Say it isn’t so. Toto, we’re not in the East Village anymore! Well, actually, it is still the East Village, but it is just not exactly the edgy-punk-hippie-gritty- art bohemia of the past. There are pros and cons to this gentrified East Village we call downtown, but that is an entirely different article altogether. What remains, and what really matters, is that you can still find a good bar to drink at. We found many, but chose these 7 as a place for you to start… dive in and drink up.
Since we’ve invited you to dive in, we may as well start off with our fave dive bar pick. The Cherry Tavern is everything you’d expect in your local watering hole. There is a solo pool table, an (updated) juke box, dingy decor, cheap drinks, friendly barkeeps and always a character or two. If you are looking to blend in and feel at home, Cherry Tavern offers no-frills, no judgements and not a bad time. Kick back a beer and a shot for $5 (not many places left in the city for that), a great dive to start your night or conclude your festivities as you stumble home.
441 E 6th St., www.cherrytavern.com
Once you’ve got your dive on at Cherry Tavern, look no further than next door. A must if you’re into exploring new flavors and sipping your way through delicious herbal concoctions. Amor y Amargo, which translates to Love and Bitters, is the first bar of its kind that revolves around the vast flavors of Amari. The broad category of bitters (they have partnered with Brooklyn’s own, Bittermens), is somewhat unknown to the unadventurous imbiber, but do not hesitate to try one on it’s own or put your palate in the hands of any of the talented bartenders to delight you with whatever they suggest. The space is intimate, with just 8 barstools, beautiful bright yellow and blue ceramic tiles, and bar paraphernalia to boot (much of it for sale if you need to stock up on barware, recipe books or jars of bitters). They even offer classes if you need to brush up on your spirit history or want to take a turn behind the bar and sling some yourself. So if you are bitter about love and looking to turn your frown upside down, or just looking to find your love of bitters, we promise you will not be disappointed, especially if you order our favorite, the herbaceous and savory Diamonds & Guns.
443 E 6th St., www.amoryamargony.com
If you time it right and avoid the NYU, too-cool-for-school, dare we say ‘hipster’ crowd, then you can appreciate this stunning 60’s-Jamaica inspired bar, a few steps up on the too often beer goggled 2nd Avenue. Let us first tell you that they have a love for all things rum, which is always a plus, a two for one happy hour until 8pm, and even serve one of their signature drinks in a coconut (worth the visit alone). The dimly lit bar area opens up to a pool table with fireplace and also offers a cozy back room for larger groups and private parties to order up some island inspired snacks. The well designed lighting makes you feel transported to a snazzy thatched roof beach hut and even boasts an outdoor balcony to sit and sip and dream of being on an actual beach, instead of downtown Manhattan. Have another coconut and the escapism gets easier.
149 Second Avenue, www.kingstonhall.com
A local favorite, this former laundromat, has transformed itself to a very comfortable spot to grab cold one. The open space makes it feel homey and lived in. The beer selection is quite diverse and only $3 during happy hour. You can usually escape the 20-somethings who’ve been over served elsewhere and enjoy a conversation with friends or the friendly staff. You can also take your pick from the well curated rock n’ roll juke box and just tune out.
211 Avenue A, yelp.com/biz/drop-off-service-new-york
In the heart of Alphabet City, what was once a section of the East Village that you dare not go at night or alone, is now one of our favorite spots to hang and work on tomorrow’s hangover. Calling itself a “drinkery”, meaning a place to enjoy potables, Evelyn offers a deliciously crafted cocktail list which merely borderlines pretentious and are all far better than just drinkable, as well as a decent selection of beer and a small but excellent offering of wines by the glass. The cozy two rooms, fresh and artsy, take their style from the art house village vibe. They have even added a small but witty guideline to help you better order your drinks the ‘proper’ way (i.e. DOUBLE: This means twice the booze. Good job, you ordered the right way and I charge you accordingly). Keep drinking, you may even learn something new.
171 Avenue C, www.evelynnyc.com
Mayahuel prides itself on leading its guests through an experience of the spirit of Mexico while they enjoy the spirits of Mexico. Not merely a cocktail bar, but also offering authentic cuisine, Mayahuel is a forerunner in bringing agave spirits to the masses. With an impressive and quality selection of tequilas and mezcals which drive their cocktail program, the mucho welcoming and knowledgable staff is eager to share their love for what they serve. All of the cocktails are $14, which could be argued is exactly what is out-pricing the once cheap, easy and affordable East Village, but every penny is worth it on this south of the border journey. Try the Black Friar Cobbler or heat it up with a Spicy Paloma!
304 E 6th St., www.mayahuelny.com
Bourbon. Beer. Rock. This sums it up quite nicely. Tucked right into the middle of the block, what you see is what you get. With a well received craft beer list and even more impressive whiskey list, if Bourbon is what’s on your mind, then Idle Hands is where you should be. Rock n’ Roll has few better companions than whiskey n’ beer. And tho not a sports bar, fans will be happy to see the 8 big screens playing all the games on the weekends. Other times just knock ’em back and rock it out. If it’s true that the devil will find work for idle hands, then you have the perfect excuse to get here and get your hands on a glass of whiskey.
25 Avenue B, www.idlehandsbar.com
If you can ignore the brand new buildings that have replaced the dilapidated squatter spaces, you may still get to side step some shady peeps along the way to your next cocktail. And there is definitely no shortage of bars in the East Village, which is the tried and true testament that is the heart of the matter. Let us know where else you enjoy getting your buzz on in the comments below.
David is the resident nerd around these parts. Running a popular tech blog (TheUnlockr.com) for the past 6 years, he’s taken his over-analytical mind and made the transition to food.