If you’ve ever wandered the streets of New York City late at night, you’ve probably found yourself asking a few key questions: how are there still so many rats on the streets? Why does nobody seem to care? What is a bodega? Does that man really need to poop right there? And finally: what happens when all of the thousands of bartenders, servers, chefs and hosts get off work… do they have their own secret bars they all go to, to unwind and party at?
And to that last question, I can promise you (as someone who has been a server/bartender in downtown Manhattan for the past 4 years), that yes, yes we do.
But we do not go out like our customers — the so-called “normies” or “muggles to the magical world of tips”– we go out like it’s a full moon and the transformation to party-animal is complete. Like people who just spent the past eight hours on their feet, making cocktails for folks who think a grunt is the equivalent of a “thank you”. Like people who just used the last half of their shift to “warm up” by taking shots with their regulars, and who are now ready to go out and get proper drunk.
We go to the places where we can sit down at 1:47 AM on a Tuesday, order food directly from the head chef, and proceed to dance like lunatics between the tables (now that the chairs have been flipped). We go to the places where we can smoke at the bar, and drink with such ferocity that before you can say “high-functioning alcoholic,” we’ve already killed the entire bottle of Fernet Branca.
So if you’re looking to turn up the way a New York bartender does, here are a handful of the places that my favorite drink-slingers and I like to haunt in the Big City… after nabbing your cash tips throughout the week:
Why we love it: because bartenders like to mix drinking with everything, including a screening of The Hunt For Red October at 4:10 PM on a Wednesday. Open everyday from 4 PM to 1 AM at 136 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn.
2. Anchored Inn
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Why we love it: because the attached heavy metal venue ensures that you won’t be able to hear other customers talk while you munch on a wicked burger at 2:52 AM on a Sunday. And because nothing says “chill” like Putin staring intently at you from a painting on the wall. Open everyday from 12 PM to 4 AM at 57 Waterbury Street, Brooklyn.
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Why we love it: because they keep a wood-fire stove burning in the backroom during the Winter months, where servers and bartenders come to from all over Bedstuy to talk about the slow season, the cocktails that they want to pitch to their boss, and to snuggle at 1:36 AM on a Monday. Open everyday from 5 PM to 2 AM at 1112 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn.
4. The Duplex
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Why we love it: because showing up at 11:33 PM on a Tuesday with eight of your best friends ensures that you will get the whole upstairs dance floor (and the fully stocked bar that comes with it) to yourselves. It’s also a great spot to learn how to Vogue from bartender Micah. Open everyday from 4 PM to 4 AM at 61 Christopher Street, Manhattan.
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Why we love it: because eventually every bartender runs out ideas for new elixirs to get sloshed on, and this place has a couple of the most apt bespoke mixologists in the city (especially among those you’ll find working at 11:11 PM on Thursdays). Open everyday from 5 PM to 2 AM at 149 Mulberry Street, Manhattan.
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Why we love it: because the hidden phone booth entrance makes it quite hard for tourists to stumble in without being at least partially sober. Also, the first rule of “PDT Etiquette” is to “keep the volume of your conversation at a reasonable level.” Enjoy that ambience with a custom cocktail and a chili dog at 12:03 AM on a Tuesday. Open everyday from 6 PM to 2 AM at 113 St. Marks Place, Manhattan.
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Why we love it: because some genius built a nautical themed dive on the West Side Highway complete with a jukebox, pretzel dogs, a totally decent pool table, and a shiny little fish tank by the window (that you can look into while pondering the crushing loneliness of 2-in-the-morning-on-a-Thursday). The view of New Jersey ain’t half bad either. Open everyday from 4 PM to 4 AM at 425 West Street, Manhattan.
8. The Narrows
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Why we love it: because a frozen Negroni and $1 oysters make 6:23 PM on a Sunday afternoon a little more tolerable. And bartender/owner Keith will drop limejuice in your Sol and Jalapeno in your tequila to make life more worth the effort. Also they have dice (and you’ll have to check it out to see what I mean). Open everyday from 5 PM to 4 AM at 1037 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn.
9. Park Bar
Why we love it: because this is where your sexy server from the Village goes to do stuff in the spacious bathroom stalls at 3:47 AM on Thursdays. Buy them a dry Hendricks martini with a lemon twist at the bar to find out what. Open everyday from 3 PM to 4 AM at 15 East 15th Street, Manhattan.
10. Manhattan Inn
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Why we love it: because there is always someone tickling the ivories of the piano in the backroom, even when nobody is paying them to do so at 10:29 PM on a Monday. Open everyday from 5 PM to 2 AM at 632 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn.
11. King Noodle
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Why we love it: because a bowl of hearty egg noodles with pork and shrimp at 1:27 AM on a Wednesday is the best way to deal with tomorrow’s impending hangover. Also they feature $11 scorpion bowls after midnight, for the folks who want three cocktails worth of booze without having to order three times. Open everyday from Noon to 2 AM at 1045 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn.
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