Boozing in a basement rec room used to be a sketchy endeavor—you had to wait patiently until your parents’ station wagon left the driveway, swipe bottles from the liquor cabinet and rid the premises of all evidence of underage tipsiness before Mom and Dad returned home. It’s scads easier at this throwback subterranean saloon, tucked beneath Noho comfort-food café Bleecker Kitchen & Co. Cocktail-world vets Tim Cooper (Goldbar) and Justin Noel (1534) concoct a lively playground of game-hall amusements and well-executed quaffs, to satisfy both you and your inner teen.
ORDER THIS: The witty drinks menu is laid out on a New York subway map, with each cocktail ($14) reminiscent of a particular stop: The Ivan Drago, a nod to Russian-heavy Brighton Beach and the Soviet opponent in Rocky IV, updates a classic Moscow mule with aromatic cardamom, clove and cinnamon; while the WU-Tea-Ki—named for Staten Island natives the Wu-Tang Clan—offers an herbaceous edge courtesy of black-tea-infused rum, brightened with lemon demerara syrup and citrus bitters, and cheekily served in a ceramic Anthora-style coffee cup.
GOOD FOR: A taste of ’80s-kid nostalgia. Leather-jacketed gents huddle over foosball tables—unearthed from Cooper’s own childhood basement—while off-duty suits loosen their ties during high-octane Galaga game play. The bites evoke afterschool snacks, with snappy mini corn dogs ($11) and ham-and-cheese-studded Tater-Tot casserole ($9).
THE CLINCHER: The cavernous, brick-walled bar is the best of both worlds: a sophisticated cocktail den and a laid-back sports bar, an all-inclusive clubhouse for fair-weather tipplers and discerning drinkers alike. The 300 spirits sure put Mom and Dad’s booze selection to shame.—Christina Izzo