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Lower East Side
This 101-year-old New Orleans-themed dive is tailor-made for birthday celebration with its leopard-print pool table, disco balls, $3 canned beers, and neon-lit bar. As a bonus, it also takes free reservations (no bar tab minimum, though a $25/person spend is recommended) for parties of pretty much any size.
When you’ve outgrown Chuck E. Cheese's but still long for a game-centric party full of kitsch, look no further than this Palm Beach-inspired shuffleboard club and bar. While the courts are first-come, first-served, groups of 10 or more can reserve court-side cabanas ($50/hour) with beverage packages, starting at $20/hour per guest for unlimited beer and wine.
Neither a country club nor in Bushwick, this Williamsburg dive bar is known for its sizable backyard (complete with a windmill-adorned mini-golf course), vodka sweet tea-spiked slushies, and free cheese puffs served at the bar. Drinks are cheap, and if you can guarantee 15 guests will show up, the person celebrating their birthday can drink free all night.
A bar worth dragging all your friends out to Queens for, The Bonnie offers reasonably priced craft cocktails ($12-14) along with $7 drafts and shareable punch pitchers for four starting at $30. If the weather holds up, congregate at picnic benches in the spacious backyard or cluster in one of the not-quite-private back rooms with your group. The birthday person will be gifted a free trucker hat and, if you bring in a cake, cutting and plating is free of charge.
If an ice cream cake is tied for a birthday cocktail in your rankings of special-day treats, head to this bar/bakery hybrid, where you can get boozy shakes and floats along with s’mores pie, salted chocolate chip cookies, and a rainbow sprinkle-adorned birthday cake.
If you can’t book a birthday weekend getaway to Miami, a party at this tiki-themed bar from the Attaboy team may be the next best thing. The vacation vibe is set with frozen cocktails decorated with paper umbrellas and a spacious backyard complete with a truck doling out grilled seafood. If you’re traveling with a crowd, know that groups of 15 or more are requested to make advance reservations.
For a weeknight birthday celebration, head to this laid-back beer bar that packs in a solid after-work crowd eager to unwind with a pint. Claim one of the many communal tables and choose from a variety of beers, ciders, and sausage. Skip a birthday cake for a pile of Belgian fries to drench in dipping sauces ranging from peanut teriyaki to blue cheese bacon walnut mayo.
For a sophisticated birthday night out, head to this bilevel cocktail bar that takes reservations for groups of all sizes. Groups of 20-30 people (congrats on all the friends and acquaintances!) can reserve exclusive access to the upstairs balcony for no fee, but balloons, confetti, and decorations are all prohibited at this mature-feeling bar.
If you’re looking for a fun and kitschy lounge (with serious drinks), head to this retro-feeling cocktail bar that has more than enough space for all your friends and their last-minute Tinder dates. Stake out a portion of the banquettes and sip tiki-style drinks adorned with cheeky plastic animals.
Guide your birthday guests straight to the backroom of this restaurant and bar, where a disco ball hanging from the exposed beams should be the first signal that this will be a dance-heavy celebration. Cocktails are served by the pitcher and late-night food like Sriracha chicken bites and Buffalo Brussels sprouts will keep everyone’s energy up for dancing long past midnight.
If you have friends in from out of town eager to see the skyline, take advantage of the views from Dale Talde’s rooftop bar, positioned 31 floors above the Arlo NoMad. Views of the Empire State Building (perhaps best enjoyed from the glass-bottom balcony) are further enhanced by cocktails like the Jackson Heights (rosemary-infused gin, lemon, Thai basil, honey) and Detroit-style pan pizza.
Lower East Side
This bilevel brewery and beer hall offers plenty of gathering space to drink giant pitchers of beers at communal wooden tables, but perhaps more importantly, the staff will treat birthday celebrators to a free dessert and a Bavarian trumpet serenade.
In addition to affordable drinks (including $8 frozen piña coladas) Broken Land is a reliable spot for good music (and room to dance) as well as a sizable backyard, perfect for posting up with a big group in the warmer months.
A weird, wonderful, nearly psychotropic oasis of flamboyant decor (note the neon-lit fish tank when you walk in) this pool hall/dance spot/tiki bar boasts a grown-up Rainforest Café vibe that works for every birthday, no matter the age. Sidle up to the rock-wall-decorated bar to order raw oysters, fried cheese wontons, and super-boozy scorpion bowls starring a flaming shot of Bacardi 151.
If Patti Smith circa 1975 and your weird German uncle whose band never quite took off but still continues to book weeknight shows teamed up to open a dive bar in an Alphabet City basement, it would look a lot like Berlin. The below-ground bar, complete with chandeliers hanging from the brick ceiling and a small stage to host bands you probably haven’t heard of, is the perfect spot for cheap IPAs and well drinks and celebratory late-night dancing.
Musical theater aficionados who want to spend their birthdays singing much more than the requisite song over cake should head to this always-packed piano bar, where you can post up with cheap drinks and belt out your favorite power ballad sans judgment.