Lei It On
Polynesian-inspired tiki bars are all the rage, so grab your lei and let's luau! Two yearlings serve up potentially poisonous liquor-laden scorpion bowls in a fun, Brady Bunch-goes-to-Hawaii setting: the East Village's Waikiki Wally's (101 East 2nd Street, 212-673-8908) and Carroll Gardens' Zombie Hut (261 Smith Street, Brooklyn, 718-875-3433). Kitschy Wally's is like stepping into Disney's Polynesian Resort, with fake palm trees, pseudo-bamboo tables, and a faux miniature waterfall. Real tropical birds look onto the thatched-roof lounge, while next door, a little hut houses a bar, plus tables for dinner. The food is what you would expect from a theme restaurant, but the drinks are luscious and lethal: A frozen piña colada ($9) is a cool classic; Wally's Downfall (coconut rum, pineapple juice, crushed mint; $8), an updated mojito; and the Wipeout (Alizé, white rum, dark-rum float; $9), a dangerous tidal wave of alcohol. Brooklyn beach bums will love the Zombie Hut, where just two of the Suffering Bastards ($8) will have you playing beach-blanket bingo with your date. We have no idea what's in them, but watch out! Unlike Wally's, this dim lounge, with its ambient dance music, is actually a neighborhood hangout, attracting twenty- and thirtysomethings who wouldn't be caught dead in Billyburg, plus the occasional bona fide Brooklyn guido. It somehow works, maybe because everyone's drunk on Frozen Zombies, a slushy house specialty packed with rum, served up by the glass ($5 small; $7 large) or bowl ($20). [spartos]
Perched atop the Comedy Cellar is the Olive Tree Café (117 MacDougal Street, 212-254-3480), which has served some of America's funniest homegrown comics. That's where I sipped on chilled bliss in the form of a top-shelf Long Island iced tea ($6). As many of you may barely remember, drinking Long Island iced teas is on par with drinking shots of Jägermeister in terms of potent take-you-thereness . . . but this one was so pure and gentle and sweet that it quenched my thirst like a bottle of Vitamin Water. What bar to better perfect the knockout cocktail than one catering to New York's elite comedians and their audiences? [peretti]
When Life Gives You Lemons . . .
At the lemonade stand in front of your garage, you eagerly awaited customers and watched beads of condensation slide down the pitcher. Neighbors, pitying your callow cuteness, said, "Keep the change." For every glass sold, you downed three. Business might've boomed if you'd had the recipe for Patio's (31 Second Avenue, 212-460-9171) vodka lemonade ($7). Perfect for medicating suburban boredom (or metropolitan malaise), the just-squeezed lemons tingle while the vodka warms. Sit beside well-fed artists and the picket fence to gaze out of the open storefront. For additional anesthesia, request the citrus margarita (triple sec and tequila with fresh lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange juices; $7). If it's the scene you crave but the sweltering sun and steamy studs are making you sweat, replenish a parched deep throat with raspberry lemonade ($9) at Elmo (156 Seventh Avenue, 212-337-8000). Reaching new levels of chichi with comfort cuisine, Elmo's Country Time redux concocts Stoli Razberi, fresh pink lemonade, and raspberry puree. Surrounded by cushiony chairs straight out of The Jetsons, mosaic tiles, mirrors, and mood lighting that slyly suggests Los Angeles, seductively sip your sinfully sweet drink. For further excitement, try the ice-cold Boy Next Door ($9), a chocolate martini with "impressive banana garnish." [kim]
Rum for Your Money
