It always starts so simply. Four of you are going to grab drinks. An hour later, someone sends an email around and Steve's sister in town from Cleveland is SO IN, GUYS. Suddenly, you need a spot where you can easily roll in with 10. Here are some spots where you can comfortably do just that. And as a bonus, most of them are big enough that you can pretty easily peel off. Just in case you need to lose Steve.
Next time someone suggests your group go to The Standard Biergarten or Houston Hall, politely suggest Loreley instead. It has all the same important features - convenient location, large beers, German pretzels, long tables - but with significantly less hairgel.
A huge new Chelsea warehouse space with excellent small plates? Welcome to the world, Porchlight. Another order of crab toast, please.
This place is so big it may cause vertigo. It's all the way down by Battery Park, but if you're rolling 30 deep, it's worth the excursion.
Believe it or not, going to a bar on 2nd Avenue in the East Village does not have to mean The 13th Step or Professor Thom's. (No hate, if you're a 22-year-old from Boston). For a moderately less fratty and only moderately bro-y time, hit Jimmy's, a surprisingly nice, big, cozy hangout on 2nd Ave.
Lavender Lake has it all. A big inside space AND a big patio. Fancy cocktails AND happy hour until 8pm. AND some really good food. Eat, drink, repeat.
If you need to keep it all the way uptown, check out Harlem Tavern. There are certainly spots with more salvaged wood that don't have a huge neon sign outside, but are they above 86th Street with a huge patio? Didn't think so.
In addition to a big, lively indoor space, Hot Bird also has an outdoor firepit. This bar also once made news for banning babies, so there's that.
Esperanto, still bringing it. Avenue C is now full of venues catering to the reasonably classy sh*tshow crowd, but Esperanto is the OG. It's a great place to start as a group, with plenty of nearby options to peel off for eats, or for turning the night into a late one.
Pravda, the Russian-themed Keith McNally restaurant in Nolita, isn't always an obvious choice, but it's actually a good one. It's big, fun, and a few shots of beet-infused vodka will make that guy who invited himself slightly more tolerable.
Big beers, a big space, and people who recently heard Williamsburg was a neat place to hang out. Radegast is probably the first place you went off the L train six years ago. It's still a great spot for drinking with a group, and eating a sausage off their grill.