Thursday, December 15, 2005

On Broadway With Bernie

The last time I went to Queens I actually took the wrong subway so I ended up in Jackson Heights instead of where I wanted to go. No big deal, I still found a couple of bars, but Bernie decided I should go back and hit a few more in the heart of the bar district in Astoria depending upon who you ask.

988) McLoughlin’s



A small neighborhood bar just steps from the N Train stop on Broadway in Queens. The bartender made sure that I noted that the bar was established in 1965 and was, therefore, over 40 years old. A pretty good-sized old wooden bar with a black foot rest. Just plain dark wood bar chairs. The beer spigots sit a bit below the bar with inverted pub glasses sitting on a metal drain in front of them. The bar back has three large mirrors mounted on pale green walls. The mirrors have etched designs on them with the middle one having the name of the bar, McLoughlin’s, etched in the center. The mirrors are ringed with sparkly silver, red, and gold Christmas trim and have red bows and plaid “Merry Christmas” banner hanging on them.

Below the mirrors are coolers and cabinets of liquor that have glass doors. More liquor is stacked on a shelf on top of the coolers and cabinets. An overhang above the bar is decorated with strings of little white lights. Sitting on the overhang are silver loving cups honoring long-ago softball glories. The wall opposite the bar has little half-circle tables mounted on it above wood paneling. The pale green walls above are decorated with large Harp and Guinness mirrors with green garlands and white lights hanging above them.

There is a pool table and a large screen television in the back and Christmas wreaths hang on the windows up front. There are light and tan stained glass lights hanging from the green tiled ceiling that looks like it should be a floor. The floor is wood.

I had a Dewar’s and soda, the soda being poured from a little bottle.

989) Gibney’s



Just down Broadway a bit is this classy Irish pub with a large wooden bar broken into sections by glass partitions in wide wood frames that extend out from the bar. Kind of makes you feel like you are in a more intimate place with just a few of your chums. There are three beer stations, two of them are thick brass and T shaped and the one in the center is an ornate ceramic one from Heineken. There is a wooden footrest and wooden bar chairs. The bar back is quite elaborate and it looks like it is all one piece with the bar and the overhang above the bar. There are shelves, cabinets, and mirrors. The overhang above the bar has recessed lights and inverted dome shaped lights hang over the bar chairs from the dark patterned tin ceiling.

You enter this bar through small entryway with swinging doors. Next to the entryway are padded benches with little round tables and short stools that create another little nook for schmoozing. The walls are a cheery rose color and decorated with black and white photos of the Irish countryside and a few of the New York skyline that look like they were taken in the 1940s. There are little shelves with knick knacks hanging on the wall here and there and several televisions showing soccer and horse racing.

The two windows on the side wall have plant holders with vines hanging above them and statues on the window sills, a guy riding a motorcycle and one of a fellow peddling a push cart. There is a gas fireplace in the back where there is additional seating. All and all a very elegant place that could have been a bit warmer.

I had a Gibney’s Lager that wasn’t too bad. At least it had more flavor than a Budweiser.

990) Plaka Cafe



Well, after discussing how so many bars, at least in New York, seemed to be Irish bars it was inevitable that the next two we hit were anything but. Plaka Café, still on Broadway, is a Greek place that, if it wasn’t for the large bar that dominates the front and the large screen television in the back would really seem a bit like a Greek coffee shop. There is even a pastry display in the back with several tasty looking cakes.

The bar area is really quite strange, with a cave-like look to it. The bar itself wavy tan concrete with a smooth, almost plastic-like top and a rough front. There are reddish-brown swirls on the top and what looks like cave paintings on the front. Of course the paintings are of a couple of semi-nude maidens with wine goblets and a man with a large club. The cave-like theme is carried over to the bar back that is also kind of a rough tan concrete with little niches that hold the liquor. These are lit from below by blue lights and the bottles on display seemed to be picked based primarily upon how colorful they are. Stalactites hang from the ceiling.

The large screen television in the back was showing a soccer game and a group of guys were watching it and tapping at a laptop checking on the latest news about the World Cup seedings. A Christmas tree sits on a table by the windows and overhead fans and little spotlights with small pink shades, just like the ones I saw the other day, hang from the oxblood colored ceiling.

I said cocktails on the sign outside so I asked the bartender what kind of cocktails she knew how to make. She said she didn’t know how to make any because she wasn’t really a bartender. We settled for Dewar’s and soda even though another guy in the place said he could make us any kind of cocktail we wanted.

991) Scorpio



Just to drive home the point that not all bars are Irish bars, the next bar we hit, just west of 36th on Broadway, was, of all things, a Croatian bar. Can’t say I have ever been in one before. Everyone in here was very friendly and the bartender, Julie, spoke flawless English although a lot of Croatian is being spoken by the patrons and she seems to be fluent in that as well. Well, I guess, that makes sense seeing as how she said she was Croatian.

Julie, Our Friendly Bartender


There is a nice big old wood bar with a black foot rest and the place was quite busy. There are shelves mounted on the brick wall behind the bar that hold the liquor and there was a bottle of Scorpion mezcal sitting on a shelf. Mezcal, like grappa, was once a second class liquor that is starting to get upscale due, primarily, to clever and aggressive marketing. This one comes complete with a scorpion in the bottle, a step up from the usual worm.



Also mounted behind the bar are two clocks, one with local time and one with the time in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.

Bernie Pretending He Is A Clock


Lights with metal cone-shaped shades hang over the bar. Mirrors hang on the walls opposite the bar and there is a bit of a lounge area with black padded hassocks, benches, and small tables. There are also a lot of pictures of what I assume to be Zagreb on the wall as well as very nice paintings by someone who is having a show in a gallery not too far away. There is a pool table with red felt and a foosball machine and an electronic dartboard in the back.

There are several televisions in here showing either soccer or a Croatian news channel. The ceiling is lattice-work and festooned with Christmas garlands. It was a very pleasant place and we lingered for a few drinks. The drinks were kind of interesting. We ordered Dewar’s and soda, like we often do, but the Dewar’s came in a decent sized glass with ice and the soda was served in a glass on the side. We must have liked the presentation because we ordered another and then got a third bought for us by the bartender.

Bernie And Barman Enjoying Our Cocktails


Well it was another enjoyable day with some interesting bars visited. We hit four bars today bringing the grand total to 991 and that leaves only nine more for the year. Wow, down to a single digit. It is hard to believe but the end is, indeed, drawing near. I was supposed to be interviewed by MSNBC tomorrow but it was postponed until Monday in case they have to cover a bus and subway strike. Of course the strike is now scheduled for midnight Sunday so my interview will probably take backstage again, unless there is a settlement.

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Oh man, now I want to go look through all of them to see if I've been to any!

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