Otto's Shrunken Head

Live Music Venue / Lounge / Tiki Bar
Otto's Shrunken Head The true standard for New York's tiki enthusiasts, Otto's Shrunken Head mixes equal parts classic beach vibe and rebellious downtown swagger to create a tall glass of surf-punk heaven. New York United States 40.729399 -73.978722
3.36 10
Otto's Shrunken Head - Live Music Venue | Lounge | Tiki Bar in New York.
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Ratings:
Lucas
Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review The true standard for New York’s tiki enthusiasts, Otto’s Shrunken Head mixes equal parts classic beach vibe and rebellious downtown swagger to create a tall glass of surf-punk heaven. Every night, rockers in bowling shirts... ... read full review

  • Hours:

    M–F 2pm–4am, Sa–Su 4pm–4am

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Party Earth Otto's Shrunken Head Review

The Scene

The true standard for New York's tiki enthusiasts, Otto's Shrunken Head mixes equal parts classic beach vibe and rebellious downtown swagger to create a tall glass of surf-punk heaven.

The true standard for New York’s tiki enthusiasts, Otto’s Shrunken Head mixes equal parts classic beach vibe and rebellious downtown swagger to create a tall glass of surf-punk heaven.

Every night, rockers in bowling shirts and chatty groups of work friends file past the grimacing tikis and shrunken heads in the colorful front windows to find their place in the aqua-blue lounge.

Red leather booths provide space for packs of partiers to sip their frozen daiquiris, while loners can sidle up to the bar for a beer.

A hallway decked out in old surf LPs leads to the back room, where tipsy musicians and artists gather as local bands take to the small stage to crank out acoustic rock and surf jams.

Of course, the tiki drinks rule the scene, and ultra-tasty cocktails like Zombies and Singapore Slings served in head-shaped porcelain mugs for ten bucks a pop (five as a deposit on the fancy cup, because nobody gets away with stealing here) get the outgoing crowd revved up for the late-night DJ spinning fan favorites.

But though the place can get packed and rowdy – especially once the party girls down their massive rum-filled volcano bowls – it never gets too out of hand.

A veritable Polynesian pleasure dome, Otto’s is the perfect escape for beach bums and Zombie-lovers looking for just the right elixir to help them get away from it all.

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Tip from Jonah:

A Saturday night isn’t complete without a Slice of Heaven drink. From 2:30–3am only, get a concoction of deep fried bacon and any shot of your liking – then let the night begin!

  • Crowd

    Young professionals, laid-back punks, tattooed party girls, surf rockers, and birthday party groups, 20s to 30s.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Live music in the back room most nights, including indie rock, country, rockabilly, surf rock, and alternative. DJs in the front room in the evenings spinning new wave, danceable surf, and classic rock. Occasional barbecues and cooking contests.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Volcano bowls available for large groups. Happy Hour M–F 2–8pm, Su specials 4–8pm.

  • Prices

    Beer $3+, wine $6+, cocktails $7+, tiki drinks $6, shots $10, volcano bowls $26, deposit on tiki glasses $5.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Rocker casual: t-shirts, jeans, work clothes, leather jackets, boots, sneakers.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Different every night, though Fridays are a good bet for the biggest crowds and Saturdays for the most notable bands.

  • Close By

    A few blocks away is Crocodile Lounge (325 East 14th Street), another laid-back rock bar featuring games like Skeeball and free pizza with each drink.

