90 Greenwich Ave New York, NY 10011-7744 (212) 741-5279. For a couple of years after I first moved here, I used to walk past this place and think, 'that would be a good place to spend all day in.' I kicked myself when I finally ventured in - Johnny's Bar is one of New York's few remaining true dive bars. Visit after midnight to bustle with a crowd of frat boys, drunken blondes, music-hipsters, fire fighters and fairly dodgy looking hustlers. It's tiny but everyone manages to find a stall somewhere. I particularly like the chalkboard that lets you buy a drink for a friend you missed. Cheap and cheerful. A final stop before bed.
8 West 58th St, NY NY 10019. 212 752 6200. If you're a gentleman of a slightly older age who likes to dress smart and mingle with ladies who could be your daughter's age then Fredericks is the place for you. Just across from the ol' Plaza hotel, this place attracts a rather peculiar crowd of champagne charlies and keen blondes.
Somehow I've been twice. The second time the Lady got a bit tipsy on some free wine laid on by the NYC Fashion Party there - she wanted to go home, but I felt so sour by the experience that I refused to let Fredericks be the last place I would have a beer that night.
Met Museum's Martini Bar
Met Museum Cocktail Bar, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, New York, NY 10028 - 212-535-7710 - OK, some great views of tree tops and skyscraper towers but all in all, probably one of the biggest disappointments I have had in my NYC drinking experience. I was expecting some sort of cosmopoltan bar with fancy chairs and high brow hoity toity but what I found was a roof terrace with a little bit of hedging, little seating and one of those mobile bar/snack units.
Do not venture all the way up here (or down) just to go to this bar. Worth only a nosey if the Egyptian room is too busy.
NYC Open Bar Email List
Sounded good to me. But, I just didn't know the parties...
But now two fellas called Rob Hitt and Seva Granik from Williamsburg realized the dire need for a centralized and coherent source of openbar listings (because "paying rent and shelling out 7 bucks on a Brooklyn Lager just wasn't working out"). Each week, they'll send out an email with a listing of bars offering free alcohol. Over time, they promise zip-code driven search and sort capabilities too!
505 West St, New York, NY 10014 - (212) 929-4303 - The more I go to Salon the more I get to like this undiscovered gem. Salon comprises of a boudoir-deco styled basement bar/restaurant and a glorious dance hall upstairs with river views open for hire. I hear that this is where the hoity-toity used to go when their ships docked close-by back in the day.
When I first popped by with the Lady we discovered an amazing Latin disco upstairs fully equipped with DJ, dancing Brazilian festival girl on podium, a crowd that would feel at home in Ibiza Town (which is pretty difficult to find in the US).
When the room upstairs is closed the bar downstairs is pretty quiet. Normally there's an owner at the bar wondering why there aren't any customers. Best to bring your own crowd, enjoy the good food and ignore the poor liquor selection. We had a blast when we celebrated a birthday here.
The Stanton Social
99 Stanton Street, NY 10002 - 212 995 0099 - OK, so the Stanton Social is the look of things to come in Lower East Side. Sure, I imagine some of the old locals and the hipsters hate the place but there's no denying that LES is changing. Around the corner the Rivington Hotel now opened - it's tall glass structure juxtaposed against the tenement buildings.
If you're looking for a more upmarket bar in LES this is it. Go upstairs, and yes it's full of Upper East and West Side tourists and yes it don't have an 'edge' but at the same time it's buzzing, busy and a little more fun than Pianos ever was.
And as for the restaurant? Supposedly American/French/Japanese/Sushi/Thai. Take me there!
80 Spring St (& Broadway) - 212 965 1414 - Owned by Keith McNally, Balthazar is the grand sister of Pastis & Schiller's. I've never actually eaten a mean here but what a scene. Busy, buzzy, get a reservation. At night is full of Soho's glamourati during the day it's full of the next generation media moguls making deals and breaking promises.
If you're just visiting for one day or you have some swanky friends coming into town, try Balthazar.
Gridskipper have an interesting post about new bar Happy Ending:
This former Chinatown massage parlor turned hip new lounge has converted the private massage rooms where happy endings were a nightly occurrence into semi-private booths. The lounge’s website tells us the booths offer “just the right amount of privacy to engage in a little intimacy…” But rumor has it there is more than a little intimacy to be had at Happy Endings, it’s just a bit more rare than in the old days.
If anyone gets down there before me (and believe me, I'm rushing), please leave a comment about it on this site.
Brass Monkey- Little West 12th (btwn Washington & the West Side Highway) - Huge new wood panelled hall created for the enjoyment of a good drink. Large global beer selection. The Brass Monkey is good looking haunt that reminds me of a modern decent Irish/London pub and is a welcome change to the current crop of unimaginative neo-space-age bars around the corner (e.g. Highline).
Right now you can even take your pint outside the front for a cigarette. Very reasonable menu that includes Fish & Chips and Bangers & Mash. I fear that in 2 months this place will be swamped and unbearable like the rest of the area (except the great Passer By). Sept 23 '04
Update Feb 12 2005: Stay away on Saturday nights. The mob is in town. You'll be lining up outside for 30 minutes to enter an over-crowded space filled with folk who venutred far to be here.
Update Feb 17 2005: Thursday nights are busy but maintain the right mood. OK, it's not a 'trendy bar' but it's lively and has a decent pint. The barman even got me a free one on his round!
Update Feb 23 2005: Wednesday nights: perfect for that pint with a coupla mates.
Guy's Diary posts about Brass Monkey
FRI 9th JULY : SHINE BRASS MONKEY SHINE
WEDS 14th JULY: WATCH THE BRASS MONKEYS
WED 11th AUG : GOOD AND BAD IN ONE DAY
THUR 12th AUG : DEFINITION OF A LADS NIGHT OUT
THUR 7th OCT : POPCORN
Stuff's NYC Bars
April's issue of Stuff magazine features two hall-of-fame dive bars in NYC:
Johnny’s Bar at 90 Greenwich Ave. in Manhattan -- The place is so small, you’ll practically be wearing women. Cute, just-out-of-college chicks come to drink the $5 shot-of-Beam-and-bottle-of-Rheingold special from noon to 7 P.M.
Sweet Up’s at 277 Graham Ave. in Brooklyn -- Owner Benjamin Shih demands that his staff pours stiff drinks and encourages binges. "We have obscene levels of hooking up," says Shih.