Sometimes, the thought of drinking alone conjures up a melancholic film noir – a grim melody hangs in the air, a protagonist solemnly glaring at passersby from a lonely table at a sidewalk cafe, maybe a light rain begins to drizzle for extra impact. In reality, however, an image of a lost soul pretending to text friends or sit nose-deep in an Instagram feed while ignoring a warm beer is probably closer to the truth. But in New York City, the solo drinker has so many options to choose from that a little solitude need not be a bleak activity.
In fact, drinking alone is somewhat of a lost art that, when done correctly, can be a rather pleasant way to spend an evening—and doesn't always have to end in tears, shame, and telltale smears of Artichoke pizza. But one doesn't just join the leagues of moody novelists and George Thorogood on a whim. It requires a little planning. In honor of Valentine's Day, we offer a few suggestions on where and how to imbibe alone in this city without looking like a lost little lamb.
Where to work on that novel
That Great American Novel that you've been working on for, oh, quite some time now still isn't going to write itself. And certainly not sober. Perhaps this is why cafes around town have started expanding their drink menus to include a booze column. With a full fledged bar and rotating list of seasonal cocktails, check out The West in Williamsburg or V Bar & Cafe in SoHo where the drinks come with good Wi-Fi. If you're getting a little inspiration by reading other people's GANs, curl up on one of the couches at Shervin's Cafe in the East Village, where they dim the lights, play a little soft hipster music and serve wine and beer well into the evening.
Where to chat with the bartender
Bartenders hold tremendous power. One quick side eye could send you running for the doors, or a quiet grin could have you there well past your bedtime. For tipplers of the uber friendly kind, hit Marshall Stack on the Lower East side where the bartenders toe that weird line between fratty and rocker and are incredibly amiable. Or head over to St. Marks Place for a pint at East Village Social. If the folks behind the bar don’t keep you company, then the fried pickles and live music will get the job done. Across the river, meander off the beaten path of Bedford Ave. into Zablozki's. It’s a mellow hang where the bartenders still believe in the old way of thinking, offering up a drink on-the-house to good-natured patrons and regulars.
Where to sip and watch the beautiful people
Ah, the beautiful people. Truly, they’re everywhere in this city. And sometimes you have to just stop and observe them in their natural habitat, basking in the ridiculously good-looking glow of each other. (Or in the self-centered glow of themselves.) Either way, hit up the bar at the Ace Hotel, which has long been the spot to be seen without looking like you want to be seen. The bar at the NoMad Hotel just down the street, is a go-to for the power set for after-work drinks. Head here early and enjoy guys loosening their $300 ties and ladies loosening their standards.
Where to get picked up
Because, hey, you're human (and hey, it is V-day), sometimes you want to start the night off on your own, but end the night with a fun new…friend. Luckily the unofficial mantra of this city is the one-night fling. For fans of the opposite sex, Wilfie & Nell in the West Village and Night of Joy in Williamsburg are both a sure bet for meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right-Now, as they’re packed full of the young, beautiful and slightly bohemian set. For boys who love boys, Barracuda in Chelsea and Metropolitan in East Williamsburg tend to be especially welcoming to the Lone Ranger type.
Where to dance like no one’s watching
Sometimes slipping out into the night solo is best done on the abyss of a crowded dance floor. We’re all about blending into the moving masses to try out some new moves amongst inebriated strangers. (Because, you know, they won’t make fun of us the next day at brunch.) Williamsburg’s Cameo Gallery tucked into the back of The Loving Cup, and Glasslands can both be counted on for a weekend dance party worth getting gussied up for. Over in the East Village the darkwave-centric ‘80s jams are always blaring across the cavernous dance floor in the back of Pyramid. (Excuse us as we get our Billy Idol on.)
This article was originally produced for the Scoutmob NYC daily newsletter.