Sunday, July 10, 2005

Wandering in Williamsburg

I decided to head to Williamsburg today. It was nice and sunny and I wanted to take a peak at Duff’s, even though I knew it would be closed, at least until later than I planned on sticking around. I couldn’t really have a drink there anyway, got to save it for August 20th. Luckily I live in a neighborhood full of subways so I just hopped the G train.

632) Mugg’s Ale House

Right on the corner of Bedford and 10th Street is this well-known old bar that has been in Williamsburg since before Williamsburg became hip. A bit of a sparse, but nonetheless loud, crowd of regulars. Friendly enough group. They were showing a replay of the Coney Island Hotdog Eating Contest on one of the televisions so that became a topic of conversation. We were lamenting the retirement of some of the old-timers who just can’t compete with the new champion. Takeru Kobayashi had won it for the fifth year in a row with 49 hotdogs. Last year he set the record with 53 ½. The American record, by comparison, is a rather paltry 32. Of course that is held by Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas and is the woman’s world record. Ah, the things that hold one's attention in a bar on an early Sunday afternoon.

There is a nice old wooden bar with a black and white mosaic foot rest that matches the rest of the floor. Plain wood bar chairs. They have a lot of beer offerings with about 30 on tap. They had two pumps for cask conditioned ales but none were available. The bartender said they don’t sell well when the weather is warm. They also have a nice selection of single malt scotches and small batch bourbons as well sitting on tiered shelves behind the bar, above the beer glasses and in front of the mirrors. A couple of blackboards display some of the beer selections. There are a lot of coolers with glass doors behind the bar that hold their ample selection of bottled beers.

There are tables along the wall opposite the bar and separated from it by wood partitions topped by bright brass rails. Booths are in the back. The walls are mostly dark wood paneling with a band of light yellow cement just below the ornate tin ceiling that is painted tan. Little white Christmas lights ring the place at the top of the paneling and just below them hang a large assortment of beer mugs and steins. Assorted beer coasters also decorate the walls. There is a Soprano’s pinball machine in one corner and a great jukebox. Dr. John was playing most of the time I was there. All and all a fine place to hang out.

I had a draft Delirium Tremors, a Belgian style beer.

633) Spike Hill

Moving along down the avenue a bit to 184 Bedford I spotted a few more bars. The first one I came to was this one and there was an interesting coincidence. The bartender, who was extremely busy because the place was packed, also works at Duff’s sometimes.

Christina, The Bustling Bartender

We chatted about that place and even though she doesn’t work on Saturdays she said she would try to stop by Duff's on August 20th for my 750th. When I say she was busy I mean she was really busy. She barely had time to stop for a moment so I could take her picture. The food looked great and it appears that this must be the place to come for Sunday brunch.

There is a dark wood bar and bar stools. A brick wall behind the bar and some very ornate woodwork, somewhat reminiscent of a large fireplace mantle. The narrow shelves on each side of the mirror and the shelves in front of the mirror hold a large selection of single malt scotches, small batch bourbons, and a few Irish whiskies. Lot’s of liquor and a display of their bottled beer selection (quite extensive) sit on shelves on each side of the “mantle.” There are a couple sets of antlers on the wall but, because the heads were missing, I am not sure what kind of an animal they were from. Something kind of small though. Large white globe lights hang over the bar.

Opposite the bar is a ledge with stools in front for additional drinking room. The wall is covered with mirrors advertising beers. In the back were dark, semi-enclosed booths for a more private eating and drinking experience. Looks like it would be a real nice place to drop into for brunch sometime.

I had a draft Weihenstephan,, a German wheat beer.

634) Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern

Just next door is this interesting place. To say it is a bit eclectic would be a vast understatement. It is a narrow, dark place with a plain wooden bar and a black foot rest. The bar chairs are black metal with red vinyl seats and backs. The floor is a dark linoleum tile. The lower half of the walls are dark paneling and the top is painted red. Opposite the bar are little booths with black seats with red backs and gray Formica topped tables. The bartender was an amiable guy with a bit of a biker look to him. So far so good, a typical bar like many others.

But, the ceiling is covered with baskets of brightly colored flowers, butterflies, red, white, and blue shiny stars, and a couple of eagles. And when I say covered, I do mean covered. White Christmas lights are strong from the tops of the walls and red hats with stars hang from them. More garlands of flowers drape the mirrors behind the bar that is stacked with Styrofoam cups. Apparently one of the draws is that you can get large amounts of draft beer in them for reasonable prices. It was the bar’s fiftieth anniversary so I asked the bartender if the decorations were special for that. He said no, they were from the Fourth of July (except for the flowers, which are permanent). Apparently they change the decorations for different holidays. He said I should check back for Halloween.

I had a Dewar’s and soda.

635) Zebulon

Down towards Duff’s at 258 Wythe Street is this jazz club with a nice little bar. And it was open on a Sunday afternoon. Just a plain wooden bar with no foot rest or bar rail. Whilte globe lights are suspended over the bar. A tin ceiling and a dark wooden floor. When we got there sitar music was playing and that was followed by mournful guitar music. Soon to change though. There is a large oil painting of a crusader next to the bar in the front, badly in need of repair. The stage is in the back and music starts at 10:00 P.M. A bit late for the Bar Man to be boogying these days, especially so far from home. There are a lot of album covers on the walls and a lot of albums along with CDs by the DJ set-up.

I spotted a Frank Zappa album cover and started talking to one of the bartenders, Terezka, about it.

The Bartenders, Terezka and Maria

It turned out that Terezka, along with the owner, were great Frank Zappa fans and he had a number of his albums. Bar Man has about a dozen of them but he had several that I didn’t have and started playing some. Now that was great, sitting there drinking, listening too and talking about Frank Zappa.

I had a draft Bass ale.

636) Ceol

I took the subway back to my neighborhood where they were having a Bastille Day street fair. The Mysterious Chinese Lady and I were hoping to stop into Bar Tabac to get some mussels but as we were walking there this bright green place jumped out at me. It turns out that it is new and was formerly Smithwicks.

Samantha, The Bartender At The New Ceola

Aside from the new paint and some changes to the back dining room it is the same as it used to be so I won’t go into any details. This is the first time though that I have been able to count the same place as two different bars. Might not be the last though. It seems that in New York bars are either around forever or they change hands fairly quickly.

I had a Dewar’s and soda.

We couldn’t get into Bar Tabac though, it was too crowded. Wandered around the fair a bit and lost the Mysterious Chinese Lady in the crowd, or maybe she just went poof. One never knows about her.

A fun day in a neighborhood relatively new for me. It isn’t that far by subway though so I will be visiting Williamsburg again. Lot’s more bars over there.

I hit five bars for the day bringing my total for the year to 636 and leaving 364 to go.


Michael Dietsch said...

Spike Hill's one of my favorite places in W-burg. Although the bartenders always seem busy, they always give great service, and as you saw, their selections of whisk(e)y and beer are great.

Four more of our W-burg haunts are Iona, Zabloski's, East River, and Diner. The first three are bars, whereas Diner is a restaurant that just happens to have a full bar. (And I believe that counts, for your purposes.)

You might especially like Diner because it's built in an old diner car, and the bar is the old lunch counter.

1000 Bars said...

I had a great time at Spike Hill and, as you said, although the bartender was busy she was very pleasant and did take the time to chat with me and have her picture taken. I think I am heading back to Williamsburg this afternoon, I liked the neighborhood so much.

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