11 Old Man Bars Worth Frequenting in Lower Manhattan and the BK
by Matt Gallagher
Why so glum, chum? World getting you down? Sometimes, a person just needs to be alone with their thoughts, a pint, and a grumpy, leather-faced bartender that is completely disinterested in customer relations. The much-venerated Old Man Bar offers just such an escape from existence – and, contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to be an old man to frequent one. Just leave the noise, energy, and fist pumping at the door. No need to rile the natives.
At first glance, New York City, a wonderland of clubby indulgence, would seem the antithesis for the Old Man Bar-proponent. Where’s the peace and the quiet, the sawdust and the space? After careful and diligent research on the matter, I can assure the reader that such is not the case. The Old Man Bar not only lives, it thrives on the streets of Gotham. Here are 11 Old Man Bars worth frequenting in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. (Limited to those regions to keep this list manageable. And because the Seventh Circle of Hell, also known as Murray Hill, is somewhere up there. Real talk.)
Some quick guidance for the uninitiated: Old Man Bars are best visited between the hours of noon and 5pm, Monday through Thursday. Happy Hour crowds and weekend rovers ruin everything. Also, general protocol calls for monotone chatting about surface topics – the weather, the score of the game, that sort of thing. No drama-rama, no prattling, and especially no Lady Gaga karaoke.
This list is by no means comprehensive, and it may contain a bit of a Celtic bias. So it goes. And why 11, you ask? Nigel Tufnel, the lead guitarist of the rock band Spinal Tap, understands. We know this has nothing to do with food, but enjoy the video…
Without further or do, The Top 11:
1. 11th Street Bar, 510 East 11th Street, Manhattan – Pros: epically-poured Guinness, dim lighting, an East Village portal to the west of Ireland. Cons: It’s near a bar owned by one of the clowns in Fall Out Boy, so try to avoid stepping in a puddle of emo on the way in.
2. Johnny’s Bar, 90 Greenwich Avenue, Manhattan – This place is such a dive, it refuses to advertise itself as anything other than “Bar” on the neon sign out front. Respect.
3. Rhythm & Booze, 1674 10th Avenue, Brooklyn
4. Bayard’s Ale House, 533 Hudson Street, Manhattan
5. Pipin’s Pub, 9701 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn – A time warp to back when Bay Ridge was predominantly Irish-Americans. And conveniently located within walking distance from the Brooklyn VA, for all you salty vets out there.
Illustrations by Hugo Yoshikawa
6. Abbey Bar, 536 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn – An oasis in the hipster desert of Williamsburg.
7. Plan B, 626 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn – More sports bar than Old Man at night, but very low-key during the hours outlined above. I also highly recommend their cheeseburgers. Delicious.
8. Puck Fair, 298 Lafayette Street, Manhattan
9. O’Connor’s, 39 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn – Where Elliott Smith wrote XO. How uplifting!
10. Doc Holliday’s, 141 Avenue A, Manhattan – I’m your huckleberry.
11. The Stoned Crow, 85 Washington Place, Manhattan – Rest in Peace, Stoned Crow, Rest in Peace.