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Best Bar to Get You Through the Holidays: Louis 649

If you're in need of a respite from the nightmare that is holiday shopping in NYC (hands numb from the cold, double-fisted with shopping bags, bumping into throngs of dazed consumers), make your way through the charming boutiques of the East Village to East 9th Street and Avenue C, where cocktail bar Louis 649's welcoming atmosphere and vast cocktail menu should warm you up.

During a season that is increasingly about spending money, Louis 649 understands the value of free. Every Tuesday night from 7 to 9 p.m., the bar opens its doors for imbibers looking to sample fine, free booze doled out for its Tuesday Night Tastings. Sponsored by a different brand of liquor (or wine or beer) each week, these tastings are essentially seminars. The tastings are especially popular among local bartenders who want to improve their palates and spirits knowledge, even though it’s their night off.

“Some of the leading bartenders in our area come to hear our speakers,” said Gianfranco Verga, general manager at Louis 649. “We've built relationships with these great producers and wanted to give our community the chance to benefit from them.”

As if that weren't generous enough, Louis 649 is teaming up with Time Out magazine to offer a special drink deal tonight only--the "Sherry Pie" (sherry, rum, maraschino liqueur, honey syrup, cream, and cinnamon) is $8 tonight instead of $12. Also, the bar now offers food from local purveyors, including cheese from Saxelby Cheese Mongers, charcuterie from The Brooklyn Larder, and empanadas from Barnyard--all perfect for a quick bite before re-entering the madness of the season.

Louis 649, 649 E. 9th St., (212)673-1190.