Saturday, January 08, 2005

A Cold And Rainy Day

A truly miserable day early on. Cold and rainy. I didn't like the looks of it at all because I had planned to wander a bit further afield than I had wandered before. But, being a trooper, I carried on. In fact, I got of to a fairly early start heading to the one bar I was sure would be open before noon.

32) Hank's Saloon

On the corner of Atlantic Avenue and 3rd Avenue in Brooklyn. Not too far from the Long Island Railroad terminal and major subway hub. This is in the vicinity where the proposed new home of the New Jersey Nets will be if everything goes to plan. I would suspect this would substantially increase the business at Hank's (named after Hank Williams) Saloon.

Hank's Saloon is a bit of a gritty place, a borderline dive bar. It has a very eclectic clientele, especially at night, and sometimes has live music. There was just me, the bartender, and one other person when I popped in. I started my day with a backberry brandy and 7-up.

33) Peperoncino

On the corner of St. Marks and 5th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. This place was a bit of a hike and I was cold and somewhat wet by the time I got there so I was greatful that it was warm and had a pizza oven going.

A nice bar and dining area and very friendly staff. Looks like it would be a nice place to go for dinner. I was the only customer so they had nobody else to talk to. I had a nice Chianti (no fava beans) and they put out a little plate of cookies for me to nibble on.

34) Beso

Just up the street and jam packed with people having brunch. An extremely noisy place but the food looked and smelled delicious. It had a bar but I was the only one having just a drink. Everyone else was eating. I felt a bit decadent, but hey, I am.

I had a Dewars and soda and headed back out into the cold.

35) 200 Fifth Restaurant and Bar

A very large sports bar at, where else, 200 5th Avenue . The bar is quite big and has two sides to it so it looks like it could comfortably seat 50 or more. On one side of the bar are seven televisions, six of them tuned to college basketball and soccer on the other. There is a pool table in the back.

They have at least three dozen beers on draft and I had a Speckled Hen.

36) Mezcal's

Not the same one I visited the other day but part of the same group. They have four locations and this one is at 396 5th Avenue. Even though this is a mini-chain, it does have an authentic Mexican bar aura about it. Just one other person in the place eating so I bellied up to the bar and had a margarita, straight up with salt. They make them with real lime juice instead of the syrupy stuff that most places use because they are too lazy to actually squeeze the limes. It was an excellent margarita.

37) Nana Reastaurant and Bar

This place, at 155 5th Avenue, was closed when I was toddling up 5th Avenue but open as I started to head back home so I stopped in. A good decision. A long narrow bar that opens up into a fairly large restaurant in the back. They had a pool with large goldfish downstairs by the bathrooms, and I thought that was a nice touch.

This place is a Japanese restaurant and, given the cold rain outside, the bar had a very Bladerunner feel to it.

I had a hot saki, and it really hit the spot.

38) O'Connor's Bar

This place was on the way back home at 39 5th Avenue and is another real classic. I don't know how long it has been around, but it looks like forever. A kind of a dank, cluttered look with a somewhat sad-looking moosehead over the bar.

I was the only one in here other than the bartender and it was my last stop so I had a couple of Rolling Rocks as we chatted about how the Jets had no chance to win against San Diego. Just goes to show you how much we knew.

Well this was an excellent day although I was so cold and wet when I got home, and a bit tipsy as well, that I jumped right into bed for a bit of a nap. Who could blame me, except for my long-suffering wife. I plan on making it up to her tomorrow by taking her out to brunch (and hopefully hitting two bars as well)

Only 962 bars left to go as I slowly (well, not that slowly, actually) crawl my way towards my goal.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Stroll up Smith

Today I decided to take it a bit easy and stroll up a street not far from me. The street has a history, just recently becoming one of the newer gentrified areas that are springing up all over. I still have plenty more bars to hit on this little stretch, but here are the ones I hit today.

28) Smithwick's

Well, it is on Smith Street, but they also serve Smithwick's Imported Irish Ale, which is what I had. This is a nice comfortable Irish bar with the requisite red-headed, female type, bartender. A couple of tables in a glassed in entryway with a Christmas tree still up looked like a nice place to have a bite to eat.

This place had a long bar with a few high tables behind the bar stools for sitting and having a bite to eat, and a bigger eating area in the back.

