Photograph: Nikola Tamindzic
The Half Pint
The crowd here is surprisingly under control considering that it’s a stone’s throw from the NYU three-ring circus. It’s mostly midtwenties-and-up patrons who appear to have jobs—and the ability to drink. Brew is consumed enthusiastically and in large quantities: The “beer tower,” a contraption that dispenses six pints of your choice (like a sophisticated keg), is the centerpiece of most tables.
Tip: Beer connoisseurs should try Ipswich Harvest, a beer served from a weekly or monthly rotating cask. (The Half Pint is one of only 50-odd places in the five boroughs to offer cask beer.) Average drink: $5.50. 76 W 3rd St at Thompson St (212-260-1088).
The Big Easy
Proponents of frat-chic—presumably the same set that reminisces about the good old days of hedonistic spring-breaking in Cancún—dominate the Big Easy. Beer pong, cheap brews ($8 pitchers of Bud Light on most nights), plastic cups and girls with low self-esteem writhing on the bar for their glassy-eyed male admirers make this a primary UES destination for casually hooking up—or drinking until you barf.
Tip: On Tuesdays and Fridays from 11pm to midnight there’s a “power hour” with $2 well drinks and $2 Bud Light drafts. Average drink: $3. 1768 Second Ave at 92nd St (212-348-0879).
Ocean’s 8 at Brownstone Billiards
Part fratty sports bar, part old-school pool hall, this gigantic Park Slope space has just about everything you need—assuming that you’re into billiards, beer and sports (eff yeah!). The flat-screen TVs that line the bar (which flaunts 24 on-tap beers) attract a football-loving crowd; just beyond that, a diverse mix of locals and new-to-the-neighborhood types play at any of the 36 pool tables ($9.90 an hour), half-dozen Ping-Pong nets ($5 per person) and air-hockey tables ($5 per person). There are even two small bowling lanes ($3 per game).
Tip: Stop by on Wednesdays for karaoke (10pm–2am); come early to take advantage of the two-for-one happy-hour specials (3–7pm) and to imbibe some liquid courage before belting out your best “I Believe I Can Fly” in front of the, um, adoring crowds. Average drink: $4. 308 Flatbush Ave at Seventh Ave, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-857-5555).
The decor—if you can even use that word to describe fluorescent beer signs and a Polaroid “Truck Bomb Hall of Fame” (posting the stupid grins of those who’ve downed a glass of Jameson and Baileys submerged in a half pitcher of Guinness)—says it all. Numerous diversions (darts! air hockey! televised football!), $7 pitchers and $1 shots on Fridays fuel the casual college crowd, which sits on graffitied picnic tables texting rabidly and chatting about dorm life. A weekly calendar of promotions makes this place even cheaper: Mondays are all-you-can-drink for $10; on Tuesdays you can rock-paper-scissors your way to paying only half your bill, and the list goes on. Just don’t bring the sober or faint-of-heart: “It fucking smells like ass in here,” remarked one girl. She clearly needed her pitcher refilled.
Tip: Choose air hockey over darts—the dartboard’s neighbors are the perfumey latrines. Average drink: $3. 140 First Ave between St. Marks Pl and 9th St (212-254-6631).
When not playing host to real bachelorette parties, this ’80s club runs a fake one on Friday nights: Birdy’s Bachelorette Party, from the producers of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding. 179 Varick St between Charlton and King Sts (212-243-1999)
Penthouse Executive Club
There’s no Chippendales dancers, ladies—here, you take your clothes off. You and your GFs can enjoy private striptease lessons Saturdays from 7 to 9pm. One hour goes for $25 per person and you get “certification” afterward. 603 W 45th St at Eleventh Ave (212-245-0002)
An urban club on the Upper East Side, across the street from a baby-yoga studio? Hells yeah, and it’s the best place to get down to American Gangster while goateed menfolk in jerseys go down on your candy necklaces. 1487 First Ave between 77th and 78th Sts (212-249-9540)