Mixology is a high art in New York, but night after night of chartreuse this and butter-infused that gets a little tedious. Some of the best nights are spent more simply, with peanut shells on the floor, a few pints of watery beer, and the raucous strumming of a live band. With the honky-tonk Rodeo Bar and Grill closing its doors this summer, you’re in need of new watering holes to quench that homestyle thirst. Fear not — when you and your friends tire of Manhattan’s glitz, glamour, and gimlets, here are four country bars ready to offer grit, grins, and a great escape.
Skinny Dennis – Williamsburg
The sign on the window promises “Cold Beer and Hot Peanuts,” but you want Uncle Willie’s Frozen Coffee — dangerously sweet with bourbon, coffee liqueur, and brandy. Above the bar you’ll find a black velvet portrait of ol’ Willie himself, completing the plethora of ’70s décor and taking you straight from Brooklyn to a Deep South dive bar. Local country outfits perform nearly every night, so you shouldn’t have a problem scoring some boot-stomping tunes.
Doc Holliday’s – East Village
Three words: nonstop country jukebox. Cowboy boots nailed to the ceiling will remind you this place is the real deal. Homemade signs above the bar keep this joint old-fashioned: no newfangled e-cigarettes (“NO EXCEPTIONS”) and no cell phone use while talking to the bartender. Among your group of friends, there’s only one concern: Who will emerge victorious in a round of Big Buck Hunter or a game of pool?
The Pony Bar – Hell’s Kitchen
A canoe bolted above your heads and whiskey-barrels-turned-cocktail-tables bring down-home vibes up to the West Side. No imported brews here: just Grade A American suds. Never mind the neon glow of the beer list above the bar, just know there’s more than 20 on tap at any time. It’s like you’ve died and gone to the Great Cowboy Saloon in the Sky.
Honky Tonk Tavern – Upper East Side
“Country” in NYC can mean three things: tunes, decor, or food. And the Honky Tonk Tavern is the Texan trifecta. Start with Ranch Potato Skins before the BBQ brisket or pulled pork sandwich. Then wash it all down with a cool Tecate tall boy or $5 frozen margarita (we won’t tell the sheriff). Wagon wheel chandeliers and a country juke make it worth kicking off those boots and staying awhile.