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When it comes to watering holes, like other sybaritic pursuits, the bar is set higher in New York. Whether you are looking for a shady speakeasy, a new wave gin joint or a glamour den packed with models, this city has your number.

For a taste of the bar scene that spans the boroughs, start your boozy odyssey in Greenpoint. This is one of the grandest neighbourhoods in Brooklyn, its wide streets lined with Dutch Colonial and Greek Revival townhouses. Relive the Jazz Age at the Manhattan Inn (632 Manhattan Ave., at Bedford Avenue, Greenpoint) where the centrepiece is a baby grand piano. The hotel attracts tipsy hipsters and professionals alike, who love the braised pork belly and kimchi pressed sandwich. (Famous, local and regular Joe McGinty from the Psychedelic Furs can often be found heading raucous sing-a-longs.)

Next, catch the G train and transfer to the F at Bergen Street station to cross the East River into Manhattan. At the Lower East Side/Second Avenue station get off and proceed west on foot through hipster central: 1980s nerd glasses and skinny jeans are the uniform of choice on these not-so-mean streets.

On the corner of Bleecker and Bowery is Double Crown, a magnet for beautiful people, serving elegant Pan-Asian food in an industrial-chic space. Skip the sometimes hectic scene here and walk through the restaurant to the back bar, Madam Geneva (4 Bleecker Street;  www.madamgeneva-nyc.com), a louche, low-lit joint featuring deep leather banquettes, quirky antique pieces and a spirited drinks list (if gin happens to be your poison, that is). Try one of the bar's signature creations, Beefeater Gin sweetened with homemade jam or fresh-mixed lime cordial.

While in the East Village, make like Superman and head to a phone booth at Crif Dogs (113 Saint Mark's Place, www.crifdogs.com) - a nouveau dog and burger joint in the heart of hipsterville. This is no ordinary phone booth: it is the entrance to Please Don't Tell, a back room cocktail lounge with all the exclusivity of secret bars like Milk & Honey and La Esquina but none of the attitude (bookings highly recommended, 212-614-0386) Order a few upscale comfort food dishes and settle in at the bar to sample a few of the exotic cocktails for which PDT has become famous. Bacon infused bourbon, anyone?

Now it is time to make a choice: you could catch a cab south to TriBeCa and finish the night in a grown-up fashion or continue on to the West Village and Meatpacking District in search of your second wind. In TriBeCa, Terroir (24 Harrison St, near Greenwich Street, www.wineisterroir.com) is the sister of a much-loved hole-in-wall wine bar of the same name in the East Village. The madcap-bound drinks menu is a freewheeling compendium of everything owners Paul Grieco and Marco Canora love and hate. Reisling, they love - so much so they dedicated an entire season to it at the exclusion of all other whites.  Bad street fairs and Village Voice wine critics they hate (you can read their screeds on those subjects as you search through the bewildering array of wines). The bar snacks err on the hearty side: oxtail meatballs, bone marrow bruschetta. Terroir's gleeful myopia is sure to spark debate into the wee hours.

For a less sedate end to the evening, head to Cabrito in the West Village (50 Carmine St, near Bedford Street; www.cabritonyc.com). Just look for the hot-pink plastic goat motif hanging over the sidewalk. The fish tacos are exemplary, but they are not the only thing people pack the place for: the range of Mexican spirits is the best this side of Tijuana. Slam down a shot of mescal or sample one of the 70 tequilas, from crystal clear blancos to earthy añejos. The scene is young, loud and bound to engender at least a mild hangover.

Emboldened by habaneros and firewater, head to the Standard Hotel's (848 Washington Street, www.standardhotels.com) late-night club of the moment, Top of the Standard (although everyone still calls it the Boom Boom Room). The club is the scene of many a fashion soiree and celeb-filled party - do not be surprised to find yourself watching the sun rise over the Hudson River. Now, where to go for breakfast...

© 2011 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘A New York City bar crawl: A long day’s drinking into night’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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