When I was in my teens, I watched a lot of “Cheers” re-runs, and thus I always imagined going to a bar where everybody knew my name. Of course, living in New York City and finding a place like that in Manhattan makes that a little bit more difficult for a young, black professional. Naturally, there are plenty of spots for black people in Harlem, but many of those tend to cater to a much older crowd. But having been in New York for quite some time now, I have managed to comb through many a bar in Manhattan, and I have a few spots worthy of regular attendance.
Here is our list of the Best Bars for young, black professionals in New York City.
Nectar Wine Bar – 2235 Frederick Douglass Boulevard
When it comes to a nice, serene, modern and friendly atmosphere, you really can’t beat this little spot in Soha. Located in the burgeoning section of Central Harlem, Nectar draws all sorts of people to its contemporary milieu; still, the predominant clientele is of a darker hue. However, this isn’t the place to get rowdy, belligerently drunk or have a loud, boisterous conversation. With its peaceful yet trendy environment, Nectar caters best to a fun, young couple or a small group of friends. Together, you can sample their cheeses, try a new wine or just sit back and enjoy partaking in the pleasures of being young, black and fabulous.
UPPER WEST SIDE
Sugar Bar – 254 West 72nd Street
At the Sugar Bar, you come for the drinks and you leave with a full belly. With specialty cocktails and a full menu that will make the most entrenched soul-food lover a new believer, Sugar Bar encompasses black, Caribbean and African culture like very few places in Manhattan. The Sugartinis will shockingly get you drink, and soul music will take advantage of your tipsy disposition. Seeing as how this place is kind of pricey, a slightly older clientele is to be expected, but numerous twenty-something buppies frequent this place during prime nightlife hours.
UPPER WEST SIDE
Shark Bar – 307 Amsterdam Avenue
Don’t underestimate the power of the shark to lure in loads of black people throughout the week. While Shark Bar tends to ward off some of the older patrons who remember the Shark Bar of yesteryear, the venue hasn’t declined to such a degree that young, black professionals have been scared away. The music is always great, and the drink concoctions never fail to disappoint. While the entrees and food service seem to have faded since Shark Bar’s heyday under Oprah Winfrey’s ownership, this is still a great place to bring friends, shoot the shit and enjoy being in the company of other black folks like yourself.
Tillman’s Bar & Lounge – 165 West 26th Street
Tillman’s brings a touch of Harlem to the Fashion District, inviting area young, black professionals to the establishment, often during the afterwork party hours. Monday and Thursday nights are when you’re most likely to see a crowd of black people in the building, as Tillman’s offer open mics and live music on these days. If you come with a group of people, don’t be afraid to grab a table and try one of Tillman’s many specialty soul food entrees. Often it’s the Monte Cristo that gets the best reviews from the brothas and sistas we know.
Moca Bar & Lounge – 2210 Frederick Douglass Boulevard
Moca is a surprising little watering hole in Central Harlem. Although rather mundane looking on the outside, inside, Moca is set up with a trendy and homey feel that is easy to enjoy. Moca has happy hours every day of the week, making this place a popular destination for young, black professionals in the area. Most nights, they have some kind of a drink-purchase minimum, so intend on coming and staying for a while just to get your money’s worth. If there’s something special on television, like a big game, a Presidential conference or another unilaterally, unfulfilling episode of Black in America, you can be sure it will be on the HDTV at Moca, where many a stimulating conversation fills the room up with a delightful chatter.