Saturday, July 09, 2005

A Peculierly Good Day

It started out being a pleasant enough day and I thought I would take a stroll down to Greenwich Village to visit a few old haunts, particularly the Peculier Pub. There was a bit of a street fair going but it wasn’t too crowded. Later in the day there were a few showers and that packed the bars up a bit. It was a fun day though and somewhat nostalgic as well.

628) Village Lantern

A venerable old institution at 167 Bleeker Street, between Sullivan Street and Thompson Street. It has good entertainment in the evening and the Italian food is reported to be very good. There is also a downstairs lounge that I didn’t get a look out. It has been around for a long time and looks it age. A really beat-up wooden bar with a brass rail. Dark wood and metal chairs with black vinyl cushions on some of them. Fairly plain wooden cabinetry behind the bar with glass shelves holding the glasses in the wooden spaces that flank three mirrors. There are tiered shelves in front of the mirrors holding the liquor selection and a glass shelf in front of them holds some of the bottles of their better stuff, including a bottle of Johnny Walker Gold Label. Televisions on each end of the bar are showing a Boston/Baltimore baseball game. The wall opposite the bar is brick and there are little niches in it that, I presume, hold candles latter in the evening. Tables and booths line the wall and there are gray leather banquettes in the back where some kind of renovation was going on. I had to wait a bit for my beer because some tourists with limited English skills were taking a long time trying to decide what kind of vodka they wanted to shots of. They kept going by color and then rejecting the selection when they found out what it was. Ah, red one. Watermelon, no, green one. They finally had shots of Smirnoff. Go figure.

I had a Hoegaarden with a slice of lemon. Quite refreshing.

629) Peculier Pub

Ah, memories of the old days. Friends of mine and I used to go to this place when it was located on West 4th Street where the Slaughtered Lamb is now located. Now it is at 145 Bleeker. Sometime ago the owner, Tommy, got an offer too good to refuse and relocated to this much larger space. You walk down a few steps and you are in a fairly dark cavernous space with wooden booths and a lot of bottle cap art (yes, bottle cap) and beer memorabilia on the walls.

They have a huge selection of beers, we are talking close to 500, and bartenders that know quite a bit about them. They used to have to take and pass a devilishly difficult test devised by Tommy if you wanted to stay employed. Don’t know the difference between a double and a triple bok, and when it is traditionally made, better study up a bit. Luckily you don’t have to know the answers to drink here. Strangely enough, with all the beers being offered, Tommy says he sells more Budweiser than everything else combined. Coors Light must run a close second though. This is because it is usually packed with NYU students who, one can only assume, don’t know any better because it isn’t any cheaper than the good stuff.

There is a great old bar with a black foot rest and some really neat porcelain beer stations sitting on it and all kinds of taps behind it.

Monique, The Friendly Bartender: Has Not Yet Taken The Test

Little blue shaded lights hang over the long end of the bar and little round Chinese style lights with blue stars hang over the short end. Ceramic cats, mirrors, and stained glass above the old wooden shelves holding the liquor behind the bar.

The owner keeps saying he is going to retire, but I have been hearing this for years. I guarantee you the place will not be the same if he does because he is the beer-master and I doubt if he could be replaced. Get here while you can because it won’t be here, at least as it is now, forever. Tommy gave me a shirt for old times sake and bought me my first (oops, more than one again) beer. We go back a long way. I was at his one-year anniversary party at his old place.

I had a Pere Jacques to start, a dubbel brewed by Goose Island Brewery in Illinois. Now, if you worked here you would have to know what a dubbel is. For starters, it is a Belgian abbey style beer. It was very good and was the owner’s recommendation. I followed this up with a Kelpie Seaweed Ale that, yes, is made with seaweed. It tastes better than it sounds, but you definitely get a taste of the sea. It is brewed in Scotland by Heather Ale LTD. Now the theory goes that in the 1800s alehouses on the coast of Scotland brewed there beer with malted barely that was grown on fields fertilized by seaweed. This gave the barley a specific flavor that is now being recreated by adding fresh seaweed to the mash tun. Not sure if I buy this. Most stuff doesn’t really taste like what you use to fertilize it. Anyone for a cow-pie porter?

630) Red Lion

Staying on Bleeker, I never get off it today, at 151 Bleeker, on the corner of Thompson Street, is another bar that has been around for awhile. Places are starting to pack up now because it is raining. The first thing I noticed was more bottle-cap art. Must be the work of a local artist. There is another beat up bar in here with a black foot rest and bar chairs with padded burgundy seats and backs. Interesting tan patterned glass shaded lights hang over the bar. Old mirrored wood work behind the bar with brass patterned decorations and lions heads on top. Lots of mirrors, glass shelves, and liquor. The small cocktail shakers sitting just behind the bar leads me to believe that they make decent cocktails here. A fair selection of draft beers are pulled from spigots mounted on two inverted U shaped stations. There is a stage up front and televisions on each end of the bar and one large screen television tucked away in the back. Lots of dark wood, high tables and chairs. Kind of Greenwich Village meets English pub. The weather was contributing to the English pub in Greenwich Village ambience. But, all and all, it was fairly pleasant. It looks like it might be clearing up a bit so maybe I will make it home relatively dry.

I had a Dewar’s and soda to take the chill off.

631) Back Fence

I figured I would pop in here for one last one and to wait out the last of the rain. This is on 155 Bleeker, on the corner of Thompson opposite the Red Lion. Strong smell of wintergreen when I walked in. Maybe the guy at the end of the bar had sore muscles and had applied some kind of liniment. He was busy trying to chat up the bartender by using that sure to score line, “If I was forty years younger.”

Jennifer, The Forty Years Too Young Bartender

Peanuts in shells on the old bar and peanut shells and sawdust on the floor. What’s not to like about this place. You actually get used to the wintergreen pretty quickly. I have smelled worse things in bars. The bar has a black mosaic foot rest and there is a strange looking brown plastic canopy hanging over the bar. There is a small stage in the back and lots of little tables with red and white checked tablecloths. Small paned windows on the two sides facing the streets. It was a decent little bar and a good place to end the day.

I had another Dewar’s and soda and the chill was off.

A fun day with just a spat of rain and I hit four bars bringing my total to 631 for the day leaving me with 369 to go. Still have to hustle a bit to hit 118 more by August 20th. No problem though, I shall prevail.

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