When I went to New York City a year and a half ago, it was my first visit as an adult; my buddies there took it upon themselves to take me to a wide variety of bars, from fancy joints in Hell's Kitchen like Vlada, to tiny, odd places like Barracuda in Chelsea, and many others in between. But my favorite bar, by far, is a shit hole in the East Village, appropriately named Nowhere Bar.
Actually, compared to some of the bars I like in Chicago, it's not that much of a dump. Overall, I most enjoy bars that are just that, BARS. Here's my formula for the perfect bar: the room is dark with faint hints of unfocused red lighting, a large, burly and bald bartender, a pool table and a jukebox. That's it. Nothing more (see image below).
Themes/karaoke/a million fucking flat screens do not, a bar make. In fact, I'll argue that they distract from the simplicity of a true bar. I mean, really, all I really want/need out of bar is a stool to park my ass on, super-cold cans of PBR and/or Bud and generous shots of Jameson. Oh, and some man-candy to eye-fuck. And that my friends, is Nowhere Bar in a nutshell.
When I went last Sunday night, they had $2 cans of PBR, a free pool table, a bartender that force fed me at least 5 shots of Jameson (for free, natch) and an array of entertaining (and attractive) boys and girls with which to chat. It's my favorite spot on that island. And although I'm not into souvenirs, they did still have a fishbowl of NYC condoms* in the bathroom!
Old shit-hole dive bars seem to be a dying breed, a trend that troubles me deeply. I despise bars that have a dress code, or that charge a cover (like the bar I work in) or that have stupid names like G Lounge (oh! I get it! It's a gay bar! HOW FUCKING CLEVER).
Oh, and hot bartenders annoy this shit out of me; I tend to think of them as glorified strippers. I like my bartenders like I like my musicians: ugly, balding and with a husky voice (imagine Tom Waits pouring you shots...[staring into space]...man, that would be fucking sweet).
*I'll stick with my Magnums, thank you very much.