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6 Best Piano Bars In New York

June 21, 2012 6:00 AM

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

“Piano bars” can imply many things: Cheesy dueling keyboardists belting out Billy Joel singalongs; aging, off-key chanteuses working their way hoarsely through Sinatra; or unappreciated Julliard grads etude-ing Chopin while no one listens. Or, it can mean lovely light jazz enhancing a meal, or the soundtrack to a boisterous social scene lasting late into the night. Let’s go with those.
nightlife muisc piano bars bar henry bistro 6 Best Piano Bars In New York

Photo Credit: barhenryny.com

Bar Henry Bistro
90 W Houston St. (between Laguardia Place and Thompson St.)
New York, NY 10012
(646) 448-4559
barhenryny.com

This old school Village spot, with its black-and-white checkered tile flooring and Edwardian atmosphere, is best known for its quality wine selection and nightly jazz music (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday). Though it’s only been open since late 2009, it has the feel of a place Kerouac might have visited. Thursday is Solo Piano Night, with a new guest—past performers have included local faves like Adam Birnbaum and Bryn Roberts—each week from 8 p.m. to midnight. The respectable wine list (with 1/2 bottles available on many offerings), decent cocktails and a mostly over-30 neighborhood crowd add to the convivial feel.

131991687 6 Best Piano Bars In New York

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

Duplex Piano Bar
61 Christopher St. (at 7th Ave.)
New York, NY 10014
(212) 255-5438
theduplex.com

This gay-friendly (and open to all), sing-along friendly multi-level bar is both an engaging stop in the West Village for a couple of drinks and some lively music, and an all-night dance party and home to New York’s longest-running continuous cabaret theater. The Duplex staff (many are professional musicians) kicks things off at 9 p.m. singing while they work. Broadway tunes, American Songbook, 80s pop and plenty of Gaga get thrown into the mix. On Sunday nights, find staffers Brian Nash, Poppi Kramer and Shanna Sharp hitting the keys. A word of warning: The karaoke competition here can be fierce.

nightlife muisc piano bar silver lining 6 Best Piano Bars In New York

Photo Credit: Silver Lining via Facebook

Silver Lining
75 Murray St. (between Broadway and Greenwich)
New York, NY 10007
(212) 513-1234
silverliningbar.com

This year-old Tribeca speakeasy from the folks behind Little Branch, serves up delicious craft cocktails and small bites. The long dark bar is inviting and friendly. What makes it stand out from the crowd, apart from excellent cocktails and the larger-than-usual space, is the piano at the end of the bar. Local jazz favorites like The Joel Forrester Trio, Tal Ronen and the Larry Ham Trio perform nightly, and the dulcet notes of the piano sound when the band isn’t playing on. Slide comfortably into a Rum Buck or La Floridita cocktail, nosh on Ceviche or an invigorating cheese plate, and let the music navigate you through the clouds in your life.

RelatedBest NYC Jazz Clubs

139555510 6 Best Piano Bars In New York

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

Brandy’s Piano Bar
235 E 84th St (between 2nd and 3rd Aves)
New York, NY 10028
(212) 744-4949
brandyspianobar.com

Though it gets crowded on weekends, Brandy’s is an NYC institution many people don’t even know exists. Opened in 1979, you’ll find all the necessary elements of a piano bar: singalong pop, jazz and R&B standards, crooning bartenders and waitstaff, the occasional Broadway celebrity and a veneer of wear and tear that only add authenticity and a welcoming aura. Live music begins at 9:30 and proceeds until “very late” (usually 2 a.m. or 3 a.m.) On Wednesdays, Elliot Roth (Our Sinatra) tickles the ivories, often joined at the mike by industry veterans. There is a two-drink minimum for table seating, but no cover charge, and the drink costs won’t break your piggy bank.

RelatedInsider’s Guide to NYC’s Best Pub Crawls

nightlife music piano bar manhattan inn 6 Best Piano Bars In New York

Photo Credit: themanhattaninn.com

The Manhattan Inn
632 Manhattan Ave (between Nassau and Bedford Aves)
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 383-0885
themanhattaninn.com

This three-year-old piano bar and restaurant north of McCarren Park is ideally situated to begin or end a craft cocktail bar crawl through northern Williamsburg and Greenpoint (may we suggest swinging by The Shanty first?). From 7 p.m. – 10 p.m., a rotating cast of pianists play classics, jazz and original light music on a white baby grand during dinner. Afterwards, Joe McGinty fires up the ivories for Piano Karaoke. Enjoy seasonal New American cuisine and craft cocktails and beer. Saturday and Sunday brunches are also music-enhanced. Large crowds can sometimes mean confused seating and delayed orders.

nightlife music piano bars the astor room 6 Best Piano Bars In New York

Photo Credit: The Astor Room via Facebook

The Astor Room
34-12 36th St (at 35th Ave.)
New York, NY 11106
(718) 255-1947
astorroom.com

Enhancing the Pre-Prohibition vibe of this re-designed former cantina in the Kaufman Astoria film studios, you’ll find a small jazz trio or pianist performing everything from Tin Pan Alley to Sinatra and 1940s show tunes almost nightly. On Friday nights, the New York Songwriter’s Circle features up-and-coming artists from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. While chef Richard Pim’s contemporary updates of classic New York dishes like Lobster Thermidor, Oysters Rockefeller and Caesar Salad soothe the palate, and the bar’s riffs on classic cocktails maintain the mood, we could do with much less of the large-screen TV (over the pianist’s head) channel-flipping between Hollywood musicals and the Knicks game.

RelatedNYC’s 5 Best Bars for Rum

Robert Haynes-Peterson is an editor and freelance writer living in New York. He is certified by the American Sommelier Association through its 24-week Vinification and Viticulture program, and the government of Mexico through its Master Mezcalier program (continuing). His work can be found at Examiner.com.
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