Eating lunch every day at Benny's Burritos and regurgitating what little you remember from high school Spanish class will make you no more Latin American then Richie Cunningham. A sure way to channel your inner mamita or papi chulo is through the spirits (no, we're not talking Santería! It's all about the drinks!). And what better time than summer, when it's already caliente? Hole-in-the-wall Agozar! (324 Bowery, 212-677-6773) promises a good time and delivers. Multicolored stools, candles, and lively music set the mood; fruity, tropical drinks like the Pasión de Agozar (Bacardi rum, passion fruit, lime, pineapple, and chambord; $8) and La Habana Vieja (fresh fruit, Bacardi rum, and orange liqueur; $8) ignite it. For more old-country-style ambience, Cuba Café (200 Eighth Avenue, 212-633-1570) serves up pseudo-authenticityslow-moving fans, fake palm trees, paintings of showgirls, waiters with thick accentsand liquid nostalgia. The sinfully delicious Latin Lover (coconut rum with orange, cranberry, and pineapple juices; $7) and hip-shaking Mambopolitan (rum, lime, triple sec, cranberry juice; $7) will have even the clueless reminiscing about those pre-revolutionary days. [bastidas]
Sake to Me
L.E.S. Country Club (East 6th Street and Avenue B, 212-253-6369) is open and breezy for the warm season and offers the recreational activities pinball and pool. Especially summer-yummy to drink is a $2 shot of cold sake, and/or various unique $5 mixed-sake drinks. In them, vanilla soy and sake are often married, and may be joined by cranberry (in the Pink Flamingo), orange juice (in the Orange Creamsicle), or pineapple (in the Country Club). Not likely to be a drink you'll forget, and it's perfect for those nights when you find yourself craving something different. [peretti]
Imbued with Key West intrigue and Parrothead mystique, the margarita can be down-right fun and fratty. In other words, it's the perfect summer cocktail to get wasted on. Purists argue tequilas, rocks, and salts, but we say, "Pull that slushee pump like you mean it!" So we're overjoyed that month-old San Marcos (12 St. Marks Place, 212-995-8400) has joined the sober Japanese sandwich shops so popular on St. Marks these days. With its lime green and cobalt blue color scheme, it's about as obnoxious as you'd expect and as cheap as you'd hope. Pints of domestic tap beer are only $3, and frozen peach, mango, strawberry, and lime margaritas are a mere $5. After trying all four flavors, we recommend the mango; it's tart, never medicine-y, and you can taste bits of the pithy flesh throughout. Plus, smokers will feel right at home at one of the outdoor café tables. [spartos]
Chain, Chain, Chain
Chain restaurants suffer from the same maladies: blandness, no-frills decor; 45-minute waits; wailing kids everywhere; and food that arrives half an hour after you order (if you're lucky!). But they do have one redeeming qualitycheap, tasty, and unnaturally large libations. The icy, Caribbean-inspired Bahama Mama ($8) is reason enough to head to the cafeteria-like space of Applebee's (234 West 42nd Street, 212-391-7414). The fruity confection (sugar, Malibu, orange and pineapple juices) turns a blasé bar scene into a blithe, atmospheric partythat's what you call drinkin' good in the neighborhood. At Outback Steakhouse in Queens Place mall (88-01 Queens Boulevard, 718-760-7200), the frosty Wallaby Darned (peaches, DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps, champagne, and Smirnoff; $6.49) tastes like the last alcoholic beverage on earth. Or not . . . the Down Under Darned peddles an extra shot for $7.50a sound investment. The Aussie-motif swordfish hangings, dim lighting, and a sporty bar serve as a prime spot for mallrat cruising, and if that doesn't work out, there's always rib-eye. And where would the world be without the obscenely wide array of bracing concoctions compliments of Friday's (1680 Broadway, 212-767-8326)? After gazing at a mélange of enticing substances from the menu, order a sublimely flavored June Bug (melon liqueur, Malibu, banana liqueur, Sweet & Sour Mix, and pineapple juice; $8.75). Settle in at the bar among excited weekenders clamoring for another glass and finger foods. Hey, most people are ashamed to admit that they even frequent these types of places, but when you're gulping a sugary cocktail the size of your head it's a lot easier to admit that deep down, they've won your heart. [franklin]
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