714) Blarney Cove
On 14th Street between Avenues A and B at the edge of the infamous alphabet city is this equally infamous dive bar. It is one of those typical boxcar, or shotgun-shack, configuration, not very long and not very wide. It is on a desolate stretch of 14th Street and you could almost pass it by if you weren’t careful. Once inside though you may decide to make it your regular hangout (assuming you are a heavy drinking male between the ages of, well, any age really). The bar is dark wood and there is a little separate overflow bar further back. The bar chairs were black metal with black vinyl cushions and backs. There is a kind of a light stone wall behind the bar with three large mirrors and rows of narrow shelves holding liquor bottles and glasses. The wall opposite the bar was paneled on the lower half and had green and tan striped wallpaper above. A few mirrors with beer advertising and some stained glass lamps were mounted on it.
The décor here consists primarily of an Irish flag and bags of snacks. There are a couple of televisions, OTB horse racing on one and, at the request of one of my companions, the Yankees game on the other.
Ah yes, my companions. I met a couple of guys, Josh and Harry (Josh is on the left and Harry is, by default, on the right in the picture above) who had just come from Nevada Smiths where they watched the Arsenal/Chelsea soccer game. Apparently that place opened early so they had already had a few beers before we hooked up. I had first met Josh at The Gate where I celebrated my 500th bar.
Because it seemed like the thing to do here, I had a bottle of Budweiser and headed out with Josh and Harry to explore more of the East Village.
Budweiser though, not Guinness
715) 7B or Vazac’s Horseshoe Bar
At 108 Avenue A on the corner of 7th Street is another old, classic dive bar. This neighborhood still has a lot of them but the neighborhood, it is a-changin’ - so get here while you can. A few short years ago there was nothing but druggies, dealers, and hookers here. Now it is becoming very gentrified and changing quickly. It might be worth a trip to New York just to visit this neighborhood before it is gone forever.
The place gets part of its name from the fact that the bar is, indeed, horseshoe shaped. Now there are old beat-up bars and, rarely, a bar so old you have to be careful not to pick up a sliver. This is one of the latter. The center island is just as beat-up as the bar itself with old wooden cabinets with pillars and wood and glass shelves. Lots of liquor on those shelves. Blackboards with drink and beer specials hang on the walls. Old overhead fans with either pink globe lights or pink domed shaped lights hang from the ceiling. Really old wooden shelves and paneling on the walls. Some of these shelves have the faded remnants of old specials that once were available. When you see an advertisement for either a shrimp or lobster cocktail for 35 cents you know it is old. I wish I could still get the pig knuckles and sauerkraut though. This is a pre-prohibition bar, so the advertisements are authentic, not reproductions. The shelves against the wall display old liquor boxes rather than bottles. This bar has been in a number of movies including Crocodile Dundee and The Color Of Money are a couple of them.
Oh No!! Another Tom Cruise connection, but now I seem to be linked more with <Paris Hilton> You have to scroll down a bit and I don't know why, certainly Bar Man should be on top of Paris Hilton.
There are wrap-around windows with small panes. The panes on the edges are red or green except where one has been broken and replaced. There are a couple of televisions and a pinball machine. Small tables in front of black cushioned benches line the walls. They had a really nice selection of beers.
I had a draft Tetley’s.
716) Doc Holliday’s
Not far away at 141 Avenue A on the corner of 9th Street is this bar that wouldn’t be out of place in some small town in Texas. You actually enter through swinging doors. There are places that try to look like a country-western bar and then there are country-western bars. This place is a close to the real deal that you can ever hope to find in Manhattan. The only real difference is that the cowboy boots in here don’t have real cow manure adhering to them. And cowboy boots there are aplenty, most of them nailed to the brown stained green plywood ceiling,. though. This place looks as old as the hills, from the beat-up wooden bar with a silver rail to the old wooden shelves and cabinets behind the bar. The shelves are packed with more stuff than you can easily imagine; steer skulls, ukuleles, old dolls, you name it. I believe the bejeweled rat is named Ferdinand.
There is a pool table with red felt covering and a juke box playing great tunes. Actually Harry picked most of them out and he tended to favor Johnny Cash with a bit of ZZ Top thrown in. The wall opposite the bar is brick and covered with classic western pictures including a poster from the Western version of The Magnificent Seven and a portrait of John Wayne. Also, somewhat inexplicably, a large poster of Elvis, and not from his movie Charro either. Remember that movie? Elvis played a bearded and branded Jess Wade falsely accused of stealing a Mexican cannon. But, once again, I digress.
A partition separates the bar from old wooden booths. A real old and dirty Texas flag is draped from the ceiling. Sitting on the bar was one of the oldest brass beer stations that I have ever seen with seven spigots. A horn of some kind sits on the Bud Light tap. I didn’t see any televisions but there were a couple of deer heads on the wall.
