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Blacktail’s dark bar, surrounded by two plants and a golden stained glass ceiling Nick Solares

13 Theme Bars Worth Visiting in NYC

These bars have found a way to make kitsch feel cool

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New York City has more than its fair share of themed bars. Between the terribly tacky and the oft overpriced, it’s hard to find the diamonds in the rough. From old-school speakeasies to cocktails resembling a scene from JAWS, these 13 themed bars capture themes at their finest.

Note: Bars are listed based on geography, starting south to north in Manhattan, then north to south in Brooklyn

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. BlackTail

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22 Battery Pl
New York, NY

Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry (co-founders of The Dead Rabbit) modeled BlackTail after the Prohibition-era bars that sprouted in Havana, Cuba. The bar is in the Pier A Harbor House, offering updated takes on classic mixed drinks like the old-fashioned, sours, daiquiris, and more. Kitsch and class go hand-in-hand here.

2. Forgtmenot

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138 Division St
New York, NY
(646) 707-3195
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Specializing in American diner fare, Forgtmenot is a surf shack-style bar on the Lower East side. Graffiti strewn walls bear old-timey advertisements, picture frames, and other assorted tchotchkes. For a hint of the team’s updated tastes, order the seasonal margarita.

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3. Employees Only

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510 Hudson St
New York, NY
(212) 242-3021
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Opened in 2004, this retro bar doles out high-end cocktails without the pretense. While the bar isn’t so secret anymore, it still captures speakeasy vibes. Order one of the Employees Only classics like the Manhattan (Rittenhouse Rye Stirred with Italian Vermouth, Grand Marnier & Dashes of Angostura Bitters), or dabble in the “Fancy Cocktails” portion of its menu.

4. Mother of Pearl

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95 Avenue A
New York, NY
(212) 614-6818
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Nightlife maven Ravi Derossi serves a slew of rum, cachaca, and tequila drinks at Mother of Pearl, which went vegan in 2016. The crowd favorite from the tropical-themed bar is the “shark eye,” a mixture of passion fruit, lemon, maraschino, curaçao, bourbon, and tiki bitters mixed to resemble a shark attack.

5. Otto's Shrunken Head

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538 E 14th St
New York, NY
(212) 228-2240
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Otto’s Shrunken Head mixes Hawaiian prints, bamboo decor, live bands and djs, and rum-based cocktails. The eclectic combination has made Otto’s an East Village must-visit since its opening in 2002.

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6. e's BAR

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511 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY
(212) 877-0961
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After months of renovations following the fire that ravaged the flagship location, E’s Bar reopened in May. The neighborhood bar with clear knack for game night vibes is known for craft beers, board games, trivia nights, tacos, and nostalgic rock playlists from the ‘60s through the ‘90s.

7. The Drift

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579 Meeker Ave
Brooklyn, NY

The Drift is a Southern-themed dive in Greenpoint from the team behind The Commodore and El Cortez. It’s more relaxed than its siblings, with taxidermy arranged throughout the space for a campy vibe. To drink, try the “Orange Julio,” which tastes like a creamsicle, and to eat, order one of the menu’s straightforward dishes like a smoked chicken sandwich.

8. Surf Bar

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139 N 6th St
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 302-4441
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Some tiki bars settle for Hawaiian-print wallpaper haphazardly strewn across a wall as decor, but Surf Bar is not one of them. With its straw-thatched roof, indoor sandbar, and surf shop-style decorations, Surf Bar goes hard on the beachy theme. Choose from a list with beers, cocktails, and tiki drinks.

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9. Skinny Dennis

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152 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, NY
(212) 555-1212
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Named for late country musician Skinny Dennis Sanchez, Skinny Dennis is a honky tonk bar that offers live music seven nights a week. Grab an order of the boiled peanuts while soaking in the ambiance of country and roots-style crooning in the city.

10. Full Circle Bar

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318 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY
(347) 725-4588
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Full Circle Bar is a Skeeball-themed dive bar — complete with a bar made from Skeeball machine parts — that features its own machines to play. Head over on Thursdays and Sundays for free skeeball (typically $1 per game). Sunday also has a happy hour, when everything costs $4 from 11 p.m. to close.

11. Barcade

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388 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 302-6464
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Originally a Williamsburg gem, Barcade now has multiple locations in throughout the city. It attracts a loyal fanbase with an array of vintage arcade games and a robust drink selection. The bar in a former metal shop fuses craft beers and cocktails with a healthy helping of childhood nostalgia.

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12. King Tai

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1095 Bergen St
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 513-1025
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King Tai, a ‘40s Miami-themed bar, offers stylish tropical cocktails in a cozy Crown Heights location. Its mostly white interior is dotted with metal bar stools. The cocktail menu is kept tight, but King Tai delivers in both quality and strength. The bar also hosts weekly summer cookouts on Sundays.

