A great bar has many components — fun atmosphere, knowledgeable staff, good crowd — but in this city, with its exploding craft beer movement, we think a great beer bar should support local brewers. So we asked Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 to recommend some of the best bars stocking local favorites and breweries’ latest experiments.
One way to know you’re in the right place is the Good Beer Seal, which tells you a bar is independent and keeps the high standards of quality and cleanliness needed to do craft beer right.
This place defines a Good Beer Seal bar: a carefully curated, always rotating selection on just six taps, so no mega-drafts need apply. Because it keeps things simple and highlights its selections, it’s one of the bars where new beers are debuted in the city. There’s also a deep list of specialty craft bottles, all served in an atmosphere inspired by a country Belgian bar, or take your brew to their backyard garden.
Mugs Ale House
125 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg
You can trace the history of NYC’s craft beer via the mugs at this pioneer of the craft bar scene — it started more than 20 years ago. This was the first place to pour some of the modern classics like Sierra Nevada and Anchor Liberty Ale. Their events are not for the faint of heart, with names like Split Thy Skull (strong beers), and an annual Belgian beer fest in December. They also nurture homebrewers, hosting monthly meetups of the Malted Barley Appreciation Society.
Jimmy’s No. 43
43 E. Seventh St., East Village
A former Ukrainian social club built in the ‘80s, it opened as a basement Belgian bar in 2005. With a full menu, it’s a restaurant as well, hosting dinners, authors and foodie pop-ups. Look for a new spring/summer menu coming in May curated by a guest chef. Breweries like Finback, Other Half, Bridge and Tunnel and others have come to Jimmy's to pop their Manhattan cherry, so drink it here before it's everywhere. They were on the sour beer trend before it became big, and have hard cider and whiskey menus, too.
249 Fourth Ave., Park Slope
Owners the Wiley brothers have a roster of craft beer bars around the city — Bar Great Harry, Glorietta Baldy and The Owl Farm — but Mission Dolores is Carbone’s favorite. Amid the quirky decor, the place always has a great draft list across its 24 taps. Get “stranded” in this part of Brooklyn to have a great excuse to spend some quality time at this bar.
Crescent & Vine
25-03 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria
The bar manager, Daniel Bronson, is the new force on the city’s craft beer scene, according to Carbone, spearheading Queens Beer Week, which returns for its second year next month. A neighborhood bar with global ambition, it’s got great drafts — and great wines, too. Queens has more breweries than any other borough, and Crescent & Vine always serves its neighbors’ stock.