They say that booze is a good business to be in during a recession. This is true. Sure, sometimes we like to sit at home alone with a bottle of vermouth and a beret, but every now and then it's nice to take in some of the city's wonderful taverns and enjoy a sniff of ale, with people. So, in aid of getting beyond the fug of your beer-stale room, we offer our favorite bars in New York City.
Best Bar to Find Old Brooklyn Drinking with New
Three Jolly Pigeons
6802 Third Ave.
For a long time, 3JP was thought of as a "classic old man bar," but in recent years a crowd of local youths has claimed a place for themselves there. Stop in during the day and find the retiree horse-races crowd; come back later and find a mix of blue-collar Irish and perpetual college students. It's the best bar in the only West Brooklyn neighborhood still untouched by gentrification.
Best Artful Cocktail After an Afternoon at P.S.1
27-24 Jackson Ave.
The most far-flung outpost of craft cocktail revivalist Sasha Petraske's fast-expanding empire opened in Long Island City last summer, when the still drying varnish on the completely wood-paneled space was a little suffocating. Since then it's really shaken down nicely, mixing up delicious Queensborough-themed cocktails at a fraction (roughly three-quarters) of their Manhattan prices.
Best Pit Stop and Microbrew on Your Bike Rides Between Greenpoint and Williamsburg
43 Franklin St.
We couldn't even tell you the name or provenance of most of the obscure and expertly curated domestic and imported beers we've had at the Diamond, which is only partly because their relative affordability compels us to drink a little too merrily every time we visit this diamond in the North Williamsburg rough.
Best Dimly Lit West Village Spot to Find Jason Patric Acting Like a Dick
502 Sixth Ave.
Sit at the bar long enough in this classy bistro and you're bound to eye a few celebs—if not an Olsen or an Anderson Cooper, then at least notorious creep Jason Patric.
Best Drag Queen Karaoke, or Karaoke Period
Hope and Anchor
347 Van Brunt St.
By day H&A is a nautically themed diner, but most nights it transforms into a watering hole commanded by Karaoke (Drag) Queen Dropsy. We usually avoid our favorite bars on their karaoke nights, but at H&A, it's never too noisy; the song selections, strong; the crowd, encouraging; the talent on hand, inspiring; the drinks, affordable. (That last one is really why we go.)
Best Bar in the No-Mans-Land Between the East and West Villages
Black and White Bar
86 E. 10th St.
On a weird little block between Union Square South and Astor Place North, the cozy, dimly lit Black and White Bar—which is actually red all over—provides an especially welcome semi-basement refuge in winter months with its warm, flattering glow, thick curtains, hardwood floors, roomy booths and not-too-hip-but-not-too-douchey crowd of young professionals and students.
Best Bar in Which You Can Play Pinball, with a Miller High Life, in Peace
143 Havemeyer St.
Sparse in design and crowds, this minimalist bar is ideal for pinball aficionados who enjoy their booze. Here, you get the essentials: an attentive bartender, a couple booths you'll never sit in, and at least five ever-changing pinball machines. But, shh, keep the secret unless you randomly meet someone who starts talking about their favorite 90s Data East machine while sipping gin.
Best Fancy Bar to Pretend You're a Grown-up Who Can Afford a Fancy Bar
The Second Floor Bar
25 Cooper Sq.
Hey look, you made it inside Carlos Zapata's fancily designed hotel for international rich people! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW? You're going to relax and have an inventive but restrained cocktail by Jigmed Latshang (because everything rich people do and consume is by someone).
Best Place to Drink Cocktails Prepared by Sasha Petraske Without Making Secret Reservations Six Months before
21 Essex St.
Far from the too-cool masses pressing into Little Branch and Milk & Honey these days, but not as far as the aforementioned Dutch Kills, cocktail mogul Petraske actually tends bar sometimes at this narrow, elegant and mercifully down to earth bar on a distant Lower East Side-meets-Chinatown block—and it specializes in absinthe drinks!
Best Spot to Both Dance and Eat Mac and Cheese
236 Troutman St.
You can work up quite an appetite while drinking and dancing. Luckily Jane Virga, owner of this hidden-away Bushwick bar, serves up amazing homemade mac and cheese (and other great dishes like grass-fed meatballs) to go along with her specialty cocktails and a raging dance party in the back room.
Bar Most Successful at Faking the Versatility of Tequila
304 E. 6th St.
Ok, they're not really faking it here. Though for our money, mescal is the more versatile Mexican firewater. Regardless of which, these guys make cocktail magic that's a thousand miles away from the salt and lime approach. (And some of the best bar small plates in the city).
Best Bar for the Thirsty and Poor on a Tuesday Night
593 Lorimer St.
The philanthropists behind this retro-designed bar are kind enough to reach out to a ubiquitous Brooklyn niche: the young, destitute beer-swiller. On Tuesday nights, from 8:30-10, a PBR costs the very reasonable price of zero dollars (but REMEMBER TO TIP YOUR BARTENDER as the many laminated signs suitably insist). Bonus: free pizza at the Alligator Lounge isn't more than a few stumbles away.
Best Bar for Lovers of PBR, Well Whiskey, Slasher Flicks, and Erotic Photo Hunt
Lucky 13 Saloon
273 13th St.
The White Trash special will get you a PBR and a shot of whiskey for $5, and the Megatouch naked lady game is often inexplicably open. If you prefer your misogyny non-digital, Go-Go night is Tuesday—though Monday's Burlesque show is superior.
