You may feel like you’ve seen versions of this dive before, but Astoria’s Mad Donkey is a neighborhood bar first and foremost. Friendly bartenders make conversation freely and remember your name after one visit, especially if you’re bold enough to try one of their bar challenges. Drink all of the beers on tap, survive two fishbowls (a sugar-laden bowl of whiskey, tequila, vodka, and Bacardi 151 topped off with Swedish Fish), or polish off the appropriately named Donkey Mess (a slophouse of all their appetizers in one super-sized meal), and you can get your photo on the wall. (For the less ambitious, there are board games and a pool table.) Whiskey lovers will delight in the extensive list. Free peanuts are provided, and you’re encouraged to litter the floor with the shells, a charming detail that adds to the bar’s grungy atmosphere, complete with bras hanging from the ceiling. The bar also hosts regular events in the area, like the Mad Donkey Costume Party, attracting older locals who are happy to share a story or two. As you stumble out at three in the morning, you know you’ll likely make a return visit.
32-07 36th Avenue, Astoria, Queens