Having an Epic Night Out

Having an epic night out by Ari KellenNew York is notorious for its nightlife; since it was known as “New Amsterdam”, the city has had a disproportionate number of drinking establishments.  The “epic night out in the city” is something that has been captivating New Yorkers and visitors to the city since Manhattan Island was first settled.  You can go out any time you’d like, but a large chunk of the city’s party crowd doesn’t even hit the clubs until after 1 am.  All of that can wear you down physically, emotionally and financially, especially if you overdo it.  But if you know what you’re doing, then you’ll be okay.  Here are some tips, based off an article I found online:

Save your money: Having cash on your hand should be a no-brainer.  Don’t be a freeloader; you won’t have an epic night out, and if your budget is too tight to down at least a few rounds then you should probably spend the night on your aunt’s Netflix account instead.  

Dress properly: Be smart about your footwear; hobbling around in uncomfortable shoes isn’t going to be fun, especially since nights out in New York tend to involve plenty of walking.  

Keep your plans flexible: It’s a good idea to have a set meet-up point, but keep the night’s schedule flexible.  The spontaneity is one of the best parts of partying in New York.  You could end up hopping around the East Village, maybe stay at one dive in the Upper East Side, the options are endless.

Take your time: New Yorkers have a reputation for being high-strung, but loosen up if you’re doing a night out on the town.  Sit back, relax, have fun and save your stress for the Monday morning commute.  

Talk to strangers: This isn’t always a good idea, but nights out on the town can be a great way to meet people.  You can meet interesting people everywhere, from bars to sidewalks.  Use your gut instinct, and you can be pleasantly surprised by who you meet.

Know your limits: New York is about excess, but being sloppy drunk at the end of a night isn’t something to necessarily be proud of, and isn’t the best way to ride a subway home at 4 in the morning.  If you know you’re going to be out late, pace yourself and drink plenty of water.  

Don’t have any expectations: The point of experiencing a great night out in New York is to be completely relaxed without feeling pressured to have a good time, which will be tough if you keep thinking “this has to be a fun night”.  There isn’t any shortage of adventure and excitement in New York, so let it come to you, and you’ll be sure to have a fun time.  

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Best East Village Bars

Best East Village Bars by Ari KellenThe old vanguard of New Yorkers, who remember going to see the Ramones at CBGB’s and the days when Alphabet City was a no-zone, have often complained that the “East Village is dead”.  Maybe the neighborhood doesn’t have the “edge” that it did when it inspired the game-changing rock musical “Rent”, and the cost-of-living has gone up dramatically.  But that’s not to say that a good time can’t still be had in this neighborhood, with 585 active liquor licenses in the neighborhood, you can be sure to find plenty of places to hang out with your friends over a couple beers, a plate of pierogies or an arcade game and have plenty of fun in the process.  Here is a list of some of the top bars in the neighborhood, based off an article that I found online with some of my personal favorite places added in as well:

The 13th Step: If you’re looking for a super rowdy night, then this is the place to go.  It gets crowded here, but if you’re up for downing a few pitchers of Bud Light with your buddies, then you can’t get much better than here.  

Jimmy’s No 43: Located just around the corner from the famed explosion that shook the neighborhood last March, Jimmy’s is considered one of the top beer bars in all of New York, thanks to a pub-like decor, an excellent food menu and an ever-changing selection of delicious (and hard-to-find) craft brews.  If you stop by, be sure to say hello to Jimmy Carbone, the friendly and fun-loving owner who can often be found chatting with patrons.  

Proletariat: Located near Tompkins Square Park, Proletariat, like Jimmy’s, specializes in serving craft beers that you most likely won’t get anywhere else.  The walls are decked with punk art, and the bathroom features pages from a book of Russian prison tattoos.  The only problem is that the bar is a little narrow, so when it gets crowded it gets very crowded.  

Standings: Conveniently located right above Jimmy’s, this sports bar offers a solid selection of beer in a dive-y atmosphere covered with Mets-related gear.  The best bar in the neighborhood to watch a baseball game, there are a surprising number of TV screens to make the experience here truly immersive.  For diehard sports fans, it doesn’t get much better than this.  

Lois: Not too far from (and in the same group as) ABC Beer Co, where many of the bars on this list specialize in beer, here the name of the game is wine.  There are 16 wines on tap in this slick, chic and inviting space, making it a must-visit for any wine nuts.  

Alphabet City Beer Co: The cozy Alphabet City Beer Co offers an array of delicious craft beers, board games and notoriously comfy sofas.  Visit on a lazy weeknight, sit down on a comfy chair, drink a beer, catch up on a book, or maybe bring a friend and you can play a few rounds of “Guess Who”.  They also sell beer here, so be sure to pick up a few cans for your fridge at home while you’re leaving.  

The Wayland: Few New York bars are able to nail the “rustic” look both on the inside and the outside, but few New York bars are like the Wayland.  The cocktails here are something to write home about, using fun ingredients and interesting combinations that are hard to replicate at any other spot in the city.

