Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Sunny Sunday Stroll

It was a lovely Sunday, bright skies and quite warm. A fine day to visit one of my favorite neighborhoods, the East Village (AKA Alphabet City). And, as isn’t difficult to do in that neighborhood, found three bars closely clustered.

904) Mona’s



At the corner of Avenue B and 14th Street is this dark, narrow bar with no markings outside other than a sheet of typewriter paper taped to the door that said you have to be 21 and able to prove it in order to enter. Of course this place doesn’t really need a sign, it is a neighborhood bar that has been around since the 1970’s, long before this are was trendy and, in fact, was barely habitable. The bar is old dark wood with a crushed stone in cement foot rest. The rest of the floor is the same, but with different colored crushed stones. Two mirrors behind the bar and separated by columns with built in rippled bluish-gray lights. Below the mirrors are old wooden cabinets with tiered shelves of liquor on top. You can have your choice of sitting on metal bar stools or chairs with black seats. There are three old tubular brass beer stations, two have three spigots and one with but a single spigot pouring hard cider.

I chatted with the bartender, Nicole, about the neighborhood, other bars, life in general…, the usual stuff that you chat about. She was most friendly and it was a fun visit.

Nicole, The Friendly And Informative Bartender


The walls are mostly deep rose except for a stretch of brick painted a reddish brown. Up front under the two small windows is a small dark wood bench with purple cushions. The wall opposite the bar has wood paneling going up about waist high with a ledge on top and chrome barstools with black cushions sitting in front of it. The wall above the ledge is unpainted brick.

There is a good sized back room with a pool table. They have live Irish music on Monday’s and this seems like it would be a fun place to listen to it. By the way, Mona was a cat. Doubtful if it is still alive though.

I had a Woodpecker Cider.

905 B-Side



Just down a block at 204 Avenue B between 13th and 12th Streets is this place that is configured much like Mona’s, narrow, dark, with a back room with a busy pool table. An old bar with a metal top and a wood arm rest, plus a brass rail. Te front of the bar is wood with circular decorations. The bar back is patterned tin and mirrors covered with snapshots and blackboards with drink specials written in white chalk. I wonder who actually orders a $9 Mudslide. On the other hand, Bar Man could go for the $5 beer and a shot special, a can of Rheingold and a shot of whiskey. A string of Jack-O-Lanterns hang above the bar.

I chatted with this bartender, Tracy, about drink preferences. She likes Maker’s Mark, as do I , but seems to prefer it on the rocks or tossed down as a shot. I fancy Maker’s Mark Manhattans. We also discussed the proper way to make Margaritas and how Gimlets give you heartburn. A kindred spitit.

Tracy, A Kindred Spirit


The wall opposite the bar is red paneling with a narrow ledge and patterned tiles above. Pinup girls painted on pieces of what looks like a metal airplane wing. The ceiling is patterned tin with light fixtures that reminded me of water sprinklers with red bulbs at the end. Two statures of characters from Hellraiser sit on top of the television sitting to the right of the bar.

I had a bottle of Woodpecker Cider.

906) Luca Lounge



On the way back to 14th to catch the subway home I passed by Luca Lounge which was just opening up when I passed by it the first time. I would have to say that if you are only going to visit one bar in this neighborhood you might want to pop into this one. On the other hand, why would you only want to visit just one bar when there are so many great ones around here.

This place is like a cross between your grandmother’s parlor and the hotel in Psycho. It probably looks much cheerier during the day but the dim lights, candles, and Halloween cobwebs strewn about the place add to the spooky feel. The bar is old wood with a foot rail. Wooden bar chairs. A vase with a large spray of pussy willows sit on one end of the bar. There are two silver beer stations on the bar, one with four spigots and one with a single spigot poring Guinness. Old wooden cabinets and shelves behind the bar along with a couple of old mirrors hanging on the brick wall. White glass inverted mushroom shaped lights hang over the bar. Mel, the bartender, was most friendly and, again, we chatted a bit about the place and the neighborhood before she pulled me my beer.