The bartender, Stacy, showed me around the place and was particularly proud of the mural logo on the outside wall.
Stacy, The Bartender and Tour Guide
She was convinced that I had been into this place before and had given here a card, but I told her I couldn’t believe I wouldn’t have remembered. When I got home I checked my database and found that, indeed, I had not been there before. Perhaps she saw me someplace else, but we couldn’t figure out where it might have been. She gave me a list of other places to go that are owned by the same people that own this place. I am going to be sure to try them. If they are halfway as fun as this place I can’t go wrong. She suggested we visit Sophie’s next because it was close.
I had a draft Newcastle Brown Ale.
Have I mentioned that this is a great neighborhood for old, neighborhood bars? Between Avenues A and B at 507 5th Street, is another place with a bar so old you have to be careful of slivers. There is a brass rail and mismatched black bar chairs and a single stool. Two old brass beer stations sit on the bar with three spigots each. An interesting bar back with cabinets at each end that had stained glass doors. Above the cabinets were peaks like what you would see on a gabled house and connecting them was what looked like a rooftop. A team of horses pulling a beer barrel on wheels sits on the roof. Kind of variation of reindeer and Santa’s sleigh. Under the “roof” were mirrors and shelves of liquor. A pool table and a Monopoly pinball machine along with a Target Terror machine were in the back.
The wall behind the bar is brick and opposite the wall there is paneling below a red wall. Original artwork of a somewhat weird and dark nature graces the walls. A motley collection of tables and chairs are strewn about the place.
We had decided the best bet for finding the next place was simply to ask the bartender where we were drinking. John suggested we head down the street to Ace.
John, The Helpful Bartender
I had a Guiness
Just down the street at 531 5th Street was this much larger than average bar that was just opening when we arrived. It is divided into three sections with the bar in the middle. There is a nice old wooden bar with a brass rail and bar chairs. Interesting lights hang over the bar, they look kind of like electric room heaters (maybe they were). Four brass tubular beer stations with three spigots each sat on the bar. It was too dark behind the bar to see much except for mirrors and bottles.
There were three booths against the wall opposite the bar with red lights under rippled glass shades mounted on the wall above the tables. There were two pinball machines (Sopranos and Simpsons) up front and a large hologram of a werewolf mounted on the wall. A couple of round chairs with tables are up front along with a bench in a nook next to the entry-way. There is a large display of classic lunch boxes behind glass on the wall next to the nook. My favorite featured Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Double Bar Ranch. When I was but a Bar Boy I had a little alarm clock with a cowboy on horseback that rocked back and forth to the ticking (wipes away a nostalgic tear). There was also an Evel Knieval lunch box and I remember being in Louisville Kentucky when he failed in his jump across the Snake River. The only mention in the newspaper was a box score in the sports section that said “Snake River 1 – Evel Knieval 0. There were also a whole slew of neon beer signs on the wall opposite the lunch boxes.
In the large back section of the bar were two well spaced pool tables covered in red felt and two dartboards with well space lanes. No problems with people bumping into each other. There was ample seating here as well. Against the back wall were booths with pleated red vinyl seats. Two large canvas sideshow banners, one for Rubber Girl and one for and Indian Fakir, hung above the pool tables. There was also interesting artwork on the green brick, red brick, and stone walls. A large Skelly (red flying horse) sign hung on one wall.
We got lucky because they had free pool and free bagels with cream cheese when we got there. The bagels hit the spot and Josh and Harry shot a few games of pool while I took notes. We asked the bartender where we should go next and she suggested Zum Schneider, a small beer garden. She was friendly enough but camera shy so I didn’t get a picture.
I had a draft Boddington’s.
719) Zum Schneider
Well, Harry headed home but Josh said the bagel gave him a second wind so we trucked on to 107 7th Street on the corner of Avenue C. This is a small indoor beer garden with a lot of outside seating. The bar is interesting enough with a Plexiglas top over light wood. There were a couple of recessed illuminated panels with some kind of plastic leaves in them. They have an extremely large selection of German beers, both in bottles and on tap (a dozen spigots that could see). Some trees decorated with lights inside and a few tables. There is a small stage and they have events here all the time that look to be a lot of fun. There next big bash is going to be their 5th Anniversary Party on September 3rd and 4th. From what I have seen of their previous parties, I am going to be there.
You can check out their website by clicking a dancer below:
The heck with trying to put a few more bars on my resume, I deserve a break and I am taking it here.
Well, the second wind from the bagel didn’t last long so after we finished our beers, I had a draft Algauer, and Josh and Bar Man hopped a cab and headed home (separate homes so don’t get any funny ideas).
A great day and I hit six bars for a total of 719 for the year and leaving 281 for the year. Know I understand why working out with a buddy is better than working out alone. You are pushed further than you normally would push yourself. Thanks Josh and Harry, looking forward to seeing you at Duff’s on August 20th.