Channel Your Inner Hemingway at the 5 Best Literary-Themed Bars in NYC

New York has no shortage of themed bars, and a wide variety at that. There's the Soviet-inspired KGB Bar in the East Village and the comic book-centric Gotham City Lounge in Brooklyn. 

While those are definitely fun on certain occasions, maybe you're looking for something less campy and a little more comfortable.

If books are more exciting to you than the latest Hollywood blockbuster, and writers and authors might as well be Leonardo DiCaprio for their ability to make you starstruck, then you'll be right at home in these cozy spots where books are the main attraction.

You know a couple of these are seriously legit too, because they were actually frequented by some serious literary greats.

Here are some of the best book bars in NYC:

1. The Library at the Nomad Hotel (1170 Broadway & 28th Street)


The Library looks like the private library that every book lover has dream-designed in their own mind at some point. And while The Library doesn't have a trick bookshelf that swings open into a secret passageway (a missed opportunity, TBH) it does have floor-to-ceiling books and a spiral staircase. 


The two-level space feels more like being in a friend's mansion than in a bar. Be sure to go before 4 p.m., when it is still open to the public, rather than only hotel guests.

2. Chumley's (86 Bedford Street) 


The name alone isn't very revealing as to what awaits you inside, but Chumley's has been a West Village establishment since 1922 when it operated as a speakeasy and some of its most frequent customers were F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (casual). 

It recently reopened after a 10-year hiatus and is now a restaurant, too. What are you waiting for, Old Sport?

3. Molasses Bookstore (770 Hart Street – Brooklyn)

TimeOut NY

Molasses Bookstore is equal parts bar and bookshop. Cozy up at the counter or at a table in the light-filled space and order a glass of wine or a beer, maybe even purchase one of their used books to take home. 

Bonus– you can even barter your way to a drink here, provided you have some used books that are worthy. So be sure to search your shelves before stopping in!

4. The Writing Room (1703 2nd Avenue)

The Writing Room

More drinking and dining goes on in this cozy space than actual writing in this Upper East Side space (this is no coffee shop) but the built-in bookshelves and photography of famous authors and libraries lining the walls might have you leaving feeling inspired to write something of your own. 

5. The Dead Poet (450 Amsterdam Avenue #2)

On the Grid

This Upper West Side Bar is long and narrow in space but big on charm where cocktails are named for – you guessed it – famous poets. Care for a Langston Hughes or an Edgar Allen Poe, anyone? 

Or, order a Treasure Island or A Streetcar Named Desire from the seasonally updated "reading list." 


Be sure to check out the last pages of the menu for a list of famous writers' birthdays. If you happen to share a birthday with one, let the bartender know. You're in for a treat. 

6. Bookmarks Bar at the Library Hotel (299 Madison Avenue)

News Day

On the 14th floor of the appropriately named Library Hotel in Midtown, you'll find Bookmarks, which has a rooftop, an outdoor terrace called The Poetry Garden, and a writer's den. 

Try the Tequila Mockingbird or Dante's Inferno. It's book-themed and it has a rooftop bar, what more do you need to know?

[Feature Image Courtesy TimeOut NY] 

get spoiled in your inbox