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Bars & Clubs

  • Best place to wear an eye patch or just drink like it

    Sunny's Bar

    A "BAR" sign was added in 1910, but that was almost two decades after Great-Great-Granddad opened Sunny's Bar. At the time, Red Hook was the busiest port in the country, the domain of longshoremen, sailors, and prostitutes. Times have changed, but the oil-painting of Sunny Balzano's great-great-grandfather still overlooks this convivial maritime bar nestled between overgrown waterfront and uninviting warehouses.… More >>
  • Best bar to wonder why no one's buying the frilly drink but you

    Otto's Shrunken Head

    Whenever ripping into a Pabst with our bare teeth gets a little tiresome, we like to head over to tiki bar Otto's Shrunken Head for a few of its indulgent cocktails. Something always strikes us as peculiar when we sip on our big fruity drink with the plastic monkey hanging off the glass: Why are we the only ones sipping… More >>
  • Best perfectly crafted cocktails

    East Side Company Bar - CLOSED

    Run by the owners of the more exclusive Milk & Honey and the trendier Little Branch, Sasha Petraske (son of ex–Voice staffer Anita) and Carlos Santamaria's East Side Company Bar is the most egalitarian of the bunch. Though it's open to the general public (you don't have to go through the appointment-making rigmarole), it still feels as though you lucked… More >>
  • Best drink with a disgusting name

    Ass Juice

    Something unexpected entered New York's drinking culture this year. From the wild imagination of the original Double Down Saloon in Sin City came a shot so disgusting-sounding that it made this watering hole's other gag-inducing drink, the Bacon Martini, appear somewhat palatable. Yes, East Coast lushes, this is the year Double Down Saloon's Ass Juice hit the Big Apple. Defined… More >>
  • Best use of shrimp as garnish

    Alias

    This is a city of wussy garnishes. A speared slice of ginger here, a lychee on a toothpick there. We once watched a bartender lose two minutes of his life straightening out the petals of a blossom on our drink. But don't mistake the shrimp garnish on Alias's Crustacean Mary as purely froufrou ornamentation—this is the final touch on… More >>
  • Best take on the classic tequila shot

    Bembe

    Sure, your friends might be weenies for turning down tequila shots, but pointing that out won't necessarily make them change their minds. They'll beg off, claiming it makes them sick. So why were they sucking down margaritas last week like horny college freshman in Cancún? The problem isn't with the liquor, it's with the chaser— a little lick of salt… More >>
  • Best beer brewed in the city

    SMP

    Deciding on a "best" Gotham-made pint is less a goal than a never ending process, what with the brewpubs and micros swapping out new recipes, hustling taps, and sometimes succumbing to the expedient inconsistency of any small-patch craft. Luckily, there's a healthy variety, but with apologies to the thicket of well-appointed sit-under-the-fermentation-tanks spots around town, I choose Brooklyn's own Sixpoint… More >>
  • Best place to sip wine with Jules Verne, Edith Piaf, and Bozo Texino

    Moto

    Created by photographer and vintage motorcycle builder Bill Phelps along with his wildly inventive partner and best friend John McCormick, Moto is a gesamtkunstwerk as much as it is a restaurant or café. There are at least a dozen shades of plaster on the brick walls, hand-mixed with beeswax, marble dust, and motor oil to give the impression of steam.… More >>
  • Best bar to kick a hangover at

    O'Connor's - CLOSED

    The world intrudes too soon on weekend mornings. There's too much light, noise, people, weather. Questions like: What happened after 4? Why is there blood on my pillow? Among the last true refuges in Downtown Brooklyn, O'Connor's eases these and other ills. It's the darkest bar around, with three narrow paned windows that admit just enough light to know it's… More >>
  • Best bar in Brooklyn for great whisk(e)ys at reasonable prices

    Kings County

    Tourists: They are the bane of New Yorkers' existence, clogging the sidewalks and subways, babbling at top volume about some Broadway behemoth no true city dweller (native or longtime transplant) would ever want to see. But not all visitors to our fair island are so oblivious to what makes New York truly fab. Recently a music industry pal visiting from… More >>
  • Best go-go dancing in a metal bar

