675 Hudson Street at 13th St.
New York, NY 10014
Walk one step too far and you’ll miss the well-concealed entrance to this hipster haven that harkens back to an era of elite speakeasies. Descend down the narrow staircase into a brick-lined hallway defined by a series of rounded nooks, each one featuring a different type of game (like “dirty” Jenga) where you and your group can drink and socialize in quasi-seclusion. Leave at any time to mix and mingle with an exceptionally diverse crowd ranging in age and profession. The drinks are expensive, but exotic (the Macchu Fizz stings, in a good way) while the food (definitely check out the chocolate covered bacon) is a step-up from the standard pub menu. A perfect destination for large groups, just make sure to get there early as a gigantic line begins to form on weekends.
Happy Ending Lounge
302 Broome St.
New York, NY 10002
A former massage parlor, Happy Ending Lounge is situated in a trendy neighborhood and garners the quintessential hipster, making for a consistently interesting crowd. Stay on the main floor for dim lighting and good conversation, or maneuver to the basement, complete with DJ and tiled booths that were once massage rooms. While the drink menu is fairly original and ambitious, it’s still somewhat experimental, so stay in your comfort zone to avoid disappointment.
93 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10003
With DJs and live bands playing on most nights, and an actual art gallery in the back, you’ll find yourself tapping into your creative side. The setting, intentionally “raw” and gritty, draws in a who’s who list of hipster archetypes: the tortured poet; the politically savvy college student; the offbeat artist; the musically inclined guy who wears that knitted cap no matter how hot it is outside. While Lit will allow you to relive your college days, doing so will cost you, as drinks are anything but cheap.
108 Bedford Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Recently highlighted as “a hipster bar without hipsters,” this Brooklyn-based bar poses as a local watering hole, but betrays fashionable cornerstones. Do not expect a raucous crowd or mind-bending riffs from a live band, as the clientele is tame–maybe even lethargic–making it a great setting for a conversation with that old friend you’ve been meaning to see for weeks. With a solid beer selection and a surprisingly eclectic cocktail menu, The Gibson serves as the ideal retreat for the aging hipster.
158 Ludlow St.
New York, NY 10002
Featuring a steady line-up of NYC’s best up-and-coming indie acts, Pianos has become a staple of hipster culture. While the long lines and large crowds get tiresome over weekends, it makes for an excellent happy hour locale during the week and provides an intimate setting for live shows that is unmatched by a majority of Manhattan venues. While it may not become a staple in the routine, it’s an interesting alternative that is sure to provide a story or two.
Matt Thomas is a freelance writer who has published articles and stories in The Village Voice, Examiner.com, The Worcester Review, The Journal of American Culture, and many others. His work can be found at Examiner.com.