A swanky cocktail den that seems more in place in Tribeca than Billyburg. I guess trust-fund hipsters like the speakeasy trend just as much as the next guy. That said this place really does it right. Very nice decor! You will feel that Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald will waltz in any minute, until you realize that their drunken ways torn them apart and that both died at an early age. Anyways, this once tattoo parlour may not be a real hotel, but you will still want to spend the night here.
Cocktail: Commandant’s Cocktail: pear cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice, and green chartreuse
Hours: Sun-Thu, 5pm-2am; Fri-Sat, 5pm-3am
82 Berry St., nr. N. 9th St., Brooklyn, NY 11211 718-387-1945
This bar was opened in 1939 and originally named Park Gate (it does face Tyron Park). Barbara, the current owner, bought the bar 28 years ago and later renamed it the Irish Brigade (after an infantry brigade, consisting of mostly Irish immigrants, that served in the Union Army in the Civil War.) She explained that it was in honor of the Irish hunger strike of 1981, in which ten paramilitary prisoners had starved themselves to death. There is a lot of history in this bar with nicknacks everywhere: one of them being a piece of the USS enterprise, which rests over the door. This bar is a true classic and Barbara is an amazing lady, one of the few bartenders with who you can sit back and talk to like an old friend, after just meeting her for the first time.
Hours: daily 12 pm to 4 am
4716 Broadway, nr. Arden St, NY 10040
This place was opened in 1932 and was originally called Bar Central, prior to that it was a speakeasy. Then owners Jack and George took it over in 1972 and it quickly became a preppy mecca. Soon the parents of these prepsters started going too, on account of the bar’s quirky decor (everywhere you look there is a painting of a melon.) Then it got to the point that the Kennedys were coming and then, none other that Grace Kelly ended up kicking back a Heineken at the bar, while waiting an hour for a table. To this day, although less, celebrities like Seinfeld keep on coming for the famed burgers and Bloody Marys. So if you hear someone say “look at those melons” you can be sure it’s a preppy’s sad attempt to be funny.
Hours: Daily, 11:30am-2:30am
1291 Third Ave., at 74th St., NY 10021 212-744-0585
This wine bar-slash-restaurant and once aquarium is tucked away in the nether regions of Chinatown. Bacaro are what are known in Italy as workingman’s tapas or “cichetti” bars. The romantic and almost whimsical nooks and crannies in the low-lit bottom cellar are fun for wandering. You can even book their quasi secret and hidden private room. The look is very similar to Peasant’s cellar, a restaurant which is also owned by Bacaro’s owner/chef. The wine list, which is from Veneto and neighboring northern regions of Italy is a tad pricey. The “ombra” (the Venetian name for a tiny glass) start at $7 (nothing working-class about that).
Hours: Tue-Sun, 6pm-midnight; Mon, closed
136 Division St., nr. Ludlow St., NY 10002 212-941-5060
Another great bar from Milk & Honey owner Sasha Petraske. With the same amazing cocktails. Just name your poison of choice and they’ll give you a long list of old-school cocktails to choose from. (chilled glasses, and perfectly cut slabs of ice keep the drinks from diluting too quickly). You will also find some of M&H quirky rules: no yelling or misbehaving. Alas, some people need to perpetually be reminded of rule #1 “No name-dropping, no star fucking”
LIve Jazz: Sundays through Wednesdays at around 10:30 p.m.
Hours: Daily, 7pm-3am
20 Seventh Ave. at Leroy St., NY 10011 212-929-436
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
On weekend nights Manhattan can be pretty treacherous. So if you want a plush view and some house music, why not trying crossing the bridge in the opposite direction of traffic? The Ravel is just across the Queensboro Bridge and it has one of the best views of the city. Situated on the 6th floor of the Bestwesterny wannabe designer hotel the Ravel. Now, when you get here don’t let the line put you off. If there is one, it is basically because of the 6 persons capacity elevator that is also pretty slow. But once you get up top you’ll see that the vide is pretty easy going. Also beware that they have a silly and very particular dress code: No shirts with printed logos, faded clothing, work boots or sneakers, baseball hats or oversized clothing. Hey, they are trying to run an “upscale establishment” here, if only the clubs in the MeatPa would follow.
Hours: Mon-Wed. 4pm to 2am, Thurs.-Friday. 4pm to 4am Sat. 2pm to 4 am Sundays 1 pm to 2 am
8-08 Queens Plaza South, nr. 43rd Ave. Long Island City, NY 11101 718-289-6101