West Village in Queens
30-09 34th St., Astoria
This sexy newcomer brings some of the magic of its West Village cousin Wilfie & Nell to cocktail-deprived Astoria. A warm, speakeasy-style atmosphere, specialty cocktails, craft beers and a host of locally sourced menu options (burgers, fried pickles, etc.) makes for a great excuse to hop on the N train.
Best Bar in Which to Shout "Screw The Man"
485 Dean St.
Adorned in anti-Barclay's posters, this reliable dive is the meeting place of old veteran drinkers and young artsy types alike. Fighting eminent domain laws, this institution is hoping to maintain its location despite bulldozers from the Atlantic Yards project. The regulars don't want to be political—they have to be.
Best Bar in Which to Drink a 9% Microbrew While Reading "Finnegan's Wake"
82 Fourth Ave.
Run by relaxed California ex-pats who are unabashedly proud of the West Coast's selection of strong ale, this San Francisco-style pub epitomizes geek chic. The back room is the dorm common room of your dreams (if such an idea could possibly exist)—replete with comfy couches, darts, maps, and the most intelligently-stocked and genre-ranging bookshelves.
Best Bar in Which to Enjoy the Gentrification of Prospect Heights
748 Washington Ave.
It's raining and you're underwhelmed by the Brooklyn Museum—why not skip up Washington Ave. for whiskey or red wine and watch Kurosawa's Seven Samurai?
Best Bar in Which to Make-Out in the Back Room
Bar Great Harry
280 Smith St.
A cozy Carroll Gardens pub with a dimly lit, semi-neglected back room and a solid 2-for-1 happy hour that will get you drunk and selfish enough to become an exhibitionist. There's even a Sopranos pinball machine with squealing stripper sound effects that will get you in the mood.
Best New Hipster Vortex
916 Manhattan Ave.
Poor nomadic hipster, cursed with the Sisyphean task of roaming New York in search of the next hot spot. For the moment, this Greenpoint bar owned by the people behind beyond-hip boutique Oak, is it. Killer dance parties, cheap booze and one of the coolest crowds in Brooklyn—for now.
Best Bar to Drunkenly Call Someone a Hoser
559 Grand St.
What's all the fuss aboot? That would be this neighborhood bar with a Canadian bent, serving Labatt Blue, Moosehead, Canadian whiskeys and more, with Neil Young on the jukebox and friendly plaid-clad patrons at the bar. Blame Canada indeed, for a good time.
Best Soccer Bar For People Who Don't Know Anything About Soccer
583 Vanderbilt Ave.
We kind of like soccer, but learning the ins and outs of the game in an environment where drunken Europeans are screaming and singing songs can be intimidating. Welcome to Woodwork, where relaxed Brooklynites can drink craft beer, watch a Premier League game and ask "What's happening?" without fear of retribution.
Freshest Breath of Air Underneath the Williamsburg Bridge
East River Bar
97 S. 6th St.
In an area mostly distinguished by on- and off-ramps, bus terminals and semi-reclaimed industrial loft spaces, this former paint factory would seem to fit right in—cavernous and graffitied, with PBR on tap—until you step onto the massive patio, casually appointed with picnic tables perfect for BYOBBQ.
Best Bar to Cry Along with Morrissey and George Jones Into Pitchers of Cream Ale
303 Bedford Ave.
The last time we were at Lucky Dog we swear we saw two dogs sitting on barstools—one was reading the racing forms, the other was reading W.G. Sebald. We'd only had about ten pints of fresh, perfectly poured, locally brewed beer at the time, so we're pretty sure that's an accurate memory.
Best Spot to Down Buckets of Asian Beer
154 Orchard St.
You won't find glass boots or warm pretzels at Michael "Bao" Hyunh's beer garden; instead, think buckets of 6, 12 or 24 ice-cold beers (you're only charged for the ones you drink) from the Philippines, Vietnam, China and more, complemented with dishes like crab spring rolls and crispy Berkshire pork belly.
Best Hipster Hotel Bar
Ace Hotel Lobby Bar
20 W. 29th St.
None of the recently opened hip hotel bars harness the meticulous coolness and shrugging nonchalance of the modern hipster like the Ace Hotel's Lobby Bar. Stop in, plop down on one of the plaid armchairs and order an old-timey specialty cocktail, Porkslap Pale Ale or, y'know, like whatever.
Best Bar in which to Hide While the Opening Band Plays
The Knitting Factory
361 Metropolitan Ave.
There's something strange about sitting at a bar with soundproof glass just feet away, separating you from a rock show. There's also something awesome about it: namely, that you can sit down while drinking delicious Peak Organic beers and still be able to say, "What? Oh, yeah, I've totally seen them live."
Best Bar for Those With Almost No Attention Span
61 Wythe Ave.
You could bowl, you could see a show, you could eat a full meal from the in-house Blue Ribbon, you could grab a table in the spacious lounge and stare at all the attractive people who walk past you, or you could just sit at the bar like a mysterious loner/sad-sack loser. Whatever you choose, remember, drink up.
Bar With Its Own Taco Truck
48 S. 4th St.
Yes, the taco truck (or in this case, cart) is the new Big Buck Hunter of Brooklyn, the must-have accessory of the year. This Williamsburg spot's tacos are delicious and its expansive backyard big enough that you can eat your tacos without being crammed against some dude talking about how his band kind of sounds like Pavement.
Best Bar In which to learn about park slope's blue collar roots
477 Fifth Ave.
A stalwart relic in a rapidly changing neighborhood, dedicated generations of storytelling Slopers occupy the bar stools and pool table. Occasional free BBQs make you feel as if you're at a 70s Park Slope block party.