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8 NYC Chefs Talk Favorite Drinks, Where to Go Out

By Jenny Miller
August 22, 2013

It's hard to believe that restaurant types finish work serving people food and drinks and want to, well, indulge in food and drinks. But that's usually how it works. As Bravo's Chef Roblé explains it, "While you're eating dinner or having your girls' night, we're in the back having our asses kicked. We want to make up for lost fun." Fair enough. But some in the industry take blowing off steam more seriously than others. We asked a number of known culinary enjoyers-of-life about their preferred revelry. Below, the highlights.

  • Leah Cohen
    Pig and Khao chef and Top Chef alum, Leah Cohen likes to keep it close to home on the Lower East Side.

    Favorite place to go out in NYC and around the country/world?
    I love hanging out in the LES. There are so many late-night spots to eat and drink without all the crowds. My favorite place to party in the world is Hong Kong. 

    Know any bars that are so crummy they're totally great?
    Welcome to the Johnsons is a s---hole. It's great!

    Best night of the week to go out?
    Tuesday and Wednesday nights are my personal favorite. Its never too crowded when I go out on those nights and there are less douchey people.

    Who usually accompanies you?
    Nowadays I usually go out with my kitchen crew. Otherwise my girls from growing up.

    Most epic night out?
    Spotted Pig upstairs. I arm-wrestled with Mario Batali and met Jay-Z and Beyonce.

    What's the stupidest thing you've ever done while imbibing?
    Getting a tattoo. I've done it three times.

    Instagramming drink photos—fun or annoying?
    Annoying! I don't want people knowing my business and I don't want to know theirs.

  • Pichet Ong
    The pastry and Thai-food chef is all over the place, literally. If we're not bumping into him at Gramercy Tavern, we're ogling his Instagram dispatches from some far-flung corner of the world.

    Know any bars that are so crummy they're totally great?
    If I were persuaded by friends to go out, I would go to Eastern Bloc or the Eagle. I'm a jeans and T-shirt kind of guy.

    Who usually accompanies you?
    I go out with Anita Lo [of Annisa] a lot—she's a bit of a party animal. It's hard to find someone my age to go out with. Anita works hard, plays hard. And [Pok Pok Ny's] Andy Ricker. We bond a lot over food. And he's a chef who loves dessert.

    What's the stupidest thing you've ever done while imbibing?
    When I was younger, I used to strip while dancing on top of speakers. 

    Got a funny story about someone else in the industry?
    A lot of times we go to festivals and when there's a lot of drinking, chefs tend to get flirty. I can't name names but I've seen a lot of famous chefs make out.

  • Dale Talde
    We've never seen Talde, Pork Slope, Thistle Hill Tavern chef-co-owner Dale in a bad mood, so we're not surprised his good humor carries over to nights out (some of them pretty insane - see below).

    Know any bars that are so crummy they're totally great?
    There’s this place called Canal Bar on 4th Avenue in Gowanus. It is the diviest dive bar you’ve ever been in but they play Bears games on Sunday, so that’s why it’s great.

    Most epic night out?
    The night of my friend’s going away party. It started early. I met up with my friend and his girlfriend, John Bush and Dave Massoni, and a few more friends. They were all day drinking. Then the plan was to go to Invisible Ink so my friend could get a tattoo. We went to McSorley’s, had a few drinks there and then headed back to the tattoo shop to check on our friend. After that, we went to Motor City, got a couple more whiskeys, picked up our friend from the tattoo shop and headed out to dinner at St. Anselm, and then to Momofuku Milk Bar for dessert. It was after all this when everything gets a little hazy. We went to this strip club called Pumps in Bushwick—which is TERRIBLE, by the way—but one of the girls who was hanging upside down fell on her back off the pole. Then after Pumps, we headed over to Roberta’s for our other friends’ birthday. We started really drinking hard. John, Dave, and I went back to Pork Slope for more drinks. After a couple of cocktails, we headed down to SRB—which is a full-on nightclub—ton of kids everywhere, house music. It was a dope dance party. Then we went back to Pork Slope, drank more, and I finally went home at like 4:30 in the morning.

    What's the stupidest thing you've ever done while imbibing?
    I told one of my line cooks who was a Brazilian boxer and jujitsu martial artist to punch me in the chest. He crushed me—knocked me right out.

  • John DeLucie
    The chef at hot spots like the Lion and Crown is more interested in staying healthy than staying up all night these days, but he still enjoys an evening out.

    Favorite place to go out in NYC and around the country/world?
    In NYC, live music bars. 55 Bar is one of my favorites. Jazz, R&B, or hip-hop...and of course classic rock and roll.

    Know any bars that are so crummy they're totally great?
    Uhhh, not really? Usually my definition of [crummy] bars mean they smell like stale booze...not very sexy.

    Drink of choice?
    Double espresso topped with hot water. Or a nice French Burgundy.

