Williamsburg’s Cocktail Bar Scene is on the Rise: 12 Neighborhood Watering Holes to Try Now

Cocktail bars in Williamsburg—from kitschy dives to glossy Manhattan-like haunts—are quickly becoming the place to be on weekends in NYC.

The trendy Brooklyn neighborhood has come a long way from being on the wrong side of the river. 20- and 30-somethings now crowd the neighborhood’s streets as swank restaurants and luxury shopping have taken over from once-humble abodes.

A cocktail at one of the best bars in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The best Williamsburg cocktail bars prove it. Maison Premiere, a New Orleans-inspired oyster bar, now receives acclaim as one of North America’s 50 Best Bars, competing with many of the best West Village cocktail bars for its spot. Just across the street, bartenders at Fresh Kills Bar, the brainchild of a former Sasha Petraske protogé, flex their mixology savoir-faire by operating without a menu.

Living in NYC for the better part of a decade, I’ve witnessed cocktail bars in Williamsburg transform from grungy dives to creative nightlife hotspots perfect for a first date or nightcap. My friends and I have visited almost all of them (in the name of research, of course).

These bars are amazing places to take yourself on a date in Williamsburg, but also make for a perfect date night with a special someone or a meeting point to hangout with good friends.

Here are the Williamsburg bars you should know about.

The best cocktail bars in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

1. Bar Milagro

Over 2,000 hand-painted Mexican good-luck charms, known as milagros, fill the ceiling at Bar Milagro, the new cocktail bar underneath the contemporary Mexican restaurant, Xolo. Translating into “miracle,” from Spanish, these glistening charms are also symbols of health, hope, and protection.

Tufted booths line the walls of the lounge, which is only open from 7 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Cocktails, like the Oaxaca Old Fashioned (tequila reposado, mezcal, agave syrup, bitters) and Milagro Sour (bourbon, lime, simple syrup, hibiscus float) are solidly grounded in tropical Mexican flavors, spinning off the energy of Xolo upstairs.

In addition to the bar’s signature cocktails, margaritas and mezcalitas are also on order, each with five fresh fruit juices to select from. Those looking for a kick can upgrade to jalapeño-infused tequila or ancho-guajillo-infused mezcal.

Of course, as one of the best bars for tequila and mezcal in Williamsburg, selecting something neat from the bar’s spirits selection is also an option.

Come with an appetite for Mexican cuisine—Bar Milagro is a cocktail bar in Williamsburg with plenty of food. The lounge channels Xolo’s kitchen with a menu of crave-worthy shareables, like guacamole, queso fundido, ahi tuna nachos, and various tacos ranging from carne asada to beer-battered Baja-style shrimp.

Pokito, a Williamsburg bar.
A frozen drink at Pokito, one of the best cocktail bars in Williamsburg, NYC.

2. Pokito

Kitschy Pokito doesn’t take itself too seriously. Nestled in South Williamsburg, Pokito is solely for true artsy Williamsburgites, made obvious by the recognizable regulars that rotate through the bar. An illustrator might sit beside you quietly working on digital sketching while old friends catch up and chat with the friendly bartender—all are welcome.

The decor—a mix of the Urban Outfitters home section, Chinatown, and an art student’s apartment—is eclectic and festive. Kites hang and tinsel sprays across the ceiling as Lunar New Year decorations hang in the lift shaft, and various figurines of lucky cats and Chinese zodiac symbols sit across shelves balanced by Latin-influenced tile.

After settling into one of the bar’s cushy stools, order a Le Tigre (dark rum, light rum, orange liqueur, coconut, Thai tea, cinnamon, cardamom, and spices)—one of my favorite frozen cocktails to date. Cinnamon, cardamom, and Thai tea give the frozen cocktail a unique twist that balances a normally sweet and fruity format.

Pokito is best visited during happy hour when its seasonally rotating frozen drinks are $13 and a selection of signature cocktails are $10. On Margarita Monday, the bar also offers $10 variations on the classic Mexican beverage. Happy hour at Pokito is from 5 pm to 8 pm Monday through Friday and all day Sunday.

A classic cocktail at Fresh Kills Bar, one of the best Williamsburg bars.

3. Fresh Kills Bar

Expect a line of hipster, vintage-clad Brooklynites at this Williamsburg hotspot. Unlike its more pretentious neighbors, hostesses aren’t pressed about seating complete parties, which keeps booths filled.

Opened by Richard Boccato, who polished his skills at Little Branch and Sasha Petraske’s Milk & Honey, Fresh Kills Bar is the Williamsburg spinoff of Long Island City’s Dutch Kills—one of the first to bring high-end mixology to the neighborhood. For as popular as it is, this bar is somehow still underrated within the NYC cocktail scene.

