Morristown holds an undisputed reign over northern New Jersey nightlife. People from neighboring towns and counties flood the streets every weekend looking to try bars outside of Manhattan, Hoboken, and the shore. From sophisticated cocktail lounges, pubs and sports bars, dive bars, and even nightclubs, the wide range of bar scenes places Morristown at a close second to Hoboken’s notorious Washington Street.
The diverse nightlife attracts everyone from returning graduates, students from the six different colleges in the county, thirty-something couples seeking a romantic cocktail, and locals looking to unwind over a happy hour pint. But with so many bars within a few blocks of the Green, which are the best?
1. Sona Thirteen, 13 South Street
Known simply as “Sona,” this is arguably the most popular bar in Morristown (so there is almost always a line to get in). The basement opens on crowded weekends and provides an escape from the dance-offs and debauchery on the ground floor.
- Go there if: You are a social butterfly in your mid-twenties to thirties who doesn’t mind joining in the crowded dance parties that spontaneously erupt throughout Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
- Notable Drinks and Specials: Considered the best beer selection on the Green with twenty-two beers on tap and forty seasonal bottles, including unusual brews like Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot, Lancaster Strawberry Wheat, Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, and Belgium’s Skull Splitter Ale.
2. SM23, 3 Speedwell Ave.
SM23 is a hidden gem with the feel of an underground Manhattan cocktail lounge. It’s so hidden you might miss it, nestled in Headquarters Plaza between two trendy upscale Indian and Pan-Asian restaurants, Mehndi and Ming II.
- Go here if: You appreciate creative (but pricey) cocktails and any who want to escape the chaotic twenty-somethings scene on the Green.
- Notable Drinks and Specials: The knowledgeable bartenders craft drinks like a “Grilled Pineapple and Cracked Pepper Martini,” “Burnt Lemon and Vanilla Margarita” and the refreshing “English Garden” (Plymouth gin, elderflower cordial, cucumber, and apple juice).
3. Grasshopper off the Green, 41-43 Morris Street
A three-story Irish pub with beer pong tables and massive HD screens rotating music videos and sports, The Grasshopper is a crowd pleaser. Each floor offers a different atmosphere, with the basement playing subdued rock and roll and a few intimate tables, the packed ground floor featuring dart boards, and the top floor with live music, beer pong tournaments, or a dance party amidst flashing lights.
- Go here if: You are in your twenties and want a packed bar but don’t want to go to the Dark Horse or Sona, and enjoy playing competitive drinking games.
- Notable Drinks and Specials: Foremost a sports bar, The Grasshopper offers deals like 20 ounce pints during all Yankees and Mets games for $3. It’s also right across the street from the delicious and late-night Grilled Cheese Factory.
4. The Famished Frog, 14 Washington Street
With karaoke every Wednesday night, beer pong tournaments every Thursday night, and live music every Friday and Saturday, this is the bar to go to for those who don’t want to listen to DJs blasting rap and dance music. The affiliated Side Bar around the back also boasts live music and a “cigar lounge” atmosphere with leather couches.
- Go here if: You prefer socializing to live music rather than grinding to rap music.
- Notable Drinks and Specials: The self-serve free baskets of warm movie-theater style popcorn.
5. Pazzo Pazzo, 74 Speedwell Ave.
With a three-tiered patio and an outdoor bar that’s ideal for clear nights and large groups, Pazzo Pazzo is a four-star Italian restaurant by day and a trendy cocktail lounge by night. Right across from Headquarters Plaza – which has a movie theater, SM23, and the Hyatt Hotel’s Qube Lounge – Pazzo Pazzo is on the sophisticated side of the Green.
- Go here if: You are anywhere from your late twenties to early fifties and enjoy being outside.
- Notable Drinks and Specials: With a focus on after dinner and desert drinks, try sweet and strong cocktails like “Key Lime Pie” (Licor 43, Sweet & Sour, and half & half served with brown sugar coated rim), “Banana Split” (Stoli Vanil, Godiva White Chocolate and Banana Liqueur with a drizzle of Strawberry Liqueur and Chocolate Syrup).
6. Iron Bar, 5 South Street
The newest bar on the South Street strip, Iron Bar boasts a line out the door every Friday and Saturday packed with women in stilettos and men in fitted shirts. With a surprisingly delicious menu for lunch and dinner and a trendy interior, Iron Bar has been popular since its opening in May. And with an extra-large basement rumored to open later this year, Iron Bar will double in capacity.
- Go here if: You enjoy a club atmosphere and don’t mind navigating your way through large crowds to get to the bar.
- Notable Drinks and Specials: Compared to the Dark Horse’s watered down mixed drinks, Iron Bar makes a stiff one.
7. The Office, 3 South Street
A sports bar with classic pub fare and $5 dollar happy hour appetizers like spinach and artichoke dip and nachos, The Office continues to be a local favorite for dinner and happy hour despite new additions like Urban Table and David Todd’s. On Fridays a DJ plays loud dance music, but most of the week the jukebox allows patrons to choose their own tunes.
- Go here if: You value friendly bartenders and a casual atmosphere over dim lighting and shouting your drink order.
- Notable Drinks and Specials: The best deal is undoubtedly the “The Sampler:” five decent sized glasses of any beer on tap for only seven dollars.
8. Sushi Lounge, 12 Schuyler Place
The location (around the corner from The Famished Frog) and lounge atmosphere is perfect for classy pregaming with appetizers before hitting the rougher parts of town. Even though the kitchen closes at midnight on Friday and Saturday, the bar stays open until 1:30 a.m.
- Go here if: You have a date and want to ease into the night’s adventure.
- Notable Drinks and Specials: The extensive drink menu features twelve types of chilled sake (and two kinds of sparkling sake), fourteen types of martinis, and exotic cocktails like Mango Sangria and the “Red Dragon” (thai-chili infused double cross vodka, agave nectar, blood orange and orange juice).
9. Dark Horse Lounge, 4 DeHart Street
Going to the Dark Horse is like partying in a bomb shelter. This underground nightclub with no windows is aptly named, since its almost too dark to see the person you’re trying to talk to over the pounding music. Of course, the darkness provides some privacy if you’re not trying to hold a conversation.
- Go there if: You want to get shamelessly hit on by or compete with the surplus of fist-pumping males silhouetted through the flashing strobe lights. It also doesn’t hurt if you enjoy a disproportionate guy to girl ratio – despite the $5 cover charge for guys.
- Notable Drinks and Specials: The Dark Horse has the cheapest drinks in town and sells domestic bottles for $1 during the summer months.
10. Hennessy’s Washington Bar, 140 Morris Street
An Irish tavern just past the train tracks, Hennessy’s is so far from the Green you’ll only find locals who have been haunting the bar for years. Always the first or last stop on organized pub crawls, Hennessy’s is also the number one bar during Morristown’s famed St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
- Go here if: You value a good pint of Guinness over all else.
- Notable Drinks and Specials: A six dollar delicious Bloody Mary, and pub options like a “Black and Tan” (blend of pale ale and Guinness).
What do you think are the top ten bars in Morristown?