East Village honky tonk is all you need to hear.
It’s hard to sum up the feeling of the East Village of New York City in just a handful of words. It is a dynamic, eclectic area of the city with a true neighborhood feel that offers a welcome contrast from some of the other, tourist-heavy portions of the city. That being said, given 1000 words to describe the area, I’m not certain many would include the phrase ‘country music,’ unless they’ve been to Doc Holliday’s.
New York City is a microcosm of the world around it in a lot of ways, and the disparity in New York dive bars is just one example, with more urban staples like Rudy’s and Billymarks West looking and feeling nothing like the neighborhood corner vibe of Doc Holliday’s. And that neighborhood corner is dominated by a Western-themed mural that stretches the entirety of one exterior wall of the bar, an old timey set of runway lights that has been drawing people in since 1994.
If the mural weren’t enough, the sticker-laden front door is cause enough to give Doc Holliday’s a shot, with wildly disparate stickers covering, you guessed it, swinging doors. Doc Holliday’s is a saloon in more than just the name, after all. Inside, the stickers don’t stop, adorning all manner of solid surface, from the booths that run through the middle of the space to the metal attached to the beer taps themselves.
Homemade signs dot the bar area in particular, with the de facto motto of the bar front and center, “Take your sense of entitlement elsewhere.” The signs provide more than just directions (God help you if you try to pay in change), showing off the no frills personality of the place that underpins everything that makes it a truly New York dive bar.
It should come as no surprise given the location and the setting that this is a bar for regulars, with steady streams of consistent drinkers as evidenced by the stools around the bar and the social media postings sent to and from a loyal clientele. Doc’s is the only honky tonk bar in NYC, a claim they attest that I confess I have not independently verified, the perfect kind of refuge for locals that need an escape from the city that surrounds them.
And that’s really the power of a place like Doc Holliday’s in a city like New York, where even for those that visit the energy and crowd and intensity of the place can feel overwhelming. Stepping into Doc Holliday’s, with its country music, stocked jukebox and open pool table, erases the anxiety that sometimes come with living in or visiting a place as densely populated as New York.
Wood floors, Christmas lights, boots on the ceiling, walls caked with beer signs and Western artwork, Doc Holliday’s is a corner New York dive bar with a personality…and Merle Haggard on the jukebox.