Passing the Bar: Superdive

Written by Cate Smithson on . Posted in Eat & Drink, Posts.

IT’S NOT EVERY day that a bar offers you the chance to wax nostalgic and pay homage to your not-so-distant youth— save for the ritualistic “Don’t Stop Believin’” jukebox sing-along—but Superdive is bound and determined to change all that. Located on rapidly douchifying Avenue A, this plastic-cup-wielding, keg service-offering beer pong hot spot is the stuff of frat-boy dreams—in a good way. We think.

“We’re booked through September on keg service,” said Alex Mynatt, a bartender at Superdive, which opened earlier this month. Mynatt credited online press as the secret to the bar’s straight-out-the-gate success: When word gets out that you let customers actually mix their own drinks, the masses are bound to get curious.

“People ask us, ‘why do you expect us to tip you if we’re the ones making the drinks?’” said Mynatt, who teaches the often heavy-handed pourer how to shake, stir and twist like a pro. “It’s obvious. Because we’re the only bar that lets you do that.” Stingy people! At $6 per cocktail and $5 for any one of four beers on tap, 20 percent’s a pittance.

On a recent Sunday night, the crowd at Superdive looked to be a small group of soon-to-be regulars steadily trickling in, some delighting in their turn to play bartender or DJ by scrolling through the bar’s iTunes library. But the large space remained mostly empty: no one forcing his way into the spotlight on the bar’s massive piano, no women occupying the isolated row of chairs one website lovingly deemed “the fuck-off seats.” Um, what part of $6 cocktails are people not grasping?

Across the street, fellow newcomer Destination (a side project of the folks at Bowery Wine Co.) markets itself as a measured departure from the dive-bar circuit, with fewer—or rather, different— bells and whistles. Step inside the front door, which is guarded by something akin to a bridge’s troll, and bask in the trendy glow of low lighting, lounge seating and specialty cocktails.Would you like a champagne-based drink known as the Mile High Club? Of course you would. What about a margarita Jell-O shot, complete with a gummy worm, or a gooey snack aptly named the rice whiskey treat?

Destination promises to start cooking up food more substantial than alcoholic candies, but for now the menu is all liquid. And yummy! The Truck Stop Lemonade or the Slappledapolous Islands Rum Punch are perfect examples of the dangers that come with mixing drinks well enough that the alcohol is all but tasteless. Our advice? Stop by Destination for an after-work cocktail or beer—there are 10 on tap—and then do your heavy hitting at Superdive. A good stop along the way, Destination is a perfectly remodeled low-key hangout, but there’s nothing to write home about behind that swanky facade. Take a Jell-O shot for the road, though, just to be safe.

> Superdive

200 Ave. A (betw. E. 12th & E. 13th Sts.), 646- 448-4854

> Destination

211 Ave. A (betw. E. 13th & E. 14th Sts.), 212- 388-9844