Straight from the middle man

Ever wish you could economize on beer by getting it straight from the brewery? You can’t. Due to antiquated liquor laws and an oversized Annheuser-Busch lobby in Washington, breweries can’t even sell their beer directly to retail stores. They have to sell to distributors, who then sell to your corner deli or supermarket. Of course, there’s a price markup every time the beer changes hands.

nbdBut there is a way to cut in early: most distributors have warehouses in the city where they sell beer directly to the thirsty consumer. Unlike NYC retailers, they sell in bulk–kegs, 30-packs, and cases, meaning you can stock up for a fraction of what you’d pay at a deli.

For the bottle sipper, pick up a case of Brooklyn Pennant Ale for $33.59 at American Beer Distributors (256 Court St., Brooklyn–map), or a case of Dos Equis Amber for $25.99 at Carousel Beverages (436 3rd Ave., Brooklyn–map). If you’re really looking to save dough, grab a 30-pack of Genessee Cream Ale (it’s better and cheaper than Bud Light) for $15.99 at New Beer Distributors (167 Chrystie St., Manhattan–map).

Warehouses can be a Mecca even for the consummate beer snob, sporting celebrated but hard-to-find American micros like Left Hand, Allagash, and North Coast, and imports like Orval and Sinebrychoff. At around $10 per six pack they’re not cheap, but they’re cheaper than you’ll find them anywhere else in the city.

Happy Hour of the Week: One year for EVT

evtIn this climate, it’s worth celebrating if a new restaurant can stay open for a month. East Village Tavern (158 Avenue C, Manhattan–map) has made it an entire year, and they’re spreading the wealth this Friday with a free open bar from 6-8 pm.

EVT gets the job done by having something for everyone: the beer enthusiast–16 rotating taps with a wide and seasonal selection of American craft brews; the food lover–a high end, seasonal bar food menu; even the dive hound–Big Buck Hunter and pinball. It’s no wonder that you find yourself among a diverse crowd.

EVT’s got a great happy hour to begin with: Monday through Friday from 4-7 drafts are $3, well drinks are $4, and sliders are $2. But nothing beats an open bar. Knock off work and get there early (these things do tend to fill up), and it will be a happy birthday for them and you.


I’ll have what she’s having…for half the price

eisenbergsI was 12 years old when I made my first trip to Katz’s Deli. The massive pastrami sandwich was my dad’s treat* and I never thought to look at the price tag. Now I’m all grown up, and the $14.95 sandwich that once helped Meg Ryan fake a public orgasm is almost as far out of my range as she is. Isn’t there a place in this city with decades of history behind it where I can get a delicious pastrami sandwich too big to fit in my mouth for under $10?

That may seem like asking a lot, but the answer is yes. Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop (174 5th Ave., Manhattan–map) is only 80 years old (compared to Katz’s 120), but that’s still some serious history. It’s a seriously old school deli–a long narrow space dominated by a counter, where you can perch on a swivel seat and watch the cooks pile sandwiches impossibly high with meat.

When your pastrami on rye shows up, it’s a challenge to even get mustard on it before cramming it into your face. Once it finally gets there, the bread seems to melt away into the tender, salty slices of meat. And the cost? Just $8.50. The generous bowl of complimentary pickle spears are a great compliment, as are the fat, crispy onion rings for $3.50 if you’re looking to splurge (or give yourself a heart attack).

*Full disclosure: my recent trip to Eisenberg’s, though less expensive, was also my dad’s treat.

Hot Dog Heaven in Hell

rudysWhen you’re slogging through the mobs of tourists and eyeball-searing lights of Times Square, it can seem like glitz, kitsch, schlock, and other Yiddish pejoratives as far as the eye can see. But head to Hell’s Kitchen, just two blocks west to 9th Ave and up to 44th St. and you’ll be welcomed back to the real world by a giant ceramic pig in a dinner jacket outside Rudy’s Bar & Grill (627 9th Avenue, Manhattan—map).

Walk inside and you’ll find a lively and friendly dive bar, complete with duct-taped booths, meaningless paraphernalia on the walls, and a backyard when the weather’s nice. But most importantly you’ll find prices that make you question whether you’re still in New York at all: $3 pints and $9 pitchers for most beers, $2.50/$7 for Rudy’s own blonde, all the time.

Best of all, you can load up on unlimited (except by your sense of dignity) free hot dogs from the bar. It’s not the best place if you’re on a diet, but amazing if you’re on a budget. Just don’t tell the pig what they put in those dogs…

Published in: on November 17, 2008 at 3:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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