The 10 Best Birthday Bars in New York City
Birthdays are hard. Of course it's about you. But really, it's about everyone else, especially if you're stepping up to plan the party yourself: whom to invite, whom not to invite, how to congratulate yourself for being born without feeling too self-important, whether to celebrate the day of or wait until the weekend, and most important of all, where to do the damn thing. This is usually where a good watering hole comes in. The right birthday bar perfects a rather unscientific formula (lighting [atmosphere] + alcohol [types x price] + location [proximity to subway/availability of cabs] + things to do other than drinking and talking = good times) that facilitates instant friendships between people meeting for the first time, i.e. all your guests, whose enjoyment you've been so worried about. And this, in turn, lets the birthday boy or girl and de facto host relax already, enjoy themselves, and focus on remaining upright after so many free rail whiskey shots.
Greenwood Park's Facebook Page
With all this in mind, we've assembled a list of our favorite birthday bars in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Some of them have drink specials for your special day, one encourages bar dancing, another has disco bocce, and many are simply great bars for a lot of people to spend quality time in, regardless of what day it is. As Ben Franklin didn't actually say, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," and you should be happy on your birthday.
200 N. 14th St.
After bar mitzvahs, bowling is up there with rollerskating as the birthday party you most wanted to score an invite to in middle school. Of the three, it's the only one to transcend nostalgia value because it's damn fun for adults, too; look at the success of the Brooklyn Bowl, for example. But the retro, glamorously shabby Gutter, though about the same price as the Bowl ($40 for an hour versus $20-25 per half hour), has pool tables and trivia on Monday nights (although one Yelp reviewer hopes the host learns to "annunciate" properly), and doesn't come with a concert you're not always in the mood for. Plus, the friendly bartenders don't mind if you can bring your food, e.g. birthday cake.
Bushwick Country Club
618 Grand St.
The pickleback is a polarizing drink. People are either repulsed by the idea of whiskey and pickle juice shots taken back to back or, after trying it for the first time, can't get enough. For those in either group–which is to say, everyone–the Bushwick Country Club is your spot. Not only did this actual country club (non-members are welcome) invent the pickleback, which they serve with McClure's pickle juice, they also offer pretty much every fun thing ever invented: a photo booth, a jukebox, a mini golf course with a windmill made of PBR cans, Big Buck Hunter, and a slushie machine that serves Jim Beam-and-Coke Slurpees and frozen sweet tea vodkas. You can bring your own food, including burgers and hot dogs you're welcome to grill out back in warm weather. And if you bring at least 15 people for some kind of celebration, like your birthday, you drink for free.
Greenwood Park's Facebook Page
555 7th Ave.
Bocce ball, which Greenwood Park is perhaps best known for, is usually a summer activity, but this beer garden tempts in the winter with heat lamps and a fireplace to keep you warm while you play disco bocce. That's in addition to the 13,000 square feet of room to spill your selection from their impressive numbers of beers on tap, or maybe a $12 pitcher of Narragansett. Greenwood Park is also a bit less scene-y than Williamsburg's Radegast and technically a bit easier to get to than Bohemian Hall in Queens (accessible via five subway lines instead of two). It's fun for the whole family!