Three Classic New York City Beer Bars For Your Bucket List

The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog

30 Water St New York, NY 10004

The Dead Rabit Grocery and Grog

From The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog Website:

Our Story

Two innocent guys with just a headful of dreams and stardust in their eyes. That’s who we elbowed past as we hauled out of JFK, looked around, and said, “Okay, New York, you’ll do.” You see, we’d already come a long way.

One of us was:

Jack McGarry

Cocktail virtuoso, walking drinks encyclopedia, and soon to be International Bartended of The Year.

The other was:

Sean Muldoon

Ice-obsessive, detail-obsessive, and already the creative force behind the world’s best cocktail bar (The Merchant, back in Belfast.)

Two top dogs in search of a rabbit, and then we found one.

Of course, it didn’t happen overnight. In all, it took us six years to breathe life into the phenomenon that is The Dead Rabbit. Six years of planning and dreaming. Of failing, then failing better. Finally, we got exactly what we wanted: three floors of welcome, with serious cocktails. We ended up with an Irish bar that redefined hospitality

Learn More About Us:


Just your honest, everyday extraordinary.

This informal ground-floor pub is our take on the great Irish tradition: No-nonsense, no airs, and graces, just your honest, everyday extraordinary.

Craft beer, bottled punches. Whiskeys – and Whiskies – Galore. Our world-famous Irish coffee and the best Guinness in New York. That’s right. We said it.

Is there more? Of course, there is fantastic food every day. On Sundays, we’ve our legendary Prime Rib Roast – Plus the live and very lively Irish Seisiun from 6-10 PM.


Behold the cocktail cathedral – A testament to the golden age of all things mixed. Well, that was our starting point anyway. Of course, we respect an excellent Sling, Julep, and Horse’s Neck as much as anyone. Indeed we stand on the cocktail shakers of giants.

But we also thought: Let’s dial it up a notch or nine.

How do you like your Jazz – straight ahead, big band, swing? Well, we got you covered. Or rather, the fantastic Molly Ryan does. She’s here in the Parlor every Tuesday night from 7:30 PM through 10:30 PM with her unique blend of classics, ballads, and standards.


This is our private function room, where you can enjoy the same mind-blowing food and drinks menu along with up to sixty-four of your closest buddies.

My Thoughts on Why this Deserves to be on Your Bucket List

In this case, first impressions gave me a reason to return again when I was in Manhattan’s downtown area.

A college classmate of mine would be in the Wall Street area of lower Manhattan and suggested we hoist a pint in a pub in the area. I had heard of The Dead Rabbit while researching Irish-style pubs, bars, and taverns for an article I was writing.

Once we walked in the front door, it was apparent that this was not an Irish-style bar; it was the real thing. There was no pretense. The staff spoke with a distinctive lilt in their welcome. And a warm welcome it was. The space resembled more of a grocery than a bar in the decorations.

One distinctive and attractive decoration was the hundreds of postcards attached to the ceiling beams. The cards were from all over the world and spoke to the affection that customers had for the place.

The food was also a step up from the usual pub-grub. The hamburgers were thick, juicy, and done to order. (In my case, medium-rare.) The sides were fresh and well plated.

The seating was snug but not packed in. The window table looked out onto the street at a level that did not feel as if you were on display, and yet, in good weather, a truly pleasant perch.

Ken’s (Ken & Bob’s) Broome Street Bar

363 W Broadway New York, NY 10013

What it looks/looked like.

Back in 1972, it was one of the three or four bars in the area. A sign hanging above the entrance shows a gold lion on a green field with that date on it.

The lion motif is echoed in the bar, with lions’ heads on the support beams that hold up the bar. The reason is understandable when you learn that Bob of “Ken & Bob” was a gifted carpenter. His eye for art is evident with the stained-glass piece behind the bar, one of four pieces depicting the seasons. The chosen season was Spring.

The huge glass windows give all inside a fine view of the pedestrian traffic. The tourists were amusing and the attractive models from the local fashion houses and the locals hustling past on their way to someplace important always made for interesting watching.