Mel, The Bartender Pulling My Beer


There is a large back area filled with old over-stuffed chairs and sofas and coffee tables. There was also a foosball machine and a table-top Ms. PacMan machine. This is a most comfortable and quite large area. It looks like this was once two places that have been joined together. The back area spans the width of two places while the bar is in a more narrow section with the dining area and small kitchen in the room “next door.” In the back is a large outdoor area that has two levels to it. A balcony type seating area rings, on three sides, the lower and larger area. There are plenty of tables with red umbrellas and chairs so it would hold a lot of people. There is also a lot of foliage and I have to say it is one of the nicest outdoor areas that I have seen. It was cheerfully lit with candles and given how warm it was I could see where it would do a nice business. It is too bad this place doesn’t open until 5:00 P.M. because it would be a great place to hang out on a warm sunny afternoon.

After I finished my beer at the bar the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I went to the next door room for a pizza. This area has wooden tables with chairs and a bench along a brick wall. The opposite wall is white tile like you might see in a subway station going up about half way and beige paint above that. Paintings with a wide variety of subject matter, some of it a bit bizarre, hang on the walls. You can look into the open kitchen at one end with a pizza oven occupying the place of honor. The pizza was very good too, especially if you like the crisp thin crusted kind.

I had a draft Pilsner Urquell before toddling off home.

A nice three bars making 906 for the year and leaving 94 to go. It still feels a bit strange typing in only two digits for the number of bars to go. Oh Mama, I am heading home.

37 comments:

Peter Fleming said...

Hey Dan,

Terry has been talking about Mona's for years, he grew up in StuyTown. If it's the place I'm thinking of, he took me, Tiki Barmaid and his now wife there about 15 years ago, when we were all dating. I, being the Manhattan newbie from Queens, was quickly intimidated. I believe the inside at the time had bare walls with plaster broken and electrical cables showing. We entered with the women, and I swear, it felt like 7 men with a total of 15 teeth slowly turned, grinned and said "womens" in their minds.

We didn't stay long.

1000 Bars said...

It is much nicer now than it used to be. But then so is the whole neighborhood.

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We all know the effects (and after-effects) of beer. But lifting a glass of cool liquid to your mouth on a scorching hot day, have you ever stopped to consider the processes and ingredients involved in making it? Well maybe not but here is the answer anyway!

Simply, beer is a fermented combination of water, barley, yeast and hops. The major variation in any beer is the type of yeast used in the fermentation process.

Let's look at the properties of this beverage.
Water is the main ingredient of beer. In the past, the purity of the water influenced the final result and was specific to the region of the earth from which it came. Today, water is filtered of these impurities, although pure water supplies are still ideally preferred by elite brewers.

Barley malt is an extremely important ingredient in beer as it is the main source of fermentable sugar. Many new breweries use barley malt extract, in either syrup or powder form, as this form ferments much quicker. It also contains many minerals and vitamins that help the yeast to grow.

Without yeast, beer would not exist. Yeast is a unique single cell organism that eats sugar and expels alcohol and carbon dioxide, two of the more recognizable ingredients of beer. Yeast comes in several variations, of which there are two major categories that determine the type of beer produced; Ale yeast and Lager yeast. If yeast alone were used the beer would be extremely sweet and therefore another ingredient needs to be added to reach the final product.

Hops are the flowers of the hop plant, a climbing vine plant that grows well in many differing climates. Hops contain acids which add bitterness to beer. Adding bitterness to beer helps to balance the sweetness, as well as acting as a natural preservative. Add more hops to the mixture and you will get a more bitter taste. This kind of beer is extremely popular in Britian and is simply referred to as "Bitter" (the original names are always the best!).

Variations of these ingredients create different tasting beers as well as having an affect on the alcoholic content.
When making your own beer many good resources are available which provide home brewing kits. It is important to read the ingredients of the packets in order to ascertain which has the best mixture according to your needs. One quick tip which many home brewers fail to adhere to is this: "Use fresh still water"!