Three TVs behind the bar with sports on all of them. I am becoming addicted to women's pool

29) Sherwood's

This place has to be seen to be believed. The location used to be a furniture store or something so you can still sit in one of the show windows and have a drink or two and be part of the fixtures. I had an old Bally Playboy pinball machine in perfect working order and so much interesting stuff decorating the place they could charge admission. This place is a real hang-out for French expatriates (the neighborhood boasts a French population of 75,000).

Bartender and I chatted for a good half hour about then neighborhood, other French bars (that I will get to later in my journey) and life in general. If you are ever in the neighborhood you really should stop by.

I had a Dewars and soda. I was going to have a brandy and 7up but the bartender couldn't find any cheap brandy.

30) Panino'teco 275

This is a very nice, small, restaurant and bar. The bartender was very friendly and after talking to him a bit about the neighborhood he recommended a book, "Motherless Brooklyn" by Jonathon Lethem that I should read.

The bar was covered with very nicely done decoupages of what looked to be 1930s to 1940s European erotic postcards. Worth going into just to look at the bar. It turns out the guy who did the original work dropped in to the place not too long ago and they are trying to get him to do an expansion of the bar. Artwork on the wall way by one of the owner's mothers. Also very interesting.

Only problem with this trek is that you end up in places that you would like to spend more time in, or go back, to but can't. At least for a year, or a thousand bars, whichever comes first.

31) Brazen Head

This place is relatively new and I used to be able to see it from my apartment window. They have since built a Brooklyn Law School Dormitory between us. I live in a neighborhood of explosive growth.

Best thing about this place is that they usually have a couple of cask conditioned ales available. I had the Victory Hopdevil and it was very good indeed. The bartender (female) acted as though she really didn't want to be there and spent the majority of her time talking loudly to a friend of her's at the bar about stuff I really wasn't interested in. I think I just came here on a bad day because usually the staff is quite friendly and they generally have a few good cask conditioned ales as well a good selection of draft beers. In fact once a year they have a week-end devoted to cask conditioned ales and you can drink your fill. The manager, Lou, also puts on a dynamite Stew with Lou night where you get free stew made by Lou.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Atlantic Avenue

It was another not too nice day in New York, but kind of like a Spring day in Minnesota. Anyway, I decided to take a bit of a stroll along Atlantic Avenue. It runs a long way but I strolled from Court Street down towards the water. You still can get a sniff of the salt because if you look down the avenue you do see the harbor. New York, at least in parts of Brooklyn, is still a bit of a waterfront town.

23) Peter's Waterfront Bar and Grill

This is a wonderful bar that not only has a great ambience, but good food as well. For the last several years I have, when I have been able, joined their Brooklyn Bridge Run. A relatively short, and very non-competitive jaunt across the Brooklyn Bridge. Afterwards they have beer and sandwiches, you get a tee-shirt, what more could you ask for. And the food is great, as you will see a bit later on.

24) Long Island Restaurant and Bar

This place has to be seen to be believed. It looks like what it might look like if your grandparents opened up a bar in their living-room. I have never eaten here but would love to try their meat-loaf.

I had a Dewars and soda and, for the second time, had someone ask me if I wanted the Dewars and soda mixed or the soda on the side. I am learning so much.

25) Montero's Bar

I am not sure what you can say about this bar. It is the closest to the waterfront of any bar on Atlantic Avenue. When I first started going there they had a parrot. Somehow he got grandfathered in on some clause bucause you weren't supposed to have parrots in bars. Anyway, he did eventually die and has never been replaced.

And yes, Pillar (85 year old owner of the place) was sitting at her usual place at the bar.

I could start to tell stories about this bar, chest-pounding-bare-chested-Indian, strongest women or most effeminate man (how would I know) but I digress.

I had a Dewars and soda.

26) Floyd's

Now before I went to Floyd's I went home, thinking I would just call it a 3 bar night. But then I kind of wanted to go out again so I told my wife that Peter's (first stop) had barbecue duck on the menu. We ended up going there for dinner, she had the duck and I had a wild game meatloaf (wild game consisted of buffalo, ostrich, and wild boar). It was good but, as I had to point out, ostrich does not seem to me to be wild game. Anyway, I had a Trail Ale but am not counting this because it is a repeat. I may note repeats but I will not count them.

