Bowery and 4th St., AKA the mecca of plaid shirt wearing people who probably went to the University of Michigan, is one of the more entertaining street corners in New York City. Particularly around this time of year, when summer internship season will ensure a whole new crop of college seniors and postgradders will experience the trio of bars (B-Bar, Bowery Electric, Phebes) that, for better or for worse, have become incorporated into many a 20-something NYC experience.
Because I know I’m not the only person who’s spent countless weekend nights at all three of these places, here’s a little breakdown of the Bowery triangle. At the end, we will arbitrarily decide which one reigns supreme. Then, we’ll inevitably get bored and go to the other two:
B-Bar: Certainly the classiest of the bunch, though in the same way somebody at the Kentucky Derby might be classy — well-dressed and conversational, but clearly a front. Walking in there feels like walking into an SEC alumni function.
Phebes: A tavern/sports bar that, despite being packed on weekend nights, has no illusions of grandeur — in knows it’s a tavern/sports bar. It’s comfortable in its own skin. You gotta respect that.
Bowery Electric: When not flooded with 23 year-olds who work at boutique PR Firms, Bowery Electric is a particularly notable music venue. So with the influx of the weekend crowd Bowery Electric gives off a vibe similar to that kid who, despite being in a rowdy fraternity, is kind of a hipster. The downstairs, no doubt the major highlight, perpetually feels like a 22 year-old house party.
B-Bar: One of the most refreshing aspects of B-Bar is the multi-room aspect; in some places music will be blasting, while other places are much more catered to conversation and/or slowly realizing you’re not as close to your friends as you once were.
Phebes: Usually the predictable (yet effective) Top 40. Always pretty loud.
Bowery Electric: As previously alluded to, the music very much feels like it was constructed by a 22 year-old who, although you want to hate him, compiles an impeccable playlist time after time. Everything from Shout to We Can’t Stop. And of course, Mr. Brightside. I don’t think you could go into that place and not hear Mr. Brightside.
Edge: Bowery Electric
3. Population Density
B-Bar: The rooms you want to be packed are usually packed. Usually outdoor sitting and/or comfortable milling around space. In the words of a 19 year-old in 2009, it’s “perf.”
Phebes: Usually pretty brutal. Getting to the back room often requires a heroic effort.
Bowery Electric: You wait on line so you can wait on line to get downstairs. Though the downstairs line is necessary, because at peak hours (12-2ish), it can sometimes become less about having fun and more about trying not to spill the drink you just spent 20 minutes trying to get.
4. Likelihood Of Hookup
B-Bar: Always seemed more of a place where you sealed the deal, or get someone’s number — only to be immensely disappointed 4 days later when they make some off-color comment via text.
Phebes: Always weird stuff going on. Probably pretty likely if you want to hate yourself in the morning.
Bowery Electric: The last bastion of the DFMO. They play it well.
Edge: Bowery Electric
B-Bar: Relative to Phebes and Bowery, I’ve always thought B-Bar is a lot like the brother embarrassed of its family. B-Bar therefore does things like give you a hard time if you roll up with only dudes, or sometimes rejects you if you’re wearing shorts. Part of this, of course, is to maintain the classiness factor. But certainly not all of it.
Phebes: The establishment itself isn’t douchey, but oftentimes attracts individuals who will exhibit douchey behavior. Par for the course at any bar, but always seems magnified with the closeness of quarters.
Bowery Electric: The whole waiting for the downstairs is pretty annoying, but the crew who runs the operation is generally pretty nice, open to nice banter, and makes the experience as tolerable as possible.
Edge: Bowery Electric (least douchey)
B-Bar: Very Iggy Azalea. Bathroom attendant, to make you feel like you actually are worth something. Bathroom attendant, to prevent you from going to the bathroom because you don’t need to bleed even more money.
Phebes: Always moves pretty fast, away from all the action so you could finally send those texts you’ve been meaning to send — without having to worry about prying eyes.
Bowery Electric: The downstairs bathrooms are positioned in a way that it causes weird crowding at the bar…despite there being two bathrooms, it seems that someone is always throwing up in/completely ruining one.
B-Bar: You can sit down, without looking like a spoilsport. Also key, it’s big enough to avoid the people who are randomly there that you really don’t want to see.
Phebes: They have great wing specials/happy hour deals. Not relevant to weekend nights, but definitely worth noting.
Bowery Electric: They have a TV where you can watch what’s going on out on the dance floor — as entertaining as it is weird. And again, you can’t not hear Mr. Brightside
Thanks for participating in this article. The score reads: Bowery Electric 3, B-Bar 2, Phebes 2. Hope everyone had fun. Looking forward to avoiding eye contact sometime in the near future.