116 Macdougal St., nr. 3rd St.; 212-254-9996
A thin layer of grime covers all surfaces, and the bar stools are held together by duct tape, but given the cheap, stiff drinks and the no-nonsense bartenders, here's hoping this dump never upgrades.
Holland Cocktail Lounge
532 Ninth Ave., nr. 39th St.; 212-502-4609
Old-timers dominate at this shotgun hole-in-the-wall space with an all-bottom-shelf-liquor cabinet. Let them regale you with tales of the bad-old head-busting days of Hell’s Kitchen.
Jackie's 5th Amendment
404 Fifth Ave., at 7th St., Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-788-9123
Cheap furniture, out-of-date music, a crowd of Brooklyn lifers: Jackie’s is the real deal. And with the "six nips for nine bucks" bucket (six bottles of beer served, literally, in a bucket), the bar may have the cheapest drinks in town.
25 E. 1st St., at Second Ave.; 212-473-9842
This dark, scarred hall full of stiff drinks and crazy regulars is great because it’s legitimately terrifying. If you care to look up from your drink, the glass-brick walls facing Second Avenue provide decent people-watching.
224 Ave. B, nr. 13th St.; 212-353-3780
Avenue B has changed a lot, but Mona’s hasn't: It's still full of punks, Irishmen, and college dropouts. The pool table is a hot zone, and the little nook in the back, to the left of the jukebox, is an endearingly quirky spot away from the fray.