Open bars aren’t just for cruise ships, weddings, and alumni events where you’re supposed to drink a lot of warm champagne and donate money. They’re also perfect for birthdays - provided you can locate one that’s reasonably affordable. So if you have a party coming up, and you want to find a place where you and your friends can have drinks without having to keep track of who’s buying the next round, here are a bunch of great options, with prices per person. (Needless to say, you should get in touch with your bar of choice to work out the details.)
The Deal: $30 For Two Hours Of Beer/Wine, $10 For Each Additional Hour; $45 For Two Hours Of Mid-Level Liquor/Beer/Wine, $20 For Each Additional Hour; $55 For Two Hours Of Top Shelf Liquor/Beer/Wine, $22 For Each Additional Hour
Printers Alley is a big Nashville-themed bar in the Garment District where you can sit under an old-timey neon sign and eat a fried chicken sandwich. It’s great for groups, and it’s a convenient place to throw a party if you happen to live or work in Midtown and need a bar where you’ll actually want to hang out.
The Deal: $25 For One Hour Of Beer/Wine, $20 For Each Additional Hour; $30 For One Hour Of Well Liquor/Beer/Wine, $25 For Each Additional Hour; $35 For One Hour Of Premium Liquor/Beer/Wine, $30 For Each Additional Hour
Bars in the general vicinity of the Meatpacking District tend to be pricey, difficult to get into, and/or constantly full of people whose interests include helipads and bottle service. But The Lately is both fun and relatively low-key. It’s in the bottom of the Dream Hotel, and it’s a sleek two-story space, with a big bar up front, a couple of booths, and a little area in the back that has a rug and a fireplace.
The Deal: $12 For One Hour Of Beer/Wine; $14 For One Hour Of Standard Spirits/Beer/Wine; $16 For One Hour Of Premium Spirits/Beer/Wine
If you’re on the Upper West Side and you want to have a low-key party at a good neighborhood spot, go to E’s Bar. It’s just one long room with board games and brick walls, and there are a few different areas you can reserve.
The Deal: $20 For One Hour Of Beer/Wine; $30 For One Hour Of Select Liquor/Beer/Wine (Minimum Of Two Hours)
The Malt House is the rare sort of pub that doesn’t smell like old beer and isn’t filled with sports memorabilia, and it’s one of your best options for a casual group hang in FiDi. There are three floors with exposed brick walls and fancy light fixtures, and there’s some pretty decent bar food.
The Deal: $35 For Two Hours Of Beer, $45 For Three Hours Of Beer, $60 For Four Hours Of Beer; $40 For Two Hours Of Beer/Wine, $50 For Three Hours Of Beer/Wine, $60 For Four Hours Of Beer/Wine; $45 For Two Hours Of House Liquor/Beer/Wine, $55 For Three Hours Of House Liquor/Beer/Wine, $65 For Four Hours Of House Liquor/Beer/Wine; $50 For Two Hours Of Premium Liquor/Beer/Wine, $70 For Three Hours Of Premium Liquor/Beer/Wine, $90 For Four Hours Of Premium Liquor/Beer/Wine
Tavern 29 has high ceilings and chandeliers, which technically makes it classier than most other bars in the area. Mostly, though, it’s a just big pub with a good beer selection, a couple of floors, and a little rooftop where you can hang out in the summertime. If half your friends live uptown and the other half haven’t traveled north of Penn Station since 2009, this is a good compromise.
The Deal: $32 For Two Hours Of Beer/Wine; $46 For Two Hours Of Basic Liquor/Beer/Wine; $54 For Two Hours Of Top Shelf Liquor/Beer/Wine (Minimum Of Two Hours & 25 People)
Turnmill is a big bar with high ceilings, leather booths, and wood-paneled walls. There’s also a little semi-private room in the back with a fireplace, and there are a bunch of TVs in case anyone in your party gets anxiety when sports aren’t immediately accessible.
The Deal: $35 For Two Hours Of Beer/Wine, $10 For Each Additional Hour; $45 For Two Hours Well Liquor/Beer/Wine, $10 For Each Additional Hour; $55 For Two Hours Of Premium Liquor/Beer/Wine, $10 For Each Additional Hour (Minimum Of 20 People)
The Half Pint is only a few feet from NYU, but you won’t feel scared and out of place here if it’s been several years since your last midterm. This is just a nice little pub, and it’s a good option for an open-bar birthday that isn’t too divey or hectic in Greenwich Village. When you want some food, get a big order of fish tacos or bacon-wrapped pickles.
The Deal: $40 For One Hour Of House Liquor/Beer/Wine, $50 For Two Hours Of House Liquor/Beer/Wine
If you’re feeling energetic and want to celebrate in a neighborhood where people stay out late and occasionally stumble while walking through doorways, head over to The Late Late on the Lower East Side. It feels kind of like an old Irish house that someone turned into a nightclub, and there are two floors with plenty of seating.
