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.
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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.
See also: The 10 Best Jukebox Bars in New York CityMore »