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Get Lit: 7 NYC Bars for Book Lovers

By / January 31, 2018

There’s something that feels a little extra sophisticated about enjoying a drink in the same spots that famed authors, poets, and playwrights of decades past once frequented. While most of these bars were actual stomping grounds for literary heroes, we threw in a couple of newer places to the NYC bar scene that serve as homages to some of our favorite wordsmiths.

I expect the full cast of That 70s Show to be regulars here. 📷+📍:@bargonzonyc

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Bar Gonzo


Prepare to be transported to the 70s upon entering this lively bar, which was inspired by writers like Hunter S. Thompson and George Plimpton. Neon signs and colorful decor throughout the bar, such as peacock statues, make for a vibrant place to enjoy creative, retro-themed cocktails like the Jasmine Bellini Blossom (Jasmine Tea-Infused Gin, Peach, Lime, and Sparkling Wine) and Above the Clouds (Joto Yuzu Sake, Fords Gin, and Pear).


Blue Bar at The Algonquin


Soon after opening its doors in 1902, The Algonquin attracted a group of New York City writers, actors, and critics who became known as the “Algonquin Round Table.” This group of people, which included writers Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman, and Robert Benchley, met daily at the hotel from 1919 to 1929. Today’s experience is a far more costly one than it was for these bright minds, with cocktails nearing $20 a piece, but hey, sophistication comes at a price.


Dorian Gray Tap and Grill


Dozens of black and white photos of writers line the walls everywhere you look at this intimate Irish pub, which is actually owned by Oscar Wilde’s great-grandnephew. And although you can stop in any day of the week for solid gastropub fare like Bangers and Mash and Shepherd’s Pie, you’ll also find one of the best prix-fixe weekend brunch deals in all of Alphabet City, with an entree, coffee, and mimosa or Bloody Mary only setting you back $15.


Kettle of Fish


Kettle of Fish began as a popular hangout for talented minds like Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan when it opened on Macdougal Street in 1950. Although it now calls its newer location on Christopher Street home, the bar still attracts intellectuals galore as well as Green Bay Packers fans. While we’re not sure exactly how that came to be, we do know that the back room at Kettle of Fish is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of Greenwich Village. Sofas, board games, dart boards, and pinball machines make it a fun hang any night of the week.


Oscar Wilde


This swanky newcomer pays homage to the late, great Irish playwright it’s named after by exuding an aura of sophisticated debauchery. There’s so much to love about this bar, but our favorite feature is that it’s home to NYC’s longest bar, measuring in at 118.5 feet. We also love its random quirks, like the 26 antique clocks all set to 1:50, the time of Oscar Wilde’s death.



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The Dead Poet


A former English teacher opened this small uptown bar as a tribute to his two loves: Irish pubs and famous writers. In business for almost two decades, The Dead Poet features a warm and welcoming vibe, with mahogany-panelled walls that hold a fun mix of black and white portraits, famous quotes, and poetic passages. In addition to a cocktail menu of drinks named after famous works like The Raven and Man In The Iron Mask, you’ll also find a small library filled with classics that visitors can actually borrow.


White Horse Tavern, 1880

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White Horse Tavern


Since opening in 1880, White Horse Tavern has been a favorite for writers, with its most famous patrons including Norman Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, and Anaïs Nin. Along with being one of the last open bars from the bohemian era, it’s also known for being the bar that led to poet Dylan Thomas’ death in 1953. After drinking one too many glasses of whiskey, Thomas collapsed on the sidewalk outside of the bar before falling into a coma and dying at St. Vincent’s hospital.


Melanie is a Jersey girl who now calls Brooklyn home. She’s written for Fuse TV, MTV News, Interview Magazine and more, and enjoys creating content that informs, inspires and entertains people. She’s passionate about music, running, cheese and dachshunds, and her husband fully accepts her love affair with NYC.

More articles by Melanie Gardiner



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