Looks can be deceiving. Take this column, for instance. Every other week, we search for wild parties, hot trends, and fabulous cocktails—all to impress you. Well, the Choices crew is finally coming clean, presenting to you our favorite liquid standbys. They may not be pretty, but we love them anyway.
Only one bloody mary pint ($5) into the night and I unashamedly threw up a two-handed devil-horn salute as the first few bars of Black Sabbath’s “Snowblind” sludged out of DADDY’S (437 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-609-6388) rather cool, 1984 Ride the Lightning-looking jukebox. Daddy’s moniker—coined by a regular—was taken from Smokey and the Bandit, which is appropriate for its homey, hip, but not-too-hip vibe. You might find a good-looking east Williamsburg hipster drinking one of the bar’s infamous River Dogs (vodka and Squirt combo, $4), sitting amicably next to one of the older, friendly, fatter (and, frankly, better-looking) Italian locals. I like to park it near the warm and ambient (like one of your dad’s old, soft-focus ’70s Penthouse spreads) fireplace—though the huge-ass, round wood bar is pretty darn comfy too, and two pinball machines help take that post-work (post-band practice) edge off in case the vodka tonics aren’t yet doing the trick. And what a treat to mix a nice cold brew with the ultimate of bar foods: a juicy tofu hot dog! (They got flesh ones, too.) —DAVID SHAWN BOSLER
Greeks love two things—drinking and arguing—so at UNCLE NICK’S OUZARIA (749 Ninth Avenue, 397-2892) in Hell’s Kitchen, Spartos feels right at home. The ouzeri, of course, is a meeting place where Greek men traditionally gather and drink ouzo, Greece’s anise-flavored national drink. Some, like Spartos, like it too much, and so Uncle Nick offers up this cautionary tale: One of the bar’s murals depicts two portly, passed-out men so soused that a dog pees right in one of their eyes! Thankfully, Uncle Nick also serves less potent Athenian beer ($4.50), slightly malty Greek lager that pairs well with mezedakia (appetizers) like the flaky and tender octapodaki skaras (grilled octopus, $7.95) that are as authentic as Spartos’s diner roots. Rembetika—the pathos-filled sounds of hash bars and other sordid Greek pastimes—is one of several musical styles setting the dark and mysterious mood. Gia’sou! —C. SPARTOS
Now that I’m 27, I can’t seriously partake in the annual teenage rite that is spring break and still respect myself in the morning. Instead, I take to the narrow accommodations of 5 BURRO CAFÉ (72-05 Austin Street, Queens, 718-544-2984, www.5burrocafe.com), a concrete-side resort where Mexican hospitality rivals Cancun’s any day. Welcome to my very own Wild On: Queens, where I take in the sights from underneath a hut that shades the bar while I chase potent shark attacks (vodka, Blue Curaçao grenadine, 7 Up, and Lemon-Lime, $6), killer crocks (vodka, raspberry, 7 Up, and Lemon-Lime, $6), and mind erasers (vodka, Kahlúa, and 7 Up, $6) with free nachos and salsa. At the end of my stay, I even get to take home the plastic sharks, grasshoppers, and snakes that arrive with the drinks—my kind of happening Happy Meal! —GRACE BASTIDAS