Remember that time when you were like, "There are somewhere between seven and 14 trillion bars in the East Village -- how do I know which ones are worth it? Allow me to consult the Internet." Remember!? Well, congratulations: it worked. From sake dungeons to craft beer playgrounds, here are our 16 favorites.
Note: for these purposes, we're considering anything on or East of Avenue A to be Alphabet City... which is a different story, so don't go freaking out because The Wayland's not on here.
Best cocktail bar: Amor y Amargo
443 E 6th St
You won't find any mixers, sugars, or juices in this tiny, tile-covered sleeve -- just a bitters/amaro-heavy focus on truly classic, uncorrupted cocktails. Head-man-behind-the-rail Sother Teague also peddles everything you need to stock your home bar and make the same exact drinks worse than he does.
Best date spot: Ten Degrees
121 St. Marks Pl
It's an intimate setting with an exemplary wine selection. The lighting is sexy and the staff is friendly. Hopefully your date is at least one of these things.
Best beer bar: Proletariat
102 St. Marks Pl
Most of their beers aren't offered anywhere else in the city, and you'll certainly never find them in the same place. And while rare sometimes means pricey, take advantage of half-pours to sample more of the perpetually rotating roster, which you can check out here.
Best bar food: The Wren
The wood-laden pub is as tasteful as its food is tasty, and always brimming with an "upbeat and light-hearted crowd!" according to an upbeat and light-hearted friend of ours. Snacks like the burger & vinegar fries, spicy beef jerky, or the very badass steak tartare are the perfect complement to the serious cocktails and just-enough selection of beers and ciders. Plus the music is consistently excellent, so expect lots of 311.
Best happy hour: Upstate Craft Beer and Oyster Bar
95 1st Ave
With a daily 5-7pm happy hour offering a half dozen oysters and a legit craft beer for just $12, I wanted to keep this one for myself, but hey, you deserve it.
Best karaoke: Sing Sing St. Marks
9 St. Marks Pl
It’s loaded with private rooms so you can be embarrassed singing "Love Song" alone in a room of close friends, rather than in front of a crowd of glazed strangers who prefer "Amber" anyway.
Best Irish bar: McSorley's
15 East 7th St
At over a century old, it's the oldest Irish tavern in NYC, which makes it equal parts fantastic and touristy. But you still have to go. The extremely limited beer selection -- literally only “light” or “dark” -- is notable because 1) both beers are actually pretty decent, 2) they give you two beers every time you order one. The cheese plate is a slab of cheddar, some raw onions, and a fully-wrapped sleeve of saltines, because minimalism, or something.
Best outdoor seating: 9th Ward
180 2nd Ave
The covered outdoor patio at this New Orleans-themed watering hole is replete with greenery, fountains, and exactly zero 50-year-old guys screaming for you to show your rack.
Best sports bar: Village Pourhouse
64 3rd Ave
Picture a Chili’s, add 22 flatscreens, two projectors, and 100+ really, really good beers, subtract the mall, and you've got the Pourhouse. There's plenty of space to post up for games with a group of surely very well-attired people, but just be sure to call and make a reservation.
Best grilled cheese and people-watching: Bua
122 St. Marks Pl #126
The outdoor seating almost feels like a baseball dugout, except instead of watching the Mets lose, you're watching tourists buy bongs on St. Marks. Perhaps more importantly, the grilled cheese (made with local Blue Ribbon Bakery bread) is delightful.
Best jolly bar owner: Jimmy's No. 43
43 E 7th St
This beer catacomb is owned and operated by East Village fixture Jimmy Carbone, who rotates 50+ beers, and definitely wants you to come in and drink all of them. Which is just terrific.
Cheapest drinks: Continental
25 3rd Ave
Come for the drinks, stay for... the drinks. Because that’s pretty much all this place offers. But with five shots for $10, all day, all night, and $2 drafts, it’s inarguably the best place to pre-game. But only if you're okay with possibly not making it to the game.
Best fireplace: Shoolbred's
197 2nd Ave
That lively pit of flame is inviting, the food is good and cheap, and, most importantly, our senior writer Dave Infante is in love with this place, partly thanks to the varied nooks and cushy chairs, plus the general sense that you're in a very rich person's drawing room, and they're not going to be home for a lonnnnnng while.
Best dive: Blue & Gold Tavern
79 E 7th St
A glass of Scotch here is cheaper than a beer at most bars, and, barring weekend nights when it can get pretty packed, the space is as ample as the pool table is miniature.
Best bar for when the other bars have a severe bro shortage: 13th Step
149 2nd Ave
Just so you know what you're working with, it’s named for the AA term for hooking up with your sponsor. If you don’t mind wading through the brocean, it’s not a bad place to watch games! But the current is strong. Very strong.
Best sake: Decibel
240 E 9th St
This grungy lair is stocked with almost 100 of Japan’s finest sakes, and manages to come off as seedy-cool without being contrived. Small plates of sticky rice balls and dumplings are thoroughly fine, but you're here for the sake anyway.
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Carrie Dennis is an Associate Editor for Thrillist and likes to hit all these spots in one night. Follow her on Twitter @CarrrieDennnis.
