Dive in the Lower East Side I: Double Down Saloon

double-down-saloon-4The”Dive in the Lower East Series” series is an exploration of the best cheap dive bars  in the Lower East Side, since the LES is being swallowed up by bars touting $18 Vodka Sodas and bros with Bud Lights.

I breathe deeply, taking in the atmosphere. I swish around my glass of Ass Juice, fully unleashing its complex flavors. Vintage 70’s porn plays on the nearby TV screens and 80s rock blares around me. I am indeed enjoying the finer things in life.

Double Down Saloon, originally founded in Las Vegas in 1992, isn’t without its sense of humor as evident by the ridiculous old porn that plays on TV screens above the bar instead of sports. Divy, gritty and full of degenerates, DD fully embraces its unique identity, and wants you know it’s just fine with it. Although the DD Saloon’s no-holds-barred look attracts heavy drinkers, punks, and pool junkies, it’s not without its two core rules: 1) Shut Up and Drink, 2) You Puke, You Clean. Follow these two guiding principles and you’ll have a great time.

While the bar might attract people from outside the margins of polite society, the place has a genuinely fun and friendly vibe that makes anyone feel welcome and part of the good times, including the many ordinary looking people and students who just want to drink on the cheap. When I was last in the joint I ended up playing pool in the back with an older Polish dude. He was a nice guy, and was drinking red wine, which I was amazed was even available at the bar. He was jovial, saying hi to punks in leather jackets and yuppies in button downs alike. That’s just the kind of place it is.

Double Down is certainly cheap, and this is what draws some people who may otherwise be uncomfortable with a bar that’s a little rough around the edges. $5 gets you a shot of your choice of rotgut well booze and a can of watery Genesee beer. $4 gets you a glass of the bar’s signature drink, Ass Juice. Its ingredients are a secret, according to the bartender, but a sophisticated palate might discern vodka and Kool Aid. Sound lowbrow and gross to you? Good, now shut up and drink.

Double Down Saloon is located at 14 Avenue A, right off of Houston Street. 

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