41 First Ave, 212-475-5097
Cheapest Drink: Assorted drafts, $5
Most Expensive Drink: Pappy Van Winkle, $30
Extras: Blondes, blonde ales, a garden
Among the faux-dives and lounges of the East Village, d.b.a has done well not to completely democratize itself. This place knows drink, from the disadvantages of Belgian beer on draught, to the difference between keg- and cask-conditioned, and won’t dumb it down for canned beer fanatics. To hardcore beer enthusiasts, d.b.a. isn’t overwhelmingly impressive, but for we who consider Stella Artois the haute couture of hops and yeast, d.b.a. is a welcome chance for refinement. It features a rotating draft selection of 20 beers, plus 150 choices of tequila and whiskey. Blackboards list all selections, so you can order something exotic without employing those tricky Gaelic pronunciations of Irish whiskey.
The lush patio outside is a tiny but adequate beer garden (if only it didn’t close at 10pm). Dogs roam free inside and out. In the early evening of summer warmth, red ale in hand, d.b.a. has the easy charm of a rich uncle’s backyard.
Fancy beer, single malts, dogs, can you sense the obvious flaw? This is a man’s haven, a real “sausage-fest,” as the college kids term it. And management appears to understand its clientele. One female patron, upset with the service, pointed out that all the bartenders were blonde, wearing tight jeans and black, sleeveless shirts. “They look like they’re not wearing a uniform, but they are,” she noted. “And they look like they’re cute, but they’re not.” A bit harsh, but girl-on-girl service was flagging. Maybe d.b.a. is best for dudes, but to ladies, I say, down a pint of O’Hara stout, chase it with Laphroaig, neat, and to hell with blondes. Except blonde ales.