Seven of the Best Black-Owned Cocktail Bars in NYC
Photo by fotostorm
When Pete Williams opened Almack’s Dance Hall, one of New York City’s first Black-owned bars, in the 1840s, he had no idea that it would become a big part of New York City’s history. Not only is Almack’s known as one of the first Black-owned cocktail bars in the city but it’s also considered the birthplace of modern tap dance. The bar was once described as a joyful place where people from different walks of life came together, united by their love of music and alcohol.
While Almack’s may have been one of the first Black-owned bars in the city, it certainly was not the last. Today, many Black-owned bars are carrying on Williams’ legacy in their own unique ways. So, if you’re on the hunt for your new favorite cocktail, you’ve come to the right place. Here are seven of the best Black-owned cocktail bars in New York City. While this list is not exhaustive, these are a few favorites to add to your must-visit list.
67 Orange Street
If you’re looking for the address on a map, you won’t find it. That’s because 67 Orange Street is actually located on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem. The name pays homage to the address where Almack’s last stood, with 67 Orange picking up the torch and becoming one of the few destinations for craft cocktails in Harlem. While the craft cocktail boom of the early aughts led to a surge of cocktail bars popping up in downtown Manhattan, 67 Orange was the first to open uptown. Since opening in 2008, they’ve been serving up spins on classics curated by their very own mixologists.
The Rogers Garden
Located in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, The Rogers Garden boasts an extensive selection of Caribbean rum, energetic Caribbean music, and flavorful Caribbean fare. The late-night scene is vibrant and eclectic. The cocktails are delectable and refreshing, with offerings like The Rodney Bay Rum Punch and Ode to Woman. Their backyard patio, covered in bistro lights and lush greenery, makes it the perfect place to spend a summer night. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to one of the islands.
Ode to Babel
This laid-back cocktail bar is owned by twin sisters and Brooklyn natives, Marva and Myriam Babel. At Ode to Babel, everyone is welcome, especially those who identify as BIPOC or are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Inside, you’ll find a rotating seasonal cocktail menu, live DJs spinning great music, and interior decor that feels as cozy as your living room. A neighborhood favorite, this Crown Heights spot is all about community and maintaining the culture of the neighborhood where the Babel sisters grew up.
A Lower East Side institution, Las’ Lap shows what happens when Caribbean rum culture and New York charm combine. The name, derived from the Trinidadian phrase to describe the final hour of Carnival, is fitting since Las’ Lap has been known as a lively after-hours spot since it opened in 2018. But no matter the time of day you visit, you’ll find flavorful, rum-centric cocktails and scrumptious light bites. The music is consistently good and with offerings like their signature Las’ Lap cocktail, you’re sure to catch a vibe (and may even bump elbows with a celebrity or two).
Hi-Note, a newcomer to the city, is a cocktail bar where the music is at the center of the experience. In the evenings, the bar hosts community radio, featuring live sets and original programming in an intimate, cozy space with minimalist decor. Their menu has small plates, beer, wine and, of course, craft cocktails. The ingredients in each signature cocktail are carefully selected and mixed together to create the perfect blend. They offer a daily happy hour with specials on classic cocktails, but you can also drop by during the day for coffee and a relaxed, peaceful place to work.
Bunton’s World Famous
If you’re looking for a place to let loose and get down on the dancefloor without judgment, head over to Brooklyn and check out Bunton’s World Famous. Known widely for their weekend DJ sets, Bunton’s is located in Bushwick. They have simple yet tasty cocktails like the popular Piña Colada and the Sorrel Daiquiri. What stands out most about Bunton’s is the diversity of the crowd. On any given night, you’ll find people from all walks of life — young, old, and in between — all in search of the perfect vibe.
At The Armory in Brooklyn, you come for the cocktails but stay for the incredible customer service. Just a few blocks away from the Barclay’s Center, it’s conveniently located and easy to get to from almost anywhere in the city. They have a gorgeous bar and an even more impressive cocktail menu. The overall vibe is warm and friendly; their beautiful, well-lit backyard is a great place to hang on warmer nights if you want to feel like you’ve been transported out of the city for a little while. Their happy hour menu includes both cocktails and food.
Camille Wilson is a New York City-based cocktail blogger and author of the book, Free Spirit Cocktails. She provides her audience with elevated, yet approachable ways to create happy hour at home. When she’s not blogging about cocktails, you can find her bar-hopping around NYC or shopping for chic glassware. Follow her cocktail adventures on Instagram @thecocktailsnob_.