Where in the world... er NYC is my birthday celebration?
November 8, 2010 12:22 PM   Subscribe

Looking for fun, chill lounges/bars (with lots of single guys) in NYC to celebrate my 21st! Also, ID issues!

Straight female turning 21 this weekend and I'm looking for suggestions of great lounges/bars to celebrate!

I'm looking for the perfect place and I just can't find it! I've been to many many bars around the East Village/Union Square area but still haven't found a fabulous one. I really like Revival because there are so many places to hang out-- downstairs bar, upstairs seating area, outside terrace but whenever I've been there, it seems like its mostly couples and friends hanging out. My friend and I are always looking for new bars where tons of nice single guys (preferably working professionals, not students) hang out so Revival would NOT be it. (Oh, and I've been to Nevada Smith's several times and the guys did not approach me or my friend, as they seemed more focused on "da game")

I'm open to location. It can be anywhere from West Houston (although that unfortunately includes NYU bars that I want to avoid) to 60th street. Is 60th the end of midtown? If yes, then 60th.

No extravagant drink prices, and would prefer if the establishment served food- and I don't mean pretzels or peanuts. But I can deal if the perfect place doesn't serve food. I want to be able to sit. No covers. Again, must have lots of friendly single (professional) guys.

Also, I have a NYS drivers permit that has the big red 'Under 21' on it and will not be paying to get it replaced. (It does not say 'under 21 until X date'. It just says under 21) Will this be an issue in getting in? Are any bouncers actually going to look at my birthdate? Are they going to bother to do the math? I'll be sending all my friends Facebook invites telling them what bar to go to and if the bar doesn't let me in, I'll be celebrating my birthday alone! I'm really scared about that because I look several years younger than I actually am. I tried calling some bars yesterday to ask if my ID would be a problem and some said that they would not let me in with an ID that says 'Under 21' even if I am indeed 21, and other bars said that it would not matter. Definitive answer please!

With all that said, where's the perfect bar for my birthday?! If necessary, disposable email at: iamanangelxo@aim.com.
posted by anonymous to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What is the expiration date on your permit?
posted by Siena at 12:43 PM on November 8, 2010

Have you considered heading over the East River to Williamsburg? One stop on the L from 1st Avenue... it's really no big hike.

I only say that because in my experience a lot of the bars there are much more relaxed about checking ID than they are in Manhattan - even downtown. Of course, you're more likely to meet the artist/hipster male there than the professional, but it's not like 2002 - Williamsburg is pretty yuppified now, so if you avoid the Bedford Avenue strip you'll certainly find a few. The area around McCarren Park/ Bayard Street is particularly, favoured by young professionals, and the new waterfront hi-rises on Kent Avenue are attracting 'em too. A bar crawl on Kent/Wythe/Berry might work.
posted by Decani at 12:46 PM on November 8, 2010

I tried calling some bars yesterday to ask if my ID would be a problem and some said that they would not let me in with an ID that says 'Under 21' even if I am indeed 21, and other bars said that it would not matter. Definitive answer please!

There is no definitive answer. Some bars will, some won't. Some bars, if they've recently had a run in with ABC will change their policy or outright reject all people with under 21/vertical oriented IDs. Bouncers are supposed to do the math. Will they? Total crap shoot.

Calling ahead is probably the best option. Otherwise, calm down, relax, have fun!
posted by fontophilic at 12:48 PM on November 8, 2010

Yeah, I would just show the bouncer the date on the ID and be all, "TEE-HEE! It's my birthday!" I can't see this as a huge deal.

As far as the bar, that's kind of a tall order. Given that dudes in NY aren't exactly prone to approaching gals unless they're (as you put it) into "da game," you might want to just focus on having fun with your lady friends and see what happens. :) (NOTE: this is not a NewYorkSucksForDating derail, just an observation on the bar scene.)

I would head for E. 7th and Ave. A. On that block is the fairly bridge-and-tunnel (but professionals!) Niagara. Next to that is the quite cool Black Market, which has food and reasonably priced wine. When/if you tire of either of those two scenes, you can go literally around the corner and down the stairs to the new-ish hipster/pretty people hang-out, The Cabin Down Below.