The Deal: $30 For One Hour Of Beer/Wine; $40 Per Hour Liquor/Beer/Wine; $50 For One Hour Of Premium Liquor/Beer/Wine
Another option on the Lower East Side, The Flower Shop is perfect when you need an impressive-looking place where you might have the sort of night that leads to 4am falafel on St. Marks. It has two floors with a big bar in the basement, and the whole place looks like a suburban home from the 1970s, complete with pool table and fish tank.
The Deal: $40 For Two Hours Of House Liquor/Beer/Wine, $50 For Three Hours Of House Liquor/Beer/Wine (Minimum Of 10 People); $55 For Two Hours Of Premium Liquor/Beer/Wine, $65 For Three Hours Of Premium Liquor/Beer/Wine (Minimum Of 20 People); $70 For Two Hours Of Top Shelf Liquor/Beer/Wine, $80 For Three Hours Of Top Shelf Liquor/Beer/Wine (Minimum Of 20 People)
The main draw of Rattle N Hum is the beer list. They usually have around 40 options on tap, as well as some bottles and cans. But they also have wine and cocktails, as well as bar food like nachos and crab cakes. This isn’t the fanciest bar, but if you need to plan a party near Times Square and you don’t want to have it at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., it’s ideal.
The Deal: $19 For One Hour Of Beer/Wine; $39 For One Hour Of Liquor/Beer/Wine/Specialty Cocktails
There are a lot of things we like about The Penrose, but we don’t go that often because it gets extremely busy, and most of the seats tend to be taken by people on first dates. But if you’re throwing a party, you’re probably looking for a crowd. So try this UES spot.
The Deal: $17 For One Hour Of Beer/Wine; $30 For One Hour Of Liquor/Beer/Wine/Custom Cocktails
The Bonnie is one of our favorite bars in Astoria for several reasons. First off, it looks nice with its tiled floors and big booths. It also has a backyard with picnic tables, as well as some better-than-average bar food. It isn’t really where you go to take shots and have a night you’ll forget about later, but it works well for something slightly more grown-up.
The Deal: $50 For 1.5 Hours Of Tacos/Draft Beer/Wine/Margaritas
Empellon Al Pastor is part late-night taco palace on St. Marks, part bar. It's also a place where you can arrange to pay $50 and eat as many tacos as you want, while also drinking as much as you want. Which is a beautiful thing.
The Deal: $25 For One Hour Of Beer/Wine; $40 For One Hour Of Liquor/Beer/Wine
One benefit of having a party at The Spaniard is that it’s big enough for a group that could easily pass for a reunion. Another is that there are a lot of leather booths. And a third is that, when you get hungry, you can order a patty melt, stick a candle in it, and make your friends sing “Happy Birthday.”
The Deal: $30 For One Hour Of Beer/Wine/Simple Mixed Drinks; $35 For One Hour Of Liquor/Beer/Wine/Select Cocktails
The Wren is one of those places that always seems to be busy. It’s a bar decorated like an upscale farmhouse on a corner in Nolita, and we sometimes walk by, look in the windows, and pretend we’re hanging out with all the people inside. If you and your friends want to actually be those people, plan a party here. There’s also a big downstairs space you can rent out if you want your own private room.
The Deal: $46 For Two Hours Of Beer/Wine, $62 For Two Hours Of Liquor/Beer/Wine/Select Cocktails, $74 For Two Hours Of Premium Liquor/Beer/Wine/All Cocktails
If you’re looking for something on the West side, Porchlight is a great cocktail bar in Chelsea that has chocolate chip cookies on the menu and bartenders who know what they’re doing. There are a few private room options (including a game room for 45 people with a dart board), and hospitality is included in all of their prices.
The Deal: $60 For Two Hours Of Well Liquor/Beer/Wine, $70 For Two Hours Of Premium Liquor/Beer/Wine
This NoHo spot feels partly like a big bar with TVs and partly like a club, and it tends to get crowded with big groups. Which means you and your friends can meet some people you haven’t already been to 15 birthday parties with, and get really competitive about foosball, shuffleboard, and arcade games. Until it hurts someone’s feelings.
The Deal: $15 For One Hour Of Beer/Wine; $27 For One Hour Liquor/Beer/Wine/Custom Cocktails
The deal at this bar in Astoria sounds fake. Because for the same price as your Wednesday lunch, you can drink as much as you want/can in an hour. But it’s real, and this bar also happens to be one of our favorite places to drink in the area. It feels kind of like a mix between a neighborhood pub and a little house in the woods, and you can get a very good burger here.