Many have often sought information on how to make beer and the basic homebrewing equipment is not very expensive you can get what you need, for as little as $100.
In order to start making beer, you will need the following: A brewpot, Primary fermenter, Airlock and stopper, Bottling bucket, Bottles, Bottle brush, Bottle capper, and a thermometer.
In addition you can even use items from your kitchen to aid in the beer making. A breakdown of all the equipment is as follows: Brewpot A brewpot is made of stainless steel or enamel-coated metal which has at least 15 litre capacity, but it's no good if it's made of aluminum or if it's a chipped enamelized pot, (these will make the beer taste funny). The brew pot is used to boil the ingredients thus begins the first stage of beer making.

Primary fermenter

The primary fermenter is where the beer begins to ferment and become that fabulous stuff that makes you so funny and charming. The primary fermenter must have a minimum capacity of 26 litres and an air tight seal it must also accommodate the airlock and rubber stopper. Make sure the one you buy is made of food-grade plastic, as it wont allow the bad stuff in or let the good stuff out.

Airlock and stopper

The airlock is a handy gadget which allows carbon dioxide to escape from your primary fermenter during fermentation, it is this process that keeps it from exploding, but it doesn't allow any of the bad air from outside to enter. It fits into a rubber stopper, and is placed into the top of your primary fermenter. The stoppers are numbered according to size, so make sure you use the correct stopper for the correct hole

Plastic hose

This is a food grade plastic hose which measures approximately 5 feet in length. It is needed to transfer the beer from system to system, and it is imperitive that it is kept clean and free from damage or clogs

Bottling bucket

This is a large, food-grade plastic bucket with a tap for drawing water at the bottom, it needs to be as big as your primary fermenter, because you need the capacity to pour all the liquid from your primary fermenter into a bottling bucket prior to bottling up.

Bottles

After fermentation, you place the beer in bottles for secondary fermentation and storage. You need enough bottles to hold all the beer you're going to make, the best kind of bottles are solid glass ones with smooth tops (not the twist-off kind) that will accept a cap from a bottle capper. You can use plastic ones with screw-on lids, but they arent as good for fermentation and dont look as well.

Whether you use glass or plastic bottles, make sure they are dark-colored. Light damages beer, i would recommend green or brown bottles.

Bottle brush

This is a thin, curvy brush which is used to clean bottles because of the the shape of the brush it makes it very affective at getting the bottle spotless. We haven't even gotten into how clean everything has to be, but we will, and the bottle brush is a specialized bit of cleaning equipment that you will require in order to maintain your bottle kit.

Bottle capper

If you take buy glass bottles, you will need some sort of bottle capper and caps, of course, and you can buy them from any brewing supplies store. The best sort of bottle capper is one which can be affixed to a surface and worked with one hand while you hold the bottle with the other.

Thermometer

This is a thermometer which can be stuck to the side of your fermenter, they are just thin strips of plastic which are self adhesive, and can be found in any brewing supplies store, or from a pet shop or aquarium. Not everything costs money though even some household equipment can be used.

Household items

In addition to the above specialized equipment, you will need the following household items:
* Small bowl
* Saucepan
* Rubber spatula
* Oven mitts/pot handlers
* Big mixing spoon (stainless steel or plastic)
So there you have the ingredients and the method to make your home brew, all you need now is to get yourself a beer making kit and your on the way to beer heaven.
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Wendi said...

We all know the effects (and after-effects) of beer. But lifting a glass of cool liquid to your mouth on a scorching hot day, have you ever stopped to consider the processes and ingredients involved in making it? Well maybe not but here is the answer anyway!

Simply, beer is a fermented combination of water, barley, yeast and hops. The major variation in any beer is the type of yeast used in the fermentation process.

Let's look at the properties of this beverage.
Water is the main ingredient of beer. In the past, the purity of the water influenced the final result and was specific to the region of the earth from which it came. Today, water is filtered of these impurities, although pure water supplies are still ideally preferred by elite brewers.

Barley malt is an extremely important ingredient in beer as it is the main source of fermentable sugar. Many new breweries use barley malt extract, in either syrup or powder form, as this form ferments much quicker. It also contains many minerals and vitamins that help the yeast to grow.

Without yeast, beer would not exist. Yeast is a unique single cell organism that eats sugar and expels alcohol and carbon dioxide, two of the more recognizable ingredients of beer. Yeast comes in several variations, of which there are two major categories that determine the type of beer produced; Ale yeast and Lager yeast. If yeast alone were used the beer would be extremely sweet and therefore another ingredient needs to be added to reach the final product.

