New York City is known for fancy bars and top-dollar cocktails, and while I’m always down for a bespoke cocktail at a luxurious bar (preferably with a skyline view), sometimes I just want a $2 tall boy at a dimly-lit bar. NYC can be expensive, but these timeless dive bars provide a cheap retreat from city life.
Skip the high-profile clubs in Meatpacking and head to this west-20’s dive, a cash-only bar finished with linoleum, video games, and bottled beer. They’re open 365 days a year, and since Billymark’s is pretty close to Penn Station, you can pop in for a cheap drink (or three) while you’re waiting for your train home for Thanksgiving.
Double Down Saloon
Famous for a mystery shot dubbed “Ass Juice” (don’t ask), this Alphabet City spot serves up cheap drinks in dark quarters. It’s connected to the Double Down in Las Vegas, a reportedly notorious dive that’s open 24/7. Pose for a picture under the “You puke you clean” sign and enjoy punk music from the jukebox.
A personal favorite, this East Village bar is dangerously close to my go-to late-night pizza place. They pour 2-for-1 drinks until 8pm every night, so it’s one of the happiest happy hours in New York. And if you’re out after midnight during the week, you can snag the classic beer-and-shot combo for $5 during a second happy hour lap.
Pete’s Candy Store
Williamsburg has become super trendy in the last decade, but Pete’s is one of the few places you can still get a tall boy for less than $5. NYMag reports that the bar was previously a luncheonette for the neighborhood’s “Italian old timers” before it was a candy store. In addition to cheap drinks and kitschy decor, you can get your fill of live music and happy hour steals.
I ate an oyster for the first time ever at 169, and I’m still on the fence as to whether it was a good decision. This Chinatown spot is truly a staple on the Lower East Side. It has everything you could possibly need for a drunken good time: aforementioned oysters (served on paper plates), leopard-print pool tables, live jazz, and plenty of places to sit when your feet start to hurt. Plus, you can score a beer and shot for $3, including hipster brews like PBR, Tecate, and Miller High Life… and you can even order via text message.