Brew Ho Ho

Sud-slinging santas toast the season

The holidays are always a test of character—whether it's enduring the crowds; a family dinner; the cold, dark days; or the gnawing, end-of-year suspicion that you've missed the mark (again). Obviously, you can't deal with this stuff on your own, and you don't have to. The following bars have arranged for your relief with cheap pints and strong drinks, weird cheer, yuletide karaoke, and even that special spanking you forgot to ask for.


The three kings: Santa, Elvis, and Frosty at Trailer Park Lounge
photo: Kate Lacey
The three kings: Santa, Elvis, and Frosty at Trailer Park Lounge

Don't expect fancy-shmancy eggnog at Lower East Side bar The Magician, but if you ask nicely, you may just be able to convince the no-nonsense bartender to work some magic—in the form of a hot toddy for a mere $6. Adding to the down-home charm is the fact that the drink is usually missing at least one ingredient, but there's always plenty of whiskey, and that's what counts. The hotness of the toddy depends on a crusty old coffee machine in the back, which seems to break down about half the time, making it more like a "lukewarm toddy," but nevertheless, the cheap drinks warm the spirit. The plain ol' white-tiled interior is a bit lacking in festive ambience, so head on over to the Trailer Park Lounge in Chelsea, where every day looks like Christmas . . . on acid. Get bombarded with full-on holiday kitsch, complete with cheesy tinsel garlands, fake trees, blinking lights, plastic reindeer, and a loving shrine to trash-talkin' ice princess Tonya Harding. If you get tired of Tonya, check out the over-the-top decorations at legendary gay bar The Monster, which gets fully decked out for the holidays, specializing in the ever popular "naughty Santa" motif. Gather 'round the piano and belt out some bawdy Christmas carols with a cast of kings and queens, or go downstairs to the disco-ball-lit lower level, where you can tell Santa what you really want (ho ho!). DAYAL

The Magician, 118 Rivington Street, 212.673.7881; Trailer Park Lounge, 271 West 23rd Street, 212.463.8000; The Monster, 80 Grove Street, 212.924.3557


Once you've forgiven your rural-Ohioan family for voting red, have them stay at the Pan American Hotel, which boasts good rates, free parking, nearby public transportation (subway and bus), and exposure to the melting pot of Queens. Their half-diner, half-bar Duke's Restaurant offers live music on some nights and all the usuals, on tap and bottled (Coors Light, $4). A whiskey sour is $6 and not too strong, just enough to get the family feeling warm inside. Plus, when you're not there to hold their hand, Duke's staff is very friendly in that old-school way. Maybe your family have been to New York before and plan to squeeze in as much Broadway culture as they can. Comfort Inn Manhattan is very central. Expect to pay at least $50 more a night than at the Pan Am. Housed in an old bank adjacent to the hotel, Brendan's feels chichi with its high coffered ceilings, wooden bar, and stained glass, but the huge projection TV feels like home. Mixed drinks start at $5, and import drafts are $4.50 while bottles are $5. Your old-money grandmother requires something cozier than the Waldorf and considers newer downtown hotels vulgar. Take her to Washington Square Hotel, on the northwest corner of its namesake park, just west of those old New York townhouses. Like the deluxe rooms, the hotel's lounge, North Square, is art-deco-styled. The comprehensive wine list impresses, and the clean, natural Big Apple Martini ($9) does not reek of hideous green candy and actually tastes like a real Granny Smith—plus it's dainty enough for Nana. KIM

Duke's Restaurant, 79-00 Queens Boulevard, Elmhurst, Queens, 718.476.8186; Brendan's Bar & Grill, 42 West 35th Street, 212.564.5405; North Square, 103 Waverly Place, 212.254.1200


Those who prefer to sip their spiced wine while enjoying a light whipping or enduring a spat of nipple torture can easily find a festive holiday venue in kinky Manhattan. Guests at the Den of Iniquity will find the dungeon spruced up with a small Christmas tree, decorated with mousetraps and topped with the holy dildo. Join the other slaves in giving sexy gifts and paying respect to their mistresses. Stop by Jezebel's comfortable lair for eggnog, a brightly lit tree, and fishnets, and don't forget to bring your significant other. Maybe this time you can convince her to join your upcoming CBT session with a sultry dom. The ladies of Pandora's Box have a special way of celebrating Hanukkah. Prove you're Jewish (circumcision doesn't count!), or at least recognize a matzo ball, and get a $5 discount during the holiday. Additionally, the week between Christmas and New Year's, Pandora's clients will receive a holiday stocking—sheer, black, and previously worn by one of the mistresses. So tie yourself up with ribbons or, better yet, leather, and let these ladies introduce you to a whole new level of holiday cheer! BRAUNSCHWEIGER

Den of Iniquity, 212.299.2149; Pandora's Box, 212.242.4577; Jezebel, 212.962.0109; addresses available upon request


Baby, it's cold outside, and thanks to all those gifts you've bought, your wallet is a little thin. That doesn't mean that you don't deserve a vacation. Escape the bustle of holiday shoppers and the bitter chill in the air by ducking into Hurricane Hopeful in Williamsburg. Opened by a Cape Cod surfer, this bar is part ode to summers on Nantucket and part cheapskate Hawaiian vacation. Sip a $9 Tiki Rickey (rum, coconut cream, fresh lime juice, and soda) or Aloha and Goodbye (gold rum, vanilla syrup, coconut cream, and fresh ginger) out of giant coconuts and you'll start to feel the warmth of the tropics. The place's kitschy, beachy decor helps set the mood, and if you sit at one of the picnic tables in the covered winter garden you'll get to feel the sand beneath your feet (though please keep your shoes on!) because the floor has been strewn with it for a coastal feel. If you need more of a getaway than the L train can provide, hop on the ferry to Staten Island, where, in a Kmart strip mall, you'll find an honest-to-God tiki bar. Jade Island is over 30 years old—a relic from a time when drinking tropical girlie drinks served by men in Hawaiian shirts, while surrounded by giant Greg Brady-worthy tiki statues, was the height of sophistication—but the thrill of drinking your Pineapple Paradise (pineapple juice, rum, and "rare spices") out of a real, hollowed-out pineapple will never get old. The huge Polynesian cocktails ($5.95 to $6.75) pack a wallop, and with these prices (beer is $2.95), you'll know you're on an exotic island that is not Manhattan. RABER

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