By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Blind Tiger, 518 Hudson Street, 212.675.3848
The husband's family (one dad, one stepmom, one neocon half-brother) is coming to town for the holidays, and though they are lovely people, we discourage them from staying at our placenoisy! cramped! mice! Instead, we offer to research budget hotels, i.e., we're going to find a cheap hotel (for them) with a loaded bar (for us). We start at the Holiday Inn, which is located in a landmark French Renaissance-style hotel. The outside may not scream "bargain," but it's another story at the bar, where elegant mosaic floors clash with salmon-pink walls. We imagine we're about to take the family on a requisite tour of Times Square. What do we need? The husband orders a J.B. and Coke ($7.40), which lacks punch, and I get a White Russian ($7.40), served nice and strong. Tired of the soft-rock soundtrack, we move on to the Hotel Pennsylvania where we find Joe O's, a well-stocked sports bar that, tonight, is overrun with lively geriatric Irishwomen on holiday. Our drinks, a stiff Jack and Ginger ($6) and a smooth seven and seven ($6), arrive in wine goblets. Sports fans cheer their teams, while our Irish septuagenarians begin to line dance to a guitarist singing "Margaritaville." Before the ladies ask us to join them, we dash out the door to the 1050 Lounge in the Skyline Hotel. No tourists here. Instead, local couples whisper at tables under the glow of urban-chic candelabras. Sinking into a red velvet booth, we opt for a tangy cosmo ($9) and a sweet Grand Marnier nightcap ($8). We toast, "To family." ANGELA ASHMAN
"A Brief but Startling History of the Chocolate Santa Claus" by Robert Sietsema
"Season's Spirits: Bars With Cheer"
"Merry Mayem: Holiday Events"
Holiday Inn, 49 West 32nd Street, 212.736.3800
Joe O's at the Hotel Pennsylvania, 136 West 33rd Street, 212.290.9200
1050 Lounge in the Skyline Hotel, 735 Tenth Avenue, 212.586.3400