The Quirkiest Bars in NYC

June 18th, 2018

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New Yorkers love the bar crawl. There’s nothing more fun than kicking back at a bar and tossing back a few brews with your friends. But anyone who spends enough time in NYC bars will eventually realize how similar they all are. Where’s the fun in that?

It’s time to spice up your bar crawl by visiting some unique, interesting, and totally quirky bars. Here are the gin-joints with a little more flavor and panache than the rest. These are the quirkiest bars in NYC!

The Last Word:

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Back in the old days, some silly people in our government decided to make the sale and consumption of alcohol illegal. During prohibition the flow of legal booze totally stopped, but an underworld of illicit drink started to flourish. If you wanted a drink in those days you went to a speakeasy--a legitimate business with a bar hidden inside. If you knew the right people you could sneak in and enjoy a drink.

Prohibition has been over for a century, but there's still something appealing about a secret bar with passwords, criminals and smuggled-in drinks. There are still a few speakeasies leftover from that time, but many have fallen into disrepair or closed their doors. The Last Word in Astoria is a brand new speakeasy, with all of the edge and none of the criminality. 

Out front, The Last Word is a simple hardware store. You can buy a hammer and nails if you want, but slip a word to the attendant and you’ll be ushered into the back room. The Last Word doesn’t only serve drinks; they’re also a prominent jazz club. There are new live shows every single weekend, so it pays to become a regular!

The Burp Castle:

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Bars are fun, but oh boy can they get loud! Between the blaring music and crowds of patrons all yelling to be heard over one another, it can be really hard to think in a place like that. The grossly named Burp Castle is a haven for those of us who enjoy our brews with little more than quiet conversation.

The Burp Castle is less of a bar and more of a temple of beer worship. Like most places of religious reverence, they require a respectful level of silence be maintained at all times. Of course, you can carry on a quiet conversation, but if the sound levels in The Burp Castle get too loud the entire bar will be immediately shushed. The bartender’s imposing “shhhh” cuts through the air, interrupting conversations and magically lowering voices.

This may not be a great place to be rambunctious and loud, but it is a fantastic place to enjoy a quiet drink. Gorgeous murals depicting festive scenes and fanciful battles with monsters decorate the walls and a endlessly rotating tap of craft beers keep the libations flowing. It’s the kind of bar where you could enjoy a book with your brew.

The House of Wax:

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We’ve sung the praises of the wonderful Alamo Drafthouse many times on this blog. It’s a movie-lovers paradise with great eats, fun movies, and respectful silences. The Drafthouse isn’t just a movie theater, as its name would suggest. Located in the rear of this movie houses lobby lurks The House of Wax, a totally weird and genuinely awesome bar.

While most bars are happy to decorate with wood paneling, boring paintings, or other kitschy cliche decorations, The House of Wax is a bonafide morbid wax museum. Sure, you can order cool brews and masterful cocktails but your eyes will constantly be drawn to the disturbing and lifelike wax sculptures that adorn the walls around you.

You'll glimpse the death masks of historical figures, botched anatomical mutations, and other horrors too creepy to describe in a blog as polite as this one. Visitors seem to find these wax sculptures horrifically charming or off-putting enough to order a very strong drink. It’s the perfect place to hang if you’re early for a movie, or just to spend an strange and wonderful evening. No movie tickets required.

Beauty Bar:

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For most of us, going out means dressing up. Even if you’re just doing a casual evening at the bar, you want to look somewhat presentable. You might meet a cute stranger and they certainly won’t be interested if you look like you crawled out from under the subway tracks. Beauty Bar is a bar where you can both drink and get all dressed up.

This swanky little spot has a beauty-salon theme, which extends far beyond the wigged mannequins in their faux-storefront. Beauty Bar is located in a defunct beauty salon that hasn’t shed it’s old ways. For just $10 you can get a strong martini and a manicure! You don’t even need a reservation, though having one certainly helps on their busy nights.

Beauty Bar is unquestionably a place to see and to be seen. Outfits both ostentatious and outrageous are encouraged. If your duds aren't up to snuff, the folks at Beauty Bar will see to it right away. If you’re hoping to meet exciting and interesting people, this is the spot to be.