It's Friday night and you're dead-set on going out—soul itching for excitement, belly beseeching you for booze. But where to go? You'd like to drink, but not too much. You want to dance, but can't handle ear-bursting bass right now. You'd like to see-and-be-seen, but don't really want to cough up all your cash. In a city crammed with bars, how does one decide on a final destination? Destination Bar, an East Village staple, makes the choice for you. You'll be welcomed into the homey bar by a hanging wooded sign with a compass painted on it (just in case you needed some direction). Here, eccentric locals abound—the poor painter pushing his most recent project; the well-dressed divorcée looking to court a new companion; the heavily-tattooed drummer who would just die if his band-mates knew he was ordering a "girly" cranberry-vodka (yes, I have encountered each one of these types at the bar). The décor is casual and comfortable: A curved wooden bar, tables by the window, a vintage couch in the back under a wall of photographs and ephemera hung Victorian-style. There's even a bit of space for dancing (to tunes that range from indie-rock to mow-town to doo-wop). And, of course, they've got a cockail menu. "Destination Cocktails" include the Truck Stop Lemonade (Absolute Citron, Bombay gin, lemonade, fresh-squeezed lemon, club soda) and the One and Done (Hendricks gin, Absolut Ruby Red, Absolut Pear, Chambord and St. Germain served straight up in a snifter), but I always pass on the crazy concoctions. The bar tenders are jolly and accommodating, ready to make you whatever your lush heart desires. Make mine a gin and tonic, sir. If your cell is running low on battery (due to all those "please come hang out with me" texts you may-or-may-not-have been compulsively sending), fear not: The bar is equipped with a phone-charging station, so you can fill up while your cell does the same (except that it isn't going to be the one who ends up with a beer belly, now is it?). But Destination Bar doesn't have to be your final destination: If you get in early for the happy hour special—all drinks half-price from 4-8 p.m.—you'll be buzzed enough to set out into the NYC night without one.
» Destination Bar, 211 Avenue A, at E. 13th St., 212.388.9844