For those with an unrefined palate, it is not hard to find a generic Irish pub within a stone’s throw of the GraduateCenter. Just walk west from 5th Ave on either 35th or 33rd St and you will know what I am talking about. Many a department will tell you that O’Reilly’s is the place to be for a post-class beer.
However, I am snootier about my drinks. I freely admit that I wouldn’t drink a Coors if you paid me to—a high bar to set myself, considering I am a poor grad student. So for the rest of you out there who are like me and prefer your beers non-industrially produced or your cocktails made by hipsters in suspenders, let me propose three of my favorite NYC waterholes—all within two blocks of the GC’s front door.
First up is Rattle’N’Hum on 33rd St between Madison and 5th Ave. They have 40 beers on tap at any given time, with a healthy number of bottled options as well. They decorate the place with taps and paraphernalia from beers gone by. Food-wise, this is a tough place for a vegetarian like myself, though the Portobello Mushroom Sliders are very good (the dilly bean on top is an inspiration) and their fries (brined in IPA before frying) are delicious either alone, or with Murray’s cheddar melted on top. If you go after work, I do have to admit that it fills up with more suits than a grad student might like, but you can bring a friend and help colonize it from the 5th Ave locals. Every extra person in jeans drinking there is a victory.
Another beer haven awaits you one block in the opposite direction: on 35th St between Madison and 5th Ave is The Ginger Man. I have not eaten here (other than for a hot pretzel which was slightly underwhelming), so I cannot comment on the food aspect of this establishment. However, the beer menu here is at least the equal of Rattle’N’Hum’s, and the space is a bit roomier feeling. And if you are lucky enough get there before the place fills up, there is an area with armchairs for group lounging. The main downside is that I have seemed to notice a few tourists lurking about; now that you are moving to NYC, you don’t want to be seen around those riffraff.
Finally, on 35th St between 5th and 6th Ave is the newly opened bar The Liberty. Here you will find a few good beers on tap (my comrade was angry: there wasn’t even a single Bud/Miller/Coors to be found in either bottle or draft…I took this to be a fantastic sign) but can also satisfy your thirst for something a little stronger. The house cocktails are all inspired by NYC’s five boroughs—yes, even Staten Island—and the few I have had were very nice, as were the suspenders of the bartenders who made them. The Billyburg was especially awesome in that you almost get two drinks for the price of one: they open a can of Brooklyn Lager to use only a splash in the cocktail and then let you keep the rest to drink separately. The Tempura Green Beans allow you to eat something fried and delicious and yet pretend you are being healthy. If you have a group going, check the large area downstairs for extra space. All in all, a fun addition to the neighborhood.
Enjoy the drinking delights of our neighborhood, both snooty and otherwise. Remember: beer good!