I hail from Philly, the land of cheesesteaks and smokey, nasty, dirt-cheap dive bars. Aaaah, how I miss them.
Pro-tip: the true mark of a Philly dive bar is the Citywide Special– a shot of cheap whiskey and a PBR for $3-$5. In Philly, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a dive bar with the Citywide Special, described by a local bar owner as, "training wheels for young alcoholics on a budget."
However, as you might have noticed, in NYC, the cheapest drink on most menus is $10. But I was homesick and determined, so I set out on a quest to find the cheapest, divey-est bars in New York.
Here's a list of what I've found so far, all offering a beer+shot combo for $8 or less.
So hit up the ATM for some cash, skip the shower, and check out these dive bars for a night of heavy drinking on a budget.
1. B-Side (204 Avenue B)
This East Village dive is owned by the drummer of Demander, so it goes without saying that the jukebox is dope AF.
This popular local spot has a punk-glam-rocker vibe, DJ on Sundays and Mondays, and half-price drink happy hours. The $5 PBR + cheap whiskey shot combo is as authentic as you can get for this Philly booze queen.
2. The Library (7 Avenue A)
Another East Village haunt for the pop-culture guru... this is the place to be if you like to be surrounded by old books (duh), old movies, and old music.
The wall in the back is always silently projecting eclectic older movies, from Scarface to nude workout tapes, and the jukebox is full of 60s-70s punk, and a wide selection of grunge and alternative music.
Hit up the two-for-one drink deals, from 5-8 p.m., for generally reasonably priced beverages, served with tiny plastic action figures. The beer+shot combo is $8 normally, and $5 after midnight, so hit it up after catching a show at the Mercury Lounge across the street.
3. Blue & Gold Tavern (79 East 7th Street)
This watering hole is as divey as they come. The below-ground haunt is your classic, no-frills dive bar- complete with pool tables, jukebox, and cash only, but dirt cheap dranks.
The median drink price is $5, and if you're a scotch connoisseur, they've got an impressive selection.
Happy hour starts at 4 p.m. and goes until the bartender calls it– so be nice. For being such a straight-forward dive, they've actually got some of the more creative beer+shot combos ranging from $5-$6.
Highlights include the "Redneck"- Genny Cream and Jim Beam and the "Dirty Hipster"- classy PBR and a shot of Jäger.
4. Rudy’s Bar & Grill (627 9th Avenue)
Rudy's is a midtown staple, and provides ideal dive bar ambience with duct taped vinyl booths, small, dirty bathrooms, and the pervading aroma of stale beer.
The bartenders and patrons will transport you to that dive bar in your middle-of-nowhere hometown, with a 70-year-old man who has been there since 8 a.m. on your left, and a young, hip, European tourist on your right (you are in Midtown, Manhattan, after all– you can't feel that transported).
House beers are $3-$4 and you can get a pitcher for $8. Beer+shot combos for $5.
Pro-Tips: This one's cash only too, folks. But ask for a hot dog and you get a free hot dog. That simple. Just ask. Free. Hot dog. Also, there is a back yard for warmer weather and smokers.
5. Iron Horse NYC (32 Cliff Street)
This FiDive (get it?) should cover your wild night out meets dive bar needs. Cheap food/drink deals, and beer shot combos ranging from $7-$8.
The real draw is the giant sign that reads: GET YOUR ASS ON THE BAR at your own risk. Oh, and there’s a giant working swing over the bar. Oh, and when you get off the bartender will whip you. Oh, and if you dance on the bar for an entire song you get a free shot. Oh, and there is wheel of death drink roulette.
Basically hit this place up for all of your bachelor/ette partying on a budget needs.
6. Do or Dive (1108 Bedford Avenue - Brooklyn)
This Bed-Stuy joint has got what you’re lookin’ for in a cozy dive bar. Old-timey beer memorabilia. Menu items posted sporadically around the bar.
We’ll save you some time looking for the signs and let ya know they’ve got wine for $7, cocktails for $8, beer from $5-$7.
They’ve got your standard beer+shot combos, but they also have some nasty ones for the true booze hound.
If you’re brave enough, try The Ring of Fire - a shot of tequila followed by a shot of Bloody Mary and then a baby glass of beer. See how long it takes to live up to it's name!
Or buckle up and try The Bear Fight- an Irish Car Bomb followed by a Jägerbomb. "Feels like a bear fight in your belly," says the sadistic bartender.
7. Red Hook Bait & Tackle (320 Van Brunt Street - Brooklyn)
The location was formerly a social club and make-shift bait shop for the local fisherman. It was cheaper and easier to keep the existing sign, so the place became the Bait and Tackle.
This dive bar is quirky and confusing in that it's essentially a museum for animal taxidermy, but you can bring your dog inside with you. Maybe just avoid if you’re a PETA supporter, and if you do bring your pup, keep a close eye on him?
Drink selects are cheap, and the beer+shot combo is the go-to order, so you won’t feel left out. The real draw is that it’s the Disneyland of creepy kitsch. And they have pinball machines!
Heads up though, cash only.
8. Broadway Dive (2662 Broadway)
For $6, it’s the cheapest beer+shot combo on the UWS!
A large and eclectic beer selection, reasonably priced food, and you can even take home bottles and growlers.
Full of kitsch and that cozy neighborhood vibe.
Try the pickled eggs to wash down your Jameson.
9. Harlem Nights (2361 7th Avenue)
Rounding out our list is Harlem Nights- log cabin on the outside, hip live music lounge on the inside.
This place doesn't necessarily scream dive bar ambience-wise, but the cheap drinks and cool vibe land it a spot on the list.
$3 beer specials, $5 infused shots, drinks range from $3-$5 during happy hour, and $6 shots on the reg.
The beer+shot combo is $8, putting it on the pricier side of our list, but the sweet and savory pies, comfort food bar snacks, live music, and wide range of funky and cheap drink options make Harlem Nights our new favorite dive-bar-pricing-meets-cool-nightlife-lounge pick.[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]