How to drink cheaply in NYC

Paying $8 for a beer where you’re from might seem outrageous, but to us New Yorkers, that’s just life.  However, it doesn’t mean we drink like that all of the time.  There are plenty of occasions where we need to pinch pennies, and we’ve all found our favorite cheap drink haunt.  Here are my tips for having a good time in NYC without spending all of your souvenir money on something you’ll eventually forget (because you’ll be blacked out!):

Hit up Happy Hour.  Get your drank on between 4pm and 7pm.  Almost every bar has some kind of Happy Hour special, from half priced drinks, twofers, fishbowls, etc.  Depending on where you are as well, some places extend their HH hours, or reverse them (ie between 10pm and 2pm).

123BurgerShotBeer.  This place is named after $1 sliders, $2 shots, and $3 beers.  I would say it’s probably THE cheapest place to get smashed in the city.  While you won’t be getting quality booze here (beers range from Bud Light to Shocktop, shots are super sweet, girly things), you’ll be happy when your tab comes out to the price of one fancy cocktail elsewhere.

Stick to dive bars.  The shadier a place looks, the cheaper the alcohol most likely is.  I’ve been to places on the Lower East Side that offer $1.50 cans of PBR and looked like someone took a homeless guy’s stuff to furnish the place.  But booze is booze, does it really matter where you drink it?

Sign up for Bar Parties.  Before you arrive in NYC, sign up for bars and clubs where you can “win” an open bar party.  These usually consist of free drinks for yourself the entire night, with an hour or so open bar for your friends, or discounts on drinks for them.  Take advantage of that hour to get schwasted or pregame before your next big move elsewhere.

Don’t be afraid to go ethnic.  Lots of places recommend dining NYC’s ethnic eateries for a cheap meal, but this also applies to booze as well.  Japas 38 karaoke bar offers unlimited sushi, sake bombs and 2 hours of private-booth karaoke, for about $35 each.  And lots of Mexican restaurants are not stingy about how much tequila they put in their margaritas.

Photo by in-boulder.

Nurse it, baby.  Don’t want to lower your standards?  Want to feel fancy or treat yo’self?  Buy one of those $15 drinks and nurse it in one place.  At any other bar, you’ll probably spend just as much, if not more, on drinking, but if you’re looking for atmosphere or trying to save money, nursing your cocktail is the way to go.  Plus, then you get to say you’ve had a hibiscus green tea martini with flakes of gold sprinkled on the top at the Standard Hotel.

Travel to the outer boroughs.  While places like Williamsburg, Brooklyn or Astoria, Queens are only slightly cheaper, you can still find good drink deals the further from Manhattan you go.  Check out Bushwick, Forest Hills, and even Staten Island for a change of scene.

Want to learn more about NYC’s party scene?  Check out my entry on the Big Apple in the forthcoming publication, 101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die.  Part travel guide, part social commentary, 101 Places is the coolest, funniest way to get to know a place you want be when good times are rolling in.  Wide release is January 7th, but you can reserve your own copy today!

#FriFotos: Snow and Ice

Today’s #FriFotos is brought to you by my hangover from Matador Network’s party last night…

Going to Joe’s cabin in the Poconos is like a right of passage. I’ve only been friends with him, Patrick and his family for about a year, but I know that this is going to be a weekend of absolute mayhem. I go with zero expectations and prepare for one totally sloppy weekend.

It’s cold outside. Freezing. Snow and ice is everywhere. This is not like a European winter, with perfectly paved roads and tree branches frosted with pure, white snow. No, the road leading up to Joe’s cabin is a veritable death trap. Gravel and trenches and steep hills present serious opportunities for us to crash the car at any given moment, but somehow, we all make it there alive.

The cabin’s porch is covered in a thick layer of ice and snow. About twenty people will be staying at the cabin this weekend – if everyone brings one bottle of booze that means we need to find a place to store twenty bottles of booze. But of course, people don’t bring just one drink of their choice – they bring three or four, or cases of beer, or mini kegs, etc. Between the alcohol, groceries, and peoples’ luggage, we’re running out of room – fast.

“Let’s just put all the drinks outside,” Patrick suggests.

