MCSORLEY’S OLD ALE HOUSE
There is always a crowd in front of McSorley’s, that ancient Hibernian watering hole whose fabled walls recount almost 158 years of functional alcoholism. This place has made legal history, inspired poets, and provided a moody sanctuary for generations of working men. Although an undeniable destination for out-of-towners looking for that “New York” experience, this place has kept its doors open through thick and thin longer than any other Irish bar in the city. If you don’t already know, they only serve light or dark ale (no hard liquor), they only started letting women in around 1970, and they enforce a strict “Be Good, or Begone” policy. If you’re looking for a loud, boisterous drinking session with friends, sitting in the lap of Manhattan Americana, before hitting the town hard on New Year’s Eve, this is your spot.
15 East 7th Street, 212-473-9148, mcsorleysnewyork.com
Big Bar is tiny. That being said, the place looks and feels like a house party most of the week. You’ll also find out really quickly that it’s the people behind the bar, which is dimly lit and minimally furnished, that makes this place kick so much ass. Time flies by fast here. One minute, you’re talking to a cute regular at the bar; the next, you’re looking at the empty Stella bottles and wondering how much money you could make if you recycled them. If Jen’s working on New Year’s Eve, they’ll be playing nothing but ’90s.
73 East 7th Street, 212-777-6969
SECOND CHANCE SALOON
Mickey Rourke once said, “Sometimes, when a man’s alone, all he’s got is his dog.” This saloon understands Rourke’s sentiment exactly. Second Chance has become an East Williamsburg staple, which is great news for anyone who likes cheap drinks, pool, tatted-up bartenders, and a jukebox that packs a punch. Raise a drink in remembrance to the owner’s old dog, Les—there’s a velvet painting of him hanging above a couple of the old Yankee Stadium seats. What are these guys doing on New Year’s Eve? Not a damn thing.
659 Grand Street, Brooklyn, 718-387-4411
In order for you to form into a true adult, you should set aside your early twenties for binge drinking and promiscuity and your late twenties for striking a proper balance between the two. By the time you reach the ripe old age of 30 (58 in New York City years), you should have a trusted mixologist who knows how to pace your alcohol intake and can name the last three people you brought home. This Godfather-esque speakeasy has some amazingly skilled cats behind the bar. A cozy, downtown spot to ring in the New Year.
510 Hudson Street, 212-242-3021, employeesonlynyc.com
During the day, Fat Cat is an all-ages game room. Come nightfall, this giant basement space turns into a chaotic dormitory party crammed with every kind of undergraduate amusement you can think of: pool tables, foosball, beer pong tournaments, and, of course, the glorious and subtle art form of shuffleboard, the only game we know in which screwing your friends over is not only applauded but required. The crowd is a mixed bag—think Pride Week meets Animal House, and you’ll come close to how much fun this place is. When’s the last time you played Ping-Pong to live jazz in a bar?
75 Christopher Street, 212-675-6056, fatcatmusic.org
AYZA WINE & CHOCOLATE BAR
I had my first chocolate martini not that long ago. When a friend made it for me, I fought her like a Comanche, spewing all manner of insults at her in a last-ditch effort to hold onto my perceived alpha status in the group. “What?” she asked. “Are you kidding me? Too much of a man to drink chocolate and booze together? Shut up and drink it!” I did. I drank the whole thing and kept going until we ran out of Hershey’s. Since the incident, I’ve been seeking out the perfect chocolate martini like a crack addict chasing that first high. Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar is a great spot for couples looking for a romantic evening. For New Year’s, they’re offering a special three-course menu for $64 a person, which includes chocolate truffles by Jacques Torres paired with a glass of 2008 Monbazillac Château La Foncalpre. More to the point, they make five different kinds of chocolate martinis. Five. That’s a different kind for every day of the workweek.
11 West 31st Street, 212-714-2992, ayzanyc.com