You have been drinking since 6 PM on Friday, drenched in that sweaty-alcoholic glow and can’t seem to find your apartment to catch a shower. You’ve been walking for blocks and you are exceedingly parched – light bulb! You’re going to continue drinking! Head to a dive bar, where everyone else has more problems than you and you will feel better about losing your way. A neon sign is always a solid indication that the bar is a dive. The sign isn’t lit? It’s probably just broken, and they are definitely open. We’ve selected the best that NYC has to offer.
Broome Street Bar
You might see a celebrity at this dive bar, but he/she will probably be on one of the many flat screen TVs lining the walls. Kenn's Broome Street Bar is the place you’d likely go to watch that big game but you’ll probably have so much fun, you’ll stick around longer. They serve up an unpredictably large menu of bar food and feature a nice selection of local and imported beer.
The name is not a typo. It is called McSwiggan's. And there's little to do here but swig beer after beer. The staff is friendly, but you have to let some of your pretentions go to even walk into a place like this. Little known fact - it is a hangout for NYU Dental School students. So come here and bag a dentist! Or leave the dentist’s to their like-toothed pals and play a round pool or darts.
Barrow Street Ale House
This entirely wood-clad bar is one of those New York City dives with a historical load. A previous carriage house and jazz joint, Barrow Street Ale House offers some of the best happy hours in NYC. Enjoy $3 draughts all day until 7pm between Monday and Friday, plus $3 special draught until close on Tuesdays. Saturdays and Sundays offer $3 pints of Bud and Bud Light from noon to 7pm. What else does a bar fly need for happiness? Well, maybe sports-showing TVs, but, luckily, those are there as well.
Brass Monkey, typical of most dive-y bars, is crowded, loud, and stuffed with people who all seem to know each other, making mingling difficult for the outsider. But if you are heading to a dive bar in the first place, chances are you care more about the booze than the conversation. If conversation is what you seek, talk to the bartender – they are paid to be your new best friend. The selection of beers and mixed drinks are reasonably priced, for the Meatpacking District, anyways.
As an experiment, bring a book here to read. Of course you’ll be stared at, but the lesson? The name of the bar is inexplicable; perhaps someone noticed the hundreds of moldering books on the walls and thought "The Library!" In reality, it's another loud and crowded East Village bar, though to be fair, it's of the kind that are fast disappearing, namely cheap and rockin'. And, they have Ms. PacMan.
The (second) oldest licensed establishment in New York City, McSorley's is a magical ale house rich in character and in American memorabilia. McSorley's has been the subject of John Sloane paintings and has even lent its name to a book, i.e., Joseph Mitchell's "McSorley's Wonderful Saloon." The pub is a "must visit" for anyone who likes to visit historic places and imbibe a glass of ale in a famous lower east side tavern. Remember; don't think about drinking a Bud while here, they only serve 2 kinds of beer - light and dark. Order it that way.
Recently commandeered by local scene kids, this neighborhood pub may take on the illusion of youth, but Rudy's Bar & Grill has held down its corner of Hell's Kitchen at 627 9th Ave since the early thirties. As the saying goes, "The more things change the more they stay the same," Rudy's is no exception, it's long standing vinyl red booths and homage posters to fifties rock stars only keep the nostalgia pumping along with the beer on tap. One of the few "beer-and-balls" joints left on the West Side, Rudy's has low-priced drinks, a standard juke box, and free vendor-style hot dogs.