Cheap bars

Drink to forget how little money you have without going into debt at these inexpensive drinking spots.


Cafe Sueno
If you like your dance floors small, crowded and do-rag--free (headgear’s verboten, just like in high school), hit up the deejayed parties Thursdays through Saturdays at this diminutive, mostly Latino lounge. Those who prefer solitary barside daydreaming should try Sueno on a weekday, when the bar is both cap- and patron-free. 1178 Havemeyer Ave at Gleason Ave (718-239-4440)

The Jolly Tinker
It’s true, you may run into a few (okay, a lot of) Fordham University students here—on any given weekend night, the pool table and two rooms of seating are occupied by rowdy revelers from the nearby campus. Head up during the week, however, and you’ll encounter patrons from the area’s hard-core Irish past, drinking beside university professors looking to relax. 387 Bedford Park Blvd at Webster Ave (718-364-8789)

During the day and into early evening, the old Irish bar-sitters at this comfy, no-nonsense watering hole are absorbed by keno and other lotto variations—the place is even equipped with a lottery checker by the door. Late one recent night, the only other woman to be found was the bartender, but the fellas were all perfectly polite. 5588 Broadway between 231st and 232nd Sts (718-548-9751)

The Punch Bowl
The decor at this dive of dives is on par with something out of Hell’s Kitchen in its prime—ancient wood-paneled walls lined with aging pictures and dusty shamrocks from St. Paddy’s Days past. What’s more, every Thursday night, there’s traditional Irish music from 7 to 10pm. Sidle up to the bottle-beaten bar and take in a tale or two from one of the salty regulars who frequent the joint. Warning: Should you choose to buy a barfly a pint, be prepared for an evening of empty discourse—the folks who come here are known for it (what’d you expect from an Irish hang?). 5820 Broadway at 238th St (718-884-7322)

The Yankee Tavern
The Yanks’ season is over, but you can watch Knicks or Rangers action on one of eight TVs as you enjoy some of the cheapest drinks in the ’hood (12 brews on tap and more than 30 bottled offerings). Start frequenting the place now and you can be a regular by the time the new stadium opens. 72 E 161st St at Gerard Ave (718-292-6130,



Sweet Revenge
This onetime gym has been transformed into a lounge with a Formica-clad bar, wood-grain wallpaper and spacious vinyl booths. Despite the throwback feel, the drinks follow a modern script. Caribbean locals sip Red Stripe, while gabby Pratt students glug Miller High Life and Wildwoods (spiced rum and orange soda) before dancing to hip-hop or puffing a cig in the cozy backyard. 348 Franklin Ave between Greene and Lexington Aves, Bedford-Stuyvesant (718-398-2472)

Vesper Bar & Lounge
The lights are a little bright and the decor a little bland, but it’s rare not to get a seat at this not-quite dive (it’s too clean). Sometimes, when you’re running around in the cold, you just want a warm place to sit, chat with a friendly barkeep and thin your blood. An MP3 jukebox provides tunes, but the crowd usually has its attention on a sporting event on the big flat-screen TV. 493 Myrtle Ave between Hall and Ryerson Sts, Clinton Hill (718-399-1984)


The Brooklyn Inn
In a recent episode of Gossip Girl, the Brooklyn Inn starred as an old bar, which Vanessa fought to get landmark status for so that evil developers couldn’t tear it down. OMFG! Grab a bowl of the gratis nibbles and hole up in the corner by the window for an unrestricted view of young profs making merry at this relic of a pub, lined with a wooden bar built in Germany in the 1870s. Punch up a tune on the dynamic jukebox and join in a game of pool in the back room, or just order a pint and see who you can pick up. 148 Hoyt St at Bergen St (718-625-9741)

Pacific Standard
This California-themed watering hole changes its tap offerings weekly— perfect for keeping the sports-watching young patrons on their toes. If beer and football aren’t your thing, try the potent Blueberry Lemonade with seltzer and blueberry-and-citrus vodka ($8). Your chances of getting drunk are fairly high, but stick with the TV if you want to experience a home run. 82 Fourth Ave between Bergen St and St. Marks Pl (718-858-1951,