Three different bars, same black. Triple your 21 fun!
posted by functionequalsform at 12:59 PM on November 8, 2010

posted by functionequalsform at 1:01 PM on November 8, 2010

Niagara is a fun bar (especially downstairs, which requires you to go all the way to the back of the bar, past the photo booth and down the staircase).

I would also try Arrow bar across the street.

No Malice Palace is my FAVORITE bar, but, its more for dancing and grinding to old school hip hop than meeting people (and it's dark as hell inside).

China One is a big multi-level bar that is fun. There is a two dollar cover charge (for some reason) but they have a live DJ on weekends.

Solas is big and there is a pretty young crowd.

Bar None is very much a college bar where people certainly go to meet, make out with strangers and dance in the back area. However, the guys can be a bit aggressive there (which may be what you are going for). I'm a dude, and I've had my fair share of friends ask me to pretend to be their boyfriend because some guy is harassing them though, fyi.

Continental is a good place to start... any 5 shots for 10 dollars! It's cheap, you can meet people there and you can head out to a ton of other places in the East Village.

Cabin Down Below is pretty crappy and I would avoid that.

Fat Baby is another bar I really like, but get there early because it can get packed with a line out the door.

Welcome to the Johnsons is a complete DIVE bar, but it's fun as well if you are in that mindset and want to meet hipsters.

lastly, as far as your ID goes, if anyone gives you trouble, just tell them to scan it (they probably won't have a machine), call the police and have them tell you that it's not real, or just explain that it's your birthday. This is Manhattan, the bouncers have seen everything, and if it says Under 21 on the day you turn 21, they can figure it out. Stick to the east village with a list of bars (like the list above) on you and you can't go wrong.
posted by darkgroove at 1:33 PM on November 8, 2010

OH... La Caverna is also a fun spot where you could meet people, has live music and doesn't cost anything to get in. It is ALWAYS packed, but I have never waited in a line. Plus, it looks like you are in a cave.
posted by darkgroove at 1:35 PM on November 8, 2010

Will this be an issue in getting in? Are any bouncers actually going to look at my birthdate? Are they going to bother to do the math?

If a bouncer gives you a hard time about this, you should politely point to your date of birth and say, "I'm 21 today!" (or "as of last Wednesday!" or whatever.) If my memory is anything to go on, people tend to want to cut the 21st birthday girl some slack.

That said, I'm 29 now and didn't have to deal with that specific wrinkle in enjoying my 21st birthday. And, I dunno, maybe they are super duper strict about that sort of thing now.

Another piece of advice somewhat related to the above: if you stay away from clubs and college bars, bouncers are much more lax about this sort of thing. My friends and I drank all over the city without ever being carded, years before we were all of age. We avoided the Village and nobody gave a shit.

I'll give venue advice, but with the caveat that in my experience there is a variety of "drinking aesthetic" out there. For instance I'd steer you to Art Bar or maybe Vol de Nuit in the West Village (both large spaces with plenty of room for lots of friends), or Drop Off Service or Horseshoe Bar/7B (laid back, unlikely to give a shit about the finer points of ID's) in the East Village. Also possibly Crocodile Lounge on 14th St because it's large and there's also free pizza. But I'm a beer drinker who likes her nightlife cheap and in a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere. I also have no patience for the Murray Hill douchebag/meat market scene. If you like nightclubs and pink things that come served in martini glasses, these are not the droids you're looking for.
posted by Sara C. at 1:39 PM on November 8, 2010

A bar crawl on Kent/Wythe/Berry might work.

I hang out in Williamsburg a lot and am probably considered a "young professional" (but once upon a time would have been considered an artist/hipster type), and I'm racking my brain to even think of any bars on Kent Ave.

Wythe has Radegast, which is good for groups and definitely has cute male bartenders (and the beer hall aspect definitely attracts guys), but it's a beer hall, not a place to get makey outey on your 21st birthday. People bring their kids there and shit. The Levee, across the street, might be better for makey outey action but I've never actually been in there.

On Berry you have Berry Park, another cavernous spot that is mostly a beer hall, though it feels more bar and less "let the kids draw in coloring books while mom and dad have a pint" a la Radegast. Also a couple of small dive bars that I've never been too but from the outside would assume cater to "old neighborhood" types, whether that's middle aged Polish people or artsy gentrification pioneers who've lived in the area since before you were potty trained.

