Kids all love Halloween in the same way. Candy abounds, decorum goes out the window and you get to pretend to be anything you can dream up, no questions asked.
Unfortunately, all of the elements that make the night so charming for children are a recipe for disaster for grownups. Replace candy with alcohol and you get belligerent, entitled sexy cats and Supermen. Grownup bad behavior tends less toward TPing trees and prank-calling teachers and more toward starting fights and puking on your shoes.
On the other side are the Halloween purists, those who would rather sit in the dark with a bowl of peeled grapes—or are they eyeballs?—and a stack of ’80s B movies. We’d rather repeat “Bloody Mary” into the bathroom mirror than spend an evening with the first group, but the trick-or-treater’s pull to wander the cool autumn streets can be too hard to resist. Luckily, while most of the city’s bars are overrun with Halloween novices, there are a few places that manage to weed out the swarm and let you play pretend at your own speed.
Walk down Avenue B between Second and Third streets and you’ll see a number of bars. The one you won’t see, however, is the only one worth going into—Idle Hands, at 25 Avenue B downstairs. Even with the address, you may not catch it on the first pass or you may accidentally wander into Billy Hurricane’s, the New Orleans-themed neon pit at street level. On either side of that blazing storefront guaranteed to have lured sexy cops and robbers like moths to a zapper, however, are unmarked steel doors and unassuming stairwells that will lead you down to a haven of rock ‘n’ roll and civility.
Run by a triumvirate of ex-music industry types, the bar houses an amazing collection of original tour posters from the last two decades as well as the city’s largest bourbon selection and a diverse craft beer roster that rotates regularly. Settle in to the Edison-bulb-lit basement den, get a bourbon recommendation or three and wait for your favorite headbanging classic to come on the soundtrack. Perfect for those dressed as: Ronnie James Dio, Joan Jett.
PKNY (49 Essex St., betw. Hester & Grand Sts.) is an ode to two seemingly conflicting eras gone by: the tiki kitsch heyday of the ’50s and the New York of the ’70s. The entrance is unmarked save for the perpetually closed, graffitied shutters marked with the words “Tiki Bar.” Passersby might suspect the place is an abandoned relic of the Lower East Side’s uglier days, caught in a drug sting gone bad and left untouched because no one could be bothered to clean up the mess.
The drinks are no kitsch afterthought, though—the bar’s owners have worked at the who’s who of New York’s cocktail revival, including Milk & Honey and Little Branch, and are the proprietors of Dutch Kills in Queens. Pick a category of beverage from suffering bastards, daiquiris, swizzles and more, tell the server what you’re in the mood for and let the bartenders ply their housemade syrups, fresh fruit juices and connoisseur’s liquor collection into a deliciously deadly concoction. Perfect for those dressed as: The Warriors extras, Bunny Yeager.
Should you be unlucky enough to find yourself in the West Village on Halloween night, don’t despair that you’re doomed to a night of dodging parade leftovers. 124 Rabbit Club (124 MacDougal St. at Minetta Lane), though in the heart of the Bleecker/ MacDougal Street axis of NYU evil, lurks safely below street level. Getting to the door requires navigation of a precariously steep steel stairwell, a challenge to the perfectly reasonable and downright impossible to a sexy nurse in six-inch heels.
Inside, ancient brick and discreetly baroque fixtures give the place a decaying Southern feel, more Tara post-fire than Mardi Gras. It’s spookier than a bowl of eyeballs and twice as grown up. Perfect for those dressed as: Elizabeth Taylor in Suddenly, Last Summer, Truman Capote.
Idle Hands on Avenue B in the East Village is a basement haven for bourbon, beer and rock.
Photo courtesy of www.streetandstage.com
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