Drinks come cheap, fast and often at Ding Dong Lounge, a Manhattan Valley dive spot that’s home to many regulars as well as Columbia University students. A good chunk of the barstools are occupied by in-the-know locals from the Upper West Side and Harlem, while some cheeky drinkers swing through for the obscenely cheap $6 beer-and-a-shot happy hour deal. After more than a decade in the beer-serving business, Ding Dong is still going strong, thanks to its comfortingly dark walls, guitar neck beer taps, heavy metal pinball machines and a pool table. There’s live music on the weekends and a hook near the door that holds a small collection of hula hoops for anyone looking to show off their skills. Otherwise, this is a drinker’s heaven – particularly during happy hour – and one of Manhattan’s truly unspoiled dives.
Inhabiting a former sweet shop, Pete's Candy Store unveils a whimsical seasonal menu of eclectic cocktails and gourmet sandwiches amid free nightly live music and other bustling bar activities. On Sundays, revelers can gobble up a roasted turkey, cheddar, and spicy aioli sandwich ($8) during open-mic (5 p.m.–8 p.m.), and then enjoy the indie-folk sounds of The Go Round (8:30 p.m. in March) while trying to keep the Dragonfly Punch cocktail ($10) from winging around the heads of other bar patrons. On any day of the week, an artichoke heart, brie, and onion-relish ciabatta sandwich ($8) pairs well with a Bleeding Heart cocktail, made with Akvavit, Cherry Heering, and lyrics from Celine Dion ballads ($10).
A testament to the lasting union of food and drink, The Mad Donkey sates appetites with an eclectic menu of munchables and a smorgasbord of brews to match. Dive into a flock of their Monster wings, which, like parade floats and large-print nursery rhymes, are pleasantly over-sized ($8.95). Next, tackle one of their 10 signature sandwiches ($5.95–$13.95) or a customizable burger, a half-pound patty ($10) that arrives with your choice of two toppings ($1 for each additional topping). Bold bar-goers may brave the one-of-a-kind Donkey Mess, a layer of fries bedecked with a 6-ounce cheeseburger, topped with mash potatoes, squashed with a 1/4-pound chili dog, seasoned with the adventurous spirit of Davey Crockett, and garnished with a chicken finger and onion rings ($18). Wash down demonstratively massive meals with their signature Fishbowls, 64 ounces of three different rums, juices, soda, and swedish fish ($20). The bar also offers a rotating selection of beers on draft, recently featuring the Beer Advocate-approved Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Ommegang Hennepin ($6 each) to quench hop-happy thirsts.
1 Republik Lounge whisks patrons into a low-lit series of rooms decorated to evoke classic Hollywood, Rat Pack glamour, and the Land of Oz. Nine flavors of tobacco-free hookah add an aromatic complement to meals in the beer garden, where red tables polka-dot the patio like the spots on a zebra's back. NCAA season sends cheers coursing past tables along with Italian-tinged entrees such as shrimp scampi and pub snacks including bruschetta and meatballs. Meanwhile, versatile, outgoing bartenders tap beer, pour wine, and mix cocktails while adding to the conviviality of the dive-inspired lounge whose "hospitality is second to none," according to Shecky's NYC Nightlife.
Your chances of catching the perfect wave in Manhattan may be slim, but at Point Break NYC you can celebrate like you did. The self-described surf bar lauds the laid back lifestyle, even adding a coastal flare to its menu of pub food favorites. Fish tacos are served up with spicy avocado salsa, while BLTs gain an extra consonant with the addition of tilapia and a side of Dirty South fries. The festive vibe continues at the bar, where servers pour out PB Bombs and inventive mixed drinks. The boldest guests can drink their drafts out of the 96-ounce Das Boot, a giant boot-shaped glass that was modeled after Paul Bunyan's baby shoes.
Some people come to Pine Tree to enjoy its woodsy, far-from-the-city feel: exposed wood beams evoke weekends at a cozy cabin as taxidermied animals keep watch over the scene from their perches on high. Still others come for the Caribbean food that delivers its own type of cozy feeling—the kind that comes from rib-sticking bites of jerk chicken, curried goat, and escovitch snapper. On some evenings, live music adds to the spot’s relaxed vibe and groups are always welcome to watch games on TV screens or test the coziness of the bar’s leather banquettes until 4 a.m. every day of the week.