Something about this stripped-down, mid-century, wood-clad space makes it feel more like a coffee shop or quaint apres ski spot in Colorado than one of the best cocktail bars in Williamsburg—but that only adds to its charm.

The bar’s nonchalant space pairs perfectly with its drinks—Fresh Kills nails new spins on classic cocktails without trying too hard.

Like one of my favorite Lower East Side cocktail bars and fellow Sasha Petraske offshoots, Attaboy, Fresh Kills operates without a menu and, of course, with hand-cut ice (Boccato is, after all, one of NYC’s biggest cocktail ice dealers). Come ready to describe what you’re in the mood for and willing to put your trust in its more than capable bar team.

And capable they are—after describing that I wanted something fruity but also refreshing, I was met with a cocktail of citrus, muddled cucumber, peach, Peychaud’s, and gin. Juicy peach and concentrated cucumber are friends, not enemies, in this cocktail. The muddled cucumber made all the difference, preventing the burst of fresh citrus and peach from being too one-note. What I received nailed my description exactly—no notes.

Music, mostly rock, is kept at a volume that makes Fresh Kills an ideal first-date spot.

Martini at Lamonte, one of the best cocktail bars in Williamsburg.

4. Lamonte

If you’re seeking chic but tired of finance-bro-ridden crowds at other popular cocktail bars in Williamsburg, head straight to Lamonte.

As Hotel Delmano quoted a 30-minute wait for one and Westlight became packed to the brim on a Saturday evening, Lamonte, tucked on the corner of North 7th and Driggs, was a slightly buzzy but certainly not busy refuge that gladly opened its doors.

Lamonte is everything that one of the best West Village wine bars wishes it could be. Mild eccentricity meets mod-Frenchy at this discreet spot.

The cocktail menu is brief but stylish, attracting a cosmopolitan crowd that wants anything but a basic cosmo. Bartenders are eager to highlight new menu concoctions they’re testing out but are just as okay mixing a martini. They’re one of Lamonte’s strongest assets, chiming in with clever quips while juggling the crowd around the rail. There’s a reason that tables are hardly filled, while every seat at the bar is taken.

The food combines American and European favorites, playing into the bar’s bistro feel. On the appetizer menu, eggplant rollatini lives alongside tomato soup and grilled cheese. For main courses, expect to find everything from a NY strip steak to mussels and toast and the Lamonte Cheese Burger.

Happy hour at Lamonte is offered all day Sunday through Thursday and from opening until 7 pm on Friday and Saturday. During happy hour, you can order $2 oysters and a shrimp cocktail paired with $10 martinis.

Lamonte is busy and popular, but even during peak dinner rush on a weekend, still feels like a rare hidden gem that’s exclusive for New Yorkers in the know. Visit for a low-key date night (you can actually hear your date on) or nightcap for one before social media finds out.

Craft cocktail at Maison Premiere, one of the best cocktail bars in Williamsburg, NYC.
Bar food at Maison Premiere, an oyster and cocktail bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

5. Maison Premiere

At 4:30 pm on a Sunday, Maison Premiere is bustling, not busy. A friendly waitress guides me to a barstool as classic blues bolsters around the space. Three bartenders work Maison Premiere’s U-shaped bar, seeming to never stop moving in well-anticipated improv.

Staff are uniform in their collective effort to channel New Orleans in its heyday, but they aren’t uniform—this isn’t one of those types of bars, though its service and cocktail program are up there with those much stuffier.

This is the way of Maison Premiere, the most popular cocktail bar in Williamsburg right now. Daily, well-heeled New Yorkers leave their Greenpoint brownstones and Manhattan high-rises for a taste of Maison Premiere’s outstanding absinthe program (one of the best in the city), and cocktails inspired by NOLA and the Caribbean. It’s a romantic spot for a first date, but you won’t stand out if you’re a solo diner, either.

My cocktail of choice is a Chiapas Sling (Rosaluna Mezcal, mango, Empirical Spirits (Ayuuk,) sumac), accompanied by an order of sourdough bread and seaweed butter. The seaweed butter—salty, briny, and bright—matches the oyster bar’s seafood-forward menu.

Maison Premiere regulars would tell you to go for the Martini (gin, vermouth, orange bitters) or Roffignac (Armagnac, eau de vie, raspberry shrub) paired with the lobster roll or an order of oysters.

In the winter, Maison Premiere is a cozy escape from the weekend sidewalk crowders of Williamsburg. In the summer, its airy garden, evocative of a courtyard in the French Quarter, demands leisurely gossiping over drinks before dinner.

Maison Premiere reservations are strongly recommended and can be made via Resy.

