Big group? Low-key friends? Here are 20 places to celebrate the big day.
Wed Nov 25 2009
Maracas Mexican Bar & Grill
Perfectly over-the-top for your 21st birthday (or an ironic 35th), Maracas Mexican Bar & Grill (33 Greenwich Ave between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-593-6600, maracasnyc.com) is, well hell, look at that photo. For $15, the staff comes to your table carrying a piece of chocolate cake with a sparkler, gives you a shot of the house tequila, dresses you up with a sombrero and beads, and then serenades you with "La Bamba" while strobe lights flash. To help you remember what will clearly be the most dignified moment of your life, they'll also take a Polaroid picture.
Celebrate your 25th at Le Souk Harem (510 La Guardia Pl between Bleecker and W Houston Sts; 212-677-1120, lesouk-harem.com), which has a tent room (great for dinner), an elevated loft section (reserved for bottle service and dinner; book a week in advance), hookahs, nightly belly dancers (9, 11pm), Moroccan food, pitchers of sangria, and DJs blasting Middle Eastern, Asian and house remixes (DJs start around 10pm every night). You'll have plenty of ways to prove that though you are growing up, you can still party like a rock star.
You'll enter your thirties in style at Whiskey Park, located in Donald Trump's Parc Building (Trump Parc, 100 Central Park South at Sixth Ave; 212-307-9222, gerberbars.com). Your crew can either camp out on the sleek leather couches or rub elbows with boozed-up bankers by the bar. The model-like staff is easy on your aging eyes.
When you throw your big 21st at Slate (54 W 21st St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-989-0096, slate-ny.com), you can take 21 (legal) shots, sing along to Top 40 hits, dance, play pool and black out all without fear of being judged by the other pretty young things. The sprawling two-level bar can definitely fit all of your pals, and you also have the option of reserving space in the VIP lounge.
For a fabulous 50th (or any birthday, really), bring your friends and family to Accademia di Vino (1081 Third Ave at 64th St; 212-888-6333, accademiadivino.com). This gigantic elegant wine bar takes up almost the whole block and carries more than 800 different bottles. Book your party in either the alcove (8--12 people, $75 a head), the Sicilia room (15--24 people, $95 a head) or the wine cellar room (40--65 people, $125 a head). The prices include a special menu of pizza (the Robiola black truffle is to die for!), six mixed hot and cold antipasti served family style, a pasta tasting, and a choice of three entres, mixed desserts, coffee and biscotti. Drinks, tax and gratuity are extra.
No matter how many candles you're blowing out, you'll feel forever young at NYC Paintball & Lazertag (47-11 Van Dam St between 47th and 48th Sts, Long Island City, Queens; 718-361-8337, nypaintball.com). Call at least one week in advance to make a reservation. The paintball party package includes: a three-hour session at $40 per player, guns, 500 paintballs, and a mask, an ammo belt, a slice of pizza, a bag of chips and soda for each person. If you prefer to shoot people with lasers, for $229, ten people can play one and a half hours, and then nosh on two complimentary pizza pies with soda.
Hell Gate Social (12-21 Astoria Blvd between 12th and 14th Sts, Astoria, Queens; 718-204-8313, hellgatesocial.com) is an accommodating neighborhood gem where you won't find any attitude or lines. What you will find is a staff known to buy a party group a round of shots before programming your name into the "Happy Birthday" song to play over the loudspeakers. They'll even work with you to book your favorite band or DJ. The Midnight Happy Hour (buy one, get one free midnight--1am) will certainly keep your guests entertained.
Keep it classy at Gallery Bar (120 Orchard St between Delancey and Rivington Sts; 212-529-2266, gallerybarnyc.com), which is, as you might guess, an art space by day and a lounge by night. Relax, sip cocktails, and soak in the ambience (with tunes ranging from electro-rock to hip-hop) by reserving a table in advance (free; tables seat 8--15).
Call up Professor Thoms' (219 Second Ave between 13th and 14th Sts; 212-260-9480, professorthoms.com), a cozy pub with a second-floor heated roof deck, and tell them how many guests you're expecting, plus your favorite liquor, beer and shot. They'll provide wristbands for your partygoers to receive drink specials of your choice ($5 mixed drinks, $4 beer and $3 shots).
For a totally therapeutic birthday, create art, sort of, at Make (locations throughout the city; 212-213-4265, makemeaning.com). Book the classic party package for $295 and get wine, light snacks, balloons, paint and glaze. The actual pottery pieces (like mugs and platters) are extra and run from $10 to $75.
