Friday, August 15, 2008

Bar roundup part II: Irish bars, alphabet themes, and sweaty crowds

Since I returned from New Zealand, I've visited a number of bars, some new, some I'd been to before. I'm always looking to help out my readers, so here is the second installment of my random-bar-thoughts, in case you're looking for a place to go this weekend:

PS 450, 450 Park Ave South between 30th and 31st Streets: I was here for a friend's birthday party, and my first thought is that it was insanely, absurdly crowded. It's pretty much the only bar in the neighborhood (think random, deserted stretch of Park Ave South), so everyone who was out around there was at this bar. That, of course, meant we had to wait about a half hour to get past the velvet rope, something I despise (I only exceeded my 30-second waiting limit because of the birthday party inside). Also, something I noticed that night that was confirmed the next day by my Indian friends: it seemed to have a large South Asian crowd-- apparently it's known as an Indian hot spot. In any case, I found it to be overcrowded and nothing special. Good music, though.

R Bar, 218 Bowery, between Prince and Spring Streets: R Bar was also incredibly crowded, but in a more fun way. When we arrived, there was a huge line outside snaking towards Spring Street, but my friend and I were coming from the direction of Prince, so we just went up to the bouncer facing in our direction. The following exchange ensued:
Bouncer: "What private party are you with?"
Us: "We're not with a private party, we're just meeting friends."
Bouncer: "Okay... [stamps our hands]... but your friends might have a hard time getting in because it's getting busy." [Lets us in.]
Uhhh, okay. Basically, we bypassed the "regular person" line, got in through the no-wait private party line despite telling him directly we weren't with a private party, and not only that but the stamp he gave us was the "private party" stamp that allowed us entry to the reserved back room. Right. Anway, the back room was fun, loud and crowded but definitely rockin'. There are stripper poles that people dance on (by "people" read "not me"). Music was good; a fun time was had by all.

B Bar, 40 E. 4th Street at Bowery: Not to be confused with R bar, B bar is a combination huge bar/restaurant with several bar areas. We went relatively early in the night and spent a lot of time chilling at their outdoor bar, which was decorated with a kitchy mexican-ish theme. It was really nice just to be outside, frankly. B bar is a little bit hipster/pretentious/douchebaggy for my taste, but it's not aggressively so, so it's tolerable. One caveat: the mojitos were terrible. Stick with beer.

Galway Hooker, 7 East 36 Street between 5th Ave and Madison: We came here after B Bar. It's a random bar in a random location; it wasn't packed, which was nice, and there was a huge screen showing the Yankees game. The vibe was definitely chill/low-key, and there were open booths and lots of room to move around. An eclectic group came and went throughout the night: there was the group of preppy 20-somethings, with the girls dancing drunkenly and the guys trying to get drunk enough to dance with them; there was the requisite bachelorette party; there was the group of nerds trying to get with some cougars at the bar. So let's just say Galway Hooker welcomes all walks of life, and apparently they don't mind if you do the Saltine challenge (6 saltines in a minute... it's not possible) in one of their booths. We tested that theory. Random Note: Galway Hooker seems like a good place to go for after-work drinks if you work in the area.

La Caverna, 122-124 Rivington Street, at Essex: This is a somewhat cool, somewhat creepy underground space that is basically a cave-themed bar (don't look up... the sharp stalactites look sort of threatening after a few drinks). There is a DJ later in the night, before which the place plays thumping house music. Drinks are good and on the cheaper side, which is much appreciated. This is the type of place that would be lots of fun if you were with a large group of drunk friends. If you're not, then it's just sort of weird.

Sidebar, E. 15th Street at Irving Place: On the outskirts of Union Square, this bar is a relatively large, somewhat upscale bar-slash-lounge. Once again, I was there for a friend's birthday celebration. In the hour or so I was there, it went from pleasantly populated to unbearably crowded, to the point where people are bumping into you so often that you just start hating everyone there. It seemed to be a magnet for all the people in Union Square who fancy themselves too good for the typical NYU bars. Drink notes: they didn't have any milk, so my Bailey's and milk ended up Bailey's on the rocks, which is justlame. Moral of the story: I could barely get out of there before being crushed to death. I've never been so happy to see the sidewalk.

Forum, 127 4th Ave between 12th and 13th Streets: Once we escaped from Sidebar, we made our way to Forum. I've been to Forum a number of times, and it's a reliably good bar/lounge just south of Union Square. There's always good music and a large area for dancing in the back. It's a good place to meet up with a group of friends, large or small (the group, not the friends), and either chill or dance or both. It can get a bit hot in the dance area, but you can cool off up front, where the AC is powerful. One warning: beware the bathroom attendants-- they'll charge you $1 for EACH of the candies on the sink. That is, $1 per Blow Pop. Seriously.

Well, that's all for now. Those are my thoughts, such as they are. Happy drinking!

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