Cheap bars in New York
The rooftop is what keeps crowds coming back to this LES rock club—it’s got potted palms, a fishpond and a margarita machine. When the airy party ends at midnight, head to the ground level for deejayed music or into the basement to catch a live show. Tuesdays from 7 to 10pm, hot dogs and burgers are served for five bucks per plate—so no need to worry about boozing on an empty stomach.
A self-described “rock and sleaze fag bar,” the Cock is just the sort of dark, sketchy dive where you can unleash your inner sexy beast. The dearth of uptown attitude (or any apparent concern for cleanliness) pulls artists, musicians, writers, fashionistos, tourists and closeted rebels in stiff polos, all of whom can appreciate a little dirty fun. Homeskool Mondays feature DJ extraordinaire Jon Jon Battles. Weekends get so crowded (midnight to 3am) that there’s often a cover charge. Stuff your pockets before coming here; it’s cash only.
A friendly, spacious bar with an intimacy-heightening low ceiling, Nowhere attracts attitude-free crowds—and the place is filled with everyone from dykes to bears, thanks to a fun lineup of theme nights. There's no official dance floor, but don't be surprised to find yourself moving to disco, rock, new wave and whatever else the DJ feels like spinning.
The decor is as subtle as the name, but if you’re a tiki enthusiast, you and your grass skirt will fit right in. The light fixtures are glowing candy-colored blowfish, the walls sport gaudy ’50s tropical prints, and the drink menu is heavy on beach-bar standards like piña coladas and margaritas. Once surf rock gets going in the back lounge, the place becomes more Cali than Bali.
This salon-turned-saloon salutes bygone glamour days—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 Blue Rinse margarita (tequila, curaçao, lime juice) that comes with a $10 manicure (Wed–Sun). A Brooklyn branch marks the second in New York City, and the seventh in the U.S.
Cubbyhole is one of the Village’s more festive and hetero-friendly gay-and-lesbian bars. Chinese paper lanterns, tissue-paper fish and holiday decorations hang from the ceiling. Barstools are upholstered with glossy vinyl bearing pictures of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig. Eclectic? You bet.
Named after Australia's topmost tip, this brick-walled Down Under pub from the Berry Park team features hand-painted murals from Bushwick street artists and—yes, here too—a rooftop bar for warm-weather boozing. Oz-bred beers including Foster's and Cooper's are available at the L-shaped bar, and the kitchen turns out pub grub like beef pies and grilled skewers (garlic shrimp, mint-marinated lamb).
Many ghosts haunt the sodden crossroads known as Sheridan Square: poets, painters, firebrands. But only at 55 Bar can you imbibe alongside a living legend, weekly gigging jazz-rock guitarist Mike Stern. Other top boppers and bluesmen swing in the narrow basement boîte nightly. All shows have a two-drink minimum, but never fear: The bartenders know how to mix. If you want to talk, sit in back so the head-bobbing jazzbos don’t shush you.
The former pool-supply outlet now supplies booze to scruffy Williamsburgers, who pack the tin-walled main room’s half-moon booths and snap saucy photo-kiosk pics. Bands strum away on the adjacent stage, while a spacious courtyard is packed with wooden benches to lure chain-smokers. Arrive early to kick back $3 PBRs or $7 Jack-and-Cokes (a buck off from 5 to 8pm).
This authentic Czech beer garden, opened in 1910, offers plenty of mingle-friendly picnic tables, where you can sit while you sample cheap platters of sausage and a solid lineup of European and domestic beers (pints $6, pitchers $16). Though the huge, tree-canopied garden is open year-round, summer is the prime time to soak up some rays over a pint. Prost!
Tantra Lounge in Astoria has an eclectic aesthetic. The decor seems largely inspired by the Middle East, with lanterns lighting up cozy nooks draped in brightly hued silks, although a few statues of traditional Hindu gods pop up here and there. The music selection is just as varied and vibrant. On any given night, you might hear salsa, R&B, top 40 hits and reggae. Order a drink at the bar, or purchase VIP bottle service so your crew can claim one of the intimate tables as your own. Either way, you can still take a few puffs of the flavored hookah. And since they offer special birthday packages and occasional themed events, Tantra Lounge has you covered when it comes to special events, too.
Venue says: “Dance the night away with us in the this hip lounge!”