It's FINALLY nice out, which means outdoor drinking season can commence in full. Though rooftop bars are a popular al fresco option, there are plenty of ground-level spots to booze in the sun, and with less douchey clientele to boot. Here are our favorites; as always, leave yours in the comments.
THE CANNIBAL: Don't let the name of this Midtown East spot scare you: there's plenty of meat on offer, but the majority of it is the porcine variety (not human!) Their true backyard is a rustic midtown rarity, perfect for sampling one of more than 200 bottled beers midday or post-work in the summer months. Most drinkers opt to share charcuterie plates, but if you're a hungry bunch, call a week in advance to reserve a whole pig.
The Cannibal is located at 113 East 29th Street between Park Avenue South and Lexington venue in Midtown East (212-686-5480, cannibalnyc.com).
LEYENDA: Clover Club alumnaeIvy Mix and Julie Reiner serve up expertly crafted Latin-inspired cocktails with Instagram-worthy garnishes. Their thoughtful menu relies heavily on summery spirits like tequila, mexcal, pisco, and various rums—and these smooth and spicy drinks taste like they were designed with open air in mind. Head to the cozy back patio to knock a couple back and chill out with chips and guac.
Leyenda is located at 221 Smith Street between Butler and Baltic Streets in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (347-987-3260, leyendabk.com).
ENTWINE: This split-level West Village wine bar has something for everyone: 2-for-1 Bloody Marys or mimosas, authentic Turkish brunch and coffee services, cured meats and Murray's cheeses, and a quaint private backyard that will make you forget you're a stone's throw from the Meatpacking District.
Entwine is located at 765 Washington Street between Bethune and 12th Streets in the West Village (212-727-8765, entwinenyc.com).
MAISON PREMIERE: If you don’t mind the wait—or arrive extremely early—there’s no better happy hour in Williamsburg than this one. Oysters will set you back a mere buck each from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and you ought to beg your server for a seat under the spacious backyard’s lush green canopies, which lend an upscale backdrop befitting the bar’s inventive cocktails and extensive spirits lists.
Maison Premiere is located at 298 Bedford Avenue between Grand and South 1st Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-335-0446, maisonpremiere.com).
D.B.A.: This insanely well-stocked beer and whiskey spot has some of the friendliest bartenders in the neighborhood—and in the oversauced East Village, that’s no easy feat. Ask them for recommendations, or you might miss out on a hidden gem among their dozens of brews on tap. Competition for a table out back can get fierce at peak hours, but the unassuming and easygoing crowd make it bearable. Plus, dogs are welcome.
d.b.a. is located at 41 1st Avenue between East 2nd and 3rd Streets in the East Village (212-475- 5097).
FORREST POINT: It was sort of strange when this former gas station was re-birthed as a bar back in 2014, but its outdoor garden, perched at a busy Bushwick intersection, has made it a go-to spot for people-watching. And while mixologist Dustin Olson’s milk punch might not sound all that summery, it’s worth sipping on a swing al fresco, especially when paired with one of the bar's eclectic bites.
Forrest Point is located at 970 Flushing Avenue between Evergreen Avenue and Forrest Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn (718-366-2742, forrestpoint.com).
LORELEY: This beer garden's strength is its selection—brew enthusiasts get to pick from 12 German beers on tap with increasingly unpronounceable names, along with classic Bavarian bites like soft pretzels and strudel. If your group snags a coveted table in the backyard, feel free to order your brews by the liter. As a bonus, this bar is big on hosting televised sporting events, so it should be a reliable pick for Olympics viewing this summer.
Loreley is located at 7 Rivington Street between Freeman Aly and Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side (212-253-7077, loreleynyc.com).
HOT BIRD: They made headlines for banning babies back in 2014, but for a certain type of customer, that’s a selling point. This fenced-in former auto shop on a well-trafficked corner of Atlantic Avenue is expansive enough for large groups, and the local beers on tap and light cocktails make Hot Bird a great place to waste away a weekend day Do note, though, that the bar is cash only, and your tab adds up quick.
Hot Bird is located at 546 Clinton Avenue at Atlantic Avenue in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (718-230-5800).
WEST END HALL: Large groups can congregate freely at this beer hall, which features an eclectic selection of bottles and taps from grapefruit sculpin to oyster stout and everything in between. When the weather reaches peak day-drinking conditions, they supplement the spacious backyard with front sidewalk seating. The bar also boasts live music and trivia events during the week, if that's your thing.
West End Hall is located at 2756 Broadway between 105th and 106th Streets on the Upper West Side (212-662-7200, westendhall.com).
BOHEMIAN HALL AND BEER GARDEN: Serving beers and kielbasa since 1910, this Astoria hangout is the ultimate outdoor drinking destination. With beers by the pitcher and communal tables as far as the eye can see, this bar can get zoo-y in the peak months, and can definitely draw in the Gym/Tan/Laundry crowd at times. Still, the odds of befriending the revelers sitting next to you are high, making this a prime spot to find new drinking buddies long after summer ends.
Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden is located at 2919 24th Avenue in Astoria, Queens (718-274-4925, bohemianhall.com).
DORIS: Though this place gets packed as soon as the mercury rises, it’s got one of the better bathroom-to-patron ratios on this list, and they even managed to accommodate a ping-pong table in the backyard. Go for a strong margarita handful or a craft beer, and soak up whatever liver damage you do with a grilled cheese fit for an adult.
Doris is located at 1088 Fulton Street between Classon and Franklin Avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (347-240-3350).
COVENHOVEN: This casual neighborhood joint features plenty of local brews to-go, but the real draw is the backyard, which feels more like a friend’s house than a public establishment. The only downside is that last call is at a Bostonian 12:30 on weekend nights, which, we know, is when some of you are just getting started.
Covenhoven is located at 730 Classon Avenue between Prospect and Park Places in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (718-483-9950, covenhovennyc.com).
FREEHOLD: Freehold’s m.o. is to be a “hotel lobby without the hotel,” which is not a metaphor in New Williamsburg. By day, they encourage co-working in the café; by night, its not uncommon to see people dancing on the banquettes. Playing ping-pong in the courtyard feels a little bit like college, only more expensive and everyone’s better dressed. Look out for daily specials, like $10 burger and pint on Mondays and dollar oyster Tuesdays.
Freehold is located at 45 South 2rd Street near Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-388-7591, freeholdbrooklyn.com).
SPUYTEN DUYVIL: This venerated beer bar's bayckard's not the prettiest on the list, but what it lacks in looks, it makes up for with space. The bad news is, there's no liquor here, but the bar boasts some of the city's best Belgian and German beer, with rotating cask, tap and bottled offerings including Hopfenstark Blonde, Greenflash Palate Wrecker, and Achel. They've also got wine and charcuterie and cheese plates on hand, though, again, this is a beer bar, and prices aren't cheap, so you're better off sticking with their specialty.
Spuyten Duyvil is located at 359 Metropolitan Avenue between North 4th and 5th Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-963-4140, spuytenduyvilnyc.com).
LIC BAR: This bar has been around for over 100 years—and been featured on nearly as many Gothamist Best Of lists—because it’s a solid community pillar. Their event program features frequent reading series, live music, and trivia, and the back garden is perfect for catching rays while you knock back cheap beers.
LIC Bar is located at 45-58 Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens (718-786-5400).
Lauren Leibowitz is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn.