Punk Bars that’ll get you Cocked, Stocked, and Ready to Rock

Punk Bars that’ll get you Cocked, Stocked, and Ready to Rock

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Is punk dead? Not quite. Like Lord Voldemort, it’s simply hiding in the shadows, plotting its return when the time is right. But still, a few establishments in the NYC punk rock community remain strong. For the diehard punks and rockers looking for a place to call home, for the bar patrons who don’t quite identify as hipsters or yuppies, and for those who crave a little counter-culture adventure, these bars are for you.

Manitoba’s – Lower East Side

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Where: 99 Avenue B
Owned by “Handsome” Dick Manitoba, front man of the 70’s punk rock and Bronx native band the Dictators, Manitoba’s is a true punk gem. This gritty little dive is a diamond in the rough, although more rough than diamond, but this only adds to its charm. Punk rock memorabilia lines the walls like a well curated exhibit, and the music blasting on the stereo is always on point. Manitoba’s attracts a good crowd, with a very relaxed atmosphere and friendly bartenders (don’t be intimidated by the leather, spikes, and tats on both patrons and employees). The drinks are pretty standard, yet sufficiently strong. If you’re still not convinced of Manitoba’s greatness, punk rock legend Joan Jett donated a signed guitar to raise money to keep the bar open after some financial troubles in early 2015. If Joan Jett’s opinion can’t sway you, then you might want to find a new scene. Long live Manitoba’s.


Clockwork Bar – Lower East Side

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Where: 21 Essex St
Oh Clockwork. The term “dive bar” is thrown around a lot, but Clockwork sets the precedent. It’s dark and grungy, small and often crowded, and you’ll have to yell over the music, for the most part. Almost every inch of this place is covered in graffiti- walls, tables, chairs, all of it. It’s beautiful. Remember that punk-squatter house from the1998 film SLC Punk? Clockwork is that house and is home to that crowd. You’ll either get a beer or a simple soda/tonic and some kind of liquor, and you’ll like it, dammit. Somewhat intense, Clockwork has a “punks only” atmosphere, but not in a negative way. As long as you can keep up and look tough, you’ll have fun.

Rudy’s – Hell’s Kitchen

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Where: 627 9th Ave
Also an authentic dive bar, Rudy’s is one of the few hang outs in Hell’s Kitchen that’s not a gay bar or strip club (not to say that there’s anything wrong with either, they both have their merits). You’ll know it by the giant cartoonish pig statue outside, a welcoming figure for patrons old and new. The two defining features of Rudy’s are the free, delicious hot dogs with every drink and the “patio” area out back. Maybe it’s just the taste of no money spent, but these hot dogs are the best you’ll find in NYC. As for the patio, it resembles something that might have been a basement at one point, and someone had the brilliant idea to rip the roof off. There are tables and chairs out there, and a projector that often shows sporting events in such a massive size that it takes up an entire wall. Rudy’s is great any night of the week, especially for those new to the dive scene.

Home Sweet Home – Lower East Side

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Where: 131 Chrystie St

Home Sweet Home is more Goth than punk, but still wonderful in every way. From the taxidermy animals adorning the area around the bar, to the crystal chandeliers and the disco ball gleaming over the dance floor, Home Sweet Home resembles where a rock n’ roll vampire might drink (Only Lovers Left Alive, anyone?). This basement hangout makes a mean cocktail, has an excellent sound system, and occasionally a live DJ. Excellent for dancing on the weekends, or relaxing in a dimly lit booth with a drink and an interesting conversation, Home Sweet Home is the Goth kid you always wanted to talk to in high school, but never had the nerve.


Cobra Club – Bushwick

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Where: 6 Wyckoff Ave
Cobra Club is just plain punk rock and hipster fun. It’s a raucous party at night, with pretty good cocktails, a pool table, and occasional live music, and it doubles as a café and yoga studio (in the back room) during the day. But most importantly, it’s an excellent karaoke spot. The Kings of Karaoke host karaoke a couple nights a week in the back room, equipped with a tiny stage, and plenty of space for dancing. All are welcome to sing, dance, or simply sit with a drink and take it all in. Whatever you choose to do, it’ll be a good time for those interested in a little excitement.

Double Down Saloon – Lower East Side

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Where: 14 Avenue A  
“Shut Up and Drink”. Double Down Saloon’s slogan wastes no words telling you exactly how your night is about to go down. The music is always blasting, whether it be a song from the exceptionally well stocked juke box, or a live band playing for the raucous crowd in back. The walls are covered in a fabulous array of graffiti, stickers, and cheeky murals (a topless mermaid with a dagger, a chaotic scene of debauchery and darkness under the tagline “The Happiest Place On Earth”). It’s all thrills and no frills, so pick your poison. Play some pool or an arcade game, catch a live show, ride the mechanical (punk) rocking horse, but most of all, DRINK. Double Down is home of the fabled “Ass Juice”, a mysterious, murky, yet delicious concoction. Don’t bother asking what’s in it; The bartenders will never tell, so just shut up and drink.



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