Dear Guest Of A Guest: Where Should I Have My Birthday Party?

by Chiara Atik · July 20, 2010

We receive emails and comments all the time from readers who turn to our (not inconsiderable) knowledge of NYC for advice, so we've decided to take time out of our busy day of internet surfing to answer questions. Today: Where should Alison have her birthday party?-

Alison turned to us for advice on where to host her low-key birthday party next month. She writes,

" i want it to be good music, but not too loud, a place where it'll be crowded enough that it isnt just my party, but not overly crowded so we lose everyone.. i want it to be in the east village or les, nowhere too big, like multiple levels or anything, and an outdoor area would be nice to have."

Omg. We LOVE planning parties. Let's see, LES/East Village Bars that fit the following requirements:

Good Music, But Not Too Loud

"Good Music" is sort of hard to define and based on personal Alphabet Lounge has a lot of 80s music, which some people might find cheesy and others might love. Generally speaking, good music isn't hard to find in the LES.

Loud Music is something easier to pick out: if Alison wants to be able to converse with her guests, she should definitely avoid Lucky Jack's, Pianos, and Stanton Social. (Also, Karaoke Bars like Sing Sing, but we don't think Alison had "karaoke" in mind...)

Crowded Enough, But Not Too Crowded

We TOTALLY agree with this birthday party requirement! You want a good mix of strangers to mingle and dance with (not just your friends awkwardly milling about an empty bar), but you also want enough space to have your own corner of the room.

National Underground has great music and a great crowd, but it's definitely not the sort of place you can hold court with your own party. Home Sweet Home is another one of our favorite bars, but gets pretty packed on Saturday nights, so not the right spot for a party. Madam Geneva's has a great cocktail menu, but don't expect to ever reach the bar on a Saturday night.

Nowhere too big, with Multiple Levels

That excludes M2 Ultra Lounge and Capitale.

An Outdoor Area Would Be Nice To Have

We love Drop Off Service: it's a nice neighborhood bar with a great jukebox (which fits the music requirement.) But it gets a little crowded, and Alison wants an outdoor area which Drop Off doesn't have.

Sweet and Vicious has one of the nicest outdoor areas in the city, but is definitely more SoHo than East Side, so it might not have the vibe Alison is looking for (though their jargaritas might be worth the trek west of Bowery...)




LORELEY, on Rivington between Bowery and Christie

Loreley is a fun LES beer garden that fits a lot of Alison's requirements. There's always a lively, fun crowd, especially during summer nights, but it's never hard to get service or a seat, especially since there are long communal tables. (We would suggest calling ahead if you're planning on bringing a larger group).

The outdoor biergarten is the perfect size (and temperature) in the summer--it's decorated with festive lights, but the indoor area is just as nice in case it rains.

One possible shortcoming: it doesn't exactly fit the "good music" requirement, especially not in the outdoor area.

One possible bonus point: Loreley's food is AMAZING! The Wienerschnitzle (made of pork, don't freak out) and pretzels are perfect food to line your stomach after your fifth or sixth beer...

Our suggestion for Alison is that she and her friends start the night off at Loreley, drink and be merry there until it closes at 1 am, and then head to Darkroom for dancing afterwards!

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