"So you wanna do dinner at this place my roommate's cousin 'tends at in the Meatpacking, followed by drinks at my briefcase guy's side project, head to the MEATPACKING AGAIN, then end up at the spot we always go to? Cool. Where do you wanna meet, though?"
Helping you answer that question the next time one of your bros texts it to you (so... tonight), here are our picks for NYC's nine best bars to start your night at.
Why You Should Think Twice Before Drinking Airplane Coffee
Who's Texting: Your boy who played in an Incubus cover band in college, but now works in Corporate Marketing and doesn't live in Brooklyn. Where You're Suggesting: Brooklyn Bowl (click here for address and deets) Why: If you can get a lane, this is one of the most ideal places to kick-off a night out -- you've got the activity thing working for you, eats if you want them, and potentially a rad band holding it down on stage -- just don't have too many Brooklyn Blasts, or it'll be your last stop, too.
Who's Texting: Your friend who always complains about how domestic brews don't have enough flavor, then totally makes an ass out of himself after three double IPAs. Where You're Suggesting: Randolph Beer (click here for address and deets) Why: Even though you love beer, the chances of you drinking (and enjoying) that Sculpin IPA is a lot more likely at 8 or 9pm than at 3 or 4am, and this lively, nearby-any-party-in-Nolita/LES/SoHo beer bar is a great spot to get your early hops-fix before venturing into more intense, watered-down territory.
Who's Texting: Your friend coming in from Garden City who says he "doesn't care" where you guys go, as long is it's "epic" and "classy". Where You're Suggesting: Pennsylvania 6 (click here for address and deets) Why: This spot is an actually good bar in the area that's got a ton of space, good eats, and a nice beer and cocktail selection. It'll also help you catch up to the three tall boys your friend had on his way in, and won't be too much of an s-show.
Who's Texting: Your friend who also just got a text from a "cute girl he works with" who said she'd be "out later around the West Village". Where You're Suggesting: Galway Hooker Downtown (click here for address and deets) Why: Unlike its Midtown brother, this branch has a more relaxed feel and gets less insane, while still being a great time. Head over for a quick bite and a bunch of beers before dipping out into the West Village.
Who's Texting: Your bro who 1) played on the Ultimate Frisbee team in college, 2) knows you can pour five beers comfortably into a regulation disc, and 3) still wants to expand his horizons beyond bro bars. Where You're Suggesting: Zum Schneider (click here for address and deets) Why: Liters of beer at 7pm (or 4pm, if it's Saturday)? Great idea. Liters of beer after midnight? Not so much. Swing by here to get things good and rowdy before heading out to one of the excellent Alphabet City bars that surround it, and have much smaller beers, or even (GASP!!) cocktails.
Who's Texting: Your friend who wants someplace "cute", but actually doesn't want anything too big a deal to kick-off the night. They've also never been to Brooklyn. Where You're Suggesting: Cask Wine Bar (click here for address and deets) Why: If you don't want to get crazy right off the bat, hit up this craft beer/wine bar with huge tables that they let you pull chairs up to as people trickle in (what's with not seating everyone 'til they're there, anyway, other restaurants/bars?). They also offer some dope, fortifying (but not too filling) eats, like red neck sushi (pork belly, bacon, maple-glazed jalapeños) or roasted lamb nachos.
Who's Texting: Your friend who places efficiency and Buck Hunter above most things. Where You're Suggesting: Bleecker St Bar (click here for address and deets) Why: This no-frills bar is very conveniently located between the East and West Villages, and sits basically on top of the Bleecker St subway stop. It's always busy -- but never totally slammed -- so there's plenty of room to congregate, and a ton of activities to keep the energy up and the lulls in conversation low.
Who's Texting: Your friend who spent the entire work day checking out Airbnb beach spots in Mexico, but knows he'll never leave the city. Where You're Suggesting: Reunion (click here for address and deets) Why: Whether it's for happy hour after work, a trip over to Terminal 5, or a bar crawl through Hell's Kitchen, this is a badass starting place -- the grub is on-point (sandwich filled with wontons? Yes please.), and the vibe in here is an instant mood-lifter.
Who's Texting: Your boy who's constantly saying things like, "let's get weird", or, "I had the most random night". Where You're Suggesting: Iron Horse (click here for address and deets) Why: You definitely need to be in a certain mindset to come to this Coyote Ugly-esque spot with a swing over the bar (a bachelor party, for example). Just don't stay too late, or you may actually get duct-taped to a pole.
Andrew Zimmer is Thrillist's NYC Editor, and he plays "Start Me Up" by The Rolling Stones every night before he goes out to a million bars. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.