New York City’s bar scene is legendary for a good reason. From dingy cowboy bars that specialize in frosty cans of swill and shots of whiskey accompanied by a soundtrack dominated by Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash to the classiest joints this side of the Atlantic, you will find a bar somewhere in New York City that will cater to your taste. Of course, sometimes sitting in a bar on pleasant afternoon in the early summer is the last thing you want to do, though you wouldn’t mind a drink. Though New York may not be as liberal as places like Savannah, New Orleans or Key West, which all allow drinking on certain streets, there are places where you can drink outside and enjoy the sunshine. They’re called beer gardens.
While most beer gardens have a German or Central European vibe, not every beer on tap at these establishments necessarily ends in “brau.” Some beer gardens have domestic stalwarts, as well as beers from local breweries like Six Point, Kelso and Ommegang. Our list of New York City’s best beer gardens will not only introduce you to places where you can taste some of these less common brews; it will also introduce you to some neighborhoods in outer boroughs like Queens and Brooklyn that may be considered a little off the beaten trail.
The Standard Beirgarten848 Washington StreetNew York, NY, 10014
Though the Standard Hotel’s Biergarten specializes in traditional German fare, this charming beer garden is as Manhattan as you can get. While it is located in one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the city, the Meat Packing District, the Biergarten is not as expensive as many of the other establishments associated with the Standard. Don't be mistaken, though; it is most certainly fashionable. While popular in the summer, a glass enclosure is erected in the winter, thereby making it an ideal place to warm up with hot sausage and warm glass of mulled wine.
Some additional pros to visiting the Biergarten include: it is within walking distance of some the Greenwich Village stops on Gray Line’s Hop-on Hop-off Downtown Loop; it is directly beneath one of Manhattan’s hottest tourist destinations—the High Line; and it is typically filled with some of the most beautiful people in the city. The food is pretty good, too.
Franklin Park618 St Johns PlaceBrooklyn, NY, 11238
Located just three blocks northeast of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, which is one of the stops on the Gray Line Hop-on Hop-off Brooklyn Loop, you will find Franklin Park. While the tap list is fairly conventional for Brooklyn, it is certainly not heavy on the European-style pilsners and lagers. Unlike the Standard Biergarten, Franklin Park is not a traditional beer garden. It is a uniquely Brooklyn establishment that is located in an area of the city that is not regularly visited by tourists. Consequently, many of the people whom you meet will be locals. Don't worry, they don't bite. Most of Franklin Park’s patrons may wear their eccentricities on their sleeves, but they will be more than happy to partake in a conversation, especially if the topic of discussion revolves around tattoos or favorite Dr. Dog album.
Governor's Beach ClubGovernor’s Island
Governor’s Island is a large green space that has been owned by the city of New York since 2003. There is a lot of history to be found on the island, as it was fortified during Colonial times (known as Fort Jay), and then later used as a United States Army post before becoming a Coast Guard installation in 1966. However, the tranquility and the history are only part of Governor Island’s draw. Accessible by ferry service during the late spring until the early fall from either the southern tip of Manhattan or Pier 6 in Brooklyn, the island is also home to several art installations; a new forest filled with dozens of hammocks; loads of food trucks; and all of the amenities you would expect to find in a park.
The northern tip of the island is also home to a sandy beer garden known as the Governor's Beach Club. During the day, you can enjoy a pleasant and unobstructed view of the southern tip of Manhattan while enjoying a beer from their, admittedly, less than stellar tap list. While many beer gardens can offer a greater beer selection, few can offer a more breathtaking view.
Berry Hall4 Berry StreetBrooklyn, NY, 11211
Both the entertainment and the tap list at Berry Hall are far more European than either Franklin Park or the Governor's Beach Club. Regarded as one of the best soccer bars in Williamsburg (along with Iona), Berry Hall possesses that unique Brooklyn charm that has made the borough so famous as a cultural hub completely distinct from Manhattan. As you walk into Berry Hall, you may wonder exactly where the garden is. The slate gray interior is not exactly teeming with verdure. Upon walking upstairs and coming onto the roof, however, you will find an outdoor area that offers beautiful views of the Midtown skyline as well as some very diverse people watching. The Best way to get to Berry Hall is by taking the L train from Union Square to Bedford Avenue.
The Beer Garden at Bohemian Hall29-19 24th AvenueAstoria, NY, 11102
For those who are looking to seriously venture off the beaten trail to see how regular New Yorkers live, the Beer Garden at Bohemian Hall is the obvious choice. This venue is considered by many to be the original beer garden in New York City. In fact, if someone said they were going to “the beer garden” just a few years ago, it was understood that this was the bar they were talking about. On top of being home to a delicious menu of Czech favorites and traditional American fare, inexpensive beers (pitchers of either Pilsner Urquell or Lagunitas IPA cost $16) and filled with colorful characters, this beer garden is also one of the biggest outdoor drinking establishments in all of New York. Though it is located near the end of the line for both the N or the Q trains, this Queens institution is definitely worth the visit.