The Best Whiskey Bars in New York City

These are the top spots to imbibe.

 leather chairs and bar by library-style wall cabinet filled with bottles of alcohol and a wooden ladder to reach the ones on the top shelf.
These are the top whiskey bars in New York. Cayla Zahoran

It’s no closely guarded secret that New York City is a big drinking town—there are more than 2,500 bars scattered across the five boroughs. If you’re an aficionado of fancy whiskey, however, you won’t want to walk into just any of them. Indeed, watering holes specializing in splendid forms of aged grain spirit are surprisingly few and far between. 

“My hot take is that New York is a terrible whiskey bar city,” Aaron Goldfarb, spirits expert and author of Hacking Whiskey, told Observer. “It’s because any place that even attempts to amass a respectable collection often gets crushed by the Wall Street set or anyone else rocking formidable expense accounts.” 

That being said, rare and vintage stock is just one hallmark of a worthwhile whiskey bar. A well-curated collection, touching across all global segments of the spirit, is perhaps even more crucial. As is a friendly and knowledgeable staff, willing to steer you towards tipples you didn’t even know you needed to try. Then there’s the invaluable commodity of pure vibe—the best whiskey bars in the city offer that in spades. 

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top whiskey bars worth a visit in New York City. They all boast formidable lists of liquids and warm and inviting spaces in which to imbibe them. They even hold on to respectable caches of that rare stuff. Given Goldfarb’s warning, perhaps we shouldn’t even be disclosing that last bit. But the point is, venues as alluring as these can afford to run out of the rarest of bottles. Their overall worth to true whiskey lovers will never be lacking.

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A giant red-backlit cabinet filled with bottles of whiskey.
Flatiron Room. Flatiron Room

Flatiron Room NoMad 

37 W 26th St, New York, NY 10010

There are, of course, myriad different styles of whiskey to enjoy, ranging from Kentucky Bourbon to Tasmanian Single Malt. Most of the selections on this list specialize in one subcategory above all the rest. The Flatiron Room, however, is a jack of all trades. The refined space holds hundreds of scotches and hundreds of American whiskey to go along with dozens of other bottles grouped together under the “International” section of the menu. Perusing the lengthy list can be rather overwhelming, even to seasoned sippers. Thankfully, there’s an assortment of tasting flights, mining concise cross sections from across the excess. An $85 “World Tour,” for example, will showcase spirits from every major whiskey producing region of the globe. Or, try four pours of fancy Macallans for $120. No matter what you choose, you won’t feel rushed into your decision. The room is built around a stage offering live nightly jazz performances, so everything here is assuredly relaxed. 


48 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

If Japanese whisky is your weapon of choice, Nakaji is the ultimate armory for you. A nondescript doorway in a Lower East Side alley opens up to reveal an antechamber of epic magnitude: the backbar is lined with bottles you will not find anywhere else in the city. In fact, many of these expressions would be virtually unseen even in Tokyo. Unicorns from Hanyu Ichiro’s Malt Card Series and Karuizawa, precious stock from distilleries that have long ago shuttered—the bar even got its hands on a bottle of Yamazaki 55, which is currently worth over $800,000. It was poured out over one night at a dinner pairing, where tickets cost $5,555 a piece. Nakaji is hardly all about gawking at obscenely rare liquids, though. Much of this stuff is priced to drink and a variety of whisky cocktails start at $16 each. Plus, the pure embrace of the dimly lit, private den is worth the effort of entry alone. If it’s not exclusive enough for you, though, you can try booking the private whisky room inside its sister property, Kono, on the opposite end of the alleyway.   

Travel Bar

520 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Even if you live in another borough, this hidden gem in Carroll Gardens is, indeed, a bar worth traveling for. The shelves are lined with over 400 bottles of the brown spirit; an enviable assembly of whiskeys plucked with purpose. “It’s not just a museum of the overpriced and allocated—Pappy, Macallan, et cetera—like so many supposed ‘good’ whiskey bars,” Goldfarb, a regular at this Brooklyn spot, explained. “Owner Mike Vacheresse has curated a selection of the esoteric, interesting and delicious, always at a fair price.” The space itself is similarly accessible, albeit decidedly narrow. Plump seating, tufted leather banquettes and ample bar dimensions all favor comfort over stuffiness.

Four brown leather chairs in front of a library-style wall cabinet filled with bottles of alcohol and a wooden ladder to reach the ones on the top shelf.
Brandy Library. ©Cayla Zahoran

Brandy Library

25 N Moore St Frnt 1, New York, NY 10013

Don’t be misled by the name, as this legendary lounge in Tribeca is every bit as devoted to grain spirit as it is to grape. The drinks list here is more like a book—26 pages in length, to be exact. And half of it is allotted to whiskeys representing virtually every corner of the globe. You’re also physically surrounded by the stuff as you sit and sip, as hundreds of bottles line the walls, from floor to ceiling. The top shelf stuff is accessible only by a series of book stack ladders. This place takes its tipples as seriously as any space in the city: You can’t come here in large groups, and you can’t enter if you’re under 25 years of age. It even hosts a semi-regular spirit school that includes private tastings of hard-to-find spirits. You might as well learn while you lubricate, right? 

People sitting at a wooden bar with a smiling bartender behind it, partially hidden by a row of whiskey bottles.
Dead Rabbit. Nicholas Lee Ruiz

Dead Rabbit 

30 Water St, New York, NY 10004

Fans of Irish whiskey know there’s no other destination in the city quite like Dead Rabbit. The multi-story bar in the Financial District boasts hundreds of bottles from the Emerald Isle, ranging from the most pedestrian pours of Jameson to 33-year-old single malts fetching over $800 per dram. An arrival on the ground floor is like stepping into the most traditional of Dublin taverns. Sawdust covers the floor and there might even be some live fiddle music. Upstairs is a more polished “cocktail emporium” in which you’re welcomed with amuse-bouche—in liquid form—and treated to advanced mixology as your main course. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023, this spot has grown into a veritable institution. To wit, there’s now even a dedicated Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey, and a take-home cocktail kit so you can re-create your own version of their illustrious Irish Coffee—the best in the city.

The Best Whiskey Bars in New York City