1. The Levee
212 Berry Street, (718) 218-8787
If you're the type that wants a birthday filled with antics in a crowded, dirty bar, the Levee is your place. Their drink specials are sure to get you drunk - The Sportsman is a shot of Evan Williams with a can of Black Label. Have a few of those and then gobble down chili dogs or the infamous frito pie - fritos covered in chili - it's sure to give you heartburn for several days. The Levee has recently added a new backyard for smokers. Every night at the Levee is a good night - it might as well be your birthday!
295 Grand St., (718) 218-7886
The only downfall to this bar is it's "hidden allure." It can be a bit difficult to find the place if you don't know the exact street number, so make sure your friends know exactly where they're going. But if you can get everyone there, Larry Lawrence has a secret cavernous feel, with stairs leading to an outside deck that looks like it belongs in a movie. You can set a tab for your pals and the bartenders will give everyone a wristband. Give the owners a call a week or so before the event and they'll reserve you space.
451 Graham Ave., (718) 389-0839
If you're looking for a swankier birthday experience, head to The Richardson. Away from the hub-bub of Bedford Avenue, The Richardson offers a gorgeous interior with hardwood floors and big bar and delicious, well-made cocktails. For a more elegant, albeit a bit pricier experience, you can rent out their back room if you have a big party. But making the party in the front room, which is more attractive, is definitely more social. If you get hungry, order a fancy meat and cheese plate. Your guests will be very impressed.
4. Berry Park
4 Berry St., (718) 782-7879
Berry Park is a gigantic beer garden with a huge roof deck with impressive views of Manhattan. Tell your party to meet you there for sunset. Though they have ample beers to choose from, they also serve liquor and wine so no one's left out. If you're hungry there's a shepherd's pie on the menu or a basket of soft, chewy German-style pretzels that will keep you partying until morning.
5. Royal Oak
594 Union Ave., (718) 388-3884
Royal Oak has a reputation for being filled with annoying people, but honestly, it's a nice big space with great drink specials and back room with a DJ where people actually dance. The booze is reasonably priced and you can stake out an area where people can come and go as they like.
113 N. 3rd St., (718) 963-3973
On the weekend, Radegast Hall, another beer garden, is filled to the brim with people. If you are looking to "go all the way," with a party-scene choice, look no further. This huge beer hall draws in people from Manhattan and even beyond. The space and the beer are endless. It's a great place to have a big birthday gathering.
258 Wythe Ave., (718) 218-6934
Zebulon is a "cafe-concert" with a French feel. Music fans are drawn to this bar for its off-the-wall shows. The music here comes from all over the world - no indie bands allowed. Beers on tap are joined by a great wine selection and a full-bar. There's a menu of sandwiches and small plates as well. An afternoon gathering at Zebulon is lovely if you don't like the crowds or the music. But if that's what you're after, Zebulon's your spot.
359 Metropolitan Ave., (718) 963-4140
This bar with the funny name has one of the finest foreign bar selections in New York. The inside is tiny and cramped, but their outdoor garden is gorgeous, an absolute oasis from the industrial look of Williamsburg. Get outside early and stake your territory on a beautiful night with good weather and make it a night to remember.
9. The Commodore
366 Metropolitan Ave., (718) 218-7632
The Commodore is a fantastic bar for any occasion. It's also constantly crowded, so be prepared to get close to your neighbors. Until 1 a.m. they serve delectable fried chicken, fish sandwiches, fries, and more. The food alone is worth the trip, but the kitschy drinks like frozen margaritas, gin fizzes, manhattans and micheladas ensure that there's something for everyone here. Vintage TV shows and juke box tunes? What else could you ask for?
113 N. 7th Street, (718) 218-6006
D.B.A., sweet and simple, is a great bar. There's plenty of space for your friends, great beers on tap, liquor and wine, food, seating and outdoor space. If you're casual about your birthday and just want everyone to get together to hang out, D.B.A. is your place. It's relatively un-invaded by crowds, and the bartenders here are very nice. Put your feet up and enjoy!