Hops are the flowers of the hop plant, a climbing vine plant that grows well in many differing climates. Hops contain acids which add bitterness to beer. Adding bitterness to beer helps to balance the sweetness, as well as acting as a natural preservative. Add more hops to the mixture and you will get a more bitter taste. This kind of beer is extremely popular in Britian and is simply referred to as "Bitter" (the original names are always the best!).

Variations of these ingredients create different tasting beers as well as having an affect on the alcoholic content.
When making your own beer many good resources are available which provide home brewing kits. It is important to read the ingredients of the packets in order to ascertain which has the best mixture according to your needs. One quick tip which many home brewers fail to adhere to is this: "Use fresh still water"!

Many have often sought information on how to make beer and the basic homebrewing equipment is not very expensive you can get what you need, for as little as $100.
In order to start making beer, you will need the following: A brewpot, Primary fermenter, Airlock and stopper, Bottling bucket, Bottles, Bottle brush, Bottle capper, and a thermometer.
In addition you can even use items from your kitchen to aid in the beer making. A breakdown of all the equipment is as follows: Brewpot A brewpot is made of stainless steel or enamel-coated metal which has at least 15 litre capacity, but it's no good if it's made of aluminum or if it's a chipped enamelized pot, (these will make the beer taste funny). The brew pot is used to boil the ingredients thus begins the first stage of beer making.

Primary fermenter

The primary fermenter is where the beer begins to ferment and become that fabulous stuff that makes you so funny and charming. The primary fermenter must have a minimum capacity of 26 litres and an air tight seal it must also accommodate the airlock and rubber stopper. Make sure the one you buy is made of food-grade plastic, as it wont allow the bad stuff in or let the good stuff out.

Airlock and stopper

The airlock is a handy gadget which allows carbon dioxide to escape from your primary fermenter during fermentation, it is this process that keeps it from exploding, but it doesn't allow any of the bad air from outside to enter. It fits into a rubber stopper, and is placed into the top of your primary fermenter. The stoppers are numbered according to size, so make sure you use the correct stopper for the correct hole

Plastic hose

This is a food grade plastic hose which measures approximately 5 feet in length. It is needed to transfer the beer from system to system, and it is imperitive that it is kept clean and free from damage or clogs

Bottling bucket

This is a large, food-grade plastic bucket with a tap for drawing water at the bottom, it needs to be as big as your primary fermenter, because you need the capacity to pour all the liquid from your primary fermenter into a bottling bucket prior to bottling up.

Bottles

After fermentation, you place the beer in bottles for secondary fermentation and storage. You need enough bottles to hold all the beer you're going to make, the best kind of bottles are solid glass ones with smooth tops (not the twist-off kind) that will accept a cap from a bottle capper. You can use plastic ones with screw-on lids, but they arent as good for fermentation and dont look as well.

Whether you use glass or plastic bottles, make sure they are dark-colored. Light damages beer, i would recommend green or brown bottles.

Bottle brush

This is a thin, curvy brush which is used to clean bottles because of the the shape of the brush it makes it very affective at getting the bottle spotless. We haven't even gotten into how clean everything has to be, but we will, and the bottle brush is a specialized bit of cleaning equipment that you will require in order to maintain your bottle kit.

Bottle capper

If you take buy glass bottles, you will need some sort of bottle capper and caps, of course, and you can buy them from any brewing supplies store. The best sort of bottle capper is one which can be affixed to a surface and worked with one hand while you hold the bottle with the other.

Thermometer

This is a thermometer which can be stuck to the side of your fermenter, they are just thin strips of plastic which are self adhesive, and can be found in any brewing supplies store, or from a pet shop or aquarium. Not everything costs money though even some household equipment can be used.

Household items

In addition to the above specialized equipment, you will need the following household items:
* Small bowl
* Saucepan
* Rubber spatula
* Oven mitts/pot handlers
* Big mixing spoon (stainless steel or plastic)
So there you have the ingredients and the method to make your home brew, all you need now is to get yourself a beer making kit and your on the way to beer heaven.
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