New York's reputation as a drinking town has always been defined by distinct eras of bar openings. But rather than ushering in radical change, 2016 saw the city's bar scene grow into itself. Instead of buzzy new trends taking hold, various established drinking tropes—from razor-sharp craft-beer curation, to ambitious booze-friendly cooking—showed great signs of maturity.
Take, for instance, the bar As Is, which despite its un-Googleable name, boasts one of the finest beer lists in the country in one of the most unassuming Midtown neighborhoods. It's a wallflower with high ambitions, a testament to the great strides the city's bar scene has taken. The same can be said for the synergy between kitchens and bar programs, with places like Sauvage updating the brasserie playbook thanks to the deft touch of the celebrated Maison Premiere team.
That's left us with a grab bag of bar personalities all vying for our attention. Yet that crisis of identity, if you want to call it that, can be a blessing in disguise for barflies who don't want to feel beholden to fads.
While a lack of focus makes it harder to sift through the newcomers, the places that did rise to the top this year were that much more noteworthy. Either way, we're still happy to drink the fruits of their labor.
Here are the best new bars of 2016.