak tartare, the popular shrimp Sardi and classic cocktails.
Why go? The celebrity aura. While there’s the possibility of running into a Broadway star, you can be assured of admiring the hundreds of caricatures on the bar’s walls. Every actor featured in one—it must be signed in order to be hung—has also eaten there.
What is it? The Knickerbocker Hotel’s spacious rooftop offers prime views of Times Square. Well-dressed patrons congregate for the live music and cigar lounge. With outdoor and indoor seating, St. Cloud is great for group gatherings and ideal for soaking up the sights—and sipping in style.
Why go? There’s live music on Friday nights and a ceviche-focused small-plates menu every night.