The Absolute Best Bar You Can Rent Out in New York

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Bongo thrives on private events. Photo: Liz Clayman

New York is lousy with event spaces that all look the same: white, flowy curtains; overstuffed vinyl seating; spindly tables; and bored bartenders. But if you know where to look, there are some venues you can rent (within a reasonable budget!) that still have character and a point of view. Hosting a 50th birthday? Divorce party? Fundraiser for your City Council run? Here are the absolute best bars you can rent out.

The Absolute Best

1. Bongo
395 West St., at W. 10th St.; 212-675-6555

After moving from their previous location on Tenth Avenue, owners Andrea Cohen and Jeffrey Wells reopened Bongo on a secluded corner of West Street in 2009, recreating their tasteful, eye-catching mid-century aesthetic, and adding airy vibes and views of the Hudson River. This bar thrives on private events, and it knows what it’s doing — the food is finger-friendly (think retro hors d’oeuvres like deviled eggs and pigs in a blanket) and the space has plenty of seating, while still leaving room for spontaneous dancing. With three rooms (a bar area, a living room, and a den), Bongo gives you a healthy ecosystem for drinkers, dancers, and gossipers alike — the three essential species of a good party. The décor details are impressive, too, like the collection of mid-century art glass and pottery above the bar. There’s a list of 30 cocktails to choose from for your event, and they are all strong and celebratory (especially the knockout pomegranate margarita). Everything is served on vintage platters and in retro drinking glasses, and lovely chief bartender Maureen is the opposite of boring. (Prices range from $27 to $80 per person; Capacity: 125)

2. Sid Gold’s Request Room
165 W. 26th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-229-1948

Amid the Flatiron District bar scene (bad music, loud bros, sport screens), Sid Gold’s stands out, and not just because of its excellent live-piano karaoke scene. It’s a softly lit, classy oasis from Joe McGinty and Paul Devitt (Beauty Bar) that features a retro-yet-ageless interior by artist and designer Steven Hammel (who also decorated Beauty Bar). The space exudes a shimmering Sunset Boulevard stylishness, and has hosted events for Google and Yahoo, not to mention the birthday of national treasure Rachel Dratch. (Prices range from $65 to $105 per person; Capacity: 130)

3. Hope & Anchor
347 Van Brunt St., nr. Wolcott St., Brooklyn; 718-237-0276

This unfussy, relaxed Red Hook neighborhood joint is a restaurant that feels like a bar, and plays host to some of the most enjoyable, well-organized karaoke around. Order sweet-potato fries and have at the huge song list. The karaoke hosts are fun; the vibe is friendly; and maybe it’s that gusty, gritty Red Hook energy, but somehow, being way out there on the tip of the borough allows you to shake off your inhibitions and belt out Tina Turner like your life depended on it. The whole space can be rented for groups larger than 30, with flexible party choices for passed apps and platters, plus drink options ranging from open bar to drink tickets. (Prices range from $20 to $100 per person; Capacity: 65)

4. Robert Bar
104 Bond St., nr. Pacific St., Brooklyn; 347-853-8687

This deeply hued, intimate space is just plain old cool. The interior is almost entirely made from reclaimed materials, including the ceramic tiled walls and ceiling mosaic of dominoes (49,000 in all!). The vintage jukebox is stacked with solid crowd-pleasers (Prince, the Stones), the sound quality is paramount, and the space offers a roster of DJs for hire, to help you set the night to sexy. You can also order food from the owners’ tasty restaurant next door, Building on Bond. (Prices range from $20 to $75 per person; Capacity: 65)

5. Milo’s Yard
564 Seneca Ave., nr. Menahan St., Queens; 347-987-4535

Co-owners (and husband and wife) David Poh and Claudia DeMairo opened this place in June 2015, and it’s since become a beloved hangout in Ridgewood. The bar is well-stocked; there are many seating areas and make-out corners; and the food is delightfully international: think spinach pie, rice balls, Jamaican patties, Chinese pork buns, and Chicago-style hot dogs. Plus, the vintage jukebox plays old 45s — an eclectic mix from the Ohio Players to Mudhoney. Added bonus: the place has six top-notch vintage pinball machines, including Ghostbusters, Terminator 2, and Medusa. (Entire space rental for $200 an hour, with four-hour minimum; Capacity: 100, or 150 with yard)

Honorable Mention

Vin Sur Vingt
1140 Broadway, nr. W. 26th St.; 646-922-7700

NoMad, home of tech venture capitalism, has a plethora of places for start-ups to drink up their investment money. But if you want to celebrate in style, head to Vin Sur Vingt. The classy, narrow, mirrored room offers an unforced elegance and a superb wine selection. (Prices range from $35 to $75 per person; Capacity: 100)