    Who usually accompanies you?
    My girlfriend, who is Chinese, and all her friends. 

    What's the stupidest thing you've ever done while imbibing?
    What is imbibing?

    Why do you think chefs like to party?
    Because most chefs have ADD and are alcoholics.

  • Justin Warner
    He may have worked front-of-the-house at The Modern, but Justin Warner of Do or Dine in Bed-Stuy seems fully at home serving (and dive-bar-drinking) eclectic fare in his corner of Brooklyn.

    Favorite place to go out in NYC and around the country/world?
    In NYC, I like to go to Hagi for pitchers of beer and fun food. In Fort Collins, CO, there is a sweet dive called Surfside 7. I miss their pizza slices and the extremely loud speed metal. There is a place in the Santa Teresa neighborhood of Rio. You have to take a rickety tram to get there and kids hang off of it as it ascends steep cliffs and it is thoroughly terrifying. Eventually you'll get to a spot called Bar do Mineiro and it's one of the coolest places I've ever been. Great food, exceptional cachaça, and an unparalleled vibe. It's truly magical.

    Know any bars that are so crummy they're totally great?
    My definition of a bad bar is a dry one, so no. There are a few spots that upon initial inspection might be seedy/divey but are truly remarkable. Tip-Top in my neighborhood is one of these. The buzz-to-enter door with iron bars, the huge sign that says NO DRUGS, the Christmas lights all over the place... but the people that run it are absolute gems and the patrons are certainly precious old stones. And I'm a big fan of the smoking lounge in Denver International Airport, which has rip-off prices and a terrible ambience, but the people there are really remarkable. Denver has so many wild characters pulling through it: cowboys, hipsters, rappers... it's like the Mos Eisely Cantina, which, if it were a real spot, would qualify for this list.

    Who usually accompanies you? 
    George Dickel.

    Instagramming drink photos—fun or annoying? 
    Annoying. A drink rarely has visual composition other than its garnish so the picture is not really worth a thousand words. Sometimes the context can be interesting, but rarely that's the case. Really? A bloody mary on Sunday? A margarita in Mexico? Coronas by the pool? Give me something interesting like a negroni in outer space or a Coors Light in a volcano or something.

  • Chef Roblé
    The star of Bravo's Chef Roblé & Co. may not have a New York restaurant anymore (since Cocktail Bodega was shuttered recently), but he's keeping busy with other projects, including his monthly brunch party, Everyday People, an upcoming wine line and a brand of clothing called Food Porn.

    Best night of the week to go out?
    Thursday. More nightclubs have good events on that night that any other night of the week. I also like to go out on Monday nights. Because there's not a lot of random people. It's usually like, pre-game, go to Catch, go to Avenue. Then go to Artichoke pizza and get a slice to soak up all the impurities before I go to bed.

    Who usually accompanies you?
    Girls. I grew up around all women, so most of my friends are female. You never have a problem getting females into places. Or one of my boys, Lafayette, he goes out with me too. Family too—I have two cousins, they're twins, they live in my neighborhood and we go out.

    What's the stupidest thing you've ever done while imbibing?
    I peed on a cop car and got arrested. I think I was 21. That was when I was in culinary school. It was stupid.

    Got a funny story about someone else in the industry?
    The only chef I party with is Chris Santos [of Beauty & Essex], and he's indestructible. He never gets drunk. He can do whatever he wants; he's Superman. I don't know how he does it. He's a beast.

  • Joe Dobias and Jill Shulster
    The couple behind JoeDoe and JoeDough are definitely not shy. Dobias in particular likes to throw down online if anything displeases him. Not surprisingly, this no-holds-barred approach carries over to nights out.

    Know any bars that are so crummy they're totally great?
    Dobias: I used to love XR bar. It's closed now; used to be on the corner of Sullivan and Houston. I also like Fish Bar on Fifth street.
    Shulster: Milady's in Soho. It's the only f---king dive bar left down there!

    Best night of the week to go out?
    Dobias: Monday. Even if it wasn't my day off, it's the only day of the week that douchebags don't go out.
    Shulster: Monday. It's our only day off since JoeDoe is closed.

    Most epic night out?
    Dobias: Went out on a double date with some industry friends. Drank many bottles of wine, finished a bottle of Amaro (didn't realize it was for sipping). The night ended in a screaming fight with my chef friend's girlfriend and Jill ended up dragging me down the street. It was bad. They broke up a few weeks later. Having nothing to do with me, of course.
    Shulster: Joe and I had an amazing meal at Gotham Bar & Grill recently. We were a little boozed up and I stood up from the bar to go to our table and had a major wardrobe malfunction in the middle of the dining room. My very tight dress split open on the left side. Sooooooo embarassing. Joe had to give me his sweater and wear a T-shirt for the rest of the meal. We had a great time for the next three hours of eating. At least I could eat a lot and breathe comfortably. [Laughs]

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