LocalBozo.com correspondent Link Cromwell vowed to have a drink at every bar in Hoboken before running the 2011 New York City Marathon. With every bar visit in the “Sixth Borough” now completed along with a successful race now finished, it’s time to reel our reporting back toward the City. And as such, every single Friday we’ll be taking over where Link left off, showing you distinctive bars in each borough perhaps for the very first time, perhaps to refresh your memory of a fun place you’ve ducked into, or perhaps to suggest a new spot for you to check out. You can follow our travels as we approach each weekend on Friday mornings with LocalBozo.com’s “Drink Here Now.”
142 2nd Avenue, East Village, Manhattan
Getting There: 6 to Astor Place
Drink Here Now: Sly Fox
Whenever the “Drink Here Now” crew passes by a bar that many may deem as odd, we take that as hint to go right inside. Just like that old lesson we learned as children to never judge a book by it’s cover, the same goes for the joints where you wet your whistle. On a recent weekday night, I was wandering the East Village seeking a place to grab a few cheap beers and some conversation. In an area that is loaded with twenty-somethings who love to party and spend, our quest was not an easy one. As we crossed the street from the bustling St. Marks area onto 2nd Avenue we spotted a familiar building that we have wondered about for some time. It’s the Ukrainian National Home, a sprawling complex housing culturally themed events, the Ukrainian East Village Restaurant as well as a bar (my speciality). Once known as Karpaty Pub, the place now sits as Sly Fox bar.
A small neon sign that you could easily miss if you’re not looking for it welcomes you into this old school dive. As you descend a few stairs you exit the busy East Village and enter a different world altogether. No, the bar wasn’t packed with Ukrainian men and women hoisting pints of ale in the air while singing, but the vibe of that happening certainly seemed possible. At the time of our visit the bar was half empty, but still very much comfortable and accepting of outsiders. On this evening I opted for pints of PBR, Stella and cans of Budweiser. All of these beers are priced way below market for the area, keeping a lot of extra green in our pockets. As we sipped our beers and got deep in the conversation we began to drink in the atmosphere as well. The bar appears to have been built at least thirty to forty years ago with most of the booths, fixtures, and of course the long wooden bar still very much intact from the joint’s inception. As we kicked back, modern indie rock was played from bands like Arcade Fire and Belle And Sebastian. The bar has one small flat screen HDTV placed on the far wall which was showing VH1′s “Mob Wives” for some reason.
The charm of this bar extends past its cheap drinks and furnishings. We experienced a few odd yet funny events during our visit. First off, getting to the bathroom is a interesting journey on it’s own. Customers have to leave through the back door and enter into the main hallway of the National Home, which literally looks like you traveled back in time and overseas. From there you have to go through a glass door and down a flight of stairs. Let’s just say you might not want to break the seal while you drink. Secondly, as we were a few beers in a towering bald man walked into the bar with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth as he led a huge Akita (dog) on a leash into the space. Both of them looked quite menacing. The dog’s harness even said “don’t pet me.” After finishing up and paying our cheap tab we looked at each other with smiles. Sly Fox is far from a normal pub, and we love it that way.
Bar Type – Seriously old school dive bar attached to the Ukrainian National Home complex. Step inside the bar formally known as Karpaty Pub and you’ll get a taste of both a Ukrainian watering hole and the East Village of yesterday.
When to Visit – If you’re into being able to move around and talk to people we suggest you go during the week. Sly Fox is perfect for a few after work drinks before moving onto the crazier joints in the neighborhood. It’s quiet enough to kick back and chat, but is hardly a long term destination for an evening on the town.
Value – If you want cheap you came to the right place. Pints of brews like PBR and Stella will run you way under five dollars depending on the time of the day. And cans of Budweiser will keep your wallet loaded with green!
The Lowdown – When you drink at Sly Fox prepare for an extremely laid back evening in the house built for for our Ukrainian brethren. This bar is as no frills as it gets. But the cast of characters you may see inside make the visit worth it. Enjoy the beer, history and even the little weird intricacies that make the bar what it is. It’s New York City after all.