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Best New York Nightlife

AOL PICK from our Editors
There’s a reason why New York’s nickname is The City That Never Sleeps. Want to go bowling at 3AM? Attend a midnight poetry reading? Dance the night away in a cutting edge club? Listen to live jazz until 4AM? Yep, you can pretty much do what you want, when you want as New York City nightlife let’s you have it all. And in style. It all depends on how much cash you want to fork out. The best parts of town to plant yourself in for the evening depends on your interests and desires: Williamsburg, Brooklyn for hipster bars; the Lower East Side for arty fun; the East Village for dive bars; west Chelsea for dance clubs; and the Meatpacking District for see-and-be-seen action. Just make sure you don’t have any plans for early the next morning.

KGB

Neighborhood: East Village
The only spying that may be going on at this legendary literary bar might be to see what you’re reading. Clad, as one would expect, in all shades of red, this second-floor bar is a fun place to nurse a pint of beer, not least for the faux Soviet propaganda but because of the nightly readings that take place (starting at 7PM and lasting about an hour), some of whom are literary stars. But KGB isn’t wrapped in the relics of communism without a reason: this space was once the home of a Ukrainian socialists club. So saying na zdravje and toasting to your favorite Russian writer might be an obligatory gesture before every drink.

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KGB  

Angel's Share

Neighborhood: East Village
Looking out over the bustling East Village through large plate glass windows on the second floor, this sedate Japanese cocktail bar is one of the better, more romantic, quieter, and totalitarian spots to nurse a libation and watch the city go by. There are rules here: no standing around; everyone must be in a seat; and no more than four to a group. Break these rules and no drink for you! But obey and you shall be rewarded with a nice selection of Scotch (poured over a Rubik’s Cube-sized chunk of ice in a thick tumbler glass) and, naturally, plenty of sake-infused cocktails.

Brooklyn Inn

Neighborhood: Boerum Hill
Cozy up to the sturdy oak bar (which was carved in Germany in the 1870s) and take in a true Brooklyn experience at this high-ceilinged, stained glass-accented haunt in the Boerum Hill area of Brooklyn. Fortunately, the young-ish generally hip crowd doesn’t match the age of the century-old building that houses the pub. The almost church-like aesthetics are just one diversion: a rockin’ juke box and a pool table draw a faithful local following. So do, of course, the cheap, generously poured drinks. The optimum time to go is on a lazy weekend afternoon when regulars quietly nurse pints of Guinness at the bar while reading the newspaper.

Death + Co.

Neighborhood: East Village
This East Village cocktail bar gives new meaning to the term “last call.” Like a good mortician, the good bartenders at Death + Co. pay close attention to detail. The dimly lit speakeasy-like space makes for a suitable venue for cocktail imbibing. The menu boasts classic libations and more creative concoctions, which are taste tested by their maker and shaken and stirred until just right. The La Dolce Vita (chamomile-infused Old Overholt rye, Campari, and St. Germain) might send you straight to cocktail heaven. Death never seemed so promising.

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Death + Co.  

230 Fifth

Neighborhood: Flatiron District
Set 20 floors above the Flatiron District, this 22,000-square-foot lounge is the city’s largest outdoor rooftop bar. And it’s a multi-sensory experience at that. With the Empire State Building looming nearby, after work drinkers and tourists gravitate to 230 Fifth for the views and the fruity cocktails as well as the Malaysian-accented menu created by chef Zak Pelaccio. In winter, guests are given thick blankets to rap themselves in and the heat lamps get fired up. There are also high-ceilinged rooms illuminated with pastel-colored lights.

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230 Fifth  

Smalls

Neighborhood: West Village
It would be easy to walk by the door to this subterranean West Village jazz club and not even notice it. Sandwiched between a café and an Italian restaurant, Small’s has a lot of big things going on. Since 1993, the club has been the place for young up-and-coming jazz musicians to bust out the tunes. Some have gone on to the big time (Joshua Redman and Norah Jones are but two). Step down into this exposed-brick cellar at any time of night—1:30AM, say—and it’ll seem like the night has just begun. That’s because in some ways it has; the “After Hours Jam Session” goes from 1:30 to 4AM. The cover charge is $20 and works for the entire evening, so you can leave for dinner and re-enter. After hours admission is $10.

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Smalls  

Le Poisson Rouge

Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
Located smack in the center of historic Greenwich Village, this subterranean New York City night club and music venue has a strong pedigree: it was the space that housed the historic Village Gate, founded and run by legendary nightlife impresario Art D’Lugoff, where “unknown” musicians such as John Coletrane, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, and others got their start. Le Poisson Rouge stays in the spirit of its predecessor by hosting up-and-coming bands as well as doubling as an art exhibition space. Cocktails and snacks are served but the real lure is music and historic ambience. The cover price varies depending on who is playing, but generally ranges from free to $15.

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Le Poisson Rouge  

Terroir Tribeca

Neighborhood: Tribeca
This 72-seat wine bar is the brainchild of opinionated wine wizard Paul Grieco, whose tastes in vino pervade the eclectic three-ring binder that is the 150-bottle wine list at this laidback Tribeca spot. If you like Rieslings or vino from obscure wine regions (northern Lazio, anyone?), you’re in luck. There’s even a Finger Lakes Riesling on tap (next to six draught beers). Befitting the name (“terroir” is French wine jargon for “a sense of place”), the interior was left raw enough to get a sense of this Tribeca building’s past: wood beams and ventilation tubes hug the ceiling while metal sidewalk grates have been affixed to walls. And if you need something to soak up all that vino, chef Marco Canora’s menu features arancini (fried rice balls) and rich bone marrow bruschetta.

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Terroir Tribeca  

Greenhouse

Neighborhood: West Village
This club in the southern part of the West Village has a lot going for it besides being one of the best New York City nightclubs for cutting a rug to electronica and house music in a buzzwsorthy setting. It also happens to be a bi-level, 6,000-square-foot space fueled by an eco-friendly vibe. The LEED-certified club immerses patrons in a wash of colorful dangling lights (they’re LED, of course) and soft leather couches, while the staff move around in environmentally welcoming outfits all designed by Ali Hewson, otherwise known as Bono’s wife.

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Greenhouse  

Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden

Neighborhood: Astoria
Once upon a time, the borough of Queens boasted over 300 beer gardens. But after Prohibition, the only survivor was this leafy Czech suds-soaked garden that holds up to 1,000 beer swillers. And on a warm summer day, don’t be surprised if the walled garden area is packed. For a century now, “Bohemka,” as its called by local Czechs, has been pouring pilsner and serving up impressively authentic goulash and other Czech staples. During the winter when the beer garden closes, settle in to the attached indoor bar.

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Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden  
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