It makes sense. It’s colder than a witch’s tit but that’s the perfect temperature for beer and liquor. We pile the bottles onto a heap of snow, stuff them into the choppy, white mountain and step outside whenever we need a refresher.

The only time you can get away with something as ridiculous as that is when you’re in your twenties.

Trashy Travel Thursdays: Jubilee Gardens, London

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The London Eye looks a lot prettier when you’re drunk.

In London, the pubs close at 11pm.  I suppose that’s a decent time for everyone to go home, relax and get ready for the next day, but when you’re an underage study abroad student FUCK NO, IT’S TOO EARLY TO STOP DRINKING!  So what does one do when the bell is rung and the barman yells out “last call”?

Head to Jubilee Gardens, of course.

Back when I was drinking there, it was called “Millennium Park.”  I think they’ve since renamed it because of all the trashy things my mates and I used to do there – the new website touts it as “a new green landmark for London.”  Yeah.  Okay.  There is nothing green about London except for maybe mushy peas.  Anyway, it was dubbed Millennium Park because it is the space is situated below the world-reknowned London Eye, built to commemorate the new Millennium.  You know – that big-ass ferris wheel with cool space-pod-looking things which help tourists see London’s landscape in exchange for raping their wallets.

Lindsey one a wrestling contest…after getting drunk for like, the second time in her life. YEAH!

Jubilee Gardens is close to King’s College, where I studied.  It’s the perfect place to loiter about with a couple of beer cans, maybe some boxed wine, or a plastic 2 Liter bottle of Strongbow Cider, and get drunk off your ass for cheap.  No cops will bother you here, in fact, they are pretty nonexistent.  And everyone keeps to themselves really, which is nice, because I don’t like being mugged.

There are three types of people who hang out at Jubilee Gardens: 1) drug addicts who just want to shoot up, 2) horny couples who apparently don’t own an flat where they can have sex, and 3) my drunken asshole friends.  We used to play a very naughty game; the third group would try and sit “uncomfortably close” to the other two groups, inching over every so often until we were almost on top of a heroin needle or engaging in group sex.  We just wanted to see how close those other two groups of people would let us get before moving away in pursuit of their “hobbies.”

Drinkin’ in the park…duh!

You don’t have to visit Jubilee Gardens at night to get sloppy though.  Just go during the daytime, when families bring their children to the park to play games, or old people come to sit in the sun.  Since there are no “open container” laws in London, feel free to pop a wine cork into the air and chug as much vino as your heart desires.  No one will stop you otherwise, and when you get too drunk to go home, just take a nap in the park.

All the homeless people do it.

  • Trash-Meter:  1 out of 10 during the day because hey, it’s a public park, but 10 out of 10 at night, especially in the summer (10 being pretty fucking trashy).
  • Alcohol Intake:  Casual.  I mean it’s easy to get really drunk when you bring your own stuff, but once that runs out, you’re screwed.
  • Chance of getting laid: Quite good, actually.  You don’t even have to be a prostitute to do so, just be really horny and find a friend.
  • Final verdict: I say “HERE HERE!” to any place that will let me get smashed outside in nature.  The ambiance of the London Eye just adds to the awesomeness of your intoxicated and/or oversexed state at Jubilee Gardens.
Jubilee Gardens
Between Belvedere Road and Westminster Bridge Road, London
Neighborhoods: South Bank, near Waterloo Station

Trashy Travel Thursdays: Harusaki and the SSSS

Most of the following photos involve Joe, being Joe

Every year my friends and I participate in something called the “Santa Sushi Sake Spectacular” (SSSS).  For the past five years, about 20-30 people show up at this one, lonely sushi restaurant in Rockville Centre, NY with one goal in mind – to get waaaaaasssssttteeeeddd.

The first year of this tradition happened innocently enough.  A group of our friends decided to celebrate the holidays with some sushi, sake, gift exchanging and laughs.  It turned out to be a four hour shit-show where everyone blacked out and forgot the entire night.  Somehow however, they knew they had a good time.  I’m guessing this is because someone wasn’t as blacked out as the rest and lived to tell the tale.

