Friday, July 08, 2005

Done In By Druids

It was a miserable day and I contemplated just staying home. For some reason I got it into my mind that I wanted to visit The Ginger Man though. I guess it was because I was on the east end of 36th Street yesterday and this bar is also on 36th Street, just a bit further west. I put on my rain gear, stuck my cameral in a plastic bag, and headed out.

625) The Ginger Man

This bar can be found at 11 East 36th Street, between Madison and 5th Avenues. There is a long wooden bar with a foot rail and wooden bar chairs. The back of the bar has two large shiny copper panels separated by a cabinet with glass shelves. The shelves hold a good selection of single malt scotches, some brandy bottles, and a nice selection of small batch bourbons. Mounted on the copper panels are the beer taps, thirty on a side.

They have about 200 different kinds of beer here in total, and some fairly exotic selections. Above the taps are mounted a few yard and half-yard glasses but I was told people are discouraged from using them because they are hard to fill and hard to wash. The $150 dollar deposit you have to put down for the privilege of drinking a yard of beer should, indeed, discourage anyone from asking for one. They said this is what they cost them and maybe they are right. I tried to look them up on the internet and could only find them for sale from British companies. Some would ship to the U.S.A. because they couldn’t be insured against breakage. These glasses originated in Britain and were designed so that they could be handed up to stagecoach drivers so they didn’t have to climb down from their seat. Above the glasses is a narrow shelf displaying an impressive collection of beer glasses.

The bartender, Maria, was quite pleasant but semi-camera shy. Initially she didn’t want me to take her picture at all but after I chatted with her a bit she let me take one but only if I did it while she was working. She wouldn’t actually pose for one.

The Semi-Bashful Maria

Dark wood paneling and English pub style booths line the wall opposite the bar and there is a nice lounge in the back with couches and a beer bottle display on the wall. Framed beer and liquor posters are mounted on the front of the drop ceiling over the back area. I particularly liked the one for absinthe. Pernod made the original absinthe and you can see the similarity in the design of the bottle. It was the wormwood that done in absinthe.

I had a Druid Fluid cask conditioned ale from the Middle Ages Brewing Company that is located in Syracuse, New York.

626) McFinn’s

Right across the street at 8 East 36th Street was this relatively new place that had been an Italian restaurant. There is a nice old wooden bar with a black foot rail. Brown wooden chairs with black vinyl seats and backs. Behind the bar is a brick wall with tiered shelves holding the liquor selection. Nice cabinets and three small plasma televisions. The top of the cabinet has all kinds of copper vessels, a couple of signal lamps with green glass fronts, and one wooden grappa barrel. Black and white photos of old Ireland hang on the tan walls. Wraparound banquettes with tables in front for dining against the wall opposite the bar.

It had a very friendly staff that made me feel right at home.

The Not At All Bashfull Bartenders Brona and Ronin

After a bit one of the owners came in and he showed me around a bit, including a nice little upstairs dining area. There is a small bar up there that used to be the downstairs bar when it was still an Italian restaurant. Now it is a place to have a drink either before or after dinner and probably gets a bit of use when the area is used for private parties. There is a small dance floor too.

About half-way through my drink I started to feel really hammered and couldn’t figure out why, It was just my second drink for the day. I figured it out when I got home though. I looked up the Druid Fluid and found out that it has an alcohol content of 9.5%, and I had a 20 ounce pint. On top of that I kind of chugged the last half of it just before I left The Ginger Man.

I had a Dewar’s and Soda.

627) Woo Chon

I headed back toward Penn Station to catch my subway home and passed by this Korean restaurant at 10 West 36th Street that had a small bar up front. It was raining and chilly and I was damp so I decided to stop in to warm up a bit. It was only 3:00 P.M. but seemed much later because it was gray as only New York seems to get when it rains. On top of that I was still a bit tipsy from my Druid Fluid. This little pocket bar, just 5 chairs, hit the spot though. They served hot sake out of something like a coffee urn so I am sure it wasn’t top quality. But then hot sake usually isn’t. They also gave me three little dishes of kimchee so they helped to warm me up as well. A little corner shelf behind the bar holds the liquor and small blue saucer shaped lights hang over the bar. At my elbow was a bouquet of orange bulbed flowers in a vase with a Korean design. The flowers were fake though.

At the other end of the bar was a glass container of a clear liquid over ginseng roots and Bar Man couldn’t help himself and ordered a small bottle.

Big mistake. It cost twice as much as the larger bottle of sake and tasted like medicine. Oh well, live and learn.

Bar Man Preparing to "Enjoy" His Gingseng Liquor

I had a bottle of hot sake and small bottle of the ginseng liquor.

A fun day with three bars hit bringing my total for the year to 627 and leaving me with 373 to go.


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