Hoya Suxa and Aaron Goldfarb, two of New York City's taxpaying residents, give you the goods on where to drink for Pinstripe Bowl weekend.
If you're coming to New York City for the Pinstripe Bowl, you're probably a huckleberry from points other than, well, New York City. As New York City residents, let Hoya Suxa and Aaron Goldfarb clue you in on what to do, what not to do, and how not to totally piss all of us New Yorkers off as you gallivant about town in your not-from-here slack-jawed way.
It's going to be really cold on Saturday for this football game, which raises two important points: (1) Football played outside remains stupid; and (2) You're going to have to fill your belly with some drank -- just not the purple kind, either -- to go wassailing about Yankee Stadium in order to stay warm. Luckily, we have been known, from time to time, to enjoy a drink at some of New York's better establishments. Drinking in New York holds a special kind of importance: If you hit the right joint, you have at your disposal yards and yards of fine beer and spirits to imbibe; end up at the wrong joint and you're drinking gin out of a bathtub that is being mixed by a flapper-gone-by with her foot. This may be the most important piece that we have ever written.
Here's what we recommend you do in terms of drank, and also what your hick upstate uncle may suggest (and what should be summarily ignored):
YOUR HICK UPSTATE UNCLE RECOMMENDS
Bring a flask of Canadian Club and now every bar's a good bar. Fuck New York City prices.
HOYA SUXA RECOMMENDS
Here's the deal: I'm not going to unleash all of my favorites (in fact, I'm going to keep my recommendations to only three joints). I'll give some decent suggestions, but I'm not opening the Ark of the Covenant for two reasons: (1) I may happen to want to frequent one of these places on Saturday, and I don't want to wade through a sea of Big Utica Orange to get some pops; and (2) I don't know how much I can trust you at some of these places. So, I may not be as giving as Goldfarb, but I'll try and set you up right. (Also, I'm not recommending anything in The Bronx, as if the earlier piece on the borough did not make that crystal clear.)
Recommendation I: Bierhaus. I was turned on to this place last year on the night of the Big East Tournament final and I've been popping in and out a few times a month with zero regrets ever since. It's just perfect, unpretentious drinking -- all that's on tap is Hofbrau (probably about four different beers on the lines right now), which makes picking drank simple and streamlined, perfect for getting cooked; there are long picnic-like tables in the seating area, which is great if you're there with a crew and (a) don't care about making a mess, or (b) standing on the table and dancing to some polka music; and the waitresses wear -- how should I say? -- "bosom-positive" Germanwear. Best of all, you may be there for the three-piece polka band that plays Top 40 hits.
Recommendation II: Valhalla. I went back and forth about even putting this here (because I really like it), but if you're willing to haul it over to Hell's Kitchen, I'd be depriving you one of the best tap collections in the city. Another unassuming draught house that will fix you up right before watching Syracuse and West Virginia wreck the over. I don't know how much cash I've pumped into this place over the last year or so, but I should have a lien interest in the joint by now. The last time I went they had Blue Point Oatmeal Stout on tap, which is one of my favorites (and impossible to find outside of the brewery (which looks like a waste transfer facility)) and made me almost masturbate under one of the picnic tables in pure joy. Valhalla has what you want and need -- even if you don't think you want or need it -- and you're a knucklehead if you don't at least try and make a trip.
Recommendation III: Brooklyn Brewery. I'm not the biggest Brooklyn fan in the world -- the Pennant Ale makes me want to grab an ax and make people lose limbs -- but on the whole, Brooklyn is a strong house. If you don't mind riding the L train and traipsing through Williamsburg, you should probably pop off the island for a second and make your way to Brooklyn for a tour and an extended tasting. There's a long-ish selection in the tasting room, and you can order in grub and whatnot. Just a solid joint to relax and get tight.
AARON GOLDFARB RECOMMENDS
My days of drinking for those fun young man reasons (gettin' laid, gettin' together with the boyz, gettin' stories I can write best-selling books about, simply gettin' loaded) are all but passed. Now I'm just a snobby snoot who enjoys high-end tippling alone at early hours before the Stella-swilling masses arrive. Sure, start the day of the Pinstripe Bowl at East End and end it at the Village Pourhouse, but if you're not a hayseed, try and cram in my "best of the best" finer establishments sometime in between.
Craft beer: Blind Tiger is still probably the best craft beer spot Manhattan has to offer, though happy hour at this always-packed Village joint is about as unhappy as it gets--I only go if something uber-rare has just been tapped. I much prefer The Pony Bar, specifically its Hell's Kitchen location, which has a similar but more relaxed vibe (it's owned by a former 44s bartender no less!) and where every single beer is always $5. Alewife is my favorite in Queens (and just one subway stop from Grand Central) and Spuyten Duyvil tops in Brooklyn (though run by pretentious bearded stick figures who will rightly hate you when you ask for "something light"). My off-the-radar Manhattan spots include Cannibal, a charcuterie and craft beer paradise; classy Randolph Beer in Little Italy; Belgian bottle-specialist Jimmy's No. 43; and the French-inspired Cafe D'Alsace uptown. And, I refuse to tell you about my absolute favorite NYC beer spot because it only has about four seats and I probably don't want your Orange Zubaz in one of them. You'll have to run into me and say the secret password (#TacoTime) if you really want to know.
Cocktails: Nowadays, you could pretty much just go to a small stretch of the far East Village near Alphabet City and find most every important cocktail spot in town. My favorite of the moment is Booker & Dax, Dave Arnold's molecular gastronomical tribute to fine drink (you'll never be the same after trying the centrifuge-created Bananas Justino). PDT is always top-notch--their bacon-infused Benton's Old-Fashioned is probably the best drink in town--though I'll let you Google to figure out how to actually get into this quasi-speakeasy. Gin Palace is THE spot for lovers of that botanical'ed up elixir, and where the hell else can you get a G & T on tap? While, Amor y Amargo is a charming little spot for sipping on bitter cocktails made-to-order while wasting away a wasted day. Not able to get to the East Village but still want something mixologist-approved? Try Macao Trading Co. in TriBeCa, Middle Branch in midtown, or J. Bird on the UES. Caveat drinkor: these aforementioned places will make a Blue Moon at Yankee Stadium seem like a bargain.
Wine: I'm not often a wine drinker, and certainly less often a wine bar attendee, but Corkbuzz is unbeatable for fermented grape juice. With a wonderful atmosphere, perfect food pairings (pork and beef ragout with sopapilla, my God), and totally unpretentious sommeliers who will coddle you more than a singin' Cold Stone scooper, this is a perfect date spot. Take that special Orangelady in your life the night before you act like a drunken jackass at the Pinstripe, and if you get her blotto enough, perhaps you'll even get her out of those officially-licensed Hanky Pankies.
Hoya Suxa (@HoyaSuxa) ruins things for everyone at College Crosse. Aaron Goldfarb (@AaronGoldfarb) is the author of How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide and The Cheat Sheet. This is a rare lucid and sober moment for both of them.