The Absolute Best Pub in New York

What makes an excellent pub? For that matter: What qualifies as a pub, even? Our whiskey-fueled research led us to a few pub signifiers: bars that served food like burgers, fried fish, and French fries with curry sauce; that had walls and bar tops and bathroom sinks that were stuck with various unions’ logo stickers; that boasted regulars who all knew each other, and they all knew the bartenders; and where you were allowed to hang out and drink cheaply, relatively unbothered, for as long as you liked. (And while we don’t think it’s an automatic qualifier, being British or Irish doesn’t hurt.) The 25 listed below, the absolute best pubs in New York, excelled in these categories.

The Absolute Best

1. Swift Hibernian Lounge
34 E. 4th St., nr. Bowery; 212-260-3600

Grouchy Scrooge types might call this place a bit Disney-ish. Well, if Disney-ish means it’s well-maintained, then yes, it’s Disney-ish, but the 21-year-old bar has character in spades. It’s named for the Irish writer Jonathan Swift; scenes from his work are depicted in murals on the wall. There’s a large back room with picnic-table-like seating, and a front room with plenty of barstools and, happily, no televisions to distract your drinking companions. It’s a favorite of bartenders across the city, in part thanks to its reliable 4 a.m. close time, even on Christmas Day. The wooden floors are uneven and run charmingly ragged, and invariably when you take a place at the bar you’ll be seated next to a group like a trio of young Irish men discussing how they can’t remember when they left the bar the night before. There are plenty of tourists, but the bar’s community bona fides are strong; up front, for instance, is a plaque honoring 9/11 firefighters. The food’s excellent — order the fries with curry sauce — and the booze is priced in line with the area. (Plus, the beer list is long and varied, even for this craft-crazy city. Budweiser is $5.50; Achel Bruin is $1o.) But what you want is a Guinness; those particular about how that stout is poured flock here for glasses. In sum: Swift’s a perfect place to end the night, even if you began it there.

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Ryan CrownGrub Street