The corner door, the one with the lion head sign hanging over it, opens into a small area between the outer door and inner doors. Once inside proper, the open kitchen is to your immediate left. There is an always-active grill, flat top, and always two soups on the range. This kitchen is famous for its burgers served on pita bread, but more of that later.

The vast, almost floor to wall windows were impressive as the bar runs the length of the room.

My Thoughts on Why this Deserves to be on Your Bucket List

First, I must admit, in full disclosure, that I have been a customer here for over twenty years.

In June of 1990, as I remember, I began working as an assistant editor at The Beverage Media Group. My job was to reduce the information in the promotional material that arrived in the morning down to 250 words or less to the five “W” s – Who, What, When, Where, Why. If nothing else, I learned the genuine basics of telling a news story.

At the end of each workday, I walked back home across the Brooklyn Bridge. In the morning, it took me forty-five minutes to walk to work. It often took two or three hours to make the return trip. Of course, the reason was the need for refreshment after a hard day with the five w’s.

On the corner of West Broadway and Broome Street, I discovered what was then called Ken & Bob’s Broome Street Bar & Grill. It was the second home for many of the SoHo artists and loft-people. There was always a lively conversation, and the beers on tap were usually fresh. Best of all were the windows that made watching the view of the passing scene most interesting. Mostly when the nearby fashion modeling agencies employees glided by in the late afternoon.

Today it is, or recently was, the crowds of tourists wandering by fascinated by being in SoHo.

Bar Great Harry

280 Smith Street (Smith and Sackett)


Found on the Bar Great Harry Website


Smith Street’s craft beer bar since 2007. 20 rotating lines of beer, five rotating lines of wine, one non-rotating line of Fernet, and a spread of spirits showcasing many distillers in the burgeoning NY booze scene. There is a backroom available for parties as long as you don’t have too many friends. Quickly found from the Carroll or Bergen stops on the F and G trains.


Since 2007 we’ve been lucky enough to serve the wonderful people of Carroll Gardens 20 rotating lines of beer, five rotating lines of wine, one non-rotating line of Fernet, and a spread of spirits showcasing many of the distillers in the burgeoning NY booze scene.

Meet the Business Owner

I grew up in northern New Jersey and moved to Brooklyn 13 years ago. My brother/partner and I opened Bar Great Harry first, then Mission Dolores, then The Owl Farm, then Glorietta Baldy, then Cardiff Giant.

My Thoughts on Why this Deserves to be on Your Bucket List

Before the COVID-19 close-down, this was one of my favorite beer bars because of the beer selection. They went to a lot of effort to seek out some of the more interesting styles and examples of styles available. There was also an effort to feature local and small specialty brewers. If someone was looking to find a mass-produced beer, this was not the place.

The second feature that turned me into a regular customer was the knowledgeable staff. The owner’s interest in special beers was more than matched by the beverage manager and the bar staff. The fact that they also went out of their way to welcome all their customers, regular or new-comer, was something special.

Finally, the tables and chairs’ arrangement was conducive to both larger groups and the single sipper. Situated on the corner of Sackett and Smith Streets, the windows facing Smith Street opened up to give an outside feel to that end of the bar was exceptionally pleasant when the weather was good.

For all the above reasons, I found it to be one of the best beer bars in the entire city of New York. I could always count on meeting my good friend Jimmy at the window end of the bar at two o’clock every Thursday. Familiarity breeds comfort and friendship.

In conclusion

Every city and town have at least one or two pubs, bar, tavern or restaurant that deserves to be recommended by locals and the lucky visitor. These are what make up the soul of a town, city, or village. That special place where all the good things about eating and drinking together come to make life worth living.

These are my picks for the best classic bars in New York City you need to visit next time you're in the city. Take in the sights, have some great food and beer.
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First, let me introduce myself. I am Peter LaFrance, author of Beer Basics and Cooking & Eating With Beer, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. – 1995). I have also been published in American Brewer, All About Beer, and Ale Street News.

I have been writing about the brewing industry since 1984. Credits include contributing editor for Restaurant Management and Top Shelf magazines. I have also written for Beverage Media, New Brewer, Beverage Dynamics, and All About Beer magazine.

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