The Danish-modern and Victorian couches, church pews and tables at the front of Floyd (131 Atlantic Ave between Clinton and Henry Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-858-5810, floydny.com) make for a comfortable, laid-back party spot. Arrive early (6--7pm) to stake your claim, but if your posse is going to be more than 20 people, call ahead. Keep your friends entertained at the indoor bocce court, keep them liquored up with drink specials (Sunday--Wednesday only, for groups of 20 or more, arrange with the bartender upon arrival), and keep them fed with the help of the bar's delivery-menu book.
Big enough for all your Facebook friends
The after-work and weekend crowds are bumping at sprawling Irish pub Puck Fair (298 Lafayette St between E Houston and Jersey Sts; 212-431-1200, puckfairbarnyc.com), but you'll be able to watch the stumbling fools from your own private aerie by reserving the balcony (free; call at least one week in advance). The set-apart area has six tables, holds about 30 people and comes with its own waitress so that you won't break a sweat running up and down the steps. Your other 332 buddies can squeeze in downstairs.
Nosh on sushi platters, sip saketinis and start a spontaneous dance party in the posh back lounge at Bamboo 52 (344 W 52nd St between Eighth and Ninth Aves; 212-315-2777, bamboo52nyc.com; free reservations available for up to three hours). The nook is set off from the rest of the bar's usual hoard and seats 20 to 70 people. Bonus: You get five free drinks for being the birthday star!
For a stress-free b-day devoid of abrasive doormen and snooty clientele, throw your fete at The Musical Box (219 Ave B between 13th and 14th Sts, 212-254-1731). We like it because there's no charge to reserve space in the back room, which is comfortably dim and cozy with exposed brick, grand chandeliers and velvety couches. Your guests will appreciate the pool table and cheap drink prices ($5 beers and mixed drinks).
Chorus Music Studio (25 W 32nd St between Fifth Ave and Broadway; 212-967-2244, choruskaraoke.com), a futuristic-looking karaoke bar, has eight private rooms and more than 80,000 songs from which to select your solo ($40 per hour for four people, $5 for every additional person, each guest must purchase one beverage on Fridays and Saturdays). The largest room holds about 35 people, and each is decked out with a giant plasma screen, two to three additional screens, and a phone that can be used to call the bar and order drinks so you don't have to interrupt that rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Complimentary birthday decorations (like balloons and HAPPY BIRTHDAY signs) are provided for parties larger than 15.
Escape the sloshed UES frat scene by secluding your group in the back room of Session 73 (1359 First Ave at 73rd St; 212-517-4445, session73.com), The room is blocked off by a curtain so you can croon along to your iTunes library while it plays over a speaker (free with a $250 deposit and guarantee of 50 guests). There's also a large projection screen in case you want to watch the game...or play a homemade through-the-years slide show.
Celebrate by popping the bubbly at the sexy Sin Sin & Leopard Lounge (248 E 5th St between Bowery and Second Ave; 212-253-2222, leopardloungenyc.com). Book your party here and bring a minimum of ten people to score a complimentary bottle of champagne, a table, a hookah pipe, and admission for you and your guests. (In case you're wondering: Admission is usually $5, the house champagne $70, hookah pipes $20, and the table fee is $50). Latecomers should drop the birthday person's name at the door to gain free entry.
Roll 15 deep to Bushwick Country Club (618 Grand St at Leonard St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-2114, bushwickcountryclub.com) and the birthday person boozes at no charge (until the bartenders deem that he or she should switch to water). If you're popular enough to draw a crowd of 30 to this festive bar, they'll provide complimentary hot dogs on the grill. Just call or e-mail (email@example.com) a week in advance. Your group also gets preferential treatment at the indoor minigolf course, and the bar will give the b-day boy or girl a free photo-booth strip so he or she can (try to) remember the night.
You'll have no inhibitions about planting a wet one on your crush (blame it on being totally sloshed later) when you're drinking for free at Stanton Public (17 Stanton St between Bowery and Chrystie St; 212-677-5555, stantonpublic.com). Just bring ten pals and an ID that says it's your birthday, and your own drinks will be on the house.
The staff at Southern Hospitality (1460 Second Ave between 76th and 77th Sts; 212-249-1001, southernhospitalitybbq.com) takes the title of their BBQ joint very seriously: If the birthday person brings ten guests, his or her drinks will be free. The center of attention also gets a candle-studded dessert on the house (usually the peach cobbler, but they're open to requests) while the staff rallies the whole bar to sing the "Happy Birthday" song. You might just get some free shots as well.