Liberty Bar and Grill: A Hoboken Landmark
There’s a reason this bar has stayed in business for, like, the last zillion years.
The weather last week was mostly nice, so I took a trip uptown. I like this, because it feels like I’m getting some exercise in, therefore I can drink double the amount of beer. Or, stop at the 711 on Washington Street and get a Slurpee the size of my face.
I only had time for a late afternoon bar trip, so I went to Liberty Bar and Grill to check out their Happy Hour. I also figured a bunch of bro dudes would be out to watch college basketball, or whatever is going on right now. And hopefully you all know by now how much I love bro dudes.
Anyway, Liberty is nice, because there are big windows and skylights, so it doesn’t feel like you are in some depressing cave. Also, the bartenders are all really friendly (and fellas, the ladies are easy on the eyes!) It’s much less pretentious than its fancy neighbors The Madison, City Bistro or Bin 14. You can roll up in jeans and a t-shirt, but get dressed up on the weekends, if that’s your thing.
Opened in the 1930s, Liberty has been a Hoboken mainstay ever since, weathering the trends and the condo explosions (and, apparently, polyester bell bottoms).
"We have people coming around, like, 'I remember Liberty when it was a disco and we used to dance!'" said Dawn Kaplan, owner of Liberty for the past 13 years.
It’s a traditional sort of bar, but with enough changes every few years to keep the place fresh (when I visited they were just about finished with a paint, lighting and furniture renovation).
"We’ve got our identity as a sports bar," Kaplan said, pointing out the new 60-inch plasma TV screens above the circular bar.
The beer selection is your standard fare: Budweiser, Yuengling, Blue Moon, but it’s cheap, so who can complain? Happy Hour (4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday) prices are $3 domestic, $4 import and $2 Pabst mugs. But Liberty isn’t the place you go to if you want a fancy craft beer, it’s the place you go to when you just want a beer, a giant TV to watch the game and a friendly atmosphere that isn’t going to be full of backwards baseball caps and ladies in stilettos puking in the bathroom. Dare I say, it’s a bar for adults?
"We’re not right next to the PATH, so it’s a nice, fun crowd," said Kaplan.
There is an extensive food menu (with brunch! They serve brunch!), including burgers for $11-12, bar pizzas for $8-10, or fancier options like an ahi tuna salad for $17 and lemon pepper salmon for $16. If you want to get your classy drink on, there are specialty cocktails like the Creamsicle (vanilla vodka, orange juice, crème) and the Dirty Snowball (Stoli Vanilla, hazelnut, crème de cacao, club soda), alongside mudslides and mojitos. I don’t know what it says about me, but I love any cocktails that are basically drinkable desserts, okay?
Like most area bars, every night has a different special. Mondays mean you can get a burger and a beer for $12.95, Tuesdays are Singles Trivia (and $10 pitchers to loosen you up), Wednesdays are for salsa dancing and margarita pitchers, Thursdays are for all-night happy hour, Fridays and Saturdays are for the ladieeees (with girly drink specials and a DJ) and Sundays are for working off your hangover with eggs and a Bloody Mary.
Like I said, when I visited, the bar was quiet, with only a few people at tables, mostly ordering food. That was my fault. I’m bad at time management, okay! But Kaplan assured me that the bar had been busy with the NCAA championship going on. The superfans were even getting dressed up in their jerseys and favorite college t-shirts.
"All of my teams are winning," Kaplan said with a grin, mentioning that she had flown her favorite team flags outside of the bar.
"We’re just a fun, casual spot, not pretentious or anything," she said, summing up the ethos of the bar.
Those were the vibes I was picking up with my Hoboken bar divining rod (patent pending), too, beginning with the warm smile of bartender Danna Markulin as I entered. Sure, uptown doesn’t have the same crazy bar scene as downtown, but it’s more about quality over quantity, I guess. With that, I’ll award Liberty Bar and Grill eight out of ten frosty mugs. Grab a pint and a burger, watch some basketball, and when it gets warm out, go enjoy the heck out of the front patio, you hear?
61 14th Street; 201-222-6322. Check out Liberty Bar and Grill on Facebook for the most up-to-date event schedule.
The Bar Hopper is a sometimes tongue-in-cheek look at Hoboken's abundant bar scene. The views expressed in these reviews are half-sloshed, and do not reflect the overall views of Patch.