15 New York Spots Ideal for Summer Day Drinking

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There are few better places to have a late-afternoon drink than Achilles Heel.
There are few better places to have a late-afternoon drink than Achilles Heel. Photo: Adrian Gaut

Perhaps day drinking is no longer the acceptable leisure activity it once was during the era of the three-martini lunch. But this is no time to let the buzzkills harsh your mellow: Summer, which officially arrives on Monday, is prime afternoon-boozing season in New York — the time for a 2 p.m. Dark ‘n’ Stormy or four. Even better: Now you can officially drink before noon on Sundays, too! Whether you’re brunching or taking a weekday afternoon off, here are 15 spots for all day-drinking occasions, from an outdoor space to enjoy the sun to a dive to escape from it.

Achilles Heel
When the sun starts to set and fills this room with warm light, the bar is particularly handsome, especially when you’ve got an Americano or martini in hand. And it’s a great place when it’s a bit quieter during the afternoon — the bar opens at 4 p.m. on weekdays, and noon on weekends. There’s also an ambitious food menu, which changes daily but might include bavette steak and rice, fava bean and anchovy toast, and always cheese, charcuterie, and oysters.

The Gatehouses at Kings County Distillery
Kings County Distillery’s new bar, café, and tasting room are located in the historic Gatehouses, a medieval revival structure that was painstakingly restored. (Full disclosure: One of the owners is a New York editor.) It includes an outdoor area, and in the “it’s five o’clock somewhere” spirit, booze starts flowing at 8 a.m.

La Sirena
At Mario Batali’s expansive hotel restaurant, drinks are available as early as 7 a.m., and the sprawling patio has plenty of tables, all of them reserved for walk-ins. Stake one out, drink endless spritzes or Vesper martinis, and enjoy the Meatpacking scene. Dishes like the braciole and desserts such as honey-walnut semifreddo will keep your stomach occupied.

Nowadays
This place is like the adult version of your childhood friend’s awesome backyard. It’s entirely outdoors, so hours depend on the weather, but there’s decent beer and a lack of pretension, and the team running it also oversees Mister Saturday, so they really know how to have a good time. The food is backyard-barbecue standards, like burgers and hot dogs, and the drinks list consists of accessible local beers and wine.

Lavender Lake
Housed in a former carriage house, this Gowanus bar (an excellent place for grown-up birthday parties) has a large, enclosed outdoor area where you can enjoy local beers (Other Half, Finback) and solid, creative cocktails like the U.S.S. Eldridge (Owney’s rum, cold-pressed orange-peel oil, honey simple syrup, and grapefruit bitters). On weekdays, it opens at 4 p.m. for late-afternoon drinking, but 2 p.m. on weekends for a proper day-boozing session.

Tacoway Beach
Everyone’s favorite fish-taco stand relocated to the Rockaway Beach Surf Club last summer, with the added benefits of beach-friendly cocktails (a piña colada, of course, and a margarita) and an outdoor patio.

Thai Rock
Or avoid the madness at Tacoaway Beach and check out this Thai restaurant’s patio. Plus, there are spring rolls stuffed with carrot, cabbage, and bean noodle and, if you want something spicier, fried roti bread with massaman-curry dipping sauce.

The Brooklyn Barge
This new spot for seasonal dining on the water opens at 11 a.m. daily and has a full bar, which makes it the next best thing to a midday booze cruise this side of the East River. There are share plates like harpooned shrimp and Old Bay French fries if you just want to snack, as well as more substantial options including garlic shrimp tacos and a Jamaican jerk grilled-chicken sandwich.

Alta Linea
Alta Linea’s sole purpose is for outdoor dining and drinking — it’s a seasonal concept. Located on the patio of the High Line Hotel, the Chelsea restaurant offers brunch on weekends, a prime time to stake out a table and enjoy a refreshing frozen lemon sgroppino made with limoncello, vodka, and prosecco. Note: The restaurant will launch weekday lunch, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Monday.

Lois
Day drinking is not a time for making complicated decisions over long wine lists, which is why this bright and cheerful East Village bar — where everything is on tap and available for tasting — is the ideal wine bar for an afternoon tipple or eight during the weekends, when it opens at noon.

Fort Defiance
There’s just something right about drinking a piña colada at Fort Defiance on a hot summer afternoon. That might be because it’s the best one in town; it also has a lot to do with the restaurant’s lived-in décor and location near Red Hook’s breezy waterfront.

Clemente’s Maryland Crab House
At the edge of southern Brooklyn, Clemente’s is a classic New York summer spot thanks, in no small part, to its all-you-can-eat crab feasts and expansive deck. It’s ideal for a festive afternoon: Unlimited crabs are offered on Monday and Tuesday for $35 per person, but a dozen will only set you back $33.

Diamond Dogs
The Astoria bar has a bigger backyard and cheaper drinks ($5 to $8 for mostly local beers, and cocktails hover around $10) than local favorite Sweet Afton, so it’s a good place to go in Queens late in the afternoon.

Blind Tiger Ale House
Blind Tiger looks like an ordinary tavern, but it’s got a great selection of craft beer. (Do note that it gets quite crowded during happy hour.) The draft list changes regularly, but includes beers from Founders, local hops enthusiasts Other Half, and Austin’s reliable Downeast Cider.

Birdy’s
The retro Bushwick bar serves cheap house drinks — just $7 or $5 during the happy hour that runs until 9 p.m. — and serves unpretentious drinks like whiskey sours and the Rob Roy. There’s now a sidewalk patio, too.

15 Bars for Day Drinking