Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Putting The "P" Back In Demsey

I decided to head to the East Village and check out the real Dempsey bar and a few others in the neighborhood. I only went to three but it is fertile ground so I plan on going back again tomorrow and maybe the day after as well depending upon how many bars I spot.

504) Dempsey’s

Over on 61 Second Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets is this narrow bar that is four steps down from street level. There is always something a bit decadent about walking downstairs into a bar, especially on a sunny morning. There is an old dark wood bar with a wooden foot rest. Over the bar is track lighting with small spotlights. There is dark wooden cabinetry behind the bar with drawers on each end, coolers with dark doors in the center, and shelves for liquor on each side of the coolers. Above that are more shelves for liquor and glasses. Mirrors behind the shelves and four blackboards listing the beers and on advertising a three hour open bar for $30 a person for parties. Alas, you need at least 14 other people to take advantage of this offer. There is a lot of paraphernalia on shelves high on the walls. There is a television mounted above each end of the bar. One wall up front is brick and the other walls are kind of a muddy looking pinkish brown. The floors are old wood planking and the bar chairs are also wooden with black vinyl seats, a bit beat-up looking. There is a back room that has a pool table with Budweiser lights hanging over it and there is a dart board hanging on the back wall.

I got here shortly after 11:00 A.M. so they were just opening up. The place smelled heavily of disinfectant, a good thing, I guess, although it didn’t enhance the enjoyment of my drink a whole lot.

I had a draft Guinness.

505) East 4th Street Bar

I walked up to 4th Street and headed west a bit to 78-80 E. 4th Street, between 2nd Avenue and Bowery. And yes, the Bowery down here is still a bit seedy, but nothing like it once was. This is a fairly small place that is divided into two separate rooms side-by-side. I guess, from the address, that it must have once been two small places that were joined. The bar is L shaped and old wood with a brass bar rail. The barstools are silver metal with black seats. There is a big bin of ice and beer bottles behind the bar along with a shelf for glasses. Above that are tiered shelves of glasses and the beer spigots are mounted back there as well on the brick wall. Three metal light fixtures hang by chains from the ceiling above the bar. Each one sports three lights with old fashioned glass shades. Half a dozen televisions are mounted on the walls with two of them above the bar. There are at least another three in the small side room that has a few tables for eating and drinking. The floor in the room with the bar was kind of a beat up dark orange tile and the side room had a wooden floor. The ceiling in both rooms was an interesting patterned dark tile.

There is a pool table tucked in the corner of the room with the bar and it looks like there would be a lot of cramped shots because there is not a lot of space around it. Three blue glass shaded lights hang over the pool table but two of them had burnt out bulbs.

I had a bracing bloody Mary.

506) Swift

Moving further west across Bowery on 4th Street, and passing by a couple of bars I am saving, I came to Swift at 34 East 4th Street. This was a most interesting bar with a very large selection of beers, both bottled and draft. There is also a decent selection of single malt Scotch and a few bourbons and decent tequilas. This place is named after Jonathon Swift and one wall is covered with a most interesting, somewhat hallucinogenic, Swift themed mural. There are also some authentic looking old books by him on a shelf mounted on the wall.

The bar itself is kind of curved and angular and has a light wood top, a darker painted front, and a wooden foot rest. There are little hooks mounted under the overhang. The wall behind the bar is brick with shelving for the bottles. The four brass stations for the beer spigots are mounted on the bar. Nice wood plank floors and long pub-style benches with stools. The lighting overhead is track spot lights. Blackboards with beer selections, drink specials, and pub fare are mounted on the wall behind the bar along with a mirror with an ornate gold frame. There is another gold framed mirror surrounded with framed title pages from some of Swift’s books in a little nook with a few stools and a ledge for setting down your drinks.

The back room has a lot of benches and stools, some booths, and a pulpit that serves as a DJ station later at night. This is a very interesting place and one I would certainly recommend that you seek out for a beer.

I had a draft Chimay and it was very good.

Another three bars with several more spotted for the future. That makes 506 for the year and 494 left to go.