Eros, ruler of my cruel heart, be damned! Let lovers, cheats, and chums toss/toast (Anti-) Valentine’s Day with a glass of scarlet grape or a cocktail iced with bitters. May the night witness the arrival of Cupid’s arrow and an ice pick to the heart: Sore lips and glowing bliss and a hangover worthy of couplets!
I’m 31, practically broke, experiencing a bad case of the winter blues, and haven’t even held a girl’s hand in over six months. But I just moved to Greenpoint, home to some of the hottest Polish women in these United States. Determined to find a date for Valentine’s Day, I threw on my best mock turtleneck, splashed on some Drakkar Noir, and sauntered over to JOHNNY’S CAFÉ (632 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-383-9644). Glancing over the clusters of young ladies seated at wooden tables throughout these two large, dimly lit, chalet-like rooms, I ordered a refreshing Lezajsk lager ($5) and remarked to the bartender, “Check out the pierogies on that one, huh?” He proceeded to stare at me, stone-faced. As I coolly bopped my head to the slightly outdated dance grooves that blared through the sound system, two perfectly sculpted blond girls walked up to order some drinks. I turned to one and said, “I’m a quarter Polish, you know—I’ve got a cousin named Stashu.” She rolled her eyes, turned to her friend, and in perfect English said, “What an asshole,” before walking away. “Fuck it,” I thought. “One down, 20 to go.” —Ken Switzer
If your Valentine is a sure thing—till death do you part, and all—ignite the flame with a little romance and a lot of alcohol. For an intoxicating evening, wine your honey at the intimate, wee quarters of BAR DEMI (125 1/2 East 17th Street, 212-260-0900), where a wide selection of libations are available by the glass or bottle. After settling in at one of the five tiny tables, impress with sommelier-ish tidbits from the informative menu (appropriate food and wine pairings, stellar seasonal selections, good vintages, etc.)—and she thought she had you figured out! Order the strong, spicy Californian Syrah ($28 half-bottle) and take in the elegant decor—votive candles, white walls, banquette seats—and each other’s company. After a few more bottles, even claustrophobes will be inspired to canoodle—that’s the beauty of a sure thing. —Grace Bastidas
He couldn’t seem to get over his ex no matter what—drink, drugs, Amway, the Promise Keepers—he tried. One morning in the shower he sang “Arthur’s Theme,” and it left him in a rare, chipper mood. “Perhaps karaoke can cure my broken heart?” That night at the karaoke bar PLANET ROSE (219 Avenue A, 212-353-9500), the healing began. Upon entering, he noticed the striking crimson wallpaper, which reminded him of Twin Peaks’ Red Room, and funky zebra-print couches. “Ahh, my kind of joint,” he thought. After settling back with an Amstel Light ($6)—sorry, only two choices on the beer menu—he asked the bartender what the accompanying ticket was for. “You get a free song with every drink; normally they’re $2 per song,” she said cheerfully. “It ain’t a free shot, but hey, it’s still a perk.” Perk is right. To tears, cheers, and beers he sang, “Baby I’m a want you, baby I’m a need you,” and from across the room he lustfully locked eyes with Ms. Tristate Karaoke Champion 1996-98 . . . —David Shawn Bosler