Anyway, noteable thing about Floyd's is that they have an indoor bocci ball court. And I have the scoop on why you don't see too many of them. To make the court authentic you are supposed to use a special red clay, which they had shipped in. Sadly to say, however, it is a very powdery clay and gets all over everything. Not too good for a bar and restaurant. Then, because it is so powdery and gets all over everything, the amount of the clay on the court gets to be unacceptably scanty. They do have bocci ball league made up of good players who now are complaining about the poor surface conditions. The owners are now talking to a company that makes a bocci ball court clay using graphite that will work indoors and provide a highly acceptable surface without getting all over everything. Good lord, the niche markets that exist out there.

Anyway, I had an excellent Maker's Mark Manhattan.

27) Last Exit

Last stop, Last Exit. This place, interestingly enough, was the former home of Peter's Waterfront Bar. I spent a few interesting nights there when it was Peter's. One night, I remember, had something to do with free Jaegermeisters or something. Ooh, head still throbs thinking about it.

Anyway, it is now a very nice bar with a kind of a New Orleans ambience to it. Neat artwork on the walls (the artist currently on display is a tattoo artist by profession). Very friendly bartender. Comfy sofas and chairs in the back. All and all a very nice place to spend some time in.

Well, here we go, six days into it and I am ahead of schedule. I know pacing is the key, but anytime you get a chance to get a couple of more places in, go for it, I say.

Let's see now, 1000 bars total, 27 done, hey - only 973 left to go.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Another Trip Close to Home

The day started out poorly, weather-wise at least. Damp and chilly. Typical New York winter's day. As a result I decided to hit another bunch of bars close to home. By the time I actually left on my rounds the weather had taken a turn for the better but I still didn't wander far.

18) Annie's Blue Moon Cafe

A nice little bar on Montegue Street, where all of today's bars are located. Very cheery, with all of the Christmas lights still up. I have gone here for brunch a few times and it is very pleasant.

I had a Newcastle Brown Ale

19) Centro

A new place, a bit cold in its decor. Blond wood curvey bar, blue lights, very light inside. A very sparse crowd for a large place.

Very meticulous bartender. I ordered a Dewars and soda and he showed me a glass and asked if it was okay. I said fine. Then he wanted to know if I wanted the soda on the side. I said no, together. He then asked me how much soda so I said a fair amount. Then he asked if I wanted ice, so I said yes, one cube. He said he likes to make sure the customer gets just what they want when they order a drink from him.

Bartender was quite friendly and I chatted with him about various drinks for awhile before I wandered off to my next stop.

20) Heights Cafe

A nice dark corner bar. Had big windows so maybe on a sunny day the place wouldn't be quite so dark. There is a decent restaurant in the room behind the bar.

A most obnoxious guy on a cellphone next to me made this a somewhat unenjoyable experience.

I had a Maker's Mark Manhattan and it was made well so that helped.

21) Armando's Restaurant and Bar

This is my favorite Italian restaurant in my neighborhood but they have a decent little bar in the front. I was going to save this but it was a dreary day and a glass of Chianti seemed appropriate.

Rumor has it that Marilyn Monroe and Joe Dimagio frequented this place. It is certainly old enough and there is a nice picture of Marilyn hanging on the wall.

22) Buon Gusto

Another fairly modern looking place. Even though it is next to Armando's I have never been in here before. Or maybe that is the reason why. It had aluminum looking bar chairs that gave the place a bit of a cold feeling. When I arrived the staff was bickering about how to hook up a beer keg. Three people were involved.

Kind of an eclectic staff. One bartender was from Kosovo and another was from Hong Kong. The entire staff seemed to be either Chinese or Russian. Kind of contentious staff although they were polite to their customers.

I had a Maker's Mark Manhattan, very well made, and toddled off home.

A mere 978 bars to go.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A Visit To The Dentist

I had a dental appointment today so I ended up in midtown Manhattan. I took the subway to 42nd street and then went to my dentist who has his office on 40th street. Had a checkup and a cleaning and one small cavity filled. Kind of neat, he injected it with a plolymer from a tube and then cured it with some kind of a light thingy.

Anyway, as long as I was in that neighbor hood I decided to take advantage of it with a few stops at some of the local watering holes.

12) Domenico's Italian

This was on 120 E 40th St., and looked to be a very nice Italian restaurant. Mostly suit and tie guys when I was there, about 2:30 P.M. in the afternoon. Food looked and smelled great. Nice bar in the front where you could order food if you were so inclined.

I had a Dewars and soda.

13) Peter Dillon's Pub

This place is on 40th Street between Lexington and Third Avenue.