1. Amor y Amargo443 E 6th St, New York
2. 10 Degrees121 Saint Marks Pl, New York
3. Proletariat102 St Marks Pl, New York
4. The Wren344 Bowery, New York
5. Upstate95 First Ave, New York
6. Sing Sing Karaoke9 Saint Marks Pl, New York
7. McSorley's Old Ale House15 E 7th St, New York
8. Ninth Ward180 2nd Ave, New York
9. Village Pourhouse64 3rd Ave, New York
10. Bua122 Saint Marks Pl, New York
11. Jimmy's No. 4343 E 7th St, New York
12. Continental25 3rd Ave, New York
13. Shoolbred's197 2nd Ave, New York
14. Blue & Gold Tavern79 E 7th St, New York
15. The 13th Step149 2nd Ave, New York
16. Sake Bar Decibel240 E 9th St, New York
You won't find any mixers, sugars, or juices in this tiny, tile-covered sleeve -- just a bitters/amaro-heavy focus on truly classic, uncorrupted cocktails. Head-man-behind-the-rail Sother Teague also peddles everything you need to stock your home bar and make the same exact drinks he does (but probably not as well!).
10 Degrees' daily, two-for-one happy hour makes it one of the best drinking spots in the East Village. The Saint Marks bar has an impressive menu of Scotch, divided by region, as well as bourbon, American rye, and Irish whiskey. The food menu does great things for cheese and charcuterie, and you can mix-and-match cured meats from Spain and Italy with Wisconsin and Swiss cheeses.
This East Village bar is a craft beer hideaway from the, uh, hustle and bustle of St. Mark's. The bartenders are well-versed in the world of rare and unusual brews, so tell them what you like and let them decide the rest. The small and narrow space isn't great for groups, but it's definitely a place to catch up with a friend, take a super-casual date, or have a solo sip to take the day off.
Given its proximity to Washington Square Park, The Public Theater, The Standard, and a number of other downtown points of interest, there's never a dull moment at this inviting bar on Bowery. Artisanal cocktails -- like the Wren Old Fashioned, made with Old Overholt rye, Punt e Mes, cherry liqueur and orange bitters -- work alongside sophisticated bar bites to keep the energy up at this venue, long after happy hour's over.
This East Village oyster bar, run by a husband-and-wife duo, is a neighborhood favorite with rare oysters paired alongside interesting craft brews. You can expect a wait, but the food and drink -- and the owners' adorable bulldog, BuckShowalter -- make it well worth the wait.
Sing Sing is the place on St. Marks to get your karaoke fix taken care of. Head there late, with a reserved room, and dance & sing (... sing) the night away.
Opened in 1854, McSorley’s is the oldest still-running saloon in NYC, and was one of the last “Men Only” pubs in NY (until 1970). When you visit, you’ll truly feel like you’ve stepped into a bit of city history -- after all, you'll be sitting at the very same counter Abe Lincoln and John Lennon did. McSorley’s also keeps it real with just two beers -- the house ale, light or dark, and nothing else.
The Ninth Ward takes on the form of a New Orleans-inspired bar that happens to offer daily 2-1 happy hour beers and well drinks along with a fireplace and (heated) patio to help relieve that long work day of yours.
Pourhouse is an East Village sports bar that's loaded with beers on tap, bar grub, and feisty football fans eager to compete in things like drink-offs.
The outdoor seating at Bua almost feels a baseball dugout, except instead of watching the Mets lose, you're watching tourists buy bongs on St. Marks. Perhaps more importantly, the grilled cheese (made with local Blue Ribbon Bakery bread) is delightful.
A downstairs joint in one of the most bar-heavy neighborhoods in the whole country, Jimmy's No. 43 has a perfectly sized and approachable craft beer selection without the pretense of being too exclusive. The staff insist that you sample a sip of beer first before committing, and the cozy environment and upscale food cap it off to make Jimmy’s a neighborhood mainstay. It differentiates itself from other beer bars with an Asian-fusion menu featuring Filipino-inspired dishes like chicken wings adobo and pork belly tacos.
Located at the edge of St. Mark's, this former rock dive may have lost its punk vibe, but it's retained the civilian essentials: cheap drinks, and a jukebox filled with throwback tunes. Head here for the five shots-for-$10 deal served all day, and you might find yourself sticking around to watch the old movies screened in the back.
Shoolbred’s is a Scottish bar in the East Village thematically decorated like an elaborate drawing room with wood-paneled walls, stained glass windows, and plush leather chairs. It’s second-home-worthy during the winter, when you can sip a hot toddy (one of the best in town) in front of the blazing fireplace. Of course, any bar that has drink tokens and free chips is a mainstay in our book.
This East Village dive bar is your typical hole in the ground. It has cheap booze, a quality juke, and a pool table for when the first two options aren't entertaining enough for you.
If you’re in the East Village and in need of a straightforward sports bar, go to The 13th Step. The sprawling space features more than 30 flat screen TVs, and it’s always packed to capacity, even if there’s nothing to watch. The beer menu is simple (think Budweiser, Coors, and Rolling Rock), and there’s a hefty selection of over-the-top bar food like chili nachos, a pizza burger, and buffalo chicken sliders.
This cozy (i.e. tiny) bar is the place to come for a Sake experience. Sake Bar Decibal has been around for a while, serving up a massive list of stellar Sake options. Order some edamame to munch on between sips.