Ace Lobby Bar
The comfy, wood-paneled Ace Lobby Bar brought an infusion of hipster cool to the quiet Flatiron business district, and quickly become one of the trendiest spots in the city for an after-work cocktail. With squishy button couches, a mounted wolf's head, wood-paneled walls, and book shelves, it looks like the library of an eccentric hunter. Celebrity chef April Bloomfield planned the drinks and food menu, which features snacks like pork scratchings ($5) and fresh cocktails like the Bitter Lemonade (prosecco, aperol, fresh lemon; $11). And if you want to chug delicious Stumptown Coffee and stay on the squishy coushes all night, you can -- the Lobby Bar only closes from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m.
Biergarten; Living Room Lounge
The Standard Biergarten, tucked under the new High Line Park, is a fun after-work hot spot that serves draft beers, oversize pretzels, and bratwurst. Waitresses (sporting trompe l'oeil beer-wench T-shirts) walk around with big baskets of pretzels, while customers gather around the ping-pong tables (it's free to borrow a couple paddles). The more upscale Living Room Lounge is also worth checking out, but you can expect a wait for a table.
Bryant Park's hipis a popular happy hour hangout for the fashion and media types who work in midtown -- so popular that our reporter had a hard time finding a place to sit at 5:45 p.m. But the hotel serves free cocktails to guests from 5 to 6 p.m. on weeknights, so it's hard to complain.
The Living Room
At the hip Living Room, suit-clad after-work revelers vie for the cushy seating next to the bars' enormous windows, where they can watch Union Square pedestrians stream by. Dramatic David Rockwell design and bar food from Olives, a Mediterranean restaurant helmed by celebrity chef Todd English, add to its cachet.
The Empire Hotel Rooftop Bar & Lounge
The Emptire Hotel Rooftop is lower-key than Gansevoort's Plunge in the Meatpacking District, yet its views are even nicer. And when the temperature goes up, drink prices go down -- during happy hour, anyway (the usual $12-14 drinks go down to $8 in the afternoon).
Inc Lounge, decked out in 70's glam rock decor (think: wood-panelled walls, animal print accents, funky mirros) stays rowdy until 4 a.m. on weekends, but it gets a strong after-work showing during the week as well. But it's pricy: Popular drinks like the Viscious Kiss (Citron Vodka, muddled raberry and lemon) and the Lychee Martini cost around $14-15.
Bull and Bear
Covered in rich mahogany and grommeted leather, with a whiff of aged Scotch in the air, Bull and Bear's popular bar is unabashedly masculine and stodgy. It's worth stopping by on a weekday between 5 and 6 p.m. to catch a live airing of the Fox Business show Happy Hour.
Located near Wall Street, the Library Bar at the Gild Hall hotel attracts mature locals as well as guests who sip scotch and microbrews in its plush, wood and leather setting. For some reasonably priced but tasty food, there's also the Libertine gastro-pub, which serves staples like fish 'n' chips, chicken pot pie, and mac and cheese, along with lobster sliders and pear salads.