Lovers of Today: While its underground location make it easy to miss, Lovers of Today is hardly a place that you want to miss.  A snug and dark speakeasy haunt, it features a great menu of specialty cocktails, many of them a couple dollars cheaper than other speakeasies around the city.  The only problem about this place is that on weekend nights it can get a bit loud and crowded.  

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New York Bars For History Buffs

INew York Bars for history buffs by Ari kellenn the past 400 years, New York has gone from a remote wilderness at the corner of the world, to a remote Dutch trading post at the corner of the world, to a major city in the 13 Colonies, to a bustling port in a fledgeling United States, to one of the most important and recognizable cities in the entire world.  There are plenty of places where you can get in touch with New York’s history; you could visit a museum or go to the New York Public Library.  But one of the best ways to enjoy history is with a good meal or a few rounds of drinks.  I recently came across an article that shares some of the best historic bars and restaurants in the city.  They had some great options here, but in my opinion the author missed a couple key ones.  Here’s what they had to say, with some additions from me:

Fraunces Tavern: Over 250 years old, Fraunces Tavern also operates as a museum and is registered as a national historic landmark.  It’s arguably the most historically significant place on the list; it briefly served as George Washington’s headquarters during the American Revolution and was where peace negotiations with the British took place at the end of the war.  Today you can enjoy colonial-inspired pub fare alongside 200+ varieties of whiskeys, cocktails, ciders and craft beers in the same setting that the founding fathers did.

McSorley’s: When McSorley’s adopted the slogan “we were here before you were born”, they weren’t lying.  Established in 1854, this is one of the oldest continuously-running bars in all of New York City.  Covered with sawdust and mementos from its 160+ years of operation (none of which have been removed since 1910), McSorley’s prides itself on sticking to tradition and doing things the way they always did (they didn’t even let women in until the 1970s).  Staffed by surly Irish bartenders, it’s a cash-only establishment with an unabashedly simple and limited number of options: the food menu fits onto a small chalkboard, and your alcohol options are limited to either “light” or “dark” beer (according to legend, they also served whiskey for a brief period in the late 19th century, although it didn’t go well).  While it might not be everybody’s cup of tea, McSorley’s is an institution and an essential experience, particularly for those people interested in New York’s history.

One if by Land, Two if by Sea: Although it’s just around 43 years old, this place is situated within a carriage house built in 1767.  For those who can afford the pricey menu, it’s one of the romantic date spots in New York, with numerous engagements happening here every year.  That’s not too hard to understand; the ambience here perfectly channels history and old-world charm to appeal to just about everybody.

21 Club: First opened in 1922 at the height of Prohibition, 21 Club started its life out as a speakeasy and survived several raids by Prohibition agents. It moved around locations before finally settling at 21 West 52nd Street, where it’s remained since 1929.  Since then it’s been frequented by countless celebrities and film and TV characters.  It serves up traditional American cuisine and delicious signature cocktails, reminiscent of its days as a speakeasy.

Apotheke: Apotheke isn’t exactly an old business, but that’s not to discredit its historical significance.  This speakeasy is located in Chinatown on a bend of Doyers Street known as the “Bloody Angle”, which in the early 20th century was a popular spot for fights between Chinese gangs.  Apotheke itself is housed in a building that during that era served as an opium den.  Although it was established fairly recently, Apotheke relishes in the history that comes with being a speakeasy in such an historic neighborhood, and regularly features “Prohibition nights” with live jazz music.

Katz’s Deli: In the 1940s, there were over 2,000 Jewish delis around New York City proudly slinging pastrami and matzoh ball soup.  Now that number has dwindled to about 20, so those who have survived need to be very good at what they’re doing.  One of the oldest and best of these is Katz’s in the Lower East Side; since it was first founded in 1888, it has outlasted countless other restaurants and delis around the city.  It might be a tourist trap, but that’s only because it’s delicious, and a sandwich from them piled high with pastrami and corned beef is well worth the hectic lines.

Keens Steakhouse: Since it was first established in 1885 (just two years before the New York’s other well-known steakhouse, Peter Luger’s), this has served as the go-to hangout for famous actors, producers, playwrights and other big names in show business.  They’re known for their mutton chops here, and the ceiling plays hosts to over 50,000 smoking pipes.  Notable patrons here include Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Will Rogers and Albert Einstein.  Like McSorley’s, it started out as a “men’s only” establishment, although that was overturned in 1905 after being sued by actress Lillie Langtry.

Barbetta: This upscale Italian restaurant was first founded in 1906.  Grand chandeliers and antiques dating from the 18th century fill the dining room.  This was the first New York restaurant to “elegantly” approach Italian cuisine in an era when such food was considered “rustic”.  If it’s warm out, you can dine outside in the garden, which is filled with flowers, statues and a fountain to give the feel of a European country estate.

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