So now we go back with the same goal in mind.  Eat sushi, drink sake, rehash old times and get all warm and fuzzy inside before Christmas day.  We invite like, a million people but you never really know who’s going to show up – and that’s half of the fun.  Kids I haven’t seen since middle school, guys I’ve had one-night stands with who are now corporate bankers (damn, missed the boat on that one), drunken douchebags and girls who think they are better than everyone else, but fuck that shit we’re all lushes at the SSSS.

My brother, sister and I acting “civilly” during this tumultuous experience

The shenanigans occur at Harusaki, a sleepy sushi joint 364 days out of the year but when we show up for the SSSS, the place gets ROCKIN.  They usually can’t accommodate everyone at the same time but most people stop by in waves, to say “What’s up, I haven’t called you in seven years but hey, Merry Christmas” take a shot and leave.  The sushi is damn good and they have a great sake variety but mostly we go there for sentimental reasons.  Like that one time Joe puked for an hour in the bathroom and came right back to drink some more.

  • Trash-Meter:  5 out of 10 normally, but on SSSS it’s a full blown 10 (10 being pretty fucking trashy).
  • Alcohol Intake:  Overly excessive.  The sake keeps coming even if you don’t ask for it.  Hot sake is the best.
  • Chance of getting laid: If you’re not spewing vomit by the time you’re done, SSSS is known for post-sushi hook-ups in the parking lot.
  • Final verdict: What’s more Christmas-like than gorging yourself on Japanese cuisine?  Join us on December 22 if you dare (and especially if the world doesn’t end because this night will most likely be the end of the world as we know it).
282 Merrick Road, Rockville Centre NY 11570
Neighborhoods: Suburban Long Island. Short walk from the Rockville Centre train station.

Trashy Travel Thursdays: 123BurgerShotBeer

Photo by amcdaniel83

$1 burger sliders?  $2 shots?  $3 beers?  ALL DAY LONG?  It couldn’t be true, it just couldn’t.

Holy fucking shit, I found a bar in New York City where I could afford to drink my issues away and not eat cat food for the rest of the week.

123BurgerShotBeer is the kind of place that looks like a total sports bar – glaringly bright lights, high-top seating and huge TV screens play the latest in popular athletics.  Waitresses walk around like they are auditioning to work at Hooters, wearing orange cheekster hot pants and t-shirts cut off at the midriff.  The only difference is, patrons come for the cheap-as-hell booze, not ogle titties.  Despite all this flair however, 123BurgerShotBeer is either totally empty, or full of douchebags.

Doesn’t stop me from sitting at the bar with a couple of friends from graduate school.  We all intern aka slave away 40 hours a week for free at various non-profit organizations in the city, so we’re poor as fuck.  Getting wasted off $3 beers sounds mighty fine to me.  Add to that our regular bartender, Paul, who’d like to sleep with all three of us, and you got yourself a guaranteed $15 tab every night.

Let’s start with the $1 sliders.  Posher versions of a White Castle burger taste best when dipped in an array of homemade sauces, to distract you from the fact that you are probably eating Soylent Green.  At $2 a shot, your choices range anywhere from Sour Apple Pucker Schnapps-infused juices to cranberry-flavoured medicine cups of shitty alcoholic concoctions.  Whatever, us underpaid girls go to town and who doesn’t fancy the idea of shouting “SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS!” in the bar?  For $3 you have your choice of some standard draught beers, ranging from Bud Light to Shock Top to my personal favorite, Magner’s Cider (aka alcoholic apple juice).

When we’re feeling even trashier, each of us orders a 100oz beer tower for $30 a pop.  That’s when the frat douches and wanna-be Barney Stinsons try and grab our asses, but a stiletto heel jammed into their foot stops prevents any sort of date rape.   Sometimes I even get to drunkenly sing “Rock Lobster” during karaoke night to a crowd of inebriated assholes who cheer me on despite my ridiculous song choice.

  • Trash-Meter:  8 out of 10 (10 being pretty fucking trashy).
  • Alcohol Intake:  Extensive. Take advantage of the cheap-ass booze.
  • Chance of getting laid: Very likely, if obese sports fans tickle your fancy.
  • Final verdict: If you want to experience NYC but can’t justify coughing up $10 for a Miller Light, get here. Quick
738 10th Ave
(between 50th St & 51st St)
New York, NY 10019
Neighborhoods: Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown West