SoHo has risen to represent one of the more intriguing cocktail scenes in the entire city. The chic, art-centric neighborhood has a multitude of bars, cocktail lounges, clubs and pubs to satiate nearly every taste. A short stroll from a new SoHo condo in the stunning XOCO 325 building can leave one utterly immersed in a diverse world of distilled spirit venues. Due to the abundance of options, it can be difficult to discern which drink slingers are the crème de la crème if you will—so we did it for you. What follows are our picks for the best bars in SoHo:
The Pegu club is one of the premiere speakeasy-esque, high-end cocktail lounges in the city. Opened by famed mixologist Audrey Saunders, the Pegu Club played a pivotal role in ushering in the reassurance of cocktail culture in the Big Apple. When Pegu opened—over a decade ago—the entire city took notice. At Pegu each cocktail is made with an immense amount of care and a meticulous level of detail. The bartenders here are artists who use their expertise to craft wonderfully robust and flavorful cocktails that that are impossibly well-balanced. The atmosphere is relaxed with a modern and warm aesthetic that serves as an ideal frame for the drinks they serve. Pegu’s near instant acclaim ushered in a cadre of other bespoke cocktail bars, but most -if not all- have failed to match its stature and acclaim.
If you’re in the mood for something a decidedly less high-end, and over a century older—the Ear Inn is a classic in the truest sense. A historical landmark in NYC, the Ear Inn was said to have first opened all the way back in 1830, which makes it one of the oldest bars in the state. It wasn’t called the Ear Inn until 1977, but the bar that exists now has many elements that date back over 100 years. It has the traditional wood bar and overall rich-grained finish. It is one of those bars that, for certain unquantifiable reasons just feels right. It’s one of the best places in all of Manhattan to stop in for a pint. Come for the history, stay for the drinks.
City Winery is housed in a beautiful sprawling space on Varick St. in SoHo. It was opened by Michael Dorf—of the Knitting Factory—and is an actual, functioning winery in the middle of SoHo. There’s a large space in the basement where the barrels are prepared, kept and aged. The space itself is absolutely beautiful, featuring a rustic yet modern aesthetic that exudes elegance without pretension. The space does not feel stuffy, it’s massive size ensures that there is always room to taste, relax and enjoy your wine. Their selection is vast and varied, the service is exceptional and—as previously mentioned—the atmosphere is top-notch.
Sometimes, you just want a dive bar—and for those times, Toad Hall should absolutely be your destination. It is not a fancy cocktail bar like Pegu, nor a massive wine-centric space like City Winery, and it’s not a century old, but it is a near perfect example of the quintessential bare-bones pub. The space is not huge, it’s cozy—and it feels familiar. Toad Hall has that certain something—much like Ear Inn—that just makes the whole space feel inviting. It’s dark, there’s exposed brick and dark wood throughout and the aesthetic is relatively basic—it is no-frills in the best way possible.