6. 320 Club

Hidden at the back of Super Burrito is 320 Club, a vibey, 70s-inspired speakeasy where ordering fast food alongside your freshly juiced Paloma is nearly expected.

320 Club’s cocktail menu pays homage to the fast-food burrito restaurant it resides in by innovating on familiar Mexican drink staples. Classics like Tommy’s Margarita (tequila blanco, agave syrup, lime) and the michelada (Modelo/Pacifico, lime, Worcestershire, Crystal, salted rim) stick to tradition.

The bar’s own creations, like the Mezcal Hi-Rise (Mal Bien Espadin, housemade hibiscus-grenadine, orange juice) and Astoria Martini (Condessa Gin. Casa Mariol Blanc Vermut, orange bitters), feel fresh but still fit the hideaway’s casual home.

Super Burrito’s regular food menu is served until 10 pm daily. After 10 pm, a special late-night menu of burritos, tacos, nachos, hot dogs, and burgers replaces it.

Deux Chats bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

7. Deux Chats

On Saturdays, Deux Chats opens at 4 pm. By 4:15, it’s already half full, with a casual crowd babbling in the space.

The pseudo-French cocktail and seafood bar’s walls are lined with deliberately crooked black-and-white shots of film starlets and supermodels. Antique floral scones illuminate the bar’s signature mural.

With only a single bartender and hostess for the weekend crowd, service is forgivably scattered. The crowd doesn’t seem to care, setting aside the typical rush of the city and keeping their phones hidden, despite the photo-worthy space.

The Harvest Moon (mezcal, squash shrub, lemon, vermouth, cider) balances vinegary squash shrub with bright cider. It’s an easy drink, though it could pull in warm spices for a more interesting impact.

Deux Chats’ martinis and oysters really earn the Williamsburg cocktail bar its praise. Touted by the bar as being “perfect,” the Deux Chats Martini (gin, manzanilla, vermouth, celery) is the bar’s interpretation of the comeback-making cocktail. An Espresso Martini (vodka, cold brew, rye whiskey, salt) is also on the menu for those needing a pick-me-up before dinner.

Music bridges genres but maintains an upbeat, laid-back feel in the space. As the sun sets, staff draws the curtains and scatters candles throughout the bar, shifting the atmosphere from a daytime hangout for friends to a romantic speakeasy for date night.

Though walk-ins are always welcome at Deux Chats, making a reservation via Resy is recommended during peak weekend hours.

8. Fandi Mata

Experiencing cocktails at Fandi Mata is a choose-your-own adventure. The globally inspired restaurant’s dining room hosts a cocktail list influenced by flavors from Japan to Mexico to Brazil and a few similar mocktails.

Fandi Mata’s main program alone receives attention from city residents, who often visit for the Voyageur Passionné (haku vodka, Boiron passion fruit puree, St. Germain liqueur, lemon juice, Aperol) or Big in Japan (Las Californias Citrica Gin, Pimm’s, Italicus liqueur, homemade honey-raspberry elixir, lemon, egg white, sage) instead of the restaurant’s food (though when they do, they often come for brunch).

Upstairs, Fandi Mata’s mezzanine gives home to Little Oaxaca, a mezcal bar at the bohemian restaurant.

The lush space has always been mixology-focused, but its Little Oaxaca’s collection of 50 artisanal mezcals and a menu of mezcal-based cocktails that gives it a boost to put it on the map as a worthwhile spot for cocktails in Williamsburg.

There’s hardly a mezcal repeated in Little Oaxaca’s cocktails, which are often fruit-forward. A few, like Espressito (artisanal La Clandestina cacao, homemade orgeat, fresh espresso, grated Mexican chocolate), sneak through with richer notes.

Reservations for Fandi Mata can be made on Resy.

Westlight at the William Vale, one of the best rooftop bars in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

9. Westlight at The William Vale

Westlight has major appeal. The William Vale’s prize in the sky boasts a 360° view of the NYC skyline, along with an approachable menu of cocktails that make for easy drinking on a Saturday afternoon with friends.

Cocktails lean into seasonal flavors that are more elevated than your basic rooftop bar but aren’t so adventurous that they’re offensive, either.

The Pedro Herrera is a little fruity, a little salty, and a smidge spicy. Like Westlight’s contemporary space, it’s not trying too hard.

For years, food has been one of Westlight’s biggest appeals for those in the neighborhood. Internationally-influenced New American small bites, like local burrata, crispy herb fries, and duck carnitas tacos, rule the menu. However, there is a small selection of large plates and desserts also.

Westlight is best experienced with friends, as it’s obvious here that groups receive priority treatment. Just figure out whose card the tab is going on in advance—Westlight requires a card as soon as you’re seated.

