It doesn’t matter if you have $20,000 to your name or $20, you’re a New Yorker and nothing’s going to stop you from going out drinking. While movies and TV like to show the expensive and chic side of the city, the best bars here cost very little and rarely get cleaned, but that’s part of the charm of dive bars.
There’s no expectations, no judgements, and no sobriety. From punks to geeks to hipsters, everyone has a cheap bar to call their own and we’ve compiled the best ones to get you the most drunk for the least money. Just make sure to bring cash to avoid card minimums.
HERE ARE TEN OF THE BEST AND CHEAPEST DIVE BARS IN NEW YORK CITY:
1. Eastern Bloc
Additionally, all week long they serve a mysterious shot by the name of Ass Juice for $2 and the bartenders refuse to tell you what it is. Don’t worry, though, it’s just vodka and a fruit mixer. But, hey, now you get to tell people you got drunk off ass juice!
2. Nancy Whiskey Pub
Listed as the first address on Lispenard Street in Tribeca, this pub has it all: A thorough whiskey selection, jukebox music, $2.50 pints during happy hour, drunk regulars at 2:00pm, and…shuffleboard? Clearly, this bar wants an older crowd, but the bartenders won’t care as long as you’re drunk and out of their way.
Many people have complained about the rude employees, but the truth is that, in a city filled with pomp and circumstance, they ain’t got time for nobody’s crap. Sit down, get drunk, and either keep your mouth shut or have something interesting to say!
With daily drink specials (the $2 margaritas on Tuesdays are not weak) and incredibly personable bartenders, night owls of all sexualities and gender identities should add this bar to their list of regular bars to visit. Just make sure you don’t drunkenly tear down any of the thousands of decorations hanging from the ceiling. They’re precious!
4. Winnie’s Bar and Restaurant
Blink and you might miss this bar with its black exterior, tucked away under a Chinatown apartment complex. Without a single pretense in sight, patrons not only come here for great drinks and fun bartenders, but also for their cheap karaoke. Each song costs just $1, but since there’s no MC, you just have to wait for your song to start playing and you run onstage. Yes, people steal each other’s song all the time, but who cares? You’re drunk and you’ll probably make a new best friend at the mic. Besides, all 80s karaoke songs are best sung with a friend.
5. Alligator Lounge
Sure, it may be the thinnest pizza you’ve ever had, but going here every once in a while could save you a few bucks on your Trader Joe’s expenses. If you don’t want to make the trip to Williamsburg, the East Village has been graced with a second location called Crocodile Lounge.
6. Vazacs Horseshoe Bar/7B
Yes, the actual bar here is shaped like a horseshoe, but don’t you dare refer to this place as Vazacs Horseshoe Bar. Placed right at the corner of 7th street and Avenue B in Alphabet City, this place will forever be called 7B, despite the remnants of a sign outside that does say Vazac Hall.
Whatever the name may be, nothing says a divey second home like $5 Natty Lights, $10 Miller Lite pitchers, and a jukebox filled with old school punk rock. Throw in some arcade games, sports on the televisions, and the occasional seasonal beer and you’ve got no reason not to go here. Unless you’re still set on calling is Vazacs.
7. B Side
Geared towards hipsters with more of an edge, B Side serves as a perfect little watering hole for those who want some good conversation with their cheap beer. What the bar lacks in decor, it makes up for in a well thought out music selection in the jukebox. If you can switch between Elvis Presley and Kiss without missing a beat, then why aren’t you at B Side right now?
Additionally, in between glam-punk song selections, make sure to take advantage of the $5 whiskey shot and PBR deal. And if there’s a wait for the foosball table, just put on another song and grab another drink in the meantime.
8. Welcome To The Johnsons’
If you’ve ever seen a picture taken inside a middle-class 1970s home before, you’ll recognize this bar’s style immediately. With wood panels and tacky decor only you’re older relative would like, Welcome To The Johnsons’ really feels like you’ve stepped into the past.
It’s been described as “the diviest of dive bars” and it’s hard to argue with that statement when there’s plastic-wrapped chairs and the bottled beers are kept in a brown fridge. So grab yourself a $2 PBR or, if its during the summertime, a famously strong margarita and try your best not to slide off the chairs.
Anyone who’s ever gotten off the train at Astor Place heading towards the East Village has seen this bar looming over St. Mark Place with its infamous sign: “5 Shots of Anything for $10.” A bar with the promise of a $10 night (depending on your tolerance) is destined to become a legend and that’s exactly what has happened to the Continental.
Everything about this bar is genius: No front door (for those too drunk to watch out for walls), Mc(Drunk)Donald’s next door, and older movies projected in the back. Perhaps the only other thing they could use is an escort service to get inebriated patrons to the train safely.
10. Gotham City Lounge
Sometimes, theme bars can be straight up tacky, but when the theme is your favorite comic book superhero, resistance is futile. Nestled under the rattling M train in Bushwick, the Gotham City Lounge brings Batman and other heroes to life from its giant mural out front to themed drinks such as a Green Lantern (we’ll let you go visit to find out).
And if you can’t quite grasp the theme yet, the walls and tables are totally plastered with comic book covers and memorabilia. With enough to drink, you’ll start to think you’re in a comic book yourself. Just don’t go punching anyone.
If you enjoyed this list and still need some more bars to frequent, check out the 8 oldest bars in NYC.