Love, Lindsay

9 New York City Bars That Will Help You Nail The First Date

All your relationship questions answered — right here, right now.

First dates are nerve-wracking enough without stressing over where to go. While you might think it's easier dating in a place like New York City with tons of places to go on a first date, having so many choices can actually make it harder to decide. 

Luckily for city dwellers, you can leave the overthinking to me and Alexis Wolfe, the creator of the NYC Date Nite Instagram. We hit up some of Manhattan's best first date spots and discussed just what made them perfect for meeting that special someone. Besides the three included in the above video, these are our recommendations for the nine best first date bars in New York City.

1. Cibar

Location: 56 Irving Place (Gramercy Park) 

This cocktail lounge is perfect for an after-work first date because you can either splurge on one of Cibar's delicious signature cocktails if you want to impress your date or save a few bucks with their happy hour menu (goes until 8 pm). Whatever you order, you'll be surrounded by the bar's one-of-a-kind decor, which won't just score you instant cool points with your date, but will give you something to talk about if the conversation lulls. 

2. Fat Cat

Location: 75 Christopher Street (West Village) 

For daters interested in a more casual — and more competitive — option, Fat Cat is the bar for you. Not only can you sip on some nicely priced beers, but you can play pool and ping-pong with your date. A fun game immediately cuts through any first-date awkwardness because it gives you something to talk about and tells you a lot about your love interest's personality (namely, whether or not it's a match with yours). 

3. Vin Sur Vingt Wine Bar

Location: Multiple throughout the city 

Both wine enthusiasts and novices will feel at home on a cozy first date at any one of Vin Sur Vingt's NYC locations. If you and your date have similiar tastes (a great sign), you can split a bottle of wine and see what else you have in common. If the date's going well and you start to feel hungry, you can even split a cheese and charcuterie board — a more relaxed alternative to the traditional dinner date. 

4. Ampersand

Location: 294 Third Avenue (Gramercy Park) 

If you want to show off your refined palette, Ampersand is the cocktail bar of your first date dreams. With a menu boasting more than 20 craft cocktails, you'll be sure to find something you haven't tasted anywhere else. Even if cocktails aren't your thing, you're in luck with a solid beer and wine list, and tons of bar snacks. Done right, this first-date spot offers an upscale atmosphere without breaking the bank.

5. Bar Belly

Location: 14 Orchard Street (Chinatown) 

Come for the alcohol and aphrodisiacs (aka oysters), stay for the live music at Bar Belly. The happy hour menu offers something for everyone at a price anyone familiar with the NYC cost of living can love. While going to a full-blown concert on a first date can make it difficult to get to know someone, going to a bar with a live band can spark a great conversation comparing music tastes.

6. Third Avenue Ale House

Location: 1644 Third Avenue (Upper East Side)

Beer lovers will certainly fall in love with this casual-chic gastropub's draft list. If your date isn't happy about hops, Third Avenue Ale House has tons of wine and spirit options as well. If the date goes well, you might even consider sharing a three-beer flight paired with cheese, nuts, and fruit. No matter what you get, sipping and chatting in the relaxed atmosphere provides the perfect antidote to even the worst first date jitters.

7. Sake Bar Decibel

Location: 240 East Ninth Street (East Village)

If you're into sake, or just something a little different from the traditional American bar fare, take your date to Sake Bar Decibel. Enjoy the intimate setting while trying out different sakes, sochus, and cocktails. If the date goes well, you can even pop across the street to ChikaLicious Dessert Bar for an after-drink sweet treat. 

8. Rosie's

Location: 29 East Second Street (Bowery)

This Mexican restaurant-bar is a great happy hour first date spot, thanks to its $7 margaritas and $3 beers. If you get hungry, you and your date can also split Rosie's classic guacamole and chips. The vibrant setting is sure to energize your conversation, and the spicy food and drinks might even spice up your night. 


Location: 63 West 38th Street (atop the Refinery Hotel in Midtown) 

If your idea of a perfect first date includes a perfect Instagram opportunity, then this rooftop bar with sweeping views of Manhattan is the spot for you. Offering a mix of classic and signature cocktails, as well as multiple beer and wine options, Refinery Rooftop is upscale without feeling too pretentious. If the date goes well, you can take the party downstairs to the hotel's restaurant Parker & Quinn and/or Winnie's Jazz Lounge

Cover image: astarot /


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.