Two regulars and the bartender at the bar and one guy sitting by himself at a table. Bartender was friendly though and we discussed the Jets chances in the playoffs. I think we agreed they were zero to get beyond Saturday's game.

Good plasma TVs over the bar, ESPN on one and horse racing on the other.

Good tunes though, classic rock, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Alice Cooper.

I had a Boddington's Ale

14) Margarita Murphys

3rd Avenue between 38th and 39th

Lot's of plasma TVs but sadly they were only showing CNN and CNBC. Should have been down on Wall Street. Apparently they are a big sports bar at night.

I had an order of vegetable spring rolls, very good with an excellent hot sauce, and a V.O. and water.

15) The Black Sheep

Just up the block from Magarita Murphys.

A real Irish bar. Irish bartender, Irish customers, the whole thing. A friendly place. Very Christmasy decorations. The bar was covered in pennies with plexiglass on top.

I had a rum and coke.

16) Docks

A French Seafood type of place on 3rd Avenue between 40th and 41st. The place looked like it could be really nice but it was totally dead. The owner, or manager, was interviewing people and that is something I don't like to listen to while having a drink.

I had a glass of Pino Grigio

17) Eamonn's

After a subway ride from Grand Central I made it back to my neighborhood in Downtown, Brooklyn and decided to have one last one at, drum role please, another Irish bar on Montague Street. Kind of a late afternoon crowd which basically means people like me with nothing else to do but drink. It usually fills up with an after-work crowd but I beat them to the punch.

I had a Guinness.

Making progress, only 983 left to go.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Court Street Crawl

Decided to take a walk up Court Street, one block over from where I live, and stop at the bars along the way until I hit five. Ended up hitting a couple more because I stopped at two on the way back. A bit of a longer walk than I had anticipated because, for some reason, a lot of places didn't open until 4:00 P.M. and I started my journey at 2:00 P.M.

5) Cody's Ale House Grill

What a surprise, another typical Irish Bar in Brooklyn on Court Street. It has been here forever though so it is authentic. Soccer on half the TVs and ESPN on the other half. Country Western music in the background. What more could you want.

I had a Stella Artois

6) Cousins

Got there about 2:30 P.M. but the place doesn't open until 4:00 P.M. on Mondays. They owner recognized me and let me in for a drink though. Nice place on the corner of Court Street and Amity Street. Big windows all the way around. Nice place for a drink, good place for a brunch.

I had a Dewars and Soda.

7) Lobo Tex-Mex Tequila Bar

Also on Court Street, as all the bars today will be.

A small four table restaurant with a decent sized bar and a nice selection of Tequilas, at least 35 different ones that I saw. I probably should have had one but I didn't. The food looked and smelled good so it is a place that I may very well return to one day. Good vintage rock and roll on the sound system. Martha and the Vandellas, Hoo Boy.

I had a Dewars and Soda

8) Frankie's 457

This was a bit of a hike but well worth it. I had eaten here before and the food was very good. A real neighborhood place, Italian. Small, cozy, friendly bartendress.

I had a Dewars and Soda

9) Mexcal's

A nice small Mexican bar/restaurant with a lot of tequilas. Television was tuned to a Mexican station so it seemed authentic.

I had a Margaritta on the rocks with salt.

10) Marco Polo Restuarant

Actually a very nice Italian restaurant but has a nice small bar tucked just inside the doorway.

I had a Maker's Mark Manhattan, Perfect, Straight-up.

11) Casa Rosa

Another nice little Italian restaurant with a very nice little bar. My last stop before I toddled on home.

I had a Dewars and Soda

Only 989 left to go.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Day Two

I only managed one bar today, but that, again, was better than I expected. Got picked up by a friend at about 11:30 A.M. to drive to a party that a friend of ours was having. Most of us are Jets fans so we watched the Jets lose in overtime due, primarily, to stupidity. If they hadn't have gone for 2 points (which they missed) but simply kicked a point after they probably would have won the game without having to go into overtime. Oh well, they still made the play-offs. The Vikings, another team that I am a fan of, also did themselves proud by getting into the play-offs by losing their game, or at least in spite of it.

But I digress. My bar of the day, after getting home from the party, was:

4) O'Keefe's

An Irish bar in downtown Brooklyn, on Court Street, that has, over the years, gone a bit upscale. Not very busy tonight but I did run into someone I knew so my one drink turned into two. I had two pints of Guiness.

996 bars on the wall.