If the entertainment at your neighborhood bar consists of only a a broken juke box and a shabby pool table, it’s time to switch up your nightlife routine. Manhattan has plenty of bars that pair drinking with fun activities to keep you happy and entertained until the wee hours of the morning.
Join hardcore music enthusiasts at Pianos, one of the Lower East Side’s favorite bar/lounge/live-music venues. On Monday nights, the bar hosts Smartass Rock and Roll Trivia, a fun, 3-round contest that tests your classic rock IQ and rewards winning teams with free drinks. After Smartass, stick around for Karaoke Killed the Cat and watch aspiring rock stars rev the crowd with soul-draining versions of Don’t Stop Believing and Total Eclipse of the Heart.
- Location: 158 Ludlow Street, between Stanton & Rivington Streets. 212.505.3733.
- Get there: F/V trains to 2nd Avenue
- The Big Easy
The Big Easy is all about rowdiness, booze, Beirut, and more booze. No, seriously. Ask for a prissy-sounding cocktail and get tequila thrown in your face. Join recent college grads and Delta House wannabes as they go shot for shot trying to win a spot at the Beirut table, where players mean business and stay until they lose. Or until they find someone just as drunk to make out with. Let’s put it this way – if at any point you’re still sober enough to remember your name and rerack the cups, you didn’t have a good time.
- Location: 1768 2nd Avenue at 92nd Street. 212-348-0879.
- Get there: 6 train to 96th Street
- Dive 75
Stop in at this popular neighborhood local on the Upper West Side to enjoy a game of Battleship or Connect 4 and sample one of the 20 beers on tap. If all of the games are taken, munch on free candy, watch a ball game or bond with the tropical fish swimming around the bar’s huge aquarium. A great staff, friendly patrons and a chill atmosphere make it a perfect spot to check out any day of the week.
- Location: 101 West 75th Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam. 212-362-7518.
- Get there: 1/2/3 trains to 72nd Street
- Common Ground
The crystal chandeliers, old-school board games, and dark wooden shelves lined with leatherbound books make this Victorian-esque East Village pub so quaint it kills you. Which is exactly why you should order a round of Jager bombs and play a loud and obnoxious game of Jenga with your friends.
- Location: 206 Avenue A, between 12th & 13th Streets. 212.228.6231.
- Get there: L train to 1st Avenue
- Slate PLUS
Slate was created for all the hyper-masculine guys who get dragged to Chelsea nightclubs by their girlfriends and spend the entire night shuffling around the dance floor pretending to have a good time. Sneak below the sleek lounge and dance area and find a spacious lower level full of beer-chugging guys high-fiving each other over games of pool, ping pong, and foosball. Comfy couches are nearby so those less inclined to competition can sit back, sip their Lychee-tinis and enjoy the games.
- Location: 54 West 21st Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues. 212.989.0096
- Get there: F/V, R/W trains to 23rd Street
- Cheap Shots
This dive bar brings you back to your days spent playing air hockey in your parent’s half-finished basement with some buddies over a six-pack of Natty light. At Cheap Shots, order pitchers and shots for even less than you spent back then and put the money you save towards extra games on the black light air hockey table. At $1 per game, you’ll be there for a while. Sweet.
- Location: 140 1st Avenue, between St. Marks and 9th Street.212.254.6631
- Get there: F/V trains to 2nd Avenue, 6 train to Astor Place
- Bowlmor Lanes
With a full restaurant, completely revamped bar and sophisticated VIP lounge, you almost don’t notice the cheesy retro décor at Bowlmor Lanes. Fortunately, it’s just enough to remind you that you’re at a bowling alley and not some posh loft party in TriBeCa. After you finish your martini, order a few beers, lace up those smelly rental shoes and bowl your heart out.
- Location: 110 University Place, between 12th and 13th Streets. 212.255.8188
- Get there: N/R/Q/W, 4/5/6, L trains to Union Square-14th Street