An often-touted benefit of being a PATH or ferry ride from Manhattan is the ease of getting to and going out there, but these top-shelf cocktail dens prove you needn’t cross the Hudson for a quality night on the town.
In recent years, a serious food and beverage scene has stirred things up in Jersey City and Hoboken, bringing a renewed diversity of drinking and dining venues on par with their nearby bigger-city counterparts. That holds particularly true in the craft cocktail realm, whether you’re seeking a round of brunch time bellinis or a smoky nightcap.
From enduring classics to promising newcomers, these must-hit mixology hotspots are worth a visit no matter what side of the river you live on.
With its exposed brick and stamped tin ceiling, Franklin Social presents first as a charming tavern with a something-for-everyone menu. It’s also home to a handsome attic bar called The Junto, a velvety and intimate space with stained glass, a fireplace, and just 26 seats — hence why it only welcomes parties of four-or-less. Whichever flavor you choose, you can order knowing the cocktail program means business. The “Daily Dose,” for example, couples Iwai 45 Japanese whiskey with amaro, cold brew, and crème de cacao, brought out with molé bitters and demerara. On the shaken side, “An Apple a Day” features armagnac, Bristol Cream Sherry, cinnamon, allspice, lemon, and egg white. There’s even a “free-spirited” section of the menu with non-alcoholic options.
292 Barrow Street, Jersey City
History gave Hoboken no greater ambassador than Frank Sinatra, a native son who was expelled from high school here for “general rowdiness” and began his crooning career on the local club circuit. Entered through a bookshelf in neighboring eatery Panela, this dressy cocktail den is more than some gratuitous tribute: It occupies the original site of the Clam Broth House, a hallowed Hoboken cultural institution frequented by ‘ol blue eyes himself — he even performed there when it, too, moonlighted as a speakeasy. While it’s only open Fridays and Saturdays, the Sinatra Room is a hidden treasure, delivering an experience you won’t find elsewhere.
36 Newark Street, Mile Square, Hoboken
Dating to 1895, this corner bistro on the corner of Washington and 10th is the oldest continuously-operating bar in Hoboken, a feat owed in part to fronting as a beauty parlor through the baker’s dozen years of Prohibition. Period details add rich dimension to the space, which boasts original plaster and horsehair ceilings — elaborately adorned with rabbits and cherubs — and pleasantly-faded murals. Outside packs the vibe of a Parisian sidewalk cafe, with ample seating and the delightful shade of lush trees. The drinks are good quality and affordably priced — ’The Amelia,’ with vodka, elderflower, and blackberry purée, is credited to Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric, the cocktail legends behind Manhattan’s Employees Only.
1001 Washington Street, Hoboken
All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but you don’t have to be like Jack. There’s nothing at all dull about this vibrant-and-vintagey hang two blocks from the Grove Street PATH, serving an eclectic food menu (PSA: there’s rangoons) and very solid liquids. The cocktail list, with original signatures and classics, runs the gamut from tiki-and-tequila drinks to bourbon on rye on Islay, meaning no one is going thirsty. The aft of the place feels date-y, with single-file rows of retro, aluminum-edged laminate two-tops under swing arm lamps between walls of whitewashed brick or covered in old paperbacks. There’s a big bar up front and a sizable color-splashed backyard, called the Pala Bar, that screens outdoor movies weekly.
364 Grove Street, Jersey City
Figuratively speaking, South House is your cool vintage fashion-rocking friend who lived in Nashville for awhile, posted an Instagram selfie in front of Prada Marfa, and probably went to SXSW every year until it wasn’t cool anymore. What we mean by this, of course, is that every time’s a good time at South House. The place is big, laid-back, and full of flavors, whether you’re feeling apple cider mimosas over a brisket-and-biscuit brunch or a punky tequila drink with late-night live music. The cocktail list leans in a spicy/citrus/stonefruit-forward direction, and while the options are many, they all have one thing in common: the same price.