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The 7 best places to drink on the water in NYC

Floating barge bars, BYOB ferries and more spots to booze on the city's waterways.
Brooklyn Barge Bar Staten Island Ferry Grand Banks Bar NYC Ferry Frying Pan Bar Watermark Bar

It’s finally nice out! One of the best ways to enjoy the weather, of course, is to drink outside. Even better: drinking outside on a boat, or at least catching a breeze off of one of the city’s many waterways from the East River to the New York Harbor. Here are seven of New York City’s best watering holes near the water, from ferries you can drink on, to floating barge bars, to waterfront piers — all providing epic views. Get tipsy, just don't fall in. 

The NYC Ferry

The city’s new ferry system officially launched May 1, decreasing fares (from $4-$6 down to $2.75) and increasing access (adding five new routes, including Rockaway and Astoria). And those aren’t the only perks. The new waterway vessels come with New Stand concessions, offering wine and beer — Brooklyn Pilsner and The Gotham Project wine — on tap, no less! Knock one back on your way home as you wave goodbye the work day, or pregame before you wash ashore to another waterside drinkerie. 

The Brooklyn Barge

This popular Greenpoint bar literally sits on a floating barge docked in the East River, adjacent to Transmitter Park. The Brooklyn Barge Bar officially opens for the season on Thursday, May 4! Sip — craft beers on tap and signature cocktails — and sway in the wake of ferries and tugboats passing through, while you take in epic views of the Manhattan skyline. There’s also plenty to nosh on: try the Tugboat Fries, topped with BBQ pork, cheddar and jalapenos. The barge offers a chance to get out on the water even more, with adjacent kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding offered as part of their seasonal programming. Bonus: the NYC Ferry will drop you off right here, if you want to go from boat to boat, drink to drink. 

The Watermark Bar

The FiDi cocktail bar and restaurant juts out into the East River on Pier 15, just across the waterway from DUMBO. Sip an East River martini as you relax post-work, and partake in a menu of seafood and bar snacks. The 10,000 square foot venue also serves as an event space to host a party, catch a concert, or attend a festival or celebration — pretty ideal spot to catch the Macy's July 4 firework show

The Frying Pan

OK, so it’s one of New York City’s most notoriously bro-y bars, but we are not so high brow that we can’t appreciate the chance to drink on a former Coast Guard lightship docked at the Hudson River’s Pier 66. (The barge is millennial pink colored, too!) Pick from cocktails and mixed drinks, like a refreshing pitcher of white sangria, bottles and rotating craft beers on draft, or wine (rose all day?), along with selections from the grill (calamari, burgers, steamed clams, and more) and soak up that Hudson River view. 

The Staten Island Ferry

If you can’t tell, we are pretty jazzed on ferries. Whether you’re making a trip to and from the island or not, you can go on a joyride on the orange vessel across the New York harbor anytime you want — yep, service runs 24 hours a day. It’s not only free; there’s also no limit to how many times you can ride it, and the drinks aboard are cheap AF ($3-$4 for domestic cans) or you can BYO. When you arrive at Staten Island’s St. George Terminal, you can always get out and do a drinking tour of nearby bars — or take a bike ride or a Lyft a bit out to the epic dive, Mother’s Pug Saloon

Grand Banks 

The Frying Pan’s more mellow neighbor to the South, this oyster bar sits on historic wooden schooner, the Sherman Zwicker, docked at Hudson River’s Pier 25. Slurp on sustainably-harvested oysters — both East and West Coast, selection changes daily —  and sip on “nautically inspired” cocktails (try a refreshing “Second Surf” of amaro, dry sherry, cucumber and lemon). It’s also for a good cause; partial profits go to the nonprofit the Maritime Foundation; catch some of their talks and lectures on their efforts at preservation and education aboard the boat bar. 

The Water Club

Back on the East River, this ritzy bar and restaurant floats off E. 30th St., on the other side of FDR Drive. The white table cloths, maritime plaques and hanging flags give it the ambience of a more casual yacht club — that’s open to everybody, and moderately priced. The menu is standard American, with plenty of seafood options, including a raw bar; take your pick from cocktails, wine and beer. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide diners with deep blue East River views and the shores of Long Island City and North Brooklyn.