Leon Trotsky lived in the building next door (#77) circa 1917. I am not sure what one of the fathers of the Russian Communist Revolution would think of $4 beers. (he probably would reluctantly approve, after all he knew what rents are like in the EV) And who can resist a real working man’s dive bar, which also happened to start out as a Prohibition-era speakeasy? Coincidentally owner/bartender and local character, Stefan Lutak (pictured uptop) was born in Ukraine in 1920. During World War II, he fought with the Soviet Army in Stalingrad and as he recalled to the NY Press, “The winter was terrible. The ice came from your mouth. We were sleeping in the snow, nothing to eat. Two, three, four days, a whole week with empty stomach.” Stefan came to New York in 1949 and opened the bar in 1965. It was soon a hit with the bohemians in the hood, or as Stefan called them: “bullshitters and faggots.” Allen Ginsberg and W.H. Auden were regulars. Regrettably, Stefan passed away this year. Maybe he and Trotsky can share a beer and bitch about the world economy, wherever they are now.
75 St. Marks Pl., nr. First Ave., NY 10003 212-777-9637
This is an odd and sorta cute medieval looking bar that calls itself the “temple of beer worship”. Beer connoisseurs certainly can revere the beer selection: 12 draft and 40 bottled beers from Europe, some of which are well known imported staples with around 10% alcohol, like Delirium Tremens, Duvel and Chimay. The music is Gregorian chants. The bartenders are dressed as monks and they will shush the crowd from time to time. But, in a place with “Burp” in its name, it’s kinda hard to take a silencing monk seriously.
Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, 5 p.m.–8 p.m., free fries served from the yummy Pomme Frites, located around the corner.
Hours: Mon-Fri, 5pm-midnight; Sat-Sun, 4pm-2am 212-982-4576
41 E. 7th St., nr. Second Ave., NY 10003 212-982-4576
I am filling this one under speakeasyish just because of their hidden entrance gimmick. (To go in you have to go through the hipster/yuppies pretending to be hipsters restaurant Double Crown) The decor is more colonial Southeast Asia, which is what they are going for. Named after the the 18th century term for gin; that is exactly what Madam Geneva specializes in. But, you can get fancy beers here too. Don’t bother going on a weekend, it gets way too packed with loud people, whom you don’t want near your personal space. Yet on a Tuesday nite it is actually quite nice.
Hours Daily, 6pm-4am
4 Bleecker St., at Bowery, NY 10012 212-254-0350
I wondered in here one night when I was celebrating my promotion. I thought it was perfect. I love the decadent red velvety decoration that miraculously comes off as being in good taste rather than tacky. The place tries to bring french wines to American palates. But, they compromise and offer beer and wine derived cocktails too. A great place for a rainy afternoon, especially nice if you come with someone who cares to weigh in on Paul Krugman’s latest NYTs article and the general malaise of capitalistic society.
Hours: Sun-Thu, 5pm-2am; Fri-Sat, 5pm-3am
111 E. 7th St., nr. First Ave. 10009 212-475-2246
If you like the speakeasy thing this one has got to be on your list. The name, Death & Co., evokes the prohibition era notion (or for that maner AA’s) that to drink alcohol is to live a life shadowed by death. Really yummy bite-sized dishes. try the Mac & Cheese, which is served in spoons. The place is tiny, so the door policy is that if they’re full they will take your number and call you once space is available. Death tends to end things way too early; they close at 12 AM.
Cocktail: The Joy Division: Beefeater Gin, Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth, Cointreau, and St George Absinthe
Hours Daily, 6pm-midnight
433 E. 6th St., nr. Ave. A 10009 212-388-0882
The East Village can get overrun with NYU kids, especially on a weekend nite. But Big Bar has proved immune to this. True to it’s GEN X roots, the bar remains pretty much the same as when it opened in 1990. Awesome find. A tiny bar with a big personality. Good drinks, music and always a mellow, fun time. One of the NYC bars I truly love!
Hours: Sun-Thu, 5pm-2am; Fri-Sat, 5pm-4am
75 E. 7th St., nr. First Ave. 10003 212-777-6969
Opened in 1854, McSorley’s boasts of being NYC’s oldest continuously operated saloon. Even though it was inherited to an ex-policeman’s daughter in 1939, they didn’t let women in till forced to do so by a court order in 1970. Today, they still serve their tiny mugs of home brew in pairs, which are simply called either “light” or “dark”. They have food, which is good and inexpensive. The specialty is the cheese and onion plate, which pays homage to their 1900’s philosophy “Good Ale, Raw Onions, and No Ladies.” (I always get the burger.) It’s kind of ironic that such a cool old bar is overrun by such a young uncool fratish NYU crowd. It’s best to get there before 4 pm. That said everyone pretty much still abides by McSorley’s golden rule: “Be Good or Be Gone”.
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11am-1am; Sun, 1pm-1am
15 E. 7th St., nr. Second Ave., 10003 212-473-9148