Free anything can be hard to find in New York City, so take advantage of free live music. Check out these seven venues featuring free tunes, drink deals and casual vibes. Spend the big bucks on something other than live performances (unless it’s Hamilton on Broadway).
Where to Find Free Live Music All Around NYC
Melt into live music like grated Parmesan over pasta. At Le Fanfare, the owners believe in a modern Sardinian dinner and a show – hence the extensive music programming every Friday and Saturday evening. And I promise, the music played there could seriously give some competition to the Hamilton Broadway show.
The informal Italian restaurant evokes a cozy and adoring atmosphere with various seating options including a horseshoe bar, wooden booths, airy two-tops, two café tables only, and communal row leading up to the corner stage. Regardless where you sit, live jazz music will meet your ears.
Avoid vino and choose a cocktail to complement your spaghetti alla carbonara – perhaps the Ginger Smash made with rum, house-made butternut squash winter mix and lemon.
1103 Manhattan Ave., 347-987-4244, www.lefanfare.com, @lefanfare
Get boozy blues (at brunch) before winter blues set in. Spend your weekend enjoying caffeine-boosting cocktails and farm-fresh egg dishes (and Corn Flake crusted French toast) while lounging to live blues with park views – see Madison Square Park across the street – happening every weekend from 11:00AM to 3:00PM (4:00PM on Sundays). Blues begin at noon.
For $38, choose the Champagne Brunch including a bottle of bubbles and trio of orange, peach and passion fruit elixirs. This is for the table, not just for you.
19 E. 26th St, 212-265-5959, www.blackbarnrestaurant.com, @blackbarnrestaurant
The Lovelace Cocktail & Gin Bar
It’s “Gin-uary” at The Lovelace. Come for the art deco design, and stay for the live prohibition-style music almost every evening (excluding Thursday and Friday) from 5:00PM to 8:00PM.
Take advantage of happy hour specials at the bar – weekends from 11:00AM to 1:00AM (that’s ALL day) including dollar oysters; discounted draft beers, select wines by the glass, and signature Dingle Gin and Tonics made with the bar’s very own gin from Dingle Distillery in Ireland – hence the dim-lit Dingle bottles displayed on the cage-like shelving.
36 Water St, 212-425-7171, www.porterhousebrewconyc.com/lovelace, @porterhousebrewconyc
We know. Getting over to Eleventh Ave. is a bitch. But if free live music were the reason to get your ass out there, would you go? Hike to Danny Meyer’s Porchlight every Monday from 6:00PM to 9:00PM for a Southern excursion. “Live from the Porch” showcases performers in various genres of music: blues, bluegrass, folk, jazz, soul, and country – the monthly lineup is listed on their website.
Accompany the tunes with heady cocktails like the Creole Negroni crafted with Clement Canne Bleue, Campari, Amaro Montenegro, sweet vermouth and absinthe. #PorchLIT …and yes, there is a real (indoor) porch and daily happy hour.
271 11th Ave., 212-981-6188, www.porchlightbar.com, @porchlightbar
Dates 2-4 can be tough. You want to get intimate over drinks, but should there be dinner? The triangular space featuring Tour de France memorabilia offers all-vegan plates like whole steamed artichoke and black bean portabella burger.
‘Health’ is clearly the theme here, so expect herb-filled cocktails like the No. 1, a mix of gin, sage, ginger, allspice and angostura bitters. Always meet on a night offering live music – that’s Tuesday through Saturday starting at 8:00PM – otherwise leave it to the JMZ line above to provide the “hits.”
394 Broadway at Hewes St, 718-599-6895, www.barvelobrooklyn.com, @barvelobrooklyn
Experience the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s every Wednesday starting at 10:00PM (after Sleep No More). The Mckittrick’s very own Follies features performances by the cast of Sleep No More. While guests sip specialty cocktails, vintage-style songs and arrangements from the Jazz-Age and Swing-Era will be performed.
Sit back with the Green Beast, a concoction of Pernod Absinthe, lime syrup and cucumber, and enjoy the show.
532 W. 27th St, 212-904-1880, www.mckittrickhotel.com/manderley-bar, @manderleybar
Fine & Rare
(Fine) food and (rare) spirits from The Flatiron Room crew. The Murray Hill haunt is a must for jazz performances, New American small plate offerings and one-of-a-kind cocktails. Sip the Smoking Rye Old Fashioned, a blend of Scotch, maple, pear and maitake mushroom bitters, plus smoke options: hickory, maple, bourbon oak and pecan. Pick on raw-bar items, cheese and charcuterie in the group-friendly booths while absorbing such timeless sophistication.
Note: Performance times vary nightly so be sure to keep an eye on the calendar. You don’t want miss out.
#FunFact: “Liquor lockers” are available for frequent guests who wish to store their prized bottles on premise. Cool, huh?
9 E. 37th St, 212-725-3866, www.fineandrare.nyc, @fineandrarenyc
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