Bar Spotlights Grub/Spirits — 03 May 2013
Duke’s-Midtown East: Drink Here Now 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’s “Drink Here Now.”

560 3rd Ave, Midtown East, Manhattan
Getting There: 4,5,6 to Grand Central-42nd Street

If there’s anything the “Drink Here Now” crew loves, it’s staying power. Since 1995, Duke’s has been providing New Yorkers with their version of the southern roadhouse experience. And in this ever changing economic landscape of our city they are doing something right to have stuck around this long. The last time yours truly dropped into Duke’s, it was roughly eight years ago at their Union Square location.Despite having had a blast, for one reason or another, I haven’t been back since. But with this column in mind, all of that changed this past week.

It was right around 7pm when we ducked into Duke’s, which sits on the the ground floor of a residential building. Their classic neon sign welcomes in those off the street with a warm “Howdy.” At the time of our visit, the NHL Playoffs were kicking into high gear. Luckily for us we were able to secure a few seats at the bar with absolutely no problem. The joint is loaded with the exact type of knick-knacks found in similarly kitschy spots around town, but Duke’s doesn’t overdo it. As such, the bar doesn’t feel like you just walked into a chain restaurant with flare abound. The friendly female bartender headed right over to us to take our drink order. As we slurped down the first few bottles of Budweiser ($5), we began to drink in our surroundings as well. The music selection at Duke’s is stellar to say the least. Throughout our hour long stay we heard tracks ranging from Faith No More to Rusted Root. If that’s not an awesomely eclectic mix, we don’t know what is.

Duke’s is also the home to some of the most popular wings in town. And being part of a crew that never shies away from wings we ordered the “Buffalo” style wings ($10). Each wing was perfectly slathered in their award winning sauce. A large cup of blue cheese was provided to yield some hearty dipping. These are definitely wings you need to try if you have not yet experienced them. Overall, Duke’s will provide jaded New Yorkers with an extremely laid back day or evening out at the bar with no pretension whatsoever. The staff is cool, the atmosphere is relax, the beer is relatively inexpensive and the food kicks some country butt! Plus the outdoor patio, while small, offers up some spectacular people watching during warmer months.

Bar Type – Roadhouse styled sports bar perfect for dive bar fans as well as the after work crowd. The energy inside is always high.

When to Visit – Duke’s is actually a fairly good example of an anything bar. Sure, you’ll see it a lot more crowded on weekends or when a major game is on but if you go when it’s empty (which is rare) you’ll still have a solid time.

Value – Frozen cocktails and specialty shots are priced below market value for this part of town. So if you like your drinks fruity or pickled they have you covered! 

The Lowdown – Plenty of other bars around town have adopted the “Roadhouse” look when it comes to the overall layout of their space. However, Duke’s has been building on this idea since the mid-’90s and they are still going strong today. Whether you want to grab a few beer and wings with the guys or throw back a few Jell-O shooters with they ladies they have you covered.

-Alex Corrine

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