Otto's Shrunken Head User Reviews

Average rating:
Island Interior, City Exterior
Andrew T. Oct 19, 2013
Otto's is a cool tiki bar that can both be a quiet spot to get a drink with a friend in the afternoon or a packed place to meet people at night. The decor is fun kitsch Hawaiian complete with all manner of trinkets and and island based scenery including a blue undulating light that is intended to make it look like the back wall of the back room is underwater (and sort of succeeds at this task). Alcohol prices are pretty New York standard which means not particularly cheap, though their signature concoctions all come in individualized sculpted mugs, so at least you're getting the genuine island experience that can be so hard to find at other New York bars. I recall the back room having been rented out for wedding receptions before, so it seems like a great place to have your wedding reception if you don't mind having said wedding reception in the presence of portraits of topless Hula girls which could either be considered "islandy" or exploitative (or both!) depending on your opinion. Just something to watch out for if it's a mixed marriage between a kitschy family and a family that thinks portraits of topless Hula girls is exploitative.
Nice experience
Gor G. Jun 10, 2013
I accidentally walked by "Otto's Shrunken Head" twice looking for it thanks to its very unassuming looking store front. Once you go inside however, it's one distinctive looking Tiki bar. Fake palm trees in one corner, blowfish lamps over the bar and Tiki styled cups lining the back of the bar. This place makes an extra effort to transport you into a different world than the East Side environment outside. I met a group of folks here for Leslie D's most recent UYE. It was a really fun gathering of folks including the awesome Ruggy who graced us with his presence for a bit. I started off with the "Scurvy Dog" (which gives you an idea of the place's sense of humor) which was roughly their take on a "Dark & Stormy" complete with ginger and butterscotch flavors. The drink was good, but not overwhelming. No...that came later with the insanity that was the Volcano Blast! This $26 monstrosity of a drink has enough alcohol to make 6-8 people happy as you all dip your straws in and share. In the center is a burning flame as you consume this sweet yet alcohol laden beverage! While we enjoyed our drinks and conversation, a live band gathered and started to play in a back room as DJ music blared in the front. While the place is no sophisticated lounge, it's very clean and well maintained. It definitely edges on that dive bar "feel" but it never jumps over the line. On important note: this joint is CASH ONLY, there is an ATM inside but it's best if you come stocked with bills. I had fun at Otto's and wish to test out their "bring your own food" policy one day!
Great Punk Bar
Danielle K. May 23, 2013
This bar was a lot of fun! I loved the punk rock feel and the tiki decor. The drinks were reasonably priced (a rare find in New York) but the bartender was rude. That being said I still had a great time and I would certainly come here again. I enjoyed it because It's different than most bars in the city. But if the voodoo-esque/rocker vibe is not your thing, this isn't the place for you. The crowd it does cater to, the young punk rock/artistic crowd, it caters to well.
H. Jacobs
Hoyt J. Apr 1, 2013
E’ville revelers have long known the joys of Otto’s Shrunken Head, a Tiki bar at the northernmost tip of Alphabet City pulling double duty as the go-to spot for New York’s tattered and tattooed in need of bunch bowls of booze. Built around a former pharmacy (the floor retains the ancient Rx inlay), the requisite bamboo and hula girl motifs attract a motley crew of pompadour and Mohawk-sporting 20 and 30 something rockers who trickle in at happy hour to lounge in beat up leather booths with novelty glasses in hand, seemingly braced for anything that may come their way. And if it appears anything goes here well, there may be something to be said for appearances: on a given night patrons can expect entertainments ranging from Dub-spinning DJs in the front bar to comedy showcases to live electric music in the surprisingly roomy back lounge. With burlesque shows, karaoke, and thematically enticing movie nights also in the mix, Otto’s Shrunken Head has something for everyone with a penchant for powerful mixed drinks, tattooed or not. Yes, the crowd may look a little rough. But Tiki is Polynesian for adult playground. And everyone is your friend when you’ve got a monkey glass full of liquor in your hand.
Let's Have A Kiki
Jaclyn W. Dec 10, 2012
I have no idea what this bar is except all I can say is that if a Ska band showed up to croon to me all night here, I wouldn't even bat an eyelash out of shock. This is a strange dynamic. Think tropical island Jamaicans decided to let the punks of the East Village utilize their steels drums and then the culture intermixed. I've come here a few times with a group of the same girlfriends. It's an extremely chill atmosphere, you can dress however you want and this is one of the venues in Manhattan where I don't feel silly ordering a fruity drink such as a pina colada or one of their own fruity house blends. They come served in all kinds of tiki mugs and glasses, which is kind of awesome considering our island we live on is not a tropical one. The drinks are pretty strong too. None of that let's water it down with lots and lots of juice. They're also pretty cheap for the amount you get. They don't typically run you more than $10 a drink for a very large one. The music here is great too and most of the time it's from featured live acts. It is a dive bar, but not in a bad way. The patrons are this mix of cool and down-to-earth, which is refreshing. Definitely come here with a small group at least once and don't forget to stop at the photo booth on your way out to snap a few shots of that night you went to Jamaica, drank too much coconut "juice" and ended up going home with a punk rocker that was actually a voodoo spirit.
The kitsch costs extra
Chris K. Oct 8, 2012
Don't get me wrong, Otto's is a great time. Any chance to see Frank Wood play on a Sunday night should be immediately taken. But it's pricey, and the goofy surfer-punk look attracts a solid mix of hipper-than-thou aging rockers and loud college chicks. Plus, it's a hike. Still, if you find yourself there, live it up.
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