The East Village has carved out its own identity as a neighborhood on the Lower East Side, thanks largely to the bohemian artists, authors, musicians and poets who moved there in the 1950s and ‘60s, bringing a gritty, eclectic vibe. Today? The East Village is a barhopper’s dream. You can toss back a beer in a great dive, then stroll a block to meet a mixologist creating some of America’s best cocktails. The neighborhood is still small, still charming, largely local and wonderfully unfussy. Here are four drinking establishments that appeal to diverse tastes — all within a few blocks of one another.
DEATH & COMPANY
Dark and sultry, chandelier-lit and sexy, the décor in this low-ceiling speakeasy is almost as alluring as the main event — the massive cocktail list. The tome spans from approachable, shaken quaffs to more austere options like stirred sherry or over-proof rum libations. Reservations are recommended.
• Order: The Evil Dead Punch ($42, serves 6), with Santa Teresa 1796 Solera rum, St. Germain, Bonal, orange juice, lime juice, apricot liqueur, spices, sugar and bitters.
• Details: 433 E. Sixth St.; 212-388-0882; deathandcompany.com
BEST DIVE: LUCY’S
Before entering, polish your Polish. Proprietor/bartender Ludwika Mickevicius hails from there. Affectionately called “Lucy” by locals, she has been a East Village institution for decades. Inside her joint, the linoleum is beer-stained, as are the two pool tables. Examine your cue for damage before playing, but the Miller High Life is freezing and cheap ($4). The jukebox is one of the best in town, and chatting with Lucy is a rare charm.
• Details: Lucy’s, 135th Avenue A; 212- 673-3824
Some nights, it’s hard to tell the bartenders from the customers at Evelyn. It’s part of what makes the rustic space darling — that mix of service industry clientele and the neighborhood’s thirsty. There are also cute touches (tin cans on strings in the bathrooms so you can talk to the person in the neighboring john) and tasty ones (house-made sodas, sparkling in seasonal libations).
• Drink: Anything. From the draft beer to the cocktails ($4-$19), these guys sell delicious quality.
• Details: 171 Avenue C; http://evelynnyc.com/
BEST FOR SOLO TRAVELERS:
SAKE BAR SATSKO
New York is intimidating. Even more so if you are alone. Don’t stay in your hotel. Head to Satsko for a glass of sake and one of the best burgers in Manhattan. Sure, sake doesn’t scream “eat a burger,” but the atmosphere in this tiny place does. The USA Burger ($12) with basil/wasabi mayo is killer. The sake list is well-stocked ($8-$16/glass). The walls are covered in Polaroid photos of past patrons, bathed in red glow from rouge bulbs. Satsko seats about 20, and the actual bar area is so small that everyone is part of the same conversation. You will make friends. There simply isn’t another option when drinking here.
• Details: 202 E. Seventh St.; 212-614-0933; satsko.com