Drinks

NYC's Coolest New Bars to Try out This Summer

Don't miss the boat on these seasonal hot spots, complete with oysters, spritzes and beautiful people
Island Oyster and Pilot NYC
Photos: Island Oyster

New Yorkers, make way for the city's coolest new bars. From the folks who brought you Grand Banks, the effortlessly chic oyster bar on a fishing schooner docked in Tribeca, come two new summer hot spots that you should check out ASAP. As soon as the rest of NYC (and all the people visiting this summer) catch wind of these new bars, the lines to get in will be stacked. So get there before everyone else does.

 

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The first bar, Island Oyster, soft-opened a few weeks ago and just started serving food last week. Expect oysters, lobster rolls, smoked bluefish pâté and a burger from chef Kerry Heffernan, inventor of the Shack Burger. Beer is light and often local (Brooklyn and Montauk breweries are favorites), wine can be found by the bottle but also on tap, and "a spritzer menu is in the works," co-owner Alex Pincus, who owns Grand Banks and the new bars with his brother, Miles, tells us. He's particularly excited that they've found a good Prosecco to put on tap, which makes it more affordable—and all the easier to drink.

But, really, it's all about one thing: location, location, location. Island Oyster is on Governors Island. "It's the only stand-alone restaurant on the island," Alex says. You can now take in the river and city views from a vantage point you previously got only if you went out to the island for a bike ride or food truck refreshments. Just make sure you don't overdo it on the Jungle Bird cocktail—Black Strap rum, Campari, lime and pineapples—and miss the boat home. (Governors Island is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and weekends, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

 

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At 32,000 square-feet, fitting 600 people, the scale is on a whole other level than Grand Banks, and it's taken some adjusting for the team. The good news for everyone else is that it should be easier to snag a table than at the notoriously packed Tribeca schooner, which is still drawing crowds three years in.

Pilot, the next oyster bar, is set to open later this month or some time in August. Like Grand Banks, "it's an oyster bar on a historic boat, but we also wanted to bring in some of our New Orleans heritage to the restaurant," Alex explains. That means cocktails with a "Southern profile" and soft-shell crab po'boys. The more than 100-year-old wooden boat will be docked off Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, bringing even more action to the growing tourist destination that's exploded in recent years.

 

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As if you needed another reason to check out the new digs, you can also feel good about spending long afternoons drinking and eating oysters at the Pincus brothers' projects. Sustainability has always been important to the two, so following their sourcing practices at Grand Banks, all seafood at Island Oyster and Pilot will be sustainable, too.

"We purchase fish from fisherman that we know. Same goes for our oysters. We only use two oyster suppliers: Island Creek and Blue Island," Alex says. Island Oyster is also currently working with nonprofit Billion Oyster Project, which is also based on Governors Island and works to clean the rivers by building oyster reefs.

Get to Island Oyster now before it closes up shop for the season (at the end of September) and look out for Pilot's debut.

  • Go for the Views

    A view of the newly opened bar, with the Manhattan skyline in the background.

  • Stay for the People-Watching

    The new spot is 32,000 square feet and fits up to 600 people.

  • Feast on Oysters and Lobster Rolls

    The kitchen just opened, so grab a lobster roll, a burger and all the oysters you want.

  • Down a Drink (or Six)

    Cocktails are light and refreshing, with plenty of low-ABV options—perfect for day drinking.

  • Don't Hold Back

    Boozier options include The Sunflower, made with gin, elderflower liqueur and absinthe.

  • Explore Governor's Island

    While you're out there, don't forget to explore the historic island. Just don't explore too long, or you'll miss the ferry home.

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