"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.
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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.
1. Bleecker Street Bar56 Bleecker St, New York
2. The Randolph at Broome343 Broome St, New York
3. Brooklyn Bowl61 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn
4. Galway Hooker Downtown133 7th Ave S, New York
5. Zum Schneider107 Avenue C, New York
6. Cask Bar & Kitchen167 E 33rd St, New York
7. Iron Horse32 Cliff St, New York
8. ReunionCorner of 44th St & 9th Ave, New York
9. Pennsylvania 6132 W 31st St, New York
Bleecker Street Bat -- widely considered a dive bar by New Yorkers -- is pleasant, spacious, and packed with respectable beer options. There are pool tables, an entire section reserved for playing darts, and both tables & booths where you can actually hold audible conversations. Its exterior is unassuming, but this bar (located right off the 6/B/D/F/M subway stop) pulls out all the stops for a great, no-frills experience.
With homey and wood-heavy decor (think bricks walls with wood accents, wooden keg chairs, worn-wood counters, etc.), this laid-back Nolita spot's serving the best of both worlds: quality hand-brewed coffee and espresso by day, and innovative East Coast-style cocktails by night. Want your coffee IN your cocktail? They do that, too. One of the best beer bars in BYC, the Randolph at Broome features more than 30 well-curated taps that rotate seasonally, as well as a reserve beer menu built from specialty and hard-to-find beers, making this a great spot for serious hop-heads, or casual beer drinkers. The dinner menu is everything you want from a beer bar -- from small plates like pork sliders, hummus, or calimari, to burgers, BBQ ribs, and more than a few salads. The Randolph is also open for brunch and -- get this -- serves breakfast till 4 p.m.
Brooklyn Bowl's a 16-lane strikers' paradise that combines the sleek amenities of Lucky Strike with the anti-sleek Williamsburgery of The Gutter. Blue Ribbon's famous fried chicken is on the menu and live bands replace the top 40 hits you're used to jamming out to under the disco ball of your hometown lanes.
Named for the traditional fishing boat typically found in Western Ireland, this cavernous, four-story bar in the West Village boasts multiple screens for game-watching and a beyond-satisfactory draft beer selection. And much like its Midtown cousin, Galway Hooker's spacious interior and cozy, seafaring decor has made it a popular neighborhood haunt.
The OG of NYC beer gardens, this German spot is a go-to if you're looking for an authentic German beer and brat session. Though the space isn't typical for a beer garden (as in, there's no garden), the Alphabet City spot has sidewalk seating and communal tables inside.
Cask is a class act all the way, with 100yr-old reclaimed wood floors and an antique bar, it's the perfect atmosphere to sip one of their cask-conditioned beers or peruse their exceptional selection of wines. If you don’t want to fist pump with about a million other bros during this happiest of hours, this is your best Murray Hill option. It’s got a rustic vibe, no stale beer smell, plus $5 beers (Victory, Sierra, Blue Point) and $6 wines from 4-8pm.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a NYC joint with cheaper drinks than Iron Horse. Natty, PBR, and Rolling Rock all start at $2 and if you aren't into them, then maybe you'll enjoy their quality selection of bar grub.
Hit up this subterranean surf shack for the laid back atmosphere, bar food, brews, and surf-inspired 'tails.
Pennsylvania 6's a two-floored, deco-tinged beer bar/bistro right near MSG that has distinguished itself from the menagerie of Irish pubs in the area by serving bivalves, lobster, and bistro standards like beer-braised short ribs. There are also craft drafts you won't be finding in tallboy form at Penn Station, and you can catch the game on several projection screens while you slurp down some oysters.