    Lucky 13 Saloon

    Just off Park Slope's chaotic Fifth Avenue, you'll find even more madness at a bar where death rock and metal reign supreme. Lucky 13 Saloon also features sexy, badass ladies and guys shaking it to the ear-splitting beats. Go-go regulars like Ammo and Amber Star can be found steaming up the raucous atmosphere, and every Monday features burlesque from… More >>
  • Best bar to watch lesbian pole-dancing

    Cattyshack - CLOSED

    Sadly, there are no strip clubs for dykes in the city. If lady lovers wanted to see the gravity-defying acrobatics of pole-dancing, they had to visit a gentlemen's club. That is, until Cattyshack began featuring women working the pole, which is positioned on the bar with a red light for extra effect. Friday night's Cirrah party features the best of… More >>
  • Best place to lift your spirits in a hurry

    Clem's

    Maybe you work long hours at a job that doesn't pay much, and maybe you often ask yourself, as the great Morrissey once did, "Why do I give valuable time to people who don't care if I live or die?" Well, because your rent's not going to pay itself, and you're band is probably not going to get signed anytime… More >>
  • Best East Village sake bar

    Kasadela - CLOSED

    Japanese establishments continue to proliferate in the East Village, especially sake bars. Our hands-down favorite is still Alphabet City's quaint little izakaya Kasadela— izakaya being the name for a traditional Japanese bar specializing in sake and snacks. Most of the appetizer-y tapas-portioned yummies are cheap, but it takes a lot to get a meal's worth. Also superb is the sake… More >>
  • Best karaoke songbook going sadly underutilized

    Planet Rose

    Say "karaoke on Avenue A" to an East Villager and he'll probably think you mean the private rooms of Sing Sing. I suggest being a little more public with your warbling. Instead of singing like a caged bird, amble uptown a few blocks on any given weeknight to Planet Rose, home to an astonishingly girthy songbook that spans the '50s… More >>
  • Best bar you're sure to get a space at

    Lucky Jack's

    You can find two types of people at a bar: Those who have their drinks and those who do not. How quickly the haves forget about the have-nots crowded behind them. With booze in hand, hey, it's time to hit on the busty bartender, chat up the buddies, wedge your big fat elbows onto that prime real estate bar table,… More >>
  • Best fish tank

    Dragonfly

    If you ever wanted to pretend like you were Claire Danes in the ball scene of Romeo + Juliet, where she and Leonardo DiCaprio first meet while looking through a fish tank, Dragonfly might be the spot to recreate that moment with your beau. At 280 gallons, the freshwater tank shows off goldfish, colorful parrotfish, eel-like arawanas, silver tinfoil barb,… More >>
  • Best cell phone regulation at a bar

    Brooklyn Social

    Say you're out on a first date at the Brooklyn Social in Carroll Gardens, a former Sicilian social club that's been preserved to feel like the old days. The conversation is going great when suddenly your date's cell phone starts to ring. He picks it up and begins yammering away to God only knows who (is it tomorrow's date?) when… More >>
  • Best nightclub

    Cielo

    With all the nightclubs opening up on the West Side, you'd think that Cielo would be facing stiff competition. But you'd be wrong, because Cielo is the only midsize venue that balances bottle service with A-list DJ lineups—creating a space for those who want to play at being fabulous to cohabit in peace with those too busy dancing to the… More >>
  • Best nightclub with the best club personality without a face

    Mr. Black

    When it was Table 50, the club was almost, but not quite, cool. The music was good, featuring forward-thinking techno and house, but there was the whole bottle-service problem, along with the yuppies who inhabit such places. That changed when Stuart Armando, a spunky Aussie, took over the space earlier this year and called it Mr. Black, in homage to… More >>
  • Best techno party DJ

    Derek Plaslaiko

    Derek Plaslaiko, formerly a fixture on the party circuit in that original techno mecca, Detroit, now graces our fine city with appearances at practically every dance music event worth going to, and Detroit's loss is firmly New York's gain. His sets are an education in the secret history of techno. Bleeding-edge tracks that won't be released until next week shake… More >>
  • Best (and only) Russian-bathhouse dance party

    Russian and Turkish Baths

    Last Valentine's Day, Gemini and Scorpio, two sultry lasses who provide online dating advice as well as compelling reasons to get offline, hosted the first dance party to take place in the East Village's legendary Russian and Turkish Baths since it opened in 1892. As with all G&S fetes, the crowd was quirky, comely, artistic, and friendly, and adding to… More >>
  • Best new club feud

