In the battle of the bars, you can always bet on the booziest. Double Down makes real the impossible: You can get loaded for under $10. This bi-level space may lack decoration (outside of a few signs promising a free spanking to anyone who buys the barmaids a shot) but there’s a spacious sidewalk smoker’s patio, the PBR costs a dollar, and the jukebox is full of Johnny Cash.
This racy den is one of the more upscale spots in the hood. NYU kids not yet ready for Bungalow get their training wheels with bottle service priced circa 2001 (Grey Goose for $300) and young couples canoodle on the low-slung seating. Chandeliers, velvet curtains, a tented semi-private booth and a suit of armor recall the Knights Templar in a Persian harem, but you’re more likely to find bachelorette parties fueled by pricey, diabolical girlie-drinks like the Gold Digger (Belvedere, Grand Marnier, champagne $14).
The Dove Parlor
Nestled below street-level behind a façade of white window panes, the Dove exudes an old New Orleans vibe with red velvet wallpaper, a Victorian ceiling mold, and a fireplace full of candles. The cocktail menu brims with classics (sidecars, negronis) and bold originals (the French Lavender is lavender-infused gin, orange liqueur, and a splash of grapefruit). Hip area residents thankful they don’t have to leave the neighborhood for a decent drink recline on elegant sofas as if they were drinking inside a game of Clue. It’s definitely the pick of the off-Bleecker litter.
The neighborhood’s budding sophisticates find solace at this rustic, candelit café and wine bar and they are most wary of their little slice of civility getting invaded by the Huns. Chalkboards display a hefty selection of vinos by the glass and one can actually hear people expounding Sideways-style on the stuff hard-nosed writer Nick Tosches calls “rancid grape juice.” If you’re looking for beer pong, this won’t be your scene, but if chess is your style, the house has two well-traveled boards.
While many of Bleecker’s brew pubs are more juiced-up than José Canseco, the Pinch is a mellow Irish spot to knock back a few. The interior is nothing special—two narrow rooms with red walls, exposed brick, and some high tables on the side—but the be-merry atmosphere more than compensates. Pub food familiar to both Irish and American palates helps soak up the $2 happy hour shots (which runs from 11:30am-7pm for the truly ambitious). Owners Peter Doherty and Paul Motherway, both seasoned bartenders, preside over the long wood bar. While the cover bands at Bleecker Street spots like the Back Fence can be grating, the acoustic acts here are fairly non-offensive.
Slain, owned by Linda McGovern of nearby Alibi, is located closer to Bleecker than any of the other bars on this list and it shows. Despite the celtic font on the awning, the milieu is about as Irish as the homemade lasagna on the menu. The space, a cellar-like womb of a room with a horseshoe bar and exposed brick arches, is conceivably pub-like and yes there is Guinness. However the large plasma TVs and the satellite radio souped-up on modern power rock, not to mention the manners of the overly-muscled patrons, seems a little more Bergen County than County Kildare. But by this point in your bar crawl, you’re hardly likely to care.
This subterranean lounge doesn’t shy away from the mainstream. The big draw is the weekend DJs spinning a mix of Top 40, hip-hop, reggaeton, and 80s. The crowd is probably most similar to your typical Bleecker Street bar spiced up by freshmen girls with decent fake IDs. If that sounds terrible, it’s not. The bouncers keep the riff-raff out and though the low-ceilinged space can get cramped, Alibi remains a pretty fun place to dance. If you can navigate the concrete floor, with its many bodies and Lilliputian furniture cubes, reward yourself at the lit-up bar with the Perfect Alibi (homemade pineapple-infused orange vodka martini).
Fat Black Pussycat
This place was a Village institution when it resided in the spot now known as Panchito’s. Owner Noam Dworman, whose family also owns the Comedy Cellar and Café Wha?, has brought Fat Black’s to the old Kettle of Fish site (which has since moved to Christopher St.). The new Fat Black’s is four bars in one: an updated woody pub with mini TVs recessed into each booth; an antique-filled lounge with red velvet thrones; a small, lush private VIP room upstairs that’s perfect for renting out; and the Village Underground downstairs where DJs spin Fridays and Saturdays.