Pete’s Waterfront Ale House
Most shops catering to thirsty longshoremen sell only grog and headaches. Pete’s bucks that trend with a nice beer selection, decent array of Scotches and even absinthe for our fancy Euro brethren. The burger-and-brew combo is always pretty sweet ($10.95 for the meat; $6 for a pint), as is the popcorn machine if you’re short on coin and want to nosh for free. 155 Atlantic Ave between Clinton and Henry Sts (718-522-3794)


Bar Great Harry
Get your seasonal brews here: Bar Great Harry switches its draft beer selection so frequently that the owners launched a blog dedicated to their daily list (as well as e-announcements for brewery visits and trivia nights). Maybe it’s just because space is tight, but strangers tend to become insta-friends—or frenemies—over rounds of Battleship and other nostalgic board games at this spare coffeehouse-ish suds haven. 280 Smith St at Sackett St (718-222-1103,


Last Exit
Don’t let the divey facade of this spot fool you; just beyond the black curtain lies a low-key room that brings to mind coffeeshop jam sessions, complete with red leather couches, exposed brick and rotating installations by local painters. Happy-hour specials throughout the week and the “cheap date” deal ($15 for six bottles of Miller High Life) keep the eclectic crowd of artists and local Brooklyn Law students nice and lubricated. 136 Atlantic Ave between Clinton and Henry Sts (718-222-9198,


There’s nothing fancy about Alibi. It’s a bar. With dirty windows. And cheap beer. If you’re lucky, the smell won’t be too bad. So why are we recommending it? Because this is the type of grungy neighborhood joint that once made the city great, with whippersnappers boozing and playing pool with working-class stiffs. This bar is an endangered species, and you should appreciate it while you can. 242 DeKalb Ave between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves (no phone)

Frank’s Cocktail Lounge
Like a scene out of a Scorsese film, Frank’s oozes with effortless New York authenticity, thanks to its fluorescent lighting and wood paneling. While there are generally a handful of gentrifiers in the crowd these days, it’s lifelong Fort Greeners who take up most of the seats here. Solo drinkers are always more than welcome, though you’re likely to be pulled into a lively conversation about local politics or sports. 660 Fulton St at South Elliott Pl (718-625-9339,


The Bell House
From the owners of Union Hall and Floyd comes this mammoth bar and music venue, converted from its former life as a printing press and fly-by-night shipping company. Outfitted in deep reds and rich golds, it coos warm holiday cheer year-round, making it the perfect place for couples, singles and Manhattanites looking to spend some time in Gowanus. 149 7th St between Second and Third Aves (718-643-6510,


The Dram Shop
Leisure pursuits reign supreme at Park Slope’s raucous sports parlor, where bros and beer geeks gather at the 33-foot wooden bar or in deep booths. While you watch the game, sip suds both lowbrow ($3 Miller High Lifes) and high: A dozen microbrews (Lagunitas, Sixpoint, Ommegang) are dispensed in icy mugs. If onscreen sports bore, there’s always shuffleboard, pool, darts and board games—not to mention a griddle-cooked, double-decker burger courtesy of a recipe from co-owner Clay Mallow’s grandfather Lynn. 339 9th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (718-788-1444)

Union Hall
Though bocce courts attract feverish competitors, bargoers need not toss a ball to have one. In the upstairs library, which is bedecked with vintage globes and tomes, a roaring fireplace and leather couches provide perches to drink Captain Lawrence pints and Bloody Pickles (tequila and Bloody Mary shots, with pickle chasers). Downstairs, taxidermy dioramas set the mood for acts ranging from indie rockers to science lecturers. 702 Union St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (718-638-4400,


Plush red-leather banquettes and lacy black curtains give this small space a Jazz Age feel, minus the pretension of speakeasy-style joints. There’s a nice selection of draft beers (some seasonal), and a cocktail menu divided into tipples both “Classy” and “Trashy.” Fans of the former can sample the nook’s signature drink, made with grapefruit juice and bourbon, while less discriminating types can get bombed with a combo of cheap-ass beer and cheap-ass liquor. 601 Vanderbilt Ave at Bergen St, Prospect Heights (718-230-5170)

Franklin Park
Not much has changed here since it opened this spring—the garden is still big, the beer selection is still local, and the crowds are still a varied mix of young newbies, neighborhood residents and the inevitable Park Slope parents. Now that the cold’s setting in, though, look out for a spankin’ new indoor space—complete with Skee-Ball and a DJ booth—opening any day now. 618 St. Johns Pl between Classon and Franklin Aves, Crown Heights (718-975-0196,