Arriving solo with a reservation, I was seated at the worst table in the house, back against the waiter’s stand and away from the windows, despite several others being open. After ordering, I was asked to get up, as staff yanked my table six inches over, spilling water all over it in the process.

Westlight’s view is spectacular, but so is Overstory’s in FiDi, where you’ll receive far superior service, food, and drink for the baffling price tag. It’s worth a visit if you’re looking for cocktail bars with food or the best Williamsburg rooftop bars, but it doesn’t offer drinks quite as special as those that can be found at street level.

Due to its popularity, reservations are strongly encouraged for Westlight and can be made via the bar’s website. Keep in mind when making yours that past 6 pm, only guests over the age of 21 are permitted.

10. Hotel Delmano

A trendy crowd flocks to Hotel Delmano from Thursday through the weekend, where a blue sky and puffy clouds fill the ceiling. Channeling some combination of old New York and Moby-Dick, the bar has been hailed as “probably the best date spot in Williamsburg” by the Infatuation.

Hotel Delmano’s beverage program features a menu of signature house cocktails and a smaller list of seasonal drinks and carefully specifies how drinks are mixed and served.

Drinks are approachable but demonstrate an elegance that the best New York cocktail bars often leverage. The Alibi balances sweet pineapple infused tequila and vanilla with rich molé bitters, also mixing in cinnamon and lime. Spanning the spectrum, the San Francisco Handshake (thyme-infused gin, St. Germain, lemon, Fernet Branca) is a more delicate creation.

Food mostly relies on the bar’s raw bar and charcuterie selection, though a few upscale takes on staple bar bites such as thyme-roasted nuts and mixed olives, and large plates like steak tartare and smoked trout are mixed in.

If you’re not in the mood for a cocktail, turn your attention to Hotel Delmano’s 100-bottle wine list, which highlights small producers. Those who don’t drink alcohol can choose from a few non-alcoholic mocktails, wines, and beers.

Come early to secure your seat—this neighborhood institution is quickly at capacity after opening its doors.

11. OTB

Hearty American cuisine takes over at OTB, a casual Williamsburg bar with an uptight attitude toward showcasing the country’s most beloved cocktails in their top form.

A simple Moscow Mule is facelifted with OTB’s fresh, cold-pressed ginger. The Manhattan (sweet vermouth, old Overholt rye, and bitters) and Whiskey Sour (Four Roses Bourbon, lemon, orange) will satisfy your visiting parents, who would riot if they strayed from the tried-and-true ingredients.

Don’t be mistaken—OTB still takes the opportunity to bring something new to the table. The inclusion of pumpkin spice and cinnamon in the Extra Basic Espresso Martini (espresso-infused vodka, homemade coffee liqueur, cold brew, pumpkin spice, cinnamon) is both a good laugh and, ironically, also a twist on the definitely basic cocktail.

Keeping with its sense of humor, the Tiki in Kentucky is aptly named for its pairing of Four Roses Bourbon with passionfruit, mint, lime, and cinnamon.

In true American fashion, OTB’s beer list is nearly as long as its cocktail program, making this bar a clean introduction to mixology for those more hesitant to get off the tap.

You won’t go hungry at OTB, where oysters are named a “must” by neighborhood residents, and food relies on indulgent bar snacks like juicy burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, mac and cheese, and chicken wings.

Happy hour at OTB is on weeknights from 4 pm to 6 pm with drink specials on margaritas and negronis and $9 half-dozen oysters. On weekends, oyster happy hour runs from noon to 4 pm, offering specials on the bar’s Aperol Spritz, Bloody Mary, OTB Irish Coffee, and Mimosa, in addition to oysters.

12. Midnights

Intimate Midnights is a chill garden and cafe where you can catch up with a good friend during daylight hours and a lively party when the sun goes down.

Just steps away from the Bedford Ave L stop, the bar is shockingly affordable for its coveted location. Drinks at the inexpensive Williamsburg cocktail bar range from $12 for the frozen Shy Crab (Flor de Cana Aged Rum, allspice dram, pineapple, lime, tropical Red Bull) to $15 for the Energizer Jennie (vodka, coffee liquor, Eleva espresso).

Midnights’ cocktail menu isn’t long, relying heavily on drinks that will satisfy the masses, but at its price point and location, is hardly beat.

The sober crowd has just a couple of options—a phony Negroni or phony mezcal Negroni, Heineken Zero, or Red Bull in four flavors (because why pass out with your drunk friends when you could stay awake all night?).

To up the ante, visit on a Friday or Saturday night when Midnights opens up its dance floor, and try one of the bar’s shot specials.


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