Sipping your drink slowly in the Big Apple might seem like a necessity. With drink prices rising over $15 in Times Square, it’s easy to stay sober here. But how does the city that seemingly never sleeps get its second wind without a little liquid courage? Discover a few of my favorite cheap drinks, dive bars, happy hours and drink specials, so you can keep your groove going till the bars shut down at 4 AM.
8th Street Wine Cellar
This is my favorite wine happy hour in the city. You can get a $21 bottle of wine here from 4 PM to 7 PM every goddamn day. Or you can get glasses of wine for only $6.
That’s the best deal in town.
The best part is that the wines are actually good at 8th Street. If you go rogue off the happy hour menu, you’ll get score some awesome vino. But the happy hour wines are really good too.
Plus, they have nibbles like pigs in a blanket and fancy cheese plates. Gotta love that high-brow/low-brow trend here.
Hood: Greenwich Village
Joe’s Pub Jimmy’s Corner
I can’t ever remember the name of Jimmy’s Corner because if the night starts here, I know I’m not going to remember much of the rest of it.
For some reason, I always call it Joe’s, which it is not.
It’s cash only at Jimmy’s. The drinks are cheap. You can get a shot of whiskey and a beer for around $7.
This dive bar is confusingly located between Times Square and Rockefeller Center. Why is that confusing? Because the prices here are cheap, and cheap is this neighborhood not.
And that’s how you’ll be talking after a night at Joes Pub. I mean Jimmy’s Corner.
Hood: Midtown East
One of the great traditions in New York City bars (other than the boilermaker) is cheap booze served with free or cheap food. The food is to soak up the booze in yo belly. Duh.
When you buy a drink at the Crocodile, you get a ticket for a free personal pizza. Additional pizzas are like $1, I think.
Drinks run around $5.
Hood: East Village
Welcome to the Johnson’s
If you miss your childhood best friend’s parents’ rec room, you’ll feel a little nostalgic at Welcome to the Johnson’s.
The sofas and armchairs are covered in plastic. There’s an old crusty tabletop video game in the corner. Pool table’s in the back.
You can definitely find cheap drinks here–a well drink with a mixer is only $5 here. The bartenders are kinda gruff and don’t like when you ask them if it’s they really mean it when they say it’s cash only.
Hood: Lower East Side
Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern
The confusing thing about Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern is that it’s no longer located in Greenpoint. It’s now down the Street from Greenpoint in Williamsburg.
This bar feels like the inside of a heart when you’ve had one too many beers in Styrofoam cups.
Here you can grab cheap $5 well drinks and $1 shots at happy hour.
There’s also plenty of old salty patrons (like a guy named Hawk with one tooth) sitting next to young hipsters, so it’s a mixed bunch.
Hood: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
McSorley’s Old Alehouse
McSorley’s claims to be the oldest pub in New York City. They still have sawdust on the floor to prove it.
One of the most famous facts about McSorley’s is that they didn’t allow women patrons in the pub until the 1970s.
Cheap beers will run you $5.50 here. They have light and dark. But instead of one big beer, you get two small beers that equal one big beer. You won’t get a choice. The waiter or barkeep will simply slam down two beers that will slosh out of the glass (and most likely onto your lap).
Food is so simple, it’s practically nonexistent. They serve crackers, onions and liverwurst. Yum.
Hood: East Village
If you’re willing to make the trek out to Sunset Park in Brooklyn, you love crazy townie bars and you don’t mind a little smoke in your face, head to Irish Haven.
The customers are super serious about their drinking here.
If you stay cool, they’ll let you in.
Oh, and that pool table in the back? That’s where this scene in The Departed was filmed.
Hood: Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Soda Bar is a South Brooklynite favorite. Originally once a soda bar (the non-alcoholic kind), it’s now more of a whiskey bar.
They have live music here sometimes.
The drinks are are reasonable cheap here–under $10.
There’s a great outdoor area when the weather is nice.
The food is decent, and the menu is extensive.
It’s dark inside.
There’s not a whole lot more to say.
Hood: Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
In addition to these places, there are tons of cheap drinks in the city. Some of my favorite tips for finding libations that don’t break my budget include:
- Drink near college campuses, like NYU. College kids don’t have a lot of money, so the drinks nearby are almost always cheaper here.
- Steer clear of Times Square.
- Head out to residential neighborhoods for better bar prices.
- Tons of bars in NYC offer happy hour specials, so pass if the one you enter does not.
Do you have a favorite cheap bar or dive bar in New York City? Add it in the comments!
Want to discover all the cheap eats in the city? Take my Cheap Eats Food Tour! You’ll discover how to find the best cheap food in NYC for $10 and under. You’ll also get a list of the best splurges and mid-range restaurants in the city.
Don’t forget to read a few articles on how to hack New York City, so you can see more, do more, and stress less!