Trivia? Karaoke? Wings? Small-batch booze? Sports on the big screen or craft ciders on tap? A beer with a great big juicy burger to soak up the suds, a fun after work vibe, a local dive, a beer garden out back or a bewildering assortment of IPAs… We’re here with your guide to casual midtown Manhattan bars that fit just right. Whether you’re seeking a rollicking time with a group of rowdy friends, a surefire spot to watch sports featuring even the most obscure games, or just a chill local hangout to wind down at the end of a long day exploring NYC, we’ve got you covered.
961 2nd Ave
When you’re in Midtown East and craving a quintessential sports bar experience, head to the Cornerstone Tavern. It boasts two levels, twenty (yes, TWENTY) HD TVs with every game known to mankind playing, a “bottomless brunch” and full menu of apps, lunch and dinner options, craft brews on tap, a very generous happy “hour” Monday-Fridays, plus trivia and karaoke nights. It’s generally crowded with locals, and known for their friendly, attentive staff, nachos, and wings. They’ll also help you out with private party booking if you want to throw your own bash.
575 2nd Ave
Situated in the Murray Hill/Kips Bay area, The Albion is the sister bar to Drop Off Service in the East Village. They’re all about craft beer, with thirty types on tap, plus more in the bottle, and offer five big screens for sports. The vibe of this tavern is cozy, local, with a fireplace and an outdoor patio—a rare amenity no New Yorker can resist. They don’t have a kitchen (you can purchase some chips or jerky if you’re peckish), but they encourage you to order in or BYO food and eat it at the bar if you like. The point is to feel at home, and you will!
The Ginger Man
11 E 36th St
In the East 30s, not far from Arlo NoMad Hotel, you’ll find the venerable Ginger Man, a beer palace with a long history and an even longer list of brews to try. The spacious venue plays host to warm, wood-paneled décor and a long bar to belly up to, while retro Guinness Beer signs decorate the walls. If you’re looking for a perfect pour, you’ll find expert barkeeps here at this beer tasting room. While over 70 beers on tap may steal the show, from Belgian Strong Ales to Brooklyn IPAs, there’s a lovely wine list and the strong spirits flow liberally as well. It might feel a bit commercial rather than authentic Irish pub or tavern, but for variety and a convivial atmosphere, you’ve come to the right place.
252 E 51st St
The craft beer movement is alive and well in America, and the Stag’s Head is dedicated to showcasing American-made craft beers of every stripe. They’re all about locally-sourced small batch beer, focusing in on microbreweries of the northeast. The brew menu changes to fit the season and the taste buds of the folks who run the show, and you can grab a growler while you guzzle some excellent gastropub fare from burgers and sliders to shepherd’s pie, or fly high with a fantastic flight and taste all sorts of truly unique and flavorful brews. If you take beer seriously, and particularly love exploring the local food movement, you’re sure to find yourself happily suds’ed here. You’ll also find generous lunch specials and happy hour and beers by the bucket, so the experience is relaxed, unpretentious, and all-around savory.
The Jeffrey Craft Beer and Bites
311 E. 60th St
A bit uptown from Midtown proper, The Jeffrey Craft Beer and Bites makes our list as an out of the way, almost rustic oasis by the Queensboro Bridge. They like to call themselves “bespoke,” and we agree that word fits well—from organic, local wines to artisanal house-made pickled veggies and savory little charcuterie nibbles and cheese from Murray’s Cheeses curated to compliment the menu of 29 rotating beers on tap. The focus is on flavor, and precision pairings, creating an experience that’s not so much about getting soused as it is about expanding your horizons, “spirit”ually speaking. And best of all, there’s a beer garden out back, so you can catch a breeze and feel the sun on your shoulders as you let the luxurious yet homey experience uplift you.