Cheap bars in New York
No bar has a better collection of ’70s lunch boxes, and the rollicking jukebox ain’t half bad, either. This souped-up rec room offers two pool tables, skeeball, darts, pinball, arcade favorites like Big Buck Hunter, and more. The five-hour happy hour means you can rotate pitchers and pints among the 14 brews on tap. Locals are first drawn in by the clublike exterior, but stay for the chill, pool-hall atmosphere that suits both birthday bashes or a few beers between friends.
This Australian-leaning watering hole sits on the border between Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Known for its massive outdoor rooftop bar overlooking the Manhattan skyline, the bar offers an extensive cocktail menu, including frozen drinks during the summer, local brews on tap, and Aussie-inspired fare such as 'meat pies', 'lamb lollies' and 'chips.'
Warning: You’ll be annoyed with Nitecap at first. The entrance is hard to find (hint: if you pass Schapiro’s, you’ve gone too far), the grizzly-haired doorman will likely tell you there’s a sizable wait, and you’ll have to wrestle an unwieldy velvet curtain the second you step inside. But the effort is well worth it, if only for the cavalcade of cocktail killers at its helm: Death & Co. honchos David Kaplan and Alexander Day own the joint, with drinks maven Natasha David (Maison Premiere, Mayahuel) behind the stick. Together, the trio has stirred up the kind of devil-may-care after-hours haunt you’ll want to linger at long after closing time. Order this: The inventive, freewheeling menu runs the gamut from crisp session cocktails to hefty late-night slugs. Of the former, find the vibrant, fennel-licked Green Thumb ($13), with frothy egg whites softening the rummy bite of floral cachaça and fruity Caña Brava. The Tartan Swizzle ($13) cloaks a double hit of Scotch smokiness (Laphroaig 10-year single-malt, Famous Grouse) in spring-break garb: pineapple slices, cocktail umbrellas and a balancing splash of passionfruit and peach juices. Good for: Off-duty barkeeps and the people who want to hang with them. Industry folks like NoMad all-star Dominic Venegas and Naren Young (Empellón Cocina) unwind post-shift at the sultry, cavernous lair, slipping in between the suited financiers and black-clad gallerists huddled at the low-slung oxblood booths. The clincher: Kaplan and Day may
The eternally puckish actor Alan Cumming and promoter-provocateur Daniel Nardicio took over the former Eastern Bloc bar in 2017 and reimagined it as a cabaret, comedy and party hub that evokes of the golden era of NYC downtown nightlife. Celebrities occasionally pop in—such as Paul McCartney, Emma Stone and Vanessa Williams—but the club is its own star: a cheeky-decadent quasiqueer hangout with with a frisky, welcoming vibe and risqué murals by Cumming's husband, Grant Shaffer. Mondays are a sexy-geeky Broadway open-mic night with pianist Lance Horne; Fridays and Saturdays, hosted by the charming and charismatic trans singer Daphne Always, feature dance music and go-go boys. The tradition of downtown nightclub performance is rich but endangered, and Club Cumming is the East Village's best new addition in years: an oasis of creativity and community that draws from traditions of the past but is resolutely planted in the present.
This salon-turned-saloon salutes bygone glamour days from the '50s to the '80s—the decor ranges from Aqua Net to helmet-style hair dryers. Nightly DJs provide a loud punk-to-funk soundtrack that makes the pretty young things shake their shags and toss back the free martini that comes with a $10 manicure. A Brooklyn branch marks the second in New York City, and the seventh in the U.S.
Upstairs in this bi-level bar, boozers chomp miniburgers and nip at microbrews like Sixpoint in the gentlemen’s-club–style anteroom (decorated with Soviet-era globes, paintings of fez-capped men, fireplaces)—before battling it out on the clay bocce courts. Downstairs, spectators are treated to a rotating roster of live talent, such as blaring bands, comedians and a monthly science night.
It’s the Sunshine State by way of Gowanus at this pastel-streaked Floridian playground, where shuffleboard revivalists Jonathan Schnapp and Ashley Albert have retooled lido-deck kitsch for beer-fisted millennials. At the 17,000-square-foot game hall, neck-tattooed skaters and fly girls dressed like Miley Cyrus gather over $40-an-hour rounds of biscuit and tang (shufflespeak for pucks and poles), forming a scene that’s as flamboyantly Boca as it is staunchly Brooklyn. ORDER THIS: Outfitted like Margaritaville-bound Jimmy Buffetts, bartenders serve sunny umbrella drinks inspired by alligator-belt shuffleboard greats, like the rum-and-grapefruit Christine Page Punch ($11). Better, though, is the bar’s beer list, offering a who’s who of craft suds (Smuttynose, Captain Lawrence, Left Hand). Balancing the booze, a rotating roster of food trucks (Morris Grilled Cheese, Phil’s Steaks) hawk utensil-free bites from a corner docking bay. GOOD FOR: Both veteran shufflers and court virgins. The ten swimming-pool-blue lanes are regulation-size, and there’s league play for those who actually know their cherries (scoring in the ten-point box on the last shot) from their pepperonis (all four biscuits in scoring position). If you’re less skilled with a tang, the white-clad waitstaff is quick with tips (stay out of the “kitchen,” the negative-ten-point section), demonstrations (tang claws to the ceiling, stoppers down toward the floor) and ref calls when discs veer too close to the lines. TH
Dangling chandeliers, pressed-tin ceilings and a fireplace decorate this Victorian-inspired spot. On weekends, a 25-and-up policy keeps out the young'uns; cozy up with a date on the red velvet couches or chat with pals over rounds of draft beers (Harpoon IPA, Coney Island Lager) and mixed drinks.
Cubbyhole is one of the Village’s more festive and hetero-friendly gay-and-lesbian bars. Chinese paper lanterns, tissue-paper fish, holiday decorations, and bejeweled chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Barstools are upholstered with glossy vinyl bearing pictures of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig. Eclectic? You bet.
This Skee-Ball-themed bar in Williamsburg is a haven for kitschy, nostalgia-driven boozing. The beer offerings skew cheap and cheerful, with five standard taps supplemented by 40 canned brews kept in ice-filled coolers behind the bar. Divey decor reflects the owners' commitment to the game—the bar is constructed from old "Brewskee" ball machine parts, and a TV up front plays a live feed of the action on the three ramps in the back ($1 per game) while a $4 beer-and-hot-dog combo serves as the snack of champions.