New York City

New Yorkers are fond of the "work hard, play hard" maxim, but the truth is, Gothamites don't need much of an excuse to hit the town. Any day of the week could easily be mistaken for a Friday or Saturday; the bottom line is that when the the mood strikes, there are always plenty of choices in this 24-hour city. Whether it's raising a glass in a historic saloon, a dimly lit cocktail den, or a swanky rooftop lounge; checking out the latest band; or laughing it up at a comedy show, it isn't hard for visitors to get a piece of the action.

The nightlife scene still resides largely downtown—in the dives and speakeasies of the East Village and Lower East Side, the classic jazz joints and piano bars of the West Village, and the Meatpacking District's and Chelsea's "see-and-be-seen" clubs. Midtown, especially around Hell's Kitchen, has developed a vibrant scene, too, and plenty of upscale hangouts dot the Upper East and Upper West Sides. Brooklyn and Harlem are go-to destinations for in-the-know locals.

Keep in mind that when you go is just as important as where you go. A club that is packed at 11 pm might empty out by midnight, and a bar that raged last night may be completely empty tonight. Time Out New York magazine has a good list of roving parties (www.timeout.com/newyork), as does Urban Daddy (www.urbandaddy.com/new-york). Scour industry-centric websites, too, like Eater and Grub Street, which catalog the comings and goings of many a nightlife impresario. New York magazine and the New York Times have listings of cabaret and jazz shows, the latter mainly in its Friday and Sunday Arts sections. Bear in mind that a venue's life span is often measured in months, not years. Phone ahead or check online to make sure your target hasn't closed or turned into a polka hall (although, you never know—that could be fun, too).

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  • 1. Joe's Pub

    East Village | Cabaret

    Named for the Public Theater's near-mythic impresario Joseph Papp, and located inside the renovated, historic Public Theater, Joe's is the ultimate...Read More

  • 2. Pouring Ribbons

    East Village | Bars/Pubs

    This polished, spacious second-floor cocktail bar is named after the way a drink forms iridescent liquid ribbons when it's expertly poured....Read More

  • 3. Beauty Bar

    East Village | Bars/Pubs

    Grab a seat in a barber chair or under a dryer at this made-over hair salon where, during prime hours, you can get a drink and a manicure for...Read More

  • 4. Death & Company

    East Village | Bars/Pubs

    Inventive cocktails, decadent bar bites, and a sultry atmosphere attract a steady stream of New Yorkers with a thirst for finely crafted drinks...Read More

  • 5. Holiday Cocktail Bar

    East Village | Bars/Pubs

    If you've been in the city long enough, you'll remember the Holiday as the quintessential New York dive bar, with dim lighting and basic drinks...Read More

  • 6. Karma

    East Village | Bars/Pubs

    At the top of the hookah-bar heap that has taken this neighborhood by storm, Karma provides a stylish sprawl with Indian decor (dig that wrought...Read More

  • 7. McSorley's Old Ale House

    East Village | Bars/Pubs

    One of New York's oldest saloons (established in 1854) and immortalized by New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell, McSorley's is a must if you...Read More

  • 8. Otto's Shrunken Head Tiki Bar & Lounge

    East Village | Bars/Pubs

    It's a tiki bar that's long been a neighborhood go-to for its easy-breezy attitude, affordable drinks, and hula-crazy eye candy, so drop in...Read More

  • 9. PDT

    East Village | Bars/Pubs

    Those who crave their cocktails with a little cloak-and-dagger might enjoy the mystery of PDT (which stands for "Please Don't Tell"). Make a...Read More

  • 10. Lit Lounge

    East Village | Live Music

    With a rock roster that's included musical forces as diverse as Devendra Banhart and the Hold Steady, Lit is a wonderfully grungy East Village...Read More

  • 11. Eastern Bloc

    East Village | Dance Clubs

    Sweaty guys pack into this tiny, dingy hot spot to dance in scarlet light beneath hammer-and-sickle-theme decor. The scantily outfitted dervishes...Read More

  • 12. Shoolbred's

    East Village | Bars/Pubs

    Scotland colonizes the East Village at this splendidly appointed pub, complete with staff people dressed like golfers, stained-glass church...Read More

  • 13. Temple Bar

    East Village | Bars/Pubs

    Unmarked and famous for its classic cocktails and romantic atmosphere, Temple is prime date territory, especially once you drift past the sleek...Read More

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