No matter what neighborhood you live in, you’re no further than a few subway stops from a local trivia night, where brainiacs flock to prove that knowledge of obscure facts is truly worth all that headspace. The levels of healthy competition vary between venues and happy hours, so depending on how seriously you take your trivia, it ranges from “I almost made it onto Jeopardy” to “I just want an excuse to drink with friends.” At most spots, mental moxie translates into an excellent opportunity for your group to pay off its bar tab at some of the best bars in NYC. Trivia is one of the best things to do in NYC this week, so assemble a clever gang and get to thinking and drinking!
Best trivia nights in NYC
Tuesdays 8-10pm; freeThis laid-back night has been around for more than seven years and got a thumbs from Time Out New York staff for its amicable mix of pop culture and serious trivia questions. The winner gets a $25 bar tab, and there are bonus prizes of free shots between rounds. Past categories have ranged from the visual (matching photos of presidents to their veeps), musical (knowledge of the Beach Boys and the Velvet Underground recommended), Marvel comic books, mythological creatures and fictional bands from TV and film. They’ve even had participants guess the title of a highly respected famous work of literature based on the one-star reviews it received on Amazon.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Wexner Center
Tuesdays at 9pm; freeThis Williamsburg dive bar hosts a trivia night of midlevel difficulty with four rounds of six questions that take more than two hours to get through. Prizes include $25–$40 bar tabs or a pull from the mystery bag. “Shot rounds” between each regular round are popular with the extroverts, as contestants can shout out answers for a free shot. First-place teams are entered in the running to compete at a later date for a fixed-gear bike. It is Williamsburg, after all.
Wednesdays at 8:30pm; freeThis raucous spot in the East Village is popular among tatted millennials for its skeeball league and free mini pizza with every drink, but it also boasts a weekly “Trivial Dispute.” Third-place teams receive a $20 bar tab, second-place gets a $30 tab and first-place gets a glorious $50 tab, plus one free shot question per round in which you are encouraged to yell out answers.
Sundays at 9pm; free
Geeks Who Drink is a national brand pub quiz modeled after those in the U.K. and Ireland. Expect an expertly formatted yet raunchy evening of rounds that range from the visual to current events and pop culture. You’ll get to choose your own team name, and creativity is encouraged: A recent team chose the name “Babies with Rabies.” Play in teams of up to six or as little as one if you fancy yourself a solitary genius (if not, they’re happy to give you a spot on an existing team).
Sundays at 8pm; freeThis trivia night is the perfect way to end your weekend and prep your mind for the work week ahead. It has a wide range of topics, with questions ranging from moderate to hard. But make sure you and your friends get there early to nab a couch seat (it’s laid-back California vibe, man), as this popular event gets crowded quickly with regulars.
Wednesdays at 7:30pm; freeThis trivia is really tough, so make sure to have at least one savant-minded group member. For those of you who treat trivia like it’s an Olympic sport, this is your spot. The competitive spirit is all in good fun, and it’s entertaining to watch brainiacs duke it out on the mental battlefield. The payoff is sweet for you, smartypants, ranging from $15–$75 bar tabs and a chance to compete in the twice-yearly finals. Pete’s motto says it all: “Think you know a thing or two about a thing or two? Prove it.”
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Timothy Krause
Wednesdays at 8:30pm; freeDon’t let its charming red Brit-inspired exterior fool you: This casual, rowdy East Village sports bar has ample Boston accents inside and sturdy wooden furniture with TVs inside every booth, constantly showing whatever game is on. The usually crowded weekly trivia allows teams of six or less to compete for gift cards; $50 for first place, $25 for second and a pitcher of Coors Light beer for the third-place team. Trivia round categories range from geography to ’90s music, so study up on remote Eastern European countries and Queen Britney!
Every other Tuesday at 8pmThis warm and cozy Park Slope gem hosts four rounds of moderate-to-hard trivia, including a music round. Bring up to five friends that want to compete for a $40 bar tab and free drinks throughout the night. Antiques, exposed-brick walls and gold-print wallpaper aim to give this neighborhood watering hole an intimate, bygone feel. We’ve heard the bartenders are fantastic, too.
Wednesdays at 9pm; freeUncle Barry’s ups the stakes with a $50 bar tab to the winning team. Each week features unique categories like pop culture, history, politics and geography, but always expect a music round. Die-hard fans of Seinfeld and The Simpsons will be in luck at this location. Uncle Barry’s also has a great beer selection and super friendly bartenders.
Tuesdays at 8:30pm; freeVideology is not only a bar that screens movies, it’s also a rare video-rental store, so it’s the perfect venue to host a weekly movie-themed trivia night. Six rounds of very tough movie trivia will have even the most die-hard cinephiles racking their brains. Themed rounds include taglines, famous quotes, Nicolas Cage quotes (because obviously he needs a separate category) and dramatic scene re-creations. The winning team gets a free round of drinks every week, and there are free drink bonus questions in between every round. Arrive by 6:30pm to grab a table, because this trivia night is hotter than a 1996 VCR that just played both tapes of Titanic.
Historical facts, pop-culture references and sport teams may not be in your repertoire of knowledge. But if you have an obsession with TV shows and movie sagas, Trivia A.D. is your beat. The best part about the brand is that they host different themed trivia nights at various bars and restaurants in the city every week, so now’s your chance to explore neighborhoods less traveled. The host will try to stump you with four rounds including true and false, general knowledge, quotes and a picture test on subjects such as Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Game of Thrones and Friends. Our advice? Don’t get cocky. Even if you think you’re a super-fan of these shows, your attention to extremely specific details is all that matters. (triviaad.com).