As the New Year steadily approaches, we often can’t help but look back and see what it was we did and didn’t get to do with our past year.
With the city always evolving, it's virtually impossible to catch every new hot thing that pops up.
But rather than be a downer about it, we want to raise a glass to some of the newcomers this year that did more than just help us wet our whistle.
Here are some of the bars that came into their own this past year, and who you might want to catch a happy hour at before 2016.
1. The Happiest Hour (121 West 10th Street)
thehappiesthournyc We know it's Monday, but...cocktail, anyone? 🍹🍻🍸
A retro and vibrant cocktail lounge in Greenwich Village, the auras from the palm tree-painted walls and dim décor make The Happiest Hour a truly warm place to hunker down on a winter night.
Former NoMad bartender, Jim Kearns, created their innovative cocktail menu, including house favorite What The Doctor Ordered, a prescriptive mix of Sarsaparilla, vanilla, wintergreen and your preference of Rye, aged rum or scotch that will cure any holiday heartbreak.
2. Fawkner (191 Smith Street - Brooklyn)
bre_sommer The only place that will make me a true Wisconsin old fashioned 🙏#fawkner #cobblehill
Since opening this past summer, Fawkner has become an after-work neighborhood hotspot, especially for the Brooklyn Magazine crowd, whose offices are merely blocks away. The Cobble Hill haunt features not only a healthy beer and wine list, but a unique cocktail menu as well.
What sets Fawkner apart is that sheer amount of space it has, divided into two sides: a large, window-lined front bar with tables and chairs, and a comfy lounge in the back awash with plush couches with a real working fireplace.
3. Sek’end Sun (32-11 Broadway - Queens)
cubicle57blog @sekendsun, for when you want to have dinner in your backyard during happy hour but oops realize you don't have a backyard, ok! #astoryofastoria #astoryofsummer #sekendsun
Astoria has gotten a huge overhaul in the past few years when it comes to bars and restaurants, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Planted right on one of the neighborhood’s busiest thoroughfares sits this surprising Queens newcomer.
With large windows overlooking Broadway, Sek’end Sun’s rustic, wooden interior makes for a pretty comfortable watering hole. Their taste of the tropics, Late Season Acquisition, mixes pineapple, orange liqueur and apricot shrub, along with gin for a sublime wintery escape, even if only for happy hour.
4. The West End Lounge (955 West End Avenue)
What used to be dim Columbia sports bar took an upward climb this past year with a revamped bar and cabaret concept. In addition to the new urban feel, the lounge hosts regular drag, cabaret and musical shows, which have brought out both big Broadway names and new undiscovered talent alike.
And with a show, you’ll want food, right? This Upper West Side gem has got your appetite covered with a full kitchen that serves exceptional light bites all the way until 4 a.m. Their electric fish bowls have also become a legend among patrons. It’s a solid place for everything you’d want in a night out.,
5. Boots & Saddle (100A 7th Avenue South)
caught_in_nyc #partyhard #bootsandsaddle #liveloud #onelife #newyorkcity #gay #gaypride #bringit @bootsandsaddlenyc
Speaking of bars that got a facelift, this longtime West Village staple got an entire full-body transplant! Moving from their tiny Christopher Street location, they re-launched just around the corner at the old Actors Playhouse. And boy what a change it is.
A sprawling lounge venue that can now hold more than double than its previous location, Boots & Saddle is truly a nightlife comeback story. Some of the hottest drag queens in the NYC scene like Marti Gould Cummings, Alexis Michelle, Bootsie Lefaris, Ari Kiki and Brita Filter also headline here weekly.
6. Chilo’s (323 Franklin Avenue - Brooklyn)
chilosbk We're almost winterized! We'll be ready with hot drinks and the #winter #backyard #patio very soon! until then, grab a #tamale and a #cerveza and wait it out with us! #isitwinteryet
Yeah, it’s still December, but it’s also been 50 degrees every day, so until winter decides to get in gear, bars with outdoor spaces are still valid options. Among the open-air newcomers is Chilo’s, a Bed-Stuy outdoor drinking spot complete with, brace yourself, a taco truck.
The poison of choice here is hands down one of their slushy concoctions that most who have had them can only describe as “dangerous.” See if you can handle just one of their delightful daiquiris while you’re chowing down on a cactus and beef tostada.
7. Station LIC (10-37 Jackson Avenue - Queens)
stationlic Holy Hand Grenade tonight! live Jazz 8-11 #stationlic #cocktails #rose #lic #livejazz
Much like its name implies, this Long Island City greenhorn takes its cues from, you guessed it, the NYC subways. Situated literally inches from the Vernon-Jackson stop on the 7 line, you are surrounded by historic subway artifacts and décor from the moment you walk in.
In addition to a selection of bar bites, their specialty cocktail menu gets you right back on the subway with The Derailer, a blaring red mix of bourbon, maraschino cherry liquor, simple syrup and absinthe, or The Conductor, full of apple jack, mandarin ginger roasted rice vinegar and honey chrysanthemum.
8. Bar Cyrk (88 Thomas Street)
barcyrk Where it all happens! #barcyrk #cyrk #cocktailsnyc #datingnyc #downtown #elegance #loves_nyc #manhattan #nyc #NY #deco #newyork #nyccocktails #newyork_instagram #chandelier #tribeca #gobarcyrk
You’ll feel like you’re right under the lights of The Great White Way at this glam TriBeCa speakeasy. Glitzy chandeliers and elaborate lighting schemes give this one-of-a-kind spot all the old New York ambiance one venue can handle.
Although you don’t have to go all the way downtown for great pizza, Bar Cyrk’s has become the talk of the town, done right like New York pizza should be. Continuing with classic city traditions, try their signature Egg Cream Cocktail, a smooth blend of Valrhona chocolate, creme de cacao and Godiva dark chocolate.
Check out 7 Best New NYC Restaurants of 2015.[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]