The 12 Bars of Xmas is a West Village based bar crawl spawned by a young group of friends living in Manhattan. There were 2 different start times this year to accommodate for the large following the crawl has amassed. The first began promptly at 12:30 while the 2nd soon followed an hour later, spiritedly entitled the East and West Poles respectively. To take part in the event all you needed was $25 dollars and an appetite for all day drinking. Each bar that participated offered drink specials, mainly domestic beer related, but also a SKYY Vodka deal as they were happily sponsoring the event.
A veteran of the crawl gave me a nice tip by letting me know its not a race but a marathon if I had any intention of making it to the final bar. He suggested only 1 drink per stop which proved to be a game saver. While I milked my beer at every stop, I found nothing buy friendly and energetic people to converse and drink with. Everyone seemed just happy to be there, dare I say they were quite a "Merry" bunch. We all had a schedule that showed the times each bar would be holding their specials. Patrons were allowed to travel as they pleased though as each bar would have more than enough Santa Hats no matter what time you showed up. My group elected to try and stick to the schedule to ensure a visit to each bar.
The bar selection had a little bit of everything, from down right dive bars such as the Slaughtered Lamb, to a bit more upscale spots like Veranda. Each stop had its own unique flair and charm. One stop had us with an award run-in with a 2nd class Santa dressed bar crawl, obviously biting off the more popular Santa Con. Upon a disorganized arrival, the lead Santa addressed his other Santas (spoke to them more like his worker elves) through an annoying megaphone and announced that they were not welcome here and that they should move on. Santa Hats 1 Bootleg Santa Clause gang 0.
The final stop was the always classy Wicked Willy's. For those that made it that far in the journey, we were greeted with not the friendliest of bouncers. I am sure dealing with Santa hat after Santa hat of drunken messes would put me in a bad mood too. They wouldn't let one of my friends in due to a technical wristband issue which prompted him to whirl his cup at the bouncer. This strategy proved to be short sighted and after an altercation he was gone and the rest of our group were finally allowed in. The scene in Willy's was still energetic, thanks to a middle aged cover band featuring 4 guys who can pass for my dad, but 12 hours of drinking had divided and conquered our group to the point where one quick drink was enough to say we "did it." A few of us capped the night off with a trip to the west village branch of Artichoke Pizza (I still say the original near in the East Village is much better).
The day was long, the bars were fun, the people were lively, and the beer was plentiful. It was a perfect Saturday to celebrate the holiday season and take a cool tour of the West Village bar scene. I fully intend to be present for the 7th annual event, Santa Hat and Red Beer Mug in tow.
Check out: http://12barsofchristmas.org/