By Marlene Garzona
Best Bars in Soho
The neighborhood of Soho stands for South of Houston Street. And did you know in the 1970s, they were going to build a highway right through the center of Soho, according to Andy. The artists in the neighborhood protested and preserved one of the most beautiful areas in the City. The neighborhood is packed with chic boutiques, art galleries, and hip restaurants. Here is a 212Access list to some of the best spots to drink in Soho.
508 Gastro Brewery
508 Greenwich St, (between Canal and Spring Sts)
HOURS M-W, Sun 11am-midnight; Thu, Fri 11am-2am; Sat 5pm-2am
508 is on the tip of Soho, making it an affordable and fun place to drink. The atmosphere is always very lively, through far from the typical trendy spot overrun by would-be-stars. The beer is even brewed on site. Under owner Jennifer Hill, brewer Chris Cuzme has developed a forward-thinking in-house brewing program at this hops-heavy gastropub. Grab a seat at the glass-topped aqua bar and sip a draft IPA or a bottle of Belgian strong ale, all made in stills below the eatery. There is also an eclectic menu—featuring sliders, flatbread pizzas and housemade pastas— to offset the booze. Watch the 212Access video to go inside 508.
The Ear Inn
326 Spring St, (between Greenwich and Washington Sts)
HOURS: Daily, noon-4am
Happy Hour: Mon-Fri, 4pm-7pm; $1 off all drinks (at the bar only)
Arguable the oldest bar in Manhattan, the Ear Inn is a hidden diamond in a somewhat forgotten neighborhood. The basic decor (dark-wood bar, wobbly tables and chairs, lots of retro ephemera) hasn’t changed much since when it first opened in 1817, but locals continue to pack the place thanks to its relaxed vibe and historical charm. This place knows how to make people happy, it frequented by everyone from bikers to bohemians. The drinks are classic, the food is cheap, and the staff is friendly, if it’s a nice day out you can even spend the evening outside on benches. Don’t forget free snacks such as fried chicken and sausages can be had weeknights from 4 to 7pm, mitigating any wallet damage wreaked by a few $6 pints of Guinness.
Extra: Sunday, Monday and Wednesday nights feature live music in country/blues/songwriter flavors.
77 W Houston St, (between West Broadway and Wooster St)
HOURS: Sun–Wed 5pm–2am; Thu-Sat 5pm–4am
Want that perfect cocktail? Check this place out. The far-reaching influence of New York’s reigning queen of mixology, Audrey Saunders, is hard to measure. This place is a second floor sanctum on bustling Houston Street. The style has a light, escapist feel—organic with palm plants, low wood tables that are both polished and rough-hewn, and East Asian-style dark wood grilles across the windows. It’s common to see well dressed dates and groups who make themselves comfortable on the rich brown velvet couches, or fill the bar area to standing room only.
The house cocktails, made with all fresh juices and ingredients, reflect a master of the craft at play, beginning with the Gin-Gin Mule, spiced with homemade ginger beer, all the way to The Old Cuban, a champagne mojito. The infused Earl Grey MarTEAni is a clean, Brit take on a Pisco Sour; the Tantris Sidecar has a subtle sweetness, multi-layered with cognac, Calvados and Chartreuse; and the minty Whiskey Smash (honoring Saunders’ mentor, Dale DeGroff) tops any Kentucky julep. Smoked trout deviled eggs, coconut shrimp and other plates are on the menu, and cocktail condiments—droppers of lemon, lime, simple syrup and bitters—are set on each table. For something sexy, the Champagne Apricato is topped with a purple orchid.
298 Lafayette St, (between Houston and Prince Sts), 10012
HOURS: Mon–Fri 11am–4am; Sat, Sun noon–4am
An “Everybody Knows Your Name” kind of place, this bar has a great beer selection from Pumpkin to Chocolate Stout. Ambiance is old-world with open wooden rafters and there’s always a fun crowd where you can meet a friend. Although there are 25 different beers on tap and 60 by the bottle at this pub, Guinness is the star: Thanks to the pricey Kilkenny cooling system, the black stuff tastes almost as good as it does on the Emerald Isle. If you don’t want to sit at huge bar, you can always retreat to the slightly quieter downstairs to tuck into pub grub like bangers and mash (available until 4am) in peace. Extra: Music is great and the bartenders are great people to get to know.
131 Sullivan St. (Corner of Prince and Sullivan)
HOURS: M-W 11:30-11pm, Thu-Fri, 11:30 -1am, Sat 10am-1am, Sun 10am-11pm
If you like good food and good wine, this is the place to be, a taste of summer amid the hip boutiques. Andrew Carmellini’s trendy American restaurant has been abuzz since opening about a year ago, and the cocktail program by Naren Young has been as much of a draw as the cuisine. While you wait for a table, try the Dutch Courage (Bols Genever, Mandarine Napoleon, kumquat marmalade, grapefruit juice and citrus salt) or the Aviation Royale (Aviation Gin, maraschino liqueur, Creme Yvette liqueur, lemon juice and cremant). Extra: The scene is great; you may even recognize people from television and magazines occasionally.
287 Hudson St. (At Spring St.)
HOURS: Mon-Wed, 4:30pm-2am; Thu-Fri, 4:30pm-4am; Sat, 7pm-4am; Sun, closed
There’s nothing icy about Antarctica; this unpretentious after-work dive exudes warmth, with a rock ‘n’ roll jukebox, good beer choices, plenty of pretzels, and a pool table. Finding a good spot to play in the city is nearly impossible but this downtown dive tends to be un-packed, even on the weekends. The house rules are strict but that makes it better for everyone. Extra: If the name on your ID matches the name of the day on “Name Night,” you drink for free. The bar also offers free Internet access.
151 Mercer St. (Near Prince St.)
HOURS: Sun-Wed, 5pm-2am; Thu, 5pm-2:30am; Fri-Sat, 5pm-4am
HAPPY HOUR: Daily, 5pm-8pm; $8 cocktails, $7 wines, $6 beers
If Pocahontas owned a cool bar, this would be it. This SoHo staple is composed of lots of dark earthy, woody colors along with animal skins. But don’t be fooled by the way that sounds this place isn’t trashy; it’s the essence of pretty trendy. Navajo oilskin paintings and deer horns hang on the walls; a suspended canoe glows above the bar like an Iroquois chandelier; banquettes are upholstered in cowhide. You’re not quite sure why you’re there—but that feeling just adds to MercBar’s air of uncanny calm. This is the perfect bar for both dates and friends alike with lots of areas to sit and have a conversation; it is never too loud or too crowded. The crowd here is a great mix of young professionals, the not-so-fratty university types, and groups of attractive guys and gals alike looking to have a good time. They have delicious cocktails with names like Sexy Sadie and Mr. Moonlight served with a smile. Try the Cayenne, similar to a Bloody Mary but so much better, or the dark and stormy a ginger beer cocktail. They even give you popcorn and pretzels at your table, which is sweet. The summer time is lovely here because they keep their French doors open and on weekends this place can get crowded! Extra: Seasonal cocktails on top of their tasty fixed drink list. Can usually get a table even on the busiest nights.