The recession has been hitting hard in NYC, and that starts stripping away my requirements for a good bar. Price becomes my enemy or my ally, first and foremost in the art of getting a good buzz on whilst cash strapped. However, we don’t always feel like going out for happy hour. What if you want a good boozey bargain at 10pm on a Friday? What’s a fella/lady/drunkard to do? Check out the picks below and your wallet may thank me, although I can’t claim the same for your liver!
Blue and Gold
79 East 7th Street (between 1st and 2nd Ave)
These folks got cheap drinks down from the get go. No happy hours, no rules, except get drizzunk and try not to make too much noise outside. The juke box and pool table survived from somewhere in the 1980s, along with their drink menu. Ranging from $2 to $4 a drink, or $5 if you’re all sortsa classy and want some Red Bull with your vodka, you really can’t go wrong with a place that basically begs you to count your quarters and sacrifice laundry in the name of a hangover. Beware the tiny bathrooms, and the cash only policy, both of which you’ll quickly get over if you’re as grateful for the bargain prices as I am.
Lucky 13 Saloon
273 13th Street (between 5th and 6th Ave)
As many a Brooklynite can recall, Lucky 13 is a punk metal meets cheap brews heaven. Daily til 9pm, they happily offer you $1 Busch Light cans, enabling you to build beer-a-mids galore until they ask you to move it so a chick can dance on the stripper pole on the bar. Hey, I never claimed it was classy, just cheap. Once 9pm hits, there’s no need to panic as $2 PBRs reign supreme. If you’re lucky, you can even build a multicolored beer-a-mid before they chase you away. All the drinks stay cheap, and if you have friends who love and care for you as much as you do for them, you can buy them drinks and leave a note on the board behind the bar, which they can come and claim at any time. Now if only I had some friends like that…
7 Avenue A (between 1st and 2nd Street)
Alphabet City/Lower East Side
While my scholarly days are long lost and forgotten, this divey hole beckons to me time and again. Clearly, it’s the books that draw me here, and not the buy one get one free happy hour, the amazing juke box, or the Big Buck Hunter. This BOGO wins the big prize time and again for $3 for 2 Natty Ices, or $4-6 for 2 real people beers. The mixed drinks come cheap too when you factor in the price, just make sure you redeem your cards quickly or you’ll have to come back the next day. The regular drink prices are quite reasonable once the happy hour runs out, as Natty’s then go for $3 a pop, which may be well above what they are worth, but if you start at happy hour, you won’t be able to count the difference anyway. Late night happy hours also abound, so check the board for specials, it’s the only reading you’ll actually have to do here.
Bohemian Hall Beer Garden
2919 24th Avenue (between 29th and 31st Street)
When the weather gets nice and my unlimited MetroCard starts burning a hole in my fairly empty wallet, I head to Astoria to the infamous beer hall of ages and make sure I bring some friends, cos $14 pitchers of good German beer can definitely put a hurt on if you’re drinking alone. With affordable and delicious food to boot, you’ll be sure to spend some quality time in their enormous prison yard of a backyard. Don’t mind the strollers, it is a family establishment after all. No, it’s not just you after 3 pitchers of Spaten, there is no 30th Street. Just follow the elevated train for your stumble home and you’ll do just fine.
12 St Mark’s Place (between 2nd and 3rd Avenue)
A cheap place to drink on St. Mark’s? I kid you not! And with fantastic Korean food, good jazz bands on occasion, and $5 pitchers of watermelon soju, you really can’t go wrong. Unless you opt for one of their $12 Yeungling beer pitcher specials instead, that would be entirely in your hands, though. One of the few places I have even found watermelon soju at, and at that price, impossible to ignore. You may think it tastes harmless, but let the voice of experience promise you, it is not, especially when the $5 pitchers never run out.