What’s better than getting a dose of New York history with a pint in hand, or exploring the city on a boat while sipping a cocktail? With tours of Brooklyn’s booming liquor scene to a punk-rock-history pub crawl to a cocktail outing based around the show Mad Men(possibly the most liquor-fueled drama on television) –New York knows how to show itself off, in the most exuberant way possible. Leave the kids at home, and sip away on these adult-only tours.
Hey Ho! Let’s Go! Punk Rock on the Bowery Pub Crawl and Walking Tour with Levys’ Unique New York!
What goes better with punk rock history than a few pints? That’s the idea behind this spunky tour of the Bowery, which delves into the tales of the Dead Rabbits and other gangs of New York that used to grace the streets of the Lower East Side. While the tour starts with these sordid folk, it ends with their predecessors, the punks of New York. During this three-hour jaunt, expect to stop in front of what used to be CBGB’s, an iconic punk club that started in the 1973, and fuel up at the original dive bar — Grassroots Tavern on St. Marks Place.
DETAILS: Schedules Vary; $45pp; levysuniqueny.com
Brewed in Brooklyn Tour
Brooklyn was a melting pot of booze-producing companies before prohibition, when liquor became illegal and they shut down. The business of brewing and distilling obviously rebounded, and Brooklyn has seen a recent resurgence in artisanal alcohol makers. Urban Oyster’s Brewed in Brooklyn Tour celebrates the borough’s hoppier creations, and includes a private tour of a working brewery (with tastings, of course) and a walk down the old Brewers Row, plus a lunch of pizza and craft beers — a perfect, oh-so-Brooklyn combination.
DETAILS: Sat. 12pm- 3:30pm and 1pm-4:30; from $58.50 pp (get tickets!); 79 N. 11th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Shearwater Wine Tasting Sail by Manhattan Sail
Whether you choose to take a wine cruise to learn about varietals or just to drink while sailing on a sunny afternoon, the Shearwater Wine Tasting Sail by Manhattan Sail is the way to go. The cruise is on a historic 1920s Newport-style Shearwater yacht and you will have your pick of sommelier-approved vintages from a different theme (such as organic wines) as well as a gourmet cheese spread. The two-hour cruise departs on Sundays at 4:30pm from the North Cove Marina in Battery Park City and is available from April to October.
Hell’s Kitchen Pub Crawl
Many people don’t realize the torrid past of Hell’s Kitchen, an area that before it was trendy was known as the shady side of Times Square. Instead of chic restaurants and bars, you found bootleggers, adult bookstores, prostitution, gang wars and other less-than-savory behavior. During the three-hour, one-mile tour, guests can expect to hear tales of the neighborhood’s treachery while indulging in a famous old past time—drinking. The tours start on Wednesdays at 7:30 pm and include Druids Bar (an old Irish pub that used to be a gang hangout), Caroline’s on Broadway and the infamous Rudy’s Bar and Grill, which has free hot dogs for those who have worked up an appetite.
DETAILS: Wed. 7:30pm; $75 pp; tour meets at Dave & Buster’s, 234 W. 42nd St; unclesamsnewyork.com
Alive After Five Cruise
Why drink at a bar when you can have your happy hour sailing the Hudson River? With Hornblower’s upcoming Alive After Five cruise, spend two hours aboard a luxury yacht with a bar stocked with wine, beer and artisan drinks as well as light bites. As the boat makes its way around the Statue of Liberty, both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and Governor’s Island, you can sit back at sunset with a cocktail and take in the view. The seasonal cruise leaves from Pier 15 in South Street Seaport starting in March and will run Friday through Sunday until April, and then Tuesday through Sunday from May through August.
DETAILS: March- April Fri.-Sun. 5:30-8pm; $66 pp; Pier 15- 78 South Street; hornblower.com
West Village and SoHo Wine Tour
City Wine hosts two wine tours, one in the West Village and one in SoHo, both places with well reputed wine bars. Their motto states they believe that learning about wine should be just as much fun as drinking it, which is the aim of their colorful tours. The wine “ambassadors” teach you how to taste, choose and pair tantalizing vinos, and also how to find out which vintages you like best. For the West Village romp, you start at Cantina Corsino, and from there visit A.O.C. and Ayza Wine and Chocolate Bar, a great place to learn how these two favorite flavors enhance the other. The SoHo tour begins at City Winery, a huge music venue and restaurant that also makes their own wine. After that, they stop at Comodo, and the Saturday tour stops at Galli while the Sunday one heads to Boqueria. Both two-hour tours are available on Saturday and Sundays from 3pm to about 5pm.
Fermented NY Craft Beer Crawl
The first step when choosing an Urban Oyster craft beer crawl is to decide if you want to delve into the world of fermented brews in Manhattan’s East Village or Williamsburg, Brooklyn. No matter which you choose, each outing allows you to taste about 10 types of brews while expert guides teach you about beer varieties, how beer is made and how to really taste beer. Both tours involve a lot of walking (approximately one to two miles) so make sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. The East Village tour takes place on Thursday from 3 to 6pm and the Brooklyn tour runs Saturdays from noon to 3pm.
DETAILS: East Village Tours: Thu. 3-6pm; $59.50 pp (get tickets!); 2nd Avenue near 5th Street; Brooklyn Tours: Sat. 12-3pm; $59.50 pp (get tickets!); Union Avenue near Ainslie–exact addresses provided upon reservation
Mad Men Cocktails Experience Tour
If you have ever seen the television drama Mad Men, you know the cocktails have become characters unto themselves. So, what better way to indulge in a drink a la Don Draper than with a tour dedicated to the show and the famous beverages in it? This three-hour tour covers three different drinking venues seen in various episodes, and at each stop the guide will give background on the establishment. Aside from drinking, they also encourage you to dress up in 1960s garb — though a pair of comfortable shoes would be best, as you will also be strolling down Madison Avenue (which put the Mad in Mad Men). By the end, expect to have a little buzz as well as knowledge about the 1960s advertising scene and the historical aspects of the show. The tour runs every Thursday and Friday, starting at 7pm, and meets at Grand Central Station. The price includes one beverage at each stop (you can purchase extra drinks and food if you want) and a collection of vintage-style photos from the tour.
DETAILS: Thu.-Fri. 7pm; $150 pp; Grand Central Station, 89 E 42nd St.; madmentour.com
Discover more of top places to see and things to do while in New York City with our Best of New York series.