For some reason I had less success than usual getting bartenders to pose for pictures. Actually, only the bartenders in two places didn’t want their picture taken. In one place the bartender was so wigged out that I don’t think she could have stood still long enough to have her picture taken. More on her later.
619) Hudson Place
A swanky looking place on 36th Street and 3rd Avenue. It has a tannish marble topped bar with a wood paneled front and foot rest. The foot rest was a bit too narrow to use comfortably though. Bad design. The bar chairs were black with black vinyl seats. There were several place settings on the bar with stemware and linen napkins. Plenty of places were left open for us drinkers though. Fresh peanuts in a bowl were set in front of me so I had a bit of lunch too (peanuts are one of the basic food groups). Candles were being lit and placed on the bar as I sipped and nibbled.
The back of the bar faces out onto 36th Street and two windows, the lower half with rippled glass, look out upon it. You can’t really see much though because orange awnings cover most of the clear top part, just a narrow strip gives you a view of the top of the occasional passing truck. Tiered shelves in front of the windows hold the liquor and there is a mirror between them separated by a flat wood column that has parchment shaded lamps mounted on them and two levels of shelves on top holding wine bottles. There is one of these on the other side of each window as well, for a total of four.
Opposite the bar and separating it from the dining area is a partition with a ledge for drinks and some stools. There is another more intimate looking dining room in the back that looks like a private library; bookshelves, floral patterned banquettes with tables in front, and framed black and white pictures of old New York hanging on the paneled wall.
The bartender was very pretty and very friendly. We chatted quite a bit because the place hadn’t filled up yet. She is from Taiwan and when I mentioned the Mysterious Chinese Woman and my quest she was quite interested. On of the barmen had seen a couple of articles about me in the paper but I still could not convince her to pose. She said she only worked part time and didn’t think she could really represent the restaurant. I think she was just shy.
I had a Tanqueray and tonic.
Up 3rd Avenue a block at 560 is this place decked out to look like a bar in a small town down south. Not that any small bar down south could ever have so much stuff on the walls. It is kind of a neat place though. The bar top is clear plastic covering beer bottle caps and coasters. The décor reminded me of Duke’s (I visited there earlier this year) and then I noticed that the coaster in front of me had “Earl Wuz Here ‘67’” and above that was scrawled “Duke Wuz Here Too.” It turns out that both places are owned by the same people. The front of the bar is plastered with baseball cards, cigar bands, and coasters. The overhang above the bar is covered with 45s (records, not guns). Old movie posters on plastered on the rest of the ceiling that is white painted patterned tin. The walls are covered with sports cards, ticket stubs, and small sports pennants.
Machines behind the bar churn out such drinks as Big Ass Hurricanes, Earl’s Spiked Lemonade, and the Duke-A-Rita. Three levels of shelves in front of a large mirror hold the liquor and also displays the bottled beer selection. Old bumper stickers for Presidential candidates are stuck to the mirror behind the drink machines. The Wallace for President sticker must be a classic. The lights hanging above the bar are in a variety of styles but are all kind of frosted white. The bar chairs are turquoise and sit on black poles so they spin; Whee. There is both a brass rail and footrests on the chairs.
Once again the bartenders declined the opportunity to have their pictures taken for some reason. Oh well, what can you do? I had a draft Allagash served in a jar with a handle. The beer is a Belgian style white and is made by the Allagash Brewery in New England. It was quite good. Allagash makes a wide variety of interesting beers and everyone that I have sampled has been pretty good.
621) Il Sogno
I decided to head over to 2nd Avenue and passed this Italian restaurant with a large outdoor eating area. It is located at 222 39th Street on the corner of a short street heading into the Midtown Tunnel. It is located on the main floor of the Eastgate Tower hotel. I figured I would just pop in for a glass of wine. It had a nice wooden bar with a bar rail and wooden bar chairs that had orange fabric seats. Behind the bar is interesting cabinetry that features a mirror with glass shelves in front holding some of their fancier liquors and a gold statue of a half man, half horse spear bearing warrior. Bar Man is a Sagittarius so he identified. He was also born in the Year of the Monkey, but we won’t form any associations about that. Next to those shelves is a set of cabinets with glass doors that hold even more exotic liquors. Very nice gun-metal gray and blue glass lights hang over the bar.
