City Swiggers is a brand new beer bar that opened it's doors on the Upper East Side of NYC in late 2011. It has been making waves in the NYC Craft Beer scene ever since. Over the past few years bottle shops and beer bars have sprung up all over Manhattan but City Swiggers is the first of it's kind on the Upper East.
The Upper East has always had the "ritzy" feel to it and thus most people assumed it was a wine neighborhood. Due to the explosion of high quality craft beer in the past several years, beer now transcends class levels.
The Upper East Side establishment is multi purposed. If you're just looking to pick a few up you can do that. If you're trying to sit down and have a beer off tap they do that too. Lastly, if you find the bottle you're looking for and simply can't make it home without cracking it open, they do that too.
Now if you're a true Craft Beer Geek you know where all the great spots to pick up your latest Haul in NYC are. More specifically you sure as heck know which places are going to gouge their prices, and so you don't go there anymore.
City Swiggers has some of the best prices I've ever seen in the city that never sleeps. I might even dare to say that their prices were as good or lower than prices I've seen outside of the expensive bubble that is Manhattan.
As for the location itself the beer shop/bar has a nice location on East 86th and the setting itself is a great scene. Beautiful Hard wood floors and pristine white walls littered with paintings, this place is definitely not the beer distributor down the block from your house.
The space is long and narrow with wood shelves in the front full of domestic craft and as you move into the back it changes to steel shelves full of international brews. I guess they ran out of funding and couldn't afford wood for the whole place?
At least they allow mixed sixers, which is one of my overall pet peeves about bottle shops, making my own sixers is simply a must. And they also allow you to crack the bottle open right there for a respectable 4 dollar corkage fee, who doesn't want to knock one back while they figure out what they're taking home?
The only other downside was the customer service. I spent about 20 minutes in the store along side three other customers. There might have been a total of four words spoken. This falls squarely on the shoulders of the man behind the counter (the owner maybe? if only he spoke to me I might know). I made a concerted effort to strike up conversation with the owner and even one of the other customers, no dice.
A knowledgable fellow behind the counter can make all the difference, especially if he's friendly and strikes up conversation with his customers. I will always prefer a boisterous beer shopping experience full of conversation with my fellow customers and the "craft expert" behind the counter.
All in all it was a good experience, and next time I'm on the Upper East Side I'll be swinging by City Swiggers again, although I won't be heading up there just for the sole purpose of visiting.
For a similar experience well north of the City in Putnam County, check out one of our review of The Hop in Beacon, NY.