The lower level of the showroom at Comix, a comedy club on West 14th St., was humming with Friday night energy on Tuesday. But instead of shouting over a thumping base beat, patrons had to compete with the surround sound broadcast of CNN’s election night coverage.

As early poll results trickled in, the noise intensified and the TV anchors’ voices were drowned in a sea of metallic noisemakers clicking, drawn out “woo-hoos” and loud “boos” when McCain’s face flashed on the screen.

“Ha, ha! This is a non-partisan organization,” laughed J.R. Recuerdo, a 25-year-old graduate student. “Remember that. This is completely neutral.”

Many Happy Hours

Living Liberally, best known for its Drinking Liberally happy hours, threw the election night party in collaboration with Planned Parenthood of New York City’s Activist Council and the New York Civil Liberties Union Young Professionals. Like other Living Liberally events around the city, the election party offered New Yorkers a chance to bask in left-wing camaraderie and celebrate their possible success in this year’s presidential race.

“How many of you voted today?” asked Justin Krebs, co-founder of Drinking Liberally. Cheers erupted. “How many of you volunteered today?” Quieter cheering. “How many of you are ready to drink today?” The biggest cheers yet.

“If you leave tonight without having met someone new, you have done yourself a great disservice,” he said, before urging people to turn around and introduce themselves to someone at the neighboring table.

By bringing politics to public spaces, usually bars, Drinking Liberally lives up to its motto of “promoting democracy one pint at a time.” In the last few weeks, Drinking Liberally chapters across the nation have urged members to get out and vote…and then head to their neighborhood watering holes to watch the election results come in together.

Hell’s Kitchen Origins

Drinking Liberally got its origins in the backyard of Rudy’s Bar & Grill in Hell’s Kitchen in 2003 when two friends began meeting to drink and vent their frustrations with the political climate.

“The war had just begun and there was the sense that there was no effective leadership out there,” said Justin Krebs, co-founder of Drinking Liberally. “We decided we could at least get our friends to talk politics together.”

Little did they realize how quickly their weekly, left-leaning libations would catch on. What started as a meeting between friends Krebs and Matthew O’Neill became the first chapter of Drinking Liberally. Then a member of the original New York chapter moved to San Francisco and decided to start the first California-based group. By 2004, 16 chapters popped up around the nation. By the fall of 2005, that number grew to 100. And the expansion didn’t stop at drinking.

“The concept behind it was never about alcohol,” explained Krebs.

Drinking Liberally’s success brought about Laughing Liberally (a progressive comedy project), Eating Liberally, Reading Liberally and Screening Liberally (members preview and discuss socially conscious films).

With so much growth in the doing-things-liberally movement, the founders saw a need for an umbrella organization to unite the parallel groups — so Living Liberally was born to bring left-leaning social engagement to everyday life. When the group decided to plot its chapter locations on an interactive map on its Web site, two dots appeared: one in New York and one in San Francisco.

Rapid Growth

“Our webmaster said, ‘It’ll fill up, just wait,’” remembered Josh Bolotsky, Living Liberally National Program Coordinator.

It did. Today 312 chapters dot the organization’s map in all fifty states, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Though the New York City Liberally chapters attract mainly young professionals in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, Bolotsky said the demographics of the group vary greatly from chapter to chapter. A married couple in their 70s hosted a group in Lafayette, Indiana.

Long-time member Suzan Eraslan, 27, says Drinking Liberally’s New York presence is more festive than events at her first chapter in Atlanta, Georgia.

“In Atlanta, they tend to be a little more serious and a little darker,” she said.

The mood on election night and other New York City-based Drinking Liberally events has been anything but dark.

Ailin Conant, a 26-year-old California native attended a party last month to watch the debates. “It’s kind of like going to a football game because everyone’s on the same side,” she said.