Where should I throw my birthday party?
June 22, 2009 10:30 PM   Subscribe

I'm 22 and from out-of-town. Where should I throw my birthday party in NYC?

A bunch of friends are congregating in New York for my birthday in July, and I'd love to show them a good time, though I lack connections or much familiarity with the city. I'm open to any ideas, really, though I'd love a spot where my friends and I could hang out and get rowdy where it's not too expensive. Is there anywhere outdoors that one can drink booze without breaking the law? Any bars that are big enough for about 20 people to settle in where we won't have to pay for a private room? This all may be a pipe dream- wouldn't be too much of a hassle out West where I'm from, but I know big cities are quite different. Thanks, Hive Mind!
posted by libertypie to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Water Taxi Beach!
posted by brujita at 10:53 PM on June 22, 2009

I've heard good things about Studio Square, the new beer garden in Astoria. Then there's always the old beer garden in Astoria.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:02 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

One general suggestion would be to go early, wherever you decide to go, especially if you go on a weekend night. If you skip a sit-down dinner (hey, just grab a slice or two - pizza will boost your tolerance, anyhow) and camp out at a bar early, you can probably get a decent amount of space for your posse. One potential concern: Many (most?) NYC bars card pretty aggressively, so if any in your group are under 21, that could be a real hassle.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:22 PM on June 22, 2009

Not outdoors but my 1st choice: Chumley's. Bring them in via the Barrow St. (unmarked) entrance.

Picnic in Central Park.
White Horse Tavern (just tables on the sidewalk...lots of places have that).
Is South Street Seaport still popular?
Check to see whether the Met or the Intrepid has a cocktail event that night.
posted by at at 12:04 AM on June 23, 2009

Suffolk Beach, a bar in the back of a community theater center on the Lower East Side that has a sand-covered "beach" out back. And if you want to bail there's bars all around there — St. Jerome's is my favorite right now but also 151, Schiller's, Welcome to the Johnsons, &c.
posted by nicwolff at 12:17 AM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Chumley's is closed (at least it was a few months back) - some gas pipe problem or something.

You might consider Sammy's Roumanian - can handle large parties, is incredibly festive and unique. Not incredibly cheap though. But you get what you pay for - vodka bottles encased in blocks of ice, odd guy rocking out on the synthesizer, random dancing, singing - consistent merriment.
posted by slide at 12:22 AM on June 23, 2009

Galway Hooker won't charge for a room w/ a pool table in the back. You just need to use their provided waitress (and not order from the bar). I also bought a couple party platters to make the guests happy.

Tonic East is also like this... but I'm not a fan (probably because I've been to sooo many BDay parties there). It has a roof deck FWIW, not rentable.

Gatsby's is also like this. Your back room privacy will disappear once the bar gets crowded and everyone stops caring. Which is probably a good thing, you recluse you. Also nice because of its location.

Also, not sure about their stance on BDays, but try "Park" and "B Bar". Park is trendy, dance oriented, and in Meatpacking, which probably means $$$$. But it's sorta "outdoors". "B Bar" is outdoors. Just not sure about their stance on parties (deposits, minimums, etc). I've just walked up before with 20 people without a problem... but it was in the winter when it's pretty empty. Brass Monkey seems like it would be a stretch, but it has a roof deck.

The bohemian beer garden suggested above is great if you're willing to leave Manhattan, and there's a new one (I think 1 stop closer in Astoria) that I know nothing about, that's supposed to be bigger.

Oh! How could I forget "The Frying Pan"? It's an old tugboat converted into a bar, docked on the west piers. Probably can't reserve anything. I've been to very cool events out there, I'm sure they cost something to hold though. If you show up early enough I can't imagine you'll have a problem finding space.

About the 21 thing... I have to disagree. I lived in Boston where even Uno's Pizzeria carded more aggressively than I've experienced in NYC. Just depends on the place and the way you carry yourself.

Good luck! If you end up going with something not on this list please post back. A bar repertoire can always been improved.
posted by teabag at 6:03 AM on June 23, 2009

Oh yeah, Frying Pan got me thinking of the Boat Basin Cafe
posted by teabag at 6:05 AM on June 23, 2009

The Frying Pan is awesome. Big, fun, unique, perfect for you.

(and yeah, so sad but Chumley's is gone)
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:24 AM on June 23, 2009

About the 21 thing... I have to disagree. I lived in Boston where even Uno's Pizzeria carded more aggressively than I've experienced in NYC. Just depends on the place and the way you carry yourself.

No, it's the part of town. I'm 42 and look it and I get carded in the LES all the time because there are so many crackdowns. I once traveled all the way downtown to see a long lost pal at Arlene's Grocery and couldn't get in because it never occurred to me to bring ID. So bring ID.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:28 AM on June 23, 2009

Nthing the Beer Garden in Astoria - 20 people won't even make a dent in that place, and it's an awesome place to sit outside & drink beer in the summertime.

Water Taxi Beach is another good option.

As mentioned before - fun outdoor spaces come at a premium in NYC, expect both to fill up quickly during the daytime, so an early start (assuming you're going on the weekend) is a good idea.

New York is a huge city, and there are plenty of events/activities that can easily handle 20 people. What do you really want to do with your friends on your birthday? Drink a ton? Sit around and socialize all night? Dance? Daytime activity? It'll help us offer better suggestions.

Other options:
  • Get tickets to the Staten Island Yankees, the minor-league franchise for the Yanks - tickets are cheap (if you've got 20 people, call about group rates, I've seen specials that include hats & food for something like $16/person, and the worst seats in the stadium put you 10 rows back, about 20 yards past 3rd base), and it's a 100-yard walk from the Ferry terminal. The Staten Island Ferry ride from Manhattan is the best free thing to do on a hot summer day in NYC (about 30 minutes on the water), and they sell beer on the boat.
  • Look for SummerStage shows on/around your birthday in either Central Park or Prospect Park. Don't even need to buy tix, it's possible to picnic on the grass & just listen for free. Word of warning, if you do want to drink, be discreet about it - the Park Rangers enforce drinking laws, albeit sporadically.
  • There are tons of restaurants (especially in Brooklyn & Queens) with backyards that would *love* to host 20 people. Unfortunately, my old favorite (Black Betty) just closed, but there are plenty of options around - perhaps others on this list can offer suggestions if you want to run down this option. Word of advice - if you go this route, see if you can build a prix-fixe menu with the restaurant - it's easier for the kitchen staff to deliver food promptly, and you might be able to negotiate a better deal including beer/wine. Additionally, I'd bet the staff will be much less likely to card individuals in the group.
That's it off the top of my head. Good luck!
posted by swngnmonk at 8:26 AM on June 23, 2009

Check out LIC bar. It's only one stop from the city and affordable. Their Long Island Iced Teas will knock you on your ass. They don't have food but you can get it delivered or bring it in with you.


The Astoria Beer Garden is OK but it can get very crowded and very hard to get a beer.
posted by kathrineg at 8:36 AM on June 23, 2009

Your ideas so far are awesome, everybody! I can barely decide at this point, and might even do some in-person scouting when I arrive. At this point I'm leaning toward Water Taxi Beach for the novelty (and the fact that they've got live music on the day of my birthday), but the beer gardens in Astoria also sound awesome, as well as the various clubs and bars mentioned.

@swngnmonk Sorry for not being more specific about activities! I'm kind of a when-in-Rome gal, and am well aware that even my hard-partying spirit can't anticipate the sorts of things a place like New York has to offer, so I'm trying to keep my mind open and see what pops up. Thanks for your excellent suggestions anyway!
posted by libertypie at 9:00 AM on June 23, 2009

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