There were only two people in the place and they were intermittently joined by either the manager. There seemed to be a concerted effort by the two men to get the attractive Russian woman drunk. Nothing like downing shots of tequila to get the afternoon off to a good start. Based upon my personal experience drinking with Russians, both male and female, the woman will be the only one walking out on her own.
I had a glass of Chianti.
This is a small bar at 700 2nd Avenue on the corner of 38th Street that obviously caters to a clientele made up mostly of firefighters. Most, if not all, of the decorations have do with firefighters. The one exception might be the little bulb-like Chinese lantern lights that ring the rectangular bar with the serving station in the middle. Two ornate copper beer stations, in bad need of polishing, offer up their beer selections. They do have a Bravest Amber Ale, but Bar Man is getting a bit suspicious of small bars that have draft beers named after them. There are all kinds of tributes to firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11 and in other fires. There are also patches on the walls from firefighters from around the world.
The bartender, Leah, was most friendly.
Leah, The Friendly And Charming Bartender
We talked a bit about bars in the neighborhood. It turns out that her family owns Bravest and she lives upstairs. It is nice to run into a family owned and operated bar once in awhile. You don’t see them that often anymore. On a bit of a sadder note, this place used to be Wanda’s Full Moon Saloon. Wanda’s husband was a firefighter who died on September 11th and she renamed the bar in his memory. Leah told me I should try Hook And Ladder down the street and that she knew the bartender on duty. Well, that didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped.
I had a Dewar’s and soda.
623) Hook And Ladder
This bar, that also caters to firefighters, is located down 2nd Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets. Things started out a bit bizarrely when I told the bartender that I had been sent by Leah from Bravest. At first she said she didn’t know her, then when I said it was the bar just up the street her memory got a bit better. Then, when I asked if I could take a picture she started going on about how she had been in public relations, that her pictures were all over the internet, that I just couldn’t come in and start taking pictures of her, whew. When I said that I wasn’t just taking pictures and had only asked her if I could she said I couldn’t just come in and demand that I take her pictures. One of the customers who seemed to know her calmed her down a bit and explained that I had only politely asked if I could take her picture. Then the bartender told me she had only had two hours of sleep and needed to freshen up a bit first. Well, she did duck into the bathroom a couple of times but came out looking pretty much the same as when she went in, just a bit more hyper each time. I think she was high on something other than life. Maybe she just has some really strong coffee. When she got into an argument with a customer about the price of drinks I decided to just dump down my own drink, cut my losses, and head on out the door.
I had a Dewar’s and soda.
624) Park Avenue Hotel
I popped in here on the way back to Grand Central Terminal where I catch my subway home. Bar Man needed the cool, dark, calmness of a classy hotel bar, and I got I found it here. The bartender had no problem with me taking her picture and was most helpful in pointing out some bars that I should include in my quest. Man, what a difference a bartender can make in terms of the comfort level of a bar. I shall now go home a happy man.
Viviana, The Right Bartender At The Right Time
This place was nice and cool on a warm and humid day. It has a small cracked glass top above lavender plastic that was lit from below. Plush padded armrests in the front and a square metal foot rail. Wood bar chairs with silvery gray fabric seats and backs. Light pinkish purple shaded lamps dangling clear beads hang on each side of the dark shelves holding the liquor selection. There was a plasma television showing ESPN news. Plush green banquettes line the wall opposite the bar. Interestingly patterned overhead lights made me think I was drinking under some kind of camouflage netting in a tropical jungle.
They Won't Find Me Under Here
I had a glass of Lois, a refreshing white Austrian wine made from Gruner Veltliner selected from various vineyards in the Kamp valley, it is light and scented. Fermented solely in stainless steel, it has a lovely perfume with good balance and raciness on the palate. It is produced by Loimer Langenlois. I copied that description from the internet, but it seems accurate enough.
Another good day, except for one glitch, hit six bars making 624 for the year and leaving 376 more to go.