None of the bars mentioned above cater to a "professional" as opposed to "bohemian/hipster" crowd. In all those bars you will see a mix of both groups. Any bar that is a sceney place where you could potentially hook up with some boy is likely to attract hipsters over yuppies, for sure.

I like the bar at Public Assembly, but that's more of an event venue than a place to go for your birthday. And I mostly like it because I've been going there since you were in grade school.

The scene along Bedford Ave is mostly dead. At this point you pretty much have Rosemary's Greenpoint Tavern (scene of much of my own youthful drinking), which is too small and not what you want, Mugs Ale House (meh), and the Turkey's Nest. I have always gotten a very bad feeling from the Turkey's Nest. I have witnessed some very bad things there and would not recommend it for you. Also full of hipsters, anyway. There is the Soft Spot, though which I have never hung out in, but might be promising? It's not very big, though.

If you really wanted to do Williamsburg, I would suggest you stay on the L train one more stop and go to Union Pool. Yes, it is a total scene and a notorious hipster hangout. But it's also a great place to make out with boys you never have to talk to again. Also, photo booth! You could also consider Barcade, which is good for birthdays and also has copious numbers of boys thanks to the retro video games. It's another place that is considered "hipster" turf, though I have lots of "young professional" colleagues who go there. Most of said colleagues are single young men who wear a lot of plaid. And like girls. A lot.
posted by Sara C. at 1:58 PM on November 8, 2010

As someone who just spent the whole summer doing a tour de force of NYC bars, I have a few thoughts. First — why not below Houston? A few of my recommendations are in SoHo, but they meet most of your requirements.

I agree with Sara C. about Crocodile Bar: free pizza, not too crowded (at least not any of the times I went there). I also liked Asian Pub, on 6th St., next to Cooper Union, but you've probably already been there and found it too college-y. It is. It's also super, super cheap (huge, $4 drinks) with decent food and lots of guys, not all of whom are in college.

I've only been to Hop Devil Grill for dinner, but it had cheap drinks, delicious food, and a good nightlife recommendation from one of my friends. It's at St. Marks & Avenue A.

Every single time I've gone to Spring Lounge (Spring & Mulberry, a little bit south of Houston) someone I've been with has met a "professional guy." They tend to be the "I work in finance" type of "professional guy," though. Haven't always been able to sit, but there are lots of tables and its a nice little bar.

Also recommended: Botanica Bar, on Houston, around Broadway or so. Cheap drinks and lots of seating space. No food. Spitzer's Corner, which had lots of nice guys but I can't remember how expensive it was, and it's below Houston.

My only other advice is to stop worrying too much about finding the perfect bar, and just meet in the general vicinity of three or four bars you like and barhop.
posted by good day merlock at 2:46 PM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

My New York ID expired on my 23rd birthday, so I had that big "Under 21" on it for two years after turning 21. I never had an issue, but I was always prepared to explain what the issue was and point to my birth date. I had to a few times, but like I said, I didn't have any issues.
posted by cmgonzalez at 5:24 PM on November 8, 2010

I'll be doing the exact same thing as you this weekend in NYC, albeit a few weeks post-birthday (but gimme a break, I go to school in Boston, so getting home at the proper time ain't always convenient).

FWIW, I'm a single guy, not actively seeking young urban professional women (though I'm not opposed). That said, I like (and will stop by at one or more of):

--Botanica Bar (yeah good day merlock!), which has a great vibe, and a solid Dark&Stormy. Music is charmingly too-loud, and the people there are generally hip and pretty. The back room seems to be the prime make-out spot.
--Stanton Social - you'll find some more yuppie types here.
--Le Poisson Rouge - do it for the music.
--Death & Co. - do it for an amazing cocktail
--Nublu - again for the music...and the caipirinhas.

As for the ID thing, I wouldn't worry about it. Really. The sheer # of times I got into bars all around NYC underage with an expired learner's permit that wasn't even me is staggering. Bring a passport if you're super concerned.

Feel free to MeMail me if you have any other questions.
posted by weaponsgradecarp at 12:38 AM on November 9, 2010

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