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13. Super Power

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722 Nostrand Ave
New York, NY
(718) 484-0020

This Crown Heights tiki bar offers tropical drinks in a relaxed environment, boosted by a backyard space. Go during happy hour for one dollar oysters, and order one of the crowd favorites like the rum and amaro-filled “Slow Reveal.”

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1. BlackTail

22 Battery Pl, New York, NY

Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry (co-founders of The Dead Rabbit) modeled BlackTail after the Prohibition-era bars that sprouted in Havana, Cuba. The bar is in the Pier A Harbor House, offering updated takes on classic mixed drinks like the old-fashioned, sours, daiquiris, and more. Kitsch and class go hand-in-hand here.

22 Battery Pl
New York, NY

2. Forgtmenot

138 Division St, New York, NY

Specializing in American diner fare, Forgtmenot is a surf shack-style bar on the Lower East side. Graffiti strewn walls bear old-timey advertisements, picture frames, and other assorted tchotchkes. For a hint of the team’s updated tastes, order the seasonal margarita.

138 Division St
New York, NY

3. Employees Only

510 Hudson St, New York, NY

Opened in 2004, this retro bar doles out high-end cocktails without the pretense. While the bar isn’t so secret anymore, it still captures speakeasy vibes. Order one of the Employees Only classics like the Manhattan (Rittenhouse Rye Stirred with Italian Vermouth, Grand Marnier & Dashes of Angostura Bitters), or dabble in the “Fancy Cocktails” portion of its menu.

510 Hudson St
New York, NY

4. Mother of Pearl

95 Avenue A, New York, NY

Nightlife maven Ravi Derossi serves a slew of rum, cachaca, and tequila drinks at Mother of Pearl, which went vegan in 2016. The crowd favorite from the tropical-themed bar is the “shark eye,” a mixture of passion fruit, lemon, maraschino, curaçao, bourbon, and tiki bitters mixed to resemble a shark attack.

95 Avenue A
New York, NY

5. Otto's Shrunken Head

538 E 14th St, New York, NY

Otto’s Shrunken Head mixes Hawaiian prints, bamboo decor, live bands and djs, and rum-based cocktails. The eclectic combination has made Otto’s an East Village must-visit since its opening in 2002.

538 E 14th St
New York, NY

6. e's BAR

511 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY

After months of renovations following the fire that ravaged the flagship location, E’s Bar reopened in May. The neighborhood bar with clear knack for game night vibes is known for craft beers, board games, trivia nights, tacos, and nostalgic rock playlists from the ‘60s through the ‘90s.

511 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY

7. The Drift

579 Meeker Ave, Brooklyn, NY

The Drift is a Southern-themed dive in Greenpoint from the team behind The Commodore and El Cortez. It’s more relaxed than its siblings, with taxidermy arranged throughout the space for a campy vibe. To drink, try the “Orange Julio,” which tastes like a creamsicle, and to eat, order one of the menu’s straightforward dishes like a smoked chicken sandwich.

579 Meeker Ave
Brooklyn, NY

8. Surf Bar

139 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY

Some tiki bars settle for Hawaiian-print wallpaper haphazardly strewn across a wall as decor, but Surf Bar is not one of them. With its straw-thatched roof, indoor sandbar, and surf shop-style decorations, Surf Bar goes hard on the beachy theme. Choose from a list with beers, cocktails, and tiki drinks.

139 N 6th St
Brooklyn, NY

9. Skinny Dennis

152 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Named for late country musician Skinny Dennis Sanchez, Skinny Dennis is a honky tonk bar that offers live music seven nights a week. Grab an order of the boiled peanuts while soaking in the ambiance of country and roots-style crooning in the city.

152 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, NY

10. Full Circle Bar

318 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY

Full Circle Bar is a Skeeball-themed dive bar — complete with a bar made from Skeeball machine parts — that features its own machines to play. Head over on Thursdays and Sundays for free skeeball (typically $1 per game). Sunday also has a happy hour, when everything costs $4 from 11 p.m. to close.

318 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY

11. Barcade

388 Union Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Originally a Williamsburg gem, Barcade now has multiple locations in throughout the city. It attracts a loyal fanbase with an array of vintage arcade games and a robust drink selection. The bar in a former metal shop fuses craft beers and cocktails with a healthy helping of childhood nostalgia.

388 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY

12. King Tai

1095 Bergen St, Brooklyn, NY

King Tai, a ‘40s Miami-themed bar, offers stylish tropical cocktails in a cozy Crown Heights location. Its mostly white interior is dotted with metal bar stools. The cocktail menu is kept tight, but King Tai delivers in both quality and strength. The bar also hosts weekly summer cookouts on Sundays.

1095 Bergen St
Brooklyn, NY

13. Super Power

722 Nostrand Ave, New York, NY

This Crown Heights tiki bar offers tropical drinks in a relaxed environment, boosted by a backyard space. Go during happy hour for one dollar oysters, and order one of the crowd favorites like the rum and amaro-filled “Slow Reveal.”

722 Nostrand Ave
New York, NY

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