I walked by a bar tonight called the Qi Club, and it looked very exclusive, really not my kind of place. I like the the places that the select people wouldn't select, that would never appear on Sex and the City or Girls (or HBO in general). A neighborhood bar, a local haunt, the kind of place where the owner works the bar and knows the regulars by sight, is apt to offer one on the house to a good customer and stop by long enough to make conversation and not just make change.
I don't have a Cheers, where everybody knows my name. I did have that kind of place for a while out in LA, because my friend worked there and a bunch of us played bar trivia every Wednesday night, and we always ordered the same things, so that we didn't even really have to order. That place doesn't really exist anymore, it was completely renovated into something more hip that doesn't resemble our torn-cloth booth, sticky bar, light you could actually read by place.
There is a corner bar I frequent, with an old Irish man who owns it and employs students from the UK to work the bar and live in the apartments above. Everyone is friendly and takes the time to let the Guinness settle while talking to you about the neighborhood or the picture of Gene Hackman hanging in the back of the bar. There is a pool table and dart board in the back room, and on weekends they have live bands play, even getting some of the waitresses up to do a little Michael Flatly Irish dancing at times, very impressive. I like this place very much and have brought many other people there when going out near where I live.
Recently, I have also adopted a pub near where I work for long Friday lunches, where the bartender/waiter we have befriended will pull up a chair and talk to us for long enough to forget to take our orders, but we forgive him. We were told that when we don't show up for a week, he finds himself drunk at a bar depressed at 2am wondering what happened, and then remembers that we abandoned him. He will go on to serve us shots of mimosas and tears (an interesting salty and bubbly concoction). Despite the fact that this is a beer and (house) wine only kind of place, and I don't drink beer, I have come to love as well.
If you asked me where the happening new places in NYC to go out are, I would tell you to look online, try Huffington Post or Time Out NY. I will be at the nearby spots where the drinks are cheap and the hospitality is abundant. And if there is some trivia going on, I will be ecstatic, because I'm just that kind of nerd.