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Apothèke is one of the many "speakeasy" type bars found throughout Manhattan. This sanctuary located on this hidden alley in New York's Chinatown has plenty of old-fashion panache, though the drinks may be a bit on the pricey side. The bar replicates an old-world apothecary, proudly displaying antique medicine bottles and old-fashioned chemistry equipment. This bar is manned by expert bartenders who sport white lab coats and dispense alcoholic "prescriptions" (as they call them) like the Mata Hari, Femme Fatale and Dr. Ruth, which are created with the Apothèke's house-blended absinthe and other elixirs.
Through an alleyway and up some steps, one will be transported to something of a different era. The Back Room boasts a big mirrored bar, chandeliers and large scandalous paintings. The old, wooden, dimly-lit space includes bouncy barstools and very comfortable and inviting lounge spaces for large parties, if you can get them. Prohibition-esque booze is served in tea cups. Hey, c'mon, it's a speakeasy! Nevertheless, the Back Room is worth a visit to bring out your inner flapper.
Located in Lower East Side Manhattan, this crazy dive bar is renowned in the neighborhood for its cheap drinks and hip ambiance. As you enter, the retro arcade games lining the walls will get you in competitive mode for an exciting game night. Nothing fancy, the Two-Bit's Retro Arcade is a quintessential neighborhood bar, that serves a decent range of alcohol and pub food. A perfect place to party on weekends, this bar is easy on the pocket too.
An intellectual's Pravda, this second story dive is decorated with communist propaganda that is downright creepy if pondered too long. KGB is also the epicenter of the new writers' scene, hosting popular readings and frequented by some up and coming novelists. It is certainly pretentious, but worth a trip for the thrill of knowing you might be sitting beside the next Ernest Hemingway. Check their schedule for readings and events. Cash only. The KGB Bar is also the location for The Kraine Theater located on the ground floor. This theater is managed by the Horse Trade Theater Group.
New York's only haunted bar/restaurant provides guests with a taste of the macabre albeit in a somewhat hokey way. The bar is known for its entertainment which includes kooky characters and staff in 24-hr. Halloween mode. So you eat and drink while the crew scares, dazzles and jokes with the audience, including you. The kitchen serves primarily American classics like burgers, fries, sandwiches and other pub favorites. Of course a full bar is available as well.
PDT (which stands for Please Don't Tell) is a "secret" bar on St. Mark's Place. A call from a phone booth in Crif Dogs (the adjacent restaurant) is the only way to get in. Once accepted, a secret door opens up in the phone booth, leading to PDT. It's not much of a secret anymore though, because the club is hugely popular. Once inside, you'll find a crowded bar area steeped in darkness. The inventive cocktail selection is superb and a major draw. If you're hungry you can also order from the Crif Dogs food menu, which gets delivered to the club via a small pass. A visit to PDT is quite an interesting experience indeed.
Inside an old hairdresser's shop, this theme bar draws its inspiration from a 1950s beauty salon. The bar is decorated with hair dryers you can sit under, vintage beauty salon chairs and glamor magazine covers to look at. There is even an in-house manicurist available! Groove to funky DJ music and let your hair down at Beauty Bar. It can get enormously crowded on the weekends, but it is worth a stop for the decor.
Set up by a few native New Yorkers, Otto's Shrunken Head is a lone bar on a quiet stretch of 14th Street. This long narrow space which qualifies as a Tiki Bar has an eclectic decor complete with blow fish lanterns, leopard-print bar stools, Hawaiian-inspired wallpaper, red leather banquettes, faux grass edging and a pin ball machine inspired by the Simpsons. Expect some real good music at this bar from the '80s and early '90s, spanning everything from ballads and rock to industrial. Punk nights and acoustic jam sessions also change regularly. The bartenders mix up some real sweet tiki drinks, which are a specialty here, although most locals prefer chilled beers. Try Otto's Octane, a creative mix of pineapple rum, Kahlua and banana liqueur. Stormy Skull, Zombie, Shrunken Skirt and Volcano Blast are few other combinations. Served in mugs with unique inscriptions, the drinks are innovative and well concocted, and will appeal to those who like to experiment.
Touted as offering one of the best cocktail menus around, The Raines Law Room is a haven for mixed drink connoisseurs. The drinks list is replete with flavors that will suit any preference, from bitter to sweet and crisp to spicy. Relax on velvet couches beneath classic murals that give the lounge a distinctly 1920s appeal, drink by candlelight in the garden, or enjoy the privacy of a banquet-style parlor. Whether you want a signature cocktail or prefer to order from the carefully curated selection of beer, wine, and champagne, The Raines Law Room will leave you at once satisfied and wanting more.
Themed around a trailer park and garnering acclaim for its upbeat and trendy persona, this bar is a colorful Hawaiian Tiki bar with general kitsch. The bright neon pigments that are splattered across the walls declare the cheerful ambiance that this place is famous for. As one steps through the fluorescent green doors, one is greeted by a tropical party atmosphere with freely flowing martini, chillis and hamburgers. With posters of pop stars gracing the walls and foot-tapping music belting out from the dozens of speakers, the mood is just right to create a fun-filled night.
Visitors can experience the mysteries of being aboard a sunken boat while also enjoying fresh seafood onboard the Frying Pan. The Frying Pan was a former lightship, but eventually fell into disrepair and sunk due to a broken engine. It was bought by its current owners and repaired in the 1980s and now serves as a popular bar and grill. However, the ship still retains its sunken look in the lower levels in order to acknowledge the Frying Pan's long history.
For those who crave for a little IPA with their Donkey Kong, Barcade just might be the place. The lovingly designed space combines hand-crafted pub furnishings with several truckloads of classic arcade games. Draft craft brews are the specialty of the house featuring East Coast heavy hitters like Peekskill and West Coast humdingers like Lagunitas, but there is also a full bar. So whether you like a shot of Jim Beam before a round of Centipede or a goblet of Belgian-style strong ale to accompany a rousing Ms Pac-Man tournament, Barcade can probably accommodate you. See website for frequently updated draft list, special event announcements, Happy Hour info and more.