NYC Cocktail Lounges Worth the Splurge

One of the best things about being in NYC is the bevy of places where cheap–and even free–booze can be found.  Dive bars, gallery openings, beer tastings and more abound all over the city, so, generally speaking. your level of cheap intoxication is entirely dependent on your motivation.  I remember in college there were winter days so cold that I wouldn’t dream of getting out of bed at 9:30 for class, but if buying a $20 bag of weed meant walking half a mile in the driving snow to the nearest ATM without a service fee, then I was ready to strap on my boots and go for it.  It’s the same with drinking on the cheap-you just have to want it bad enough.

Sometimes though, you want something a little nicer, a little better.  Maybe you’ve got someone you want to impress, maybe you came into a little money and want to celebrate or maybe you’d just like to visit a drinking establishment where you don’t feel compelled to make the sign of the cross before entering the bathroom.  Whatever your reason there are as many swank and lovely drinking spots in the city as there are cheap ones and it might be worth it to acquaint yourself with just a few.

Pegu Club

I dare you to come in here and not feel 300 times more glamorous than you did outside.  On the second floor of a building overlooking Houston Street the Pegu Club is a throwback to the 1900s colonial Officer’s Clubs that were found in parts of Asia and Africa where rich, old, white guys would come together and fantasize about fucking each other share perfectly mixed libations, delicious appetizers and the feeling that they owned the world. Isn’t it time we crashed their party? Seat yourself in a buttery soft banquette, bask in the glow of the most flattering light known to man and order one of several sublime cocktails from their beautiful leather bound menu.  My reccomendation is the Earl Grey-tini, but the Pegu Club is a can’t miss and to be honest I’ve never had anything I didn’t like.  Cocktails run about $14 (yikes!) but for a special occasion it;s a worthwhile investment.

Bonus: Waitress are foxy and wear little silk robes which I know is kind of fetishistic, but come on.

Double Bonus: Gorgeous bathroom that you may never want to leave.

77 West Houston Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 473-7348

Clover Club

Yes, it’s another place called “club”.  Yes it is also a bit of a nostalgic throwback to the Jazz Age.  But who cares about cliche when the product is this good. Quite possibly the best bar for cocktails in South Brooklyn, Clover Club is a gorgeous space on Smith Street with an extensive drinks list and a menu with exhaustive descriptions of said drinks.  I’ve had the fizzes, the highballs and threw down on the AM punch bowl once with a group of people after a friend’s birthday brunch.  It was awesome.  Again, things can get up to the $13/$14 mark, but everything is so well mixed, the ingredients are so fresh that it’s hard to complain.  Besides, potency wise each cocktail packs a wallop, so you probably won’t need more than two.

210 Smith Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 855-7939

PDT

By now I don’t think there’s a grandmother left in Buffalo who doesn’t know that if you go into Crif Dogs and pick up the phone in the tiny phone booth on the left side of the restaurant, a waitress will buzz you into a tiny, seating-room-only cocktail lounge where some suspenders-clad, mustachioed mixologist will whip up a delicious cocktail for you in moments.  Yes, it’s gimmicky, yes it’s past the point of Bridge-and-Tunnel-no-return, but if you go on a weekday after work the crowd is not so bad.  They’ve got a limited but highly inventive food menu back there, too, so even if you’re paying through the nose on your cocktail, if dinner consists of two Chang Dogs, you’re cutting your losses.

PDT
Crif Dogs
113 St. Marks Pl., nr. Ave. A
212-614-0386),
enter the phone booth

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About the author

Ashley Friedman - Cornerstore Correspondent

Like most kids, Ashley grew up in New Jersey. Unlike most kids the Friedman's televison set acted as a third parent, imbuing young Ashley with the stern moral values of Claire Huxtable, the dramatic tendencies of Brenda Walsh and the earnest hopefulness of the blond kid on Silver Spoons. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence Ashley made her way to the Park Slope area of Brooklyn where she can currently be found reading foreign fashion magazines, scouring ebay for vintage heels, eating out in restaurants and otherwise stretching her meager income as far as it will go in NYC.