There is a sign behind the bar at Continental, a dive at 25 3rd Avenue, that makes sure you know that you will not be served, under any circumstances, tap water.
“You can either buy a $2 bottle of spring water, or not,” it says. Across the menu, there is another sign emphatically reminding everyone that the customer is always wrong–with “wrong” in all-caps.
There are plenty of bars that successfully abuse their patrons, but they usually have something else to offer. All Continental has is cheap drinks in plastic cups served by battle-hardened bartenders — god only knows what they have to deal with on a nightly basis.
When Laurie, bless her heart, served a beer, it was “five,” not “five dollars.” And certainly not “five dollars, please.”
During happy hour, you can get a beer for the same price, because it is always happy hour here. A never-ending happy hour, however, is the same as a nonexistent happy hour. And so, is there a happy hour here at all? Should I be ecstatic? Should I be sad? It’s all slightly confusing.
A sign attempts to clarify things: “Nothing is over $5 during happy hour.” So, is everything just $5 and under all the time? Maybe don’t worry about any of this and just go ballistic: six shots of anything for $12 when you buy a pint or a bottle or a mixed drink after 6pm, or five shots of anything, anytime, for $10. These deals are amazing, but take a second to imagine the kind of people taking advantage of the bargain. Do you want to be around them? Probably, depends on your mood.
Continental became famous for the loud sign emblazoned across its entrance: “Five shots of anything for $10. YES, WE’RE SERIOUS.” Then it became famous for several racial profiling charges and a litany of heated patron reviews identifying the bouncers as racists. It should be known, however, that Continental has been cleared of any and all charges by the City of New York. Still, one wonders where all that buzz came about in the first place.
So what keeps Continental kicking? We’re not quite sure. Its antique beer advertisements and black-light paintings are kinda charming. Its functional juke box is, actually, world class. The punk-rock soundtrack and the tin ceiling are cool. But why, after your first visit, would you ever come back? In a city of incredible bars, many of them friendly and affordable, would you return to a bar full of shot-slamming drunks where you feel like you have to apologize for even being there?