Brazil: Made in Brazil
35-48 31st St. bet. 35th & 36th Sts., Long Island City; 718-707-0536
Brazilians spend late nights watching “the beautiful game” on TV or dancing to live samba and forró—a version of country music that’s the rage in Rio—at this Astoria bar. At tables around the dance floor, grannies and youngsters alike wash down Brazilian bar food with potent caipirinhas. After the band packs up, ask the DJ to hit you with some “funk” (pronounced “funkee,” a form of rap from the favelas).
Say Cheers: “Saúde!” with a caipirinha
Bulgaria: Mehanata (a.k.a. Bulgarian Bar)
There’s no truth to the rumors that Mehanata has burned down or been closed by the police. It’s still a nexus of sweaty, booze-fueled circle dancing. Fresh off his starring role in Everything Is Illuminated, DJ Hutz (a.k.a. Eugene) of the gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello drops Balkan reggaeton every Thursday; a rotating assortment of culturally likeminded novelty acts, folk dancers, and turntablists keep the floor on the verge of collapse into the wee hours.
Say Cheers: ““Na zdrave!” with a plastic cup of alcoholic apple cider straight from the fishbowl
China: 59 Canal St.
59 Canal St. bet. Orchard & Allen Sts.
In this unmarked loft bar on the second floor of an apartment building, the shot-pounding hostess does her best to encourage patrons to abandon their ratty booths for the stage. Once there, it’s time for karaoke Guangzhou-style. While Lynyrd Skynyrd is on the play list, you’re more likely to hear drunkenly warbled Canto-pop.
Say Cheers: “Gom bui!” with a bottle of Tsingtao
France: French Tuesdays
www.frenchtuesdays.com; locations vary
Every other Tuesday, promoters Gilles Amsallem and Pierre Battu throw a roving party for button-downed French professionals and the women who love their apartments in Paris. To avoid a $20 cover for live jazz and prerecorded MC Solar, you’ll have to join the 3,500-strong membership. That means being sponsored by two current members or schmoozing the hosts. Snobby? Mais bien sur!
Say Cheers: “A votre sante!” with a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne
India: Maya Lounge
The after-work crowd skews older at this sleek, futuristic midtown lounge serving samosas and lychee drinks. During Desi nights (the next one is this Saturday), a younger set joins the belly dancers on the floor as DJs mix hip hop with bhangra.
Say Cheers: “A la sature!” with a mango martini.
Japan: Yakitori Taisho
Hidden two steps below St. Marks Place is Yakitori Taisho, a low-ceilinged barbeque joint that’s narrow, smoky, and noisy enough to scare off those not ready for grilled gizzards. Taisho now has a second location a couple doors down, but this smaller, grittier one is the next best thing to the Tokyo original. Sit at the low bar and watch the sweating chefs frantically rotate skewers, squirt sauce on fried pancakes and fight the occasional fire.
Say Cheers: “Kampai!” with a frosty mug of Kirin.
Korea: Players Sports Restaurant & Lounge
25 W. 32nd St. bet Broadway & 5th Ave.; 212-868-2029
Partying in Koreatown doesn’t have to mean humiliating yourself at karaoke. At this spacious, futuristic sports lounge, the Top 40 music keeps it bumping so that the real players can show that their game is just as important as the sports events on the plasma TVs.
Say Cheers: “Chukbae” with infused soju
Poland: Club Europa
98 Meserole Ave. bet Manhattan Ave. & Lorimer St.; 718-383-5723
The small art gallery/bar downstairs is open every day but Monday. Weekends, the larger space upstairs opens up with strobe lights and smoke machines inciting mini-skirted girls, loosened up by the free drinks on “Sexy Fridays,” to form a conga line. So what if you don’t understand the DJ’s shoutouts— the heavily cologned partygoers speak the universal language of Madonna and Eminem.
Say Cheers: “Na zdrowie!” with a bottle of Zywiec beer.
Russia: Russian Vodka Room
265 W. 52nd St. bet 8th Ave. & Broadway; 212-307-5835
Think of the Russian Vodka Room as the bratty younger brother of the respectable, literary-minded Russian Samovar across the street. Although the moody piano music isn’t about to set off the kind of party you’d find in Brighton Beach, after a few shots of homemade vodka (infused with ginger, horseradish, and garlic in addition to fruits and berries) you’ll be joining the comrades at the table next to you in their endless rounds of toasts.
Say Cheers: “Na zdorovje!” with a 20-oz. bottle of Baltika beer
Spain: La Nacional
239 W. 14th St. bet 7th & 8th Aves.; 212-243-9308
Once you’ve spotted the Spanish flag over 14th Street, you’ll know you’ve found La Nacional, the expat hang in the basement of the 100-year-old Spanish Benevolent Society. The rustic dining room serves up authentic paella and, in the delightfully shabby adjoining bar, old men (including at least one former matador) eat pinchos of tortilla and croquettes at card tables while watching Real Madrid.
Say Cheers: “Salud!” with a flute of cava sparkling wine
Ukraine: Lys Mykyta
140 2nd Ave. bet 8th & 9th Sts.; 212-614-3283
The bar adjoining the Ukrainian National Home used to be a hole-in-the-wall known only for its free popcorn, but after a Bulgarian Bar-esque makeover it now has comfy wooden booths where you can eat things like pickled hocks. The jukebox full of 80s hair bands remains.
Say Cheers:“Budmo!” with a bottle of Obolon beer
Here’s to The Rest of the World…
You won’t find a Vanuatuan bar even in this city, but til Oct. 15 you may find a diplomat from the South Pacific island at The Patio Cafe, the outdoor bar across from the United Nations building in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. Any given night, dozens of languages and accents intermingle with the live jazz as men in suits debate peacekeeping strategies, or simply which foot-long hot-dog to order.