The anchor of Vanderbilt Avenue’s chain of watering holes is part hipster enclave, part neighborhood hangout. It’ll satisfy any drinker, assuming you can squeeze in—the bar is packed on weekends. Alt-rock fans will get a kick out of the jukebox, which is known to play an all-grunge revue (back-to-back Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Audioslave and Nirvana), while a modest menu sates appetites for greasy, ale-soaking treats. 629 Vanderbilt Ave between Prospect Pl and St. Marks Ave, Prospect Heights (718-230-8393)


Brooklyn Ale House
Remember when you were 15, stealing shots of Jack in your parents’ den? This spot will bring you back—it’s a warm but dingy hovel that reeks of incense, wet dog and blueberry ale. (We assume your parents were hippies.) A selection of odd vodkas (tomato, espresso, green apple) and aperitifs (Starbucks Coffee Liqueur) contrast sharply with the bottom-dollar drink specials, such as a liter mug for $10. Darts and a pool table keep the kids occupied, while old-timers pass the hours with chatty, nose-ringed bartenders. Anything goes here—BAH is cool with holiday parties, chili cook-offs, free bagels and pets accompanying lonely tipplers in for a nightcap or three. 103 Berry St at North 8th St (718-302-9811,

Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern
Don’t you dare call this neighborhood institution a dive. Although the dark, bare-bones interior has changed little since the joint opened in 1954, it is spotlessly clean and lovingly decorated to the nines for holidays. Alas, owner Rosemary Bleday doesn’t bartend anymore, but Peggy—“one of the new girls” (she came on board 28 years ago)—makes a mean Bloody Mary on Saturday afternoons. The jukebox suits the old guard and ironic imbibers alike with its selection of classics such as Diana Ross’s “Touch Me in the Morning.” 188 Bedford Ave between North 6th and 7th Sts (718-384-9539)



Section 8
Yes, the East Village is currently saturated with gay bars, but there’s no shortage of queer boys to fill them—even the skanky old Boiler Room is SRO on Saturday nights. So it’s a pleasant surprise that this cute little newcomer has managed not to be overrun. It’s probably a temporary phenomenon, but for now, visitors have plenty of space to stretch out and enjoy the awesome jukebox (indie rock and classic pop) and shoot the breeze over a game of pool. 218 Ave A at 13th St (no phone)


John Street Bar & Grill
John Street rocks an unpretentious basement vibe, offering pool, darts, a jukebox, dark corners for drunken shenanigans and daily specials galore (we like Thursday’s all-you-can-drink drafts for $10—a little too much). Blue and white collars mingle with tourists and the odd Century 21 widower. A team of loyal everyday (no really, every single day) regulars credit the bar for its cheap booze, tough-love bartenders and relaxed biker-meets--Wall Street atmosphere. 17 John St between Broadway and Nassau St (212-349-3278,

Trinity Place
As the mac-daddy circular door adorning the entrance reminds us, this subterranean Wall Streeter hang occupies a bank vault dating back to the early 1900s. Mellow Mondays and Tuesdays give way to packed happy hours later in the week, when you can look on as the regulars get as tanked as the stock market. In fact, every day the market closes in the red, all drinks are $3 from 3:30 to 5pm. 115 Broadway, enter on Cedar St between Broadway and Trinity Pl (212-964-0939,


Black Bear Lodge
Once it starts snowing outside, head for this mock ski lodge, with antique decorations from Rocky Mountain states. For added authenticity, the fratty bar boasts Western saloon prices ($10 buckets of six beers till 7pm) and Big Buck Hunter tournaments, in which the prized trophy goes to best costume—think camo-and-orange hunter garb. Beware: The bartenders don’t like to hear repeat songs from the jukebox and will dole out “punishment” shots to the offending well as to those who are caught dancing with the wooden black bear in the corner of the bar. 274 Third Ave between 21st and 22nd Sts (212-253-2178,

Filte Irish Whiskey Bar
This large (possibly haunted, just ask a bartender) pub distinguishes itself despite its seen-it-before “old country” decorations with a large selection of Irish whiskeys (24 on a recent trip) and specials like a noon--6pm happy hour, featuring plenty of drinks under $4 and free food during Monday Night Football games. There’s also trivia on Thursday nights, when the most important question and answer goes something like this: How much are your Bud Lights? One dollar. 531 Second Ave between 29th and 30th Sts (212-725-9440,


