After a mind-blowing $46,000-a-month rent increase, iconic Meatpacking dive Hogs & Heifers held its last call on August 23 before preparing to close for good after 23 years. Best known for its winning combo of cheap drinks and outspoken, dancing, megaphone-wielding bartenders, Hogs & Heifers is the latest in an ever-growing list of New York institutions forced to shutter in the face of rising rents.
Although few experiences can replace the unique joy of being publicly shamed by a hot lady with a megaphone while mentally doing the math on when that child-size dust bunny is going to drift into your drink, here are a few options to help fill the void.
Jeremy’s Ale House
228 Front St. between Beekman Street and Peck Slip
If feeling like you’re experiencing a bygone New York is your top priority, this is the bar for you. Populated primarily by bros and their middle-aged FDNY counterparts (elderbros?), this bar has at least one hugely redeeming feature: an ice-cold 32-ounce beer for about $10. Don’t come here looking for brassy bar-dancing babes: Jeremy’s is run by a team of grizzled (but friendly) older gentlemen who remain parked firmly behind the counter. Per one bartender, they abide by a size-based bra exchange scale: “If it’s a small bra, you get one shot” — a policy that helps to explain the preponderance of impressively massive boulder holders suspended from the walls and ceiling. More modestly endowed ladies looking to drink on the house might be able to game the system by simply donning a larger size for the night (they don’t make you prove it, after all). In terms of sheer old New York authenticity, Jeremy’s is the clear winner of the bunch.
The Patriot Saloon
110 Chambers Street between Church Street and Broadway
The Patriot Saloon feels truest to the conceit of the original, although its hot lady bartenders skew more sassy than straight-up rude. According to one friendly bartender, bra-donating patrons must dance on the bar and publicly remove their up-top undergarment in order to qualify for all-night gratis drinks. “No sneaking into the bathroom and handing it over,” says she. Non-bra wearers and those reluctant to part with their skivvies will fare fine: Domestic pints are priced less than $3 and no pitcher costs more than $13. The bra décor is in full force but the best feature may be the taxidermied alligator suspended from the ceiling (with a handful of bras dangling from his maw). If you live or work in the neighborhood, the service and prices alone would make this an outstanding go-to dive.
153 1st Avenue between 9th and 10th streets
The holder of the OG bra bar title is hotly contested between this bar and Hogs & Heifers — the bars opened within months of each other and both claim it was first to popularize the model (although the Coyote claims the honor of inspiring the 2000 feature film of the same name). Regardless, today’s Coyote Ugly bears little resemblance to the raucous honky-tonk dive portrayed in the film, perhaps because it’s now a franchise operation with fourteen locations in the Western Hemisphere and six in Eastern Europe (Hello, Coyote Ugly-Yekaterinburg!). On a recent Voice foray, a smattering of no more than 30 sensible bras hung dejectedly from the ceiling and the bartender danced to an audience of leering older guys in T-shirts. The beers are cheap-ish and served two at a time on weeknights before 7, so be prepared to chug quickly or sip a warm second brew (you can also opt for an inexplicable $30 special: the same amount of beer plus your branded glass when you’re finished). If you’re feeling spendy, you can snap up knockoff Ed Hardy-looking merchandise like booty shorts that say “MONEY MAKER” or a shirt that reads “Give me fast bikes, aged whisky, and hot women.” Without a doubt the bleakest place to bar-dance for a free shot.
407 Amsterdam Avenue between 79th and 80th streets
This Big Easy-themed bar skews more sports than saloon but like others on this list, a bra gets you free drinks (and probably some beads) all night. Unlike the others, it’s on the Upper West Side, so you’re more likely to be egged on by Saints fans and assorted post-collegiate bros than by blue-collar country fans and saucy bar-backs. With abundant options for dirt-cheap drinks, it’s a solid if underwhelming choice if you’re in the area.
308 Bleecker St between Wyckoff and Irving in Bushwick
If your boob-themed interests are more hipster than honky tonk, the Boobie Trap is for you. Despite the naughty-lady coloring book pages to fill in, dimensional breast ceiling tiles in the bathroom, and other boob-themed décor, this is more of a fun neighborhood bar than areola overload. Affordable with a good selection of cocktails, the Trap is a good option if you’re planning to keep your shirt on (literally, not metaphorically — the drinks are strong).
1089 Grand Street at Vandervoort Avenue.
If you really want to get paid to take your bra off, landing a job at Pumps in East Williamsburg is your best option (you’ll have to brush up on your pole moves). Unlike conventional strip clubs, there’s no cover and the dancers perform behind the bar, then do a lap for tips (so be prepared with small bills). Enterprising breast havers can interview Monday-Thursday between 5 p.m. and midnight.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 24, 2015