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Where you can still get a cheap gay bar drink in NYC

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New York’s gay bars haven’t been immune from inflation, but So.Gay investigated where cheap drinks still reign supreme

The city that never sleeps also never stops costing too much money, and inflation has permeated cultural institutions. Last year for instance, New York’s Dollar Pizza joints raising its prices above its namesake should’ve signaled the beginning of the end of affordability in nightlife. 

Still, nothing is as sacred as the city’s cheap gay bar drinks and two-for-one happy hour specials. Our team can remember in the early 2010s when vodka sodas were regularly $3 or $4 dollars at gay bars (those were the days!). But the latest trickle-down effects of inflations seemed to have sprinkled a dollar or a few on every drink order. It feels like you can’t order a round for your group of friends without feeling personally victimized by the bill. 

Consumers seem to be paying higher prices – and so are the owners behind our favorite bars.

“Every straw, every napkin” has gotten more expensive,” Justin Ahiyon, a co-owner of House of Yes, told the New York Times about surging prices taking a toll on a night on the town. 

Bar owners have had to choose between passing the increased costs on to their customers or risking their business. Ariel Palitz, the senior executive director of New York City’s Office of Nightlife, said that most bars and clubs in the five boroughs have made an effort “not to raise prices so much so that there’s sticker shock.”

However, So.Gay refused to accept the pricy status quo and scavenged the New York gay bar scene to figure out where cheap drinks still reign supreme. 

Which gay bars can you still drink at for cheap in NYC?

Let’s begin with the holy $4 trinity of Hell’s Kitchen, all co-owned by Richie Friendly, a human fixture of the gayborhood. You’ll regularly find him wearing a bandana and wandering the stomping grounds comprising his gay bars: Dive Bar Lounge, Mickey Spillanes, and Mr. Biggs, ensuring patrons behave while offering free fireball shots. He trained his staff to do the same. 

Dive Bar Lounge (DBL)

Dive Bar Lounge, dubbed DBL, is the ultimate pregame spot of Hell’s Kitchen. It’s a quaint, no-attitude bar on 42nd Street and 10th Avenue, decorated with Christmas lights. The bathroom reliably reeks of vomit, maybe from someone who accepted too many fireball shots. However, it’s the heart and soul of the gayborhood’s shenanigans, where friends meet up to ensure they begin the night with the odds in their wallet’s favor. It’s famous for serving $4 well drinks 24/7, and thankfully, that hasn’t changed despite the rest of the city morphing us into personal ATMs.

Mickey Spillane’s 

The spirit of DBL turned into a fast-casual eatery at 49th and 9th; Mickey Spillane’s offers mediocre, overpriced food that people order because they’re too lit from $4 drinks. We suggest eating before – and coming here when you want a chill time with friends without breaking the bank. It’s not exactly a gay bar, but while in Paris, or this case, Hell’s Kitchen, we can essentially call it a gay bar. Beware of bringing a date here and ruining romance by watching them chow down on the loaded nachos, the bar’s most popular dish. 

Mr. Biggs 

Basically, Mickey Spillane is reconstructed even gayer on 43rd Street and 10th Avenue with drag bingo. Hurray for more $4 drinks! 

The Boiler Room

Located on 4th Street and 2nd Avenue, The Boiler Room takes the catchphrase “just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!” and turns it into a gay bar. The dark and grungy East Village establishment, with a pool table and a jukebox, has been serving cheap drinks for nearly 30 years. We might’ve played 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up” so many times that the bartender rescinded our access. The Boiler Room is iconic because it can go from casual drinks to a full-on queer rager, depending on what time you’re visiting. You’ll see all personality types mingling or bringing each other home. Enjoy $6 well drinks all day, every day, which might sound cheap if you don’t know it used to be $4 or less. Pro tip: Stop here on a Friday or Saturday night to get that boozy confidence needed to have a naughty time at its neighbor, the Cock, afterward.

Nowhere

Nowhere takes “no frills” and makes it a theme under red light with a clientele that looks like they just got off the L train from Brooklyn. The bar is conveniently located on 14th Street and 2nd Avenue for them. We stan Nowhere because of their $5 happy hours, but bring cash unless you want to walk out ordering an Uber with your shoe. There’s a cheeky $25 card minimum, which normally wouldn’t make you bat an eye if the drinks weren’t so damn cheap. 

The Eagle (on Sundays)

The holy grail of New York gay clubs: the Eagle is where it all started and ended and continues to party on. Although it might be the place to go for a good or sleazy time on the weekends, the drinks aren’t cheap compared to most other bars on this list. Still, there’s a reason the Eagle brand has captured gay hearts across America, and you can make the most of the one in New York with their Beer Blast specials on Sundays. Domestic drafts are $4, and shots of Jager, Cuervo, and Fireball are $6. Also, the crowd tends to lose their shirts, which doesn’t lower cocktail prices, but makes it seem all the more worth it. 

You can read more So.Gay bar reviews here.

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