The Beauty Bar
This nearly 14-year-old salon-cum-bar still does what it does best: $10 manicures with a drink (Mon--Fri 6--11pm; Sat, Sun 7--11pm) in front of chrome hair dryers, a buck off beverages from 5 to 9pm, nightly DJs and holiday-themed beauty pageants (including a Christmas one). When it was still a functioning hair salon—the Thomas Beauty Salon—indie gods Pavement shot the video for “Cut Your Hair” inside. 231 E 14th St between Second and Third Aves (212-539-1389,


Go to Shrine if for no other reason than to order a Muslim Jew, a cocktail of vodka, Baileys, and chocolate and coffee liqueurs. But really, the bar’s rep as a music venue provides incentive enough; bands often play jazz or blues, with some gospel and reggae thrown in for good measure. Happy hour comes seven days a week, and lasts four hours: Just the way we like it. 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (Seventh Ave) between 133rd and 134th Sts (212 690 7807,


Terraza 7 Train Caf
Bohemia meets Latin America by way of the 7 train at Terraza, a funky bar (vibrantly hued walls, your abuelita’s mismatched comfy couches and a Virgin Maria statue). The locale, frequented by a largely Latino crowd on the weekends, regularly hosts South American musicians, English and Spanish poetry readings and an LGBT night, and will soon launch an indie-film screening series. 40-19 Gleane St between Britton and Roosevelt Aves (718-803-9602,


Saints & Sinners
There’s plenty of space for penitents of all persuasions at this expansive spot. Locals are drawn in by Irish bands on weekend evenings, and every other Wednesday is the pub’s quiz night. The menu features organic specials including a moist, delicious roasted chicken—but after a few lethal apple martinis, you won’t be feeling virtuous for very long. 59-21 Roosevelt Ave at 60th St (718-396-3268)


Adobe Blues
Owner Jim Stayoch, a former set designer, has re-created a bit of the Southwest in Staten Island: Look for faux-adobe walls, a kiva fireplace, live music, the famous margaritas, a long list of tequilas, 200 beers and the signature snack—beer-soaked “drunken shrimp.” 63 Lafayette Ave between Fillmore and West Buchanan Sts (718-720-2583)

Anderson’s Annex Tavern
If you’re craving an out-of-city experience, venture to this authentic roadhouse. It’s remote—way the hell out on the southern coast of the isle—but once you order a pint of Killian’s and kick back with the regulars, you’ll be too drunk to miss home. 83 Purdy Pl at Holton Ave (718-948-9410)

Cargo Caf
You’ll know you’re at the Cargo because it’s the only electric-blue building in St. George (or anywhere?) with a picture of a scary toddler painted over the door. That’s not the only interesting piece of decor: Sharp-eyed patrons will notice a digital clock over the bar. Recently, the time read 3748:02:25:33. It’s supposed to count down to when a meteor is going to hit the Midwest, according to the bartender. “When it gets to be all 9s or all 7s or something, people just drink a lot,” he says. Drink specials abound: For Monday Night Football, it’s 50-cent pints of Miller Lite until someone scores a touchdown. Mondays through Thursdays, it’s $2 High Lifes after 10pm; Sunday is for trivia. There’s also pinball, a pool table, one of those fancy digital jukeboxes and, in classic Staten Island form, Jgermeister on tap. Who needs Manhattan, anyway? 120 Bay St at Slosson Terr (718-876-0539,

Martini Red
The Monday night open mike (bring your guitar, jokes, or random-ass party tricks) has become a mainstay at this artsy hang, which on other nights hosts local bands, comedy and songwriter showcases, and an excellent DJ. Culturephobes can stick to the pinball machine and rotating cast of beers. 372 Van Duzer St at Beach St (718-442-0660,

R.H. Tuggs
On the shores of the Kill Van Kull, directly across from the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, you can grab a $2 beer, park yourself in front of a window and take in the majestic view of Jersey’s oil refineries. Daytime brings in the boating and Borough Hall regulars. 1115 Richmond Terr between Bard Ave and Snug Harbor Rd (718-447-6369)


They need a drink!
From Cosmo girls to finance guys, these recent victims of cutbacks share their picks for where to buy yourself (or them) a cocktail (or two).

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