Midtown Happy Hour: Bar Nine Has Got Good Tots, and A Great Jukebox

If you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so I thought maybe it was time to introduce a happy hour column to the site. Every week, our Happy Hour Correspondent “Mamacita” will post about a different bar in Midtown that fits the Midtown Lunch mentality: unhealthy food, not lame (unless it’s lame in a cool way), and most importantly… cheap.

Bar Nine

A piece of advice: If you plan on a happy hour excursion to Bar Nine do so when the weather is nice. We did and found a very pleasant open storefront cradled by second hand couches that was perfect for al fresco boozing or perhaps while reading a book and enjoying a bite to eat, much like you’d expect at a café.

Further inside, B9 reveals an eclectic conglomerate of tastes that forms a quirky and fun place to relax, see a band, go on a date or even just booze up. There are plush couches nestled in sections, reddish ambient lighting, and a shinny copper topped bar. The back area is enormous and has its own tiki bar, stained glass windows even a couple of alcoves fitted with bench seating for more private parties.

Bar Nine

Then there are the other aspects to Bar Nine like its punk and rock aesthetic. The jukebox carries The Clash, Replacements, Pougues, Ramones, Fugazi, Pixies, T-Rex, Patti Smith… etc. Above the jukebox is a steer’s skull and beside it a few disco balls and a beat up iron chandelier. On the (of course) exposed brick wall hangs a burlesque poster, a mounted electric guitar, a Don Quixote painting and other random ephemera. All this plus they have a stage where live bands play nightly.

Bar Nine

The happy hour is from 3 to 7pm with $3 Bud bottles, $4 seasonal pints, well drinks and made-to-order margaritas. Specials change depending on the show that night, for instance the “Back Door Comedy Nights” have happy hour all night. Boys take note: being a tall blond waif seems to be the prerequisite to getting employed as a bartender here. Which was fine with me because our waif poured a good drink and was obviously enjoying her job.

Bar Nine

There is a full kitchen serving up comfort food and snacks like burgers, baked brie, fries, tater tots and chipotle chicken rolls. We ordered a margarita and a few bourbon sodas plus some tater tots and a burger.

Bar Nine

The burger came on an English muffin bun and was exactly what you’d expect: good but nothing special. For the price ($7) this is only something you’d order if you’re starved and don’t want to leave the party. The tots on the other hand were expertly fried, crunchy and came in a big basket. In my book it was well worth the $4 for delicious, greasy bar food.

Something about Bar Nine is strangely compelling and reminds me a lot of the bars you’d find in Red Hook or somewhere in the LES, but because it’s a stones throw from midtown it distinguishes itself as its own unique place. When we arrived patrons were mostly neighborhood regulars, a couple hipsters, and casual professionals. There was even an older beer-bellied man drinking quietly. Around the time we left, the crowd was doubling. So I can see B9 being more of a late night scene. I’ll definitely be back for a show.

The + (what someone who likes this place will say)

  • I live in the area (or don’t mind the commute) and love a live music venue
  • Tater Tots are pretty much God’s bar food
  • Dude, check it out. Gwyneth is pouring me a drink!
  • Big parties fit easily at any of the couched areas and big back room
  • Bar in the back and front means, easy double drink action
  • Hand picked jukebox with good tunes means there’s no chance someone gets to play Jonas Brothers new hit

The – (what someone who dislikes this place would say)

  • Vintage (i.e OLD!) couches that I’ve heard unverified claims of couples dry humping on. Just sayin’
  • Lets not mention the stains on those bad boys
  • The menu, despite BN having a kitchen, is still average bar food so don’t get your hopes up
  • You really have to be into these types of bars, if you want something polished just keep walking by

Bar Nine, 807 9th Ave, 212-399-9336

Post and photos by “Mamacita”


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