Fellow New Yorkers! Did you know that there are bars around the city that are dedicated to book lovers? It’s true! In this article I will be listing and describing nine awesome bookish bars.
image via the writing room
1. The writing room, 1703 2nd avenue
This casual fine dining/bar was originally known as Elaine’s fifty years ago, a space where celebrities, screen writes, NY notables and locals alike frequented. This new space opened up in 2011 by delivering something different to the ever-changing neighborhood while still paying homage to the building’s history. The Writing Room’s concept involves an open kitchen speckled with subway tiles in the bar room, which is meant to take diners back to simpler times while, again, paying homage to the original Elaine’s. Its literary theme is emphasized in the main dining room, with hanging photos inspired by famous authors, libraries, and writers. The space also has bookshelves with handpicked hardcovers and paperbacks!
image via nick solares on ny eater
2. chumley’s, 86 bedford street
Chumley’s was originally opened up as a speakeasy in 1922. It became a favorite spot for influential writers, poets, playwrights, journalists, and activists, including members of the Lost Generation and the Beat Generation movements. Today, it is an American restaurant that offers spins on quintessential New York dishes paired with classic cocktails. Echoing its 1920s Prohibition-speakeasy origins, the restaurant today is decorated in 1920s style and glamour, adorned with the book jackets and famous faces of writers who drank at the former speakeasy. The space is hosting a ‘Roaring Twenties’ event on March 23, 2020. The event’s cocktail hour starts at 6:30PM with a seated dinner and dancing at 7:30PM. They will be serving dishes relevant to the time period, and you can smoke candy cigarettes and drink from a champagne tower. If you’re interested, going on their website will bring up a window describing the event, along with a link to get tickets on Resy.
image via the dead poet
3. the dead poet, 450 amsterdam avenue 2
Combining his passion for Irish pubs and literature, owner Drew Dvorkin opened The Dead Poet in 2000. Drew was formerly a high school English teacher, who designed the bar to celebrate the lives of deceased famous writers and poets. The bar has mahogany-panelled walls adorned with black and white photos, quotations, and poetic philosophical passages. If you’d like, you can get a glass full of their signature cocktails, get a pint of premium beer, or sample from their Irish whiskey menu. They even let you browse their library of classic literature and you can even sign out books to take home! If you’re into music, they also have a jukebox.
image via i love the upper west side
4. Shakespeare & co, 2020 broadway
Shakespeare & Co. has three bookstores in Manhattan, with all three focusing on selling books as well as materials to Hunter College and Marymount Manhattan College students. All three locations include a cafe where readers can grab a drink or bite to eat while enjoying a good book. However, the one at 2020 Broadway recently expanded their hours and started serving wine and beer in their storefront cafe, which makes it a perfect after-work spot to have a drink and unwind with a good book!
image via buzz tonight
5. the library at the nomad hotel, 1170 broadway
The Library at the Nomad Hotel is a fully curated, two-floor library with an original spiral staircase from France! Readers can lounge on nice couches while eating finger foods alongside coffee, tea, wine, and cocktails. Overall, the space is stylish and classy, though it is a bit expensive. Keep in mind that after 4PM, the library is only accessible via guests of The NoMad Hotel.
image via library hotel collection
6. the bookmarks lounge at the library hotel, 299 Madison Avenue
This literary-themed bar is located at The Library Hotel, which interestingly enough, has its floors titled after Dewey Decimal system categories. The bar is located on a rooftop, and it has a literary air twisted with a corporate feel. It features a mahogany fireplace with little bookshelves scattered around and fancy patio furniture out on the terrace. The bar features cocktails like The Pulitzer (gin, elderflower liqueur, Fernet, agave nectar) or Dante’s Inferno (mezcal, blood orange liqueur, Aperol).
image via book club bar
7. book club bar, 197 e 3rd street
This bookstore opened up in November 2019 and serves as a community hub for the East Village. It self-describes itself as “a new kind of independent bookstore featuring top-notch coffee, beer, and wine.” The owners, Erin Neary and Nat Esten, have been living in the East Village for over a decade, and they wanted the bookstore to reflect the dynamic neighborhood. The decor is designed to feel like a living room, the multiple bookcases feature a curated book inventory, and their locally roasted coffee and NY state craft beers finish off the experience.
image via obed obwoge on teen vogue
8. the lit. bar, 131 alexander avenue
The Lit. Bar was opened by Noëlle Santos in April of 2019 after her dream to create the first indie bookstore in the borough for years. As a fellow Bronxite, Noëlle earned her business/accounting degree from Lehman college in 2009 and a master’s degree in Human Resources management in 2012. The Lit. Bar that she opened is supposed to be as multifaceted as her, as she says: a bookstore/wine bar/community center. The bookstore serves wine and even holds wine tastings, readings, and book clubs.
image via caroline shadood on brokelyn
9. molasses bookstore, 770 hart street
Molasses Bookstore was opened in July of 2012 by Matthew Winn, and according to him, his bookstore is built for lingering. He wants the place to be affordable, with the average book being in the $1 to $10 range. There are also art books sold at Molasses, though these are a little pricier, from $15 to $25. The bookstore even has its own main feature feature: a barter system. Readers can trade books for coffee or for other books, and eventually beer and wine. Essentially, you’re trading in old books you may no longer want for store credit. If you want to trade in a book, you can get up to 30% resale value – more so in trade value than in cash.
featured image via Thrillist
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