Look, don’t get me wrong. I love that NYC offers a plethora of diverse drinking opportunities, and every bar is a special snowflake. But after a certain point, you’ll get a sneaking suspicion that the local bar scene is as divided as the faction system.
1. The Local Bar
You gotta love that coming-home familiarity. Planting a kiss on the bartender’s cheek and ordering your usual makes you feel like mafia boss when you’re actually just a five foot tall foil brought in to make ID scanners everywhere question their viability. Local bars are great because they’re homey, tasty, and usually run by people who take great pride in running the kind of place they’d like to drink at themselves. Knowing your local bar is a New York City requirement, but it doesn’t always stack up well when you want to have a night of ruckus. This is when novelty comes into play, so I guide you toward…
2. The Posher-than-thou Speakeasy
Nothing is better than seeing the look on your out-of-towner friend’s face when you show her there’s a bar behind a weird donut shop! And there are live parrots perched on chandeliers! These places are all about the gimmick, that tingly sensation that surges when you rub your hands up against a brick wall, only to discover it’s gone all Diagon Alley on you. However, $45 later (and that was just for three cocktails!), you might feel a little disillusioned. But you can’t end your night, not yet! So you journey to the…
3. Crummy Dive Bar
Five shots for five dollars may sound good in theory, but by your fourth, you end up getting philosophical. What was the point of going out in the first place when all you’re doing is guzzling cheap vodka? Why couldn’t you just buy a bottle of Stoli, stay home and call it a night? Why are you even here? This place is depressing. They’re playing too much Pitbull. You don’t want to dance on a table, do you? Not really, you don’t. But you’re young, aren’t you? And you definitely don’t feel like going back to Esoteric Maple Leaf or wherever you were before, so you reach an inner compromise…
4. The Piano/Live Music Joint
These kinds of places can be really fun, if you’re down with mid-level bankers getting their Billy Joel on (which, for the record, I totally am). However, how many times can you listen to “Piano Man?” And really, “Don’t Stop Believin’”, again?) You could get sentimental, or suddenly bust a move. A favorite story of mine is when I was at one of these digs and kept insisting I was a really good dancer, despite the fact that I wasn’t dancing with much coordination (due to the fact that I’d visited a crummy dive bar earlier). Finally, someone informed me I was standing still, literally not making any movements that were vaguely dance-tacular.
You get what I’m saying? By bar #4, you’re worn out. NEXT!
5. The Hell’s Angels Rest Stop
For some reason, I always find these places on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It’s like brunchery, brunchery, place that serves beer in red cups and is clouded with smoke, brunchery. Hang out with bikers who came all the way from New Jersey. Eat hot wings and fear no judgment. Question not. This is the perfect place to end any adventure. Why? Because if you had a great night, it’s ironic and cinematic and subtle or whatever. If you had a bad night, well, so did everyone else. Do not use the bathroom.
But wait, there’s more!
6. BONUS ROUND
The Forlorn Diner. In order to absorb everything you’ve downed tonight, from novelty mezcal to crappy tequila, you must end your night with pastrami or chopped liver. If you’re a vegetarian, a three egg omelet. No arguments.