    The Trinity

    In one corner, it's the promoting trio the Trinity, three twentysomething sprites sprung out of the '90s club-kid lineage: Aimee Phillips, Mack Dugan, and Drew Elliott, known as Aimee, Mackie, and Drewpsie. They are colorful and over-the-top: Aimee (who is also a publicist for Richie Rich's clothing label, Heatherette) does girl drag, wearing bright shirts, long eyelashes, and fake jewel-encrusted… More >>
  • Best party promoter

    Bryan Kasenic

    Few people have single-handedly added as much to the New York underground-party ideal as Bryan Kasenic, a/k/a DJ Spinoza. In addition to running a thriving weekly dance party in the basement of Tonic, masterminding his homegrown enterprise Beyond Booking, and DJ'ing events all over town, he curates and circulates the indispensable e-flyer NYC Electronic Events, a free weekly guide to… More >>
  • Best 90-year-old club kid

    Zelda Kaplan

    To call her a club kid isn't exactly fair. After all, Zelda Kaplan just turned 90 years young. If you frequent the more posh end of nightlife, you're likely to see Kaplan holding court in all her custom-tribal-African-clothes glory. She figured out long ago what Paris and the other trashy socialites won't ever learn: Pick a look and work it.… More >>
  • Best place to have a big sexy party

    Frying Pan

    If you're searching for a unique venue for your birthday bash, divorce celebration, pre-op going-away party, or record release show, book the Frying Pan. This creaky (but perfectly safe) decommissioned 1930s lightship, which is moored on the Hudson, is the perfect place to do all of the above. Stroll around up on deck, catch the breeze, and dance under the… More >>
  • Best rocker dyke party

    Snapshot

    Before areas like Astor Place turned into Disney-land, queer girls, punk rockers, and elaborately fussed-up goth kids would troll St. Marks Place and Union Square pestering pedestrians for money. It sucks that those days are gone (they were so damn interesting), but you can still spot lesbian rocker chicks at the Snapshot party on Tuesday nights. Right off of East… More >>
  • Best café–rock club–record store

    Cake Shop

    Microbrew or espresso? Cake, cookie, CD, or—egad!—vinyl? These are just a hint of the what-to-do-with-my-time-and-money conundrums one faces at the wacky L.E.S. indie-/noise-rock Shangri-la Cake Shop. Upstairs, facing the street, there's a seemingly normal café, serving tea, sandwiches, bagels, brownies, and cupcakes (all with a strong vegan/veggie bent). In the back, a record store that looks like a… More >>
  • Best music venue off the beaten path

    Nublu

    It's been open four years, but Nublu still feels like some hidden, secret club that you need a password to gain entry to. Located on the rapidly gentrifying Avenue C, it doesn't have an awning or sign, just a blue light. If that doesn't give it away, the expanding crowd spilling onto the sidewalk from the steps might alert you… More >>
  • Best metal party

    Precious Metal

    The term metal, as in heavy, means different things to different people. But whether it comes from genre godfathers Black Sabbath, the '80s hair-rocker camp, or music so cross-eyed and snaggletoothed that many people in their right mind wouldn't even call it music, you either get it or you don't. Precious Metal is a new night (Monday) of heavy, featuring… More >>
  • Best music venue with a capacity under 30

    Rockwood Music Hall

    The folks who opened Rockwood Music Hall have booked many great acts over the past year. Too great, at times: If you're not among the first dozen to arrive, you won't be sitting, and if you're not among the second dozen, you won't be standing without squeezing and bending to dodge waitstaff and the crowd every minute or so. "Music… More >>
  • Best bigass supper club that rocks

    B.B. King Blues Club & Grill

    Times Square has become more and more associated with Mickey Mouse and mega–chain stores and less and less with Harriet the Hooker and fast-talking dope dealers. (God, I miss Harriet and those dealers.) The good news is that we have B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, which somehow manages to marry the best of both worlds. On any given night,… More >>
  • Best website to make you wish digital cameras and alcohol didn't coexist

    lastnightsparty.com

    Before the Internet cataloged every boring nuance of every normal person's day via blogs, we knew that being in a nightclub was sort of like being in Vegas: What happened there stayed there. Not anymore. Merlin Bronques, the bewigged shutterbug behind lastnightsparty.com is there when you've done your third shot, made out with your fourth boy, and are raring to… More >>
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