Sports bars, mainly considered men’s turf, are wooing the ladies with delectable drink menus, designer decor, eclectic music, and plenty of ambience—never mind the game. Here are a few places that try to even the score:
A true playa’s paradise, Jay-Z’s 40/40 CLUB (6 West 25th Street, 212-989-0040) is 8,000 square feet of deluxe grown-up fun: TVs everywhere, a cigar room, a staircase with couches built for two on the steps, hanging chairs that swing, V.I.P. lounges with pool tables and video games, and a unisex bathroom with enclosed stalls (for extra privacy, we presume). Exclusivity is the name of the game at Jigga’s month-old haven; the sports lounge was named after baseball players who hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in one season—Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Jose Canseco have been the only three to do this in baseball history. Regardless of the trivia, whether your idea of sports is catching the game or sizing up the cutie at the slate bar, this may be the spot to indulge in both pastimes. A mixed crowd of after-workers, ballas, artists, and fans come here dressed to see and be seen as they down specialty drinks like the tropical Blue Yankee (blue kamikaze made with Armadale vodka, Bacardi 151 rum, blue curaçao, and lime juice, $9) or the fizzy Passion & Pagne (Alizé wild passion and Deutz champagne $9) on one of the sexy white leather couches. Ya feelin’ it yet?
Nestled in a more haute neighborhood, JIMMY’S DOWNTOWN (400 East 57th Street, 212-486-6400)—the latest offshoot of Jimmy’s Bronx Café—is more of a minimalist’s sports bar, if you count the six TVs set to ESPN behind the bar. But it’s a compromise for bickering couples torn over what to do on a Friday night. The shiny long bar overlooks a row of sleek white and red leather banquettes, ceiling mirrors, and vinyl walls that lead to a circular dining room where the Sutton Place set can dine without bumping hips with the mostly Latin crowd up front. Although the black-clad staff is too busy parading down the faux runway to mind the patrons, the fruity Carmen Miranda sangria ($7), served with a mix of berries and rioja, will have you excusing their poor behavior and asking for mucho más.
Then there are those sports bars that want to be something different to everyone but end up looking like a Best Buy TV clearance on steroids. 99 HUDSON STREET (99 Hudson Street, 212-219-0900) achieves this undesired effect, especially on Wednesday nights, when a karaoke happy hour (7 to 10 p.m.) goes into effect and the Wall Street after-work crowd get smashed on $2 Buds and Michelobs while singing “Love Shack.” The crammed bi-level space has a pool table in the center, a bar area with casino games, and a dark dining space with TVs tuned to a horse race, soccer game, MSNBC, a J.Lo concert, and karaoke lyrics—all at the same time. A feng shui nightmare—women may want to put a new twist on an old standard: “I Will Survive (This Bar).”