When Complex connected with NY1 reporter Roger Clark for his 10 favorite dive bars in NYC, the conversation evolved into a larger discourse about dives. Though it couldn't be included in the initial list, we present it now. Continue your education.
Complex: I’m still trying to get a handle on Queens. I have a friend who lives in Astoria, and I’ve gone out with him in his neighborhood a couple times, but I still feel like we haven’t stumbled upon the right spots yet. Roger Clark: It can be tough, you know. But there are a lot of neighborhood places, and there are a couple of ale houses where you can get really good beer—it’s still filled with a lot of old-time, basic Irish pubs. Not fancy like the Irish pubs in Midtown, those pristine, beautiful bars with big food menus. The ones in Queens are still the old-fashioned: “We don’t serve food.” You come in for beer, a shot, and Irish music.
What else could you possibly want?
Exactly. Growing up in Forest Hills, there were a couple of bars in the neighborhood, but there weren’t that many. Kids in Queens always wind up going to Manhattan. We figured that out, growing up, like, “Wait, there’s a part of Manhattan where every other place is a bar, and we can go there?” We turned our backs on the neighborhood places in Queens, and started looking for new spots in Manhattan.
Do you remember the first bar that you ever went to?
It was the Dublin House, on the Upper West Side. I don’t want to get them in trouble, because I don’t think I was of age, but that was my first night out in the city. It was during my first break from college. I didn’t really drink in high school, and then I got to college, and thought, “Well, everybody’s drinking beer and having fun and going to parties, and I might as well join them.” So when I got back home, I told my friends, “Oh, let’s go out, let’s go out.” And they said, “What? Where? Why?” And I said, “No, we have to go out.” Because I was already in that college mode.
What do you look for in a bar now?
The number one thing for me, because I’m such a music freak, is the jukebox. I want to hear some older rock and some punk. I’m comfortable if I know I’m going to hear the music that I like. If the place has food, that's a bonus, but it doesn’t have to.
So long as you can hear punk and get Bud Light, you’re happy?
Good music, cheap beer, maybe some kind of snack, good service, and nice people. If it’s a neighborhood place, they’ll talk to you and ask where you're from. I know the guys at Reif’s, and it’s a real place, with lots of people who have lived in Yorkville their whole lives. And their parents have lived there their whole lives. When tourists somehow stumble in from Nebraska or something, they’ll ask, “Where are you from? Yeah?” And next thing you know, everyone is talking. I don’t think there’s anything better than that; it’s good to have that experience, where you have a police officer and a plumber and a doorman and a guy who does construction, and they’re sitting around drinking and some tourist couple from Nebraska walks in, and all of a sudden they’re talking about sports, or something. One of my favorite things about going out and drinking is that camaraderie.