344 Bowery, nr. Great Jones St.; 212-388-0148
This Irish gastropub is, refreshingly, not another speakeasy. Rather, it’s a spot where people can speak easily to whomever catches their eye—and not solely by the grace of whatever $12 artisan cocktail they have consumed (the Spring Fling—Aalborg Akvavit, Calamansi citrus, and cilantro—for example, is already a hit). Packed with a solid crowd of finance guys with loosened ties and advertising types, the place has a vibe that’s all about face-to-face social networking aided by nooks for settling into a tête-à-tête with a newfound friend. Likewise, the music stays at an audible volume and the menu inspires conviviality with shareable small plates and jars ($4 to $14).