169 Bar is one of those places that I knew about before it was cool. Okay, so maybe I found out about it right when its chill stock was declining; when hoards of young hip wannabes like myself were beginning to flock to its open doors, and blow any semblance of a mysterious neighborhood dive it might’ve maintained.
But who cares. I don’t care. I don’t care it’s not cool anymore because I still like it and cool is really about not caring anyways, right?
The decor is kitschy, with a side of nautical. Its sprinkled with details more fitting of a pirate ship or 70s shag pad than an NYC bar; a miniature Gogo dancer pedestal, a fish tank, a mermaid embellished oyster bar, and a cheetah print billiards table. Their bare-bones website boasts the spot’s impressive history, proclaiming; “Open since 1916, formerly known as the “Bloody Bucket,” mothers would tell their children to cross the street to avoid, one of the last, oldest & original bars, in one of the last original hoods in Manhattan!”
Along with a drink menu that will make your toes curl (think oyster shooters, and a Dirty Pickle Martini so very dirty you’ll squirm), 169 Bar also has a food menu, with items available until the wee hours of the morning–when you’re just drunk enough to gorge yourself on greasy dumplings, and rejoice in the availability of microwave popcorn bags.
They’ve also recently implemented a service where you can text the bartender an order from your table, so that you don’t have to fight through the crowds of people congregating at the bar–a modern twist on the inside of this time capsule.
If you find yourself on that elusive stretch, somewhere between LES and Chinatown, head over to 169 Bar, at 169 East Broadway…but don’t tell them I told you about it.
Featured photo by Alper Cugun.