Where to Drink in New York City

I put the finishing touches on my book Red Sand at Kenn's Broome Street Bar in SoHo, so I thought I'd share with you the five best places to get a beer in New York City. In a city with $18 appletinis, the most important rule to remember is: Never trust a bar that doesn't have beer on tap. You’ll be overcharged before you cross the threshold. Go to the right place, like PS450 on Park, and you can still get a good pint for 4 bucks. Here's where you'll find me and the best places to drink in New York:

Jimmy's No. 43
Jimmy's is exactly what a good Ale House ought to be. Dozens of great, unique beers on tap. Archways into lots of little rooms. Taxidermy on the walls. Wooden tables resembling Ragnarok celebrations. Good music. Old and grungy enough to have character without being old and grungy. You know what I mean. This is not a place you wear a tie to, but the customers probably wear ties to work.
The specialty beers can trend toward $10, but we're talking rare Belgian ales! Great place. Check it out. 
Jimmy's No. 43, 42 East 7th Street

Photo Courtesy Campbell's Apartments

The Campbell Apartments
 Now I'll break my only rule for my first recommendation. It's worth an exception because this is an exceptional place. Formerly the private office of the tycoon John Campbell, this richly appointed haunt is hidden away in Grand Central Station. I say “haunt” because it is, in fact, haunted. More on that later. You’ll have to find it first. Stand at the clock. Look up the stairs to the mezzanine where you’ll see a deli (opposite side from the Apple Store). Walk through the deli like nobody’s business and pass through the unmarked double doors. You’ll find a back hallway and another set of dark doors. Walk through those, up a flight of stairs, and there you are. It isn’t a speakeasy, but it is hard to find.
Maybe rightly so. Turns out the place is haunted. I have two favorite stories: Closing up, an employee saw an elderly couple on the balcony. She ascended to ask them to leave, but they were already gone. In another story, a line formed outside the single-stall women's room after a woman went in. When she didn't come out for an abnormally long time, they knocked on the door to see if she needed help. When she didn't answer, a maintenance man was summoned because the door was locked from the inside. When he broke open the door - there was no one there! Oooooo....
If ghosts aren’t your thing, maybe the waitresses are. They hire the prettiest in the city.
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot the beer. It’s pretty good, too.

Cafe Katja
A hallmark of any good watering hole is the name of the owner on the door. This is the only place in the city I know of to get Stiegl, that Austrian beer that makes my mouth salivate just thinking about it. Hungry? You haven't had food this good since your mother's womb. Best of all, everyone who works there is the nicest person you'll ever meet. Ask for Amanda. UPDATE: Katja's just reopened after an extensive renovation and, I'm happy to say, is now three times larger. Whatever you do, don't tell your friends. Enjoy it all to yourself before it fills up.

Courtesy The Nomad
The Nomad
Specifically, the Library. Us writers draw inspiration from books, and the Library has plenty of them. Two floors of bookcases shelter plush chairs like an old world study, complete with spiral staircase. My favorite book is the cocktail menu. It lists every mixed drink ever invented by man. The waitress claims the bartender knows them by heart. I'm still testing him.

Twins Pub
When I first came to New York, I lived out on Long Island. While I waited for the infrequent train from Penn Station after a hard day of wearing out the shoe leather, I often found myself on 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen at Twins Pub with a notebook in one hand and a beer in the other. This is the pub you see when you close your eyes. There are dozens like it, but this one is mine. Get yourself a pint if Harp and make small talk with your neighbor. Get a plate of bangers and mash if you’re hungry, but be forewarned – they don’t serve food on weekends. There’s too much drinking to be done.
Twins Pub, 421 9th Ave

Next time you’re in New York, send me an email. Treat me and I'll show you around any one of these bars.  I'm always up for a pint!


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