Saturday, August 13, 2005

Buzzed In The Bronx

A reader of my blog, who I had met briefly once before at Siberia, invited me up to his neighborhood in The Bronx to visit a few bars and have dinner. I did and had a great time. I am going to head up there again one day in the not too distant future because there certainly are plenty of bars. We might have even hit a couple more today if it hadn’t been so hot and humid. One we missed was up 100 steps so we decided to postpone that one for a cooler day. Large Irish community here so there is a heavy concentration of Irish bars.

736) J.C. Mac’s

You just take the #1 Subway to 238th Street, the second to the last stop in The Bronx, and head East about half a block to this neighborhood Irish bar, the likes of which you see less and less in Manhattan but seem plentiful enough in this neighborhood. If you need an address it is 222 West 238th Street. This is a serious dart bar and they have a trophy case full of trophies to prove the point. There is also a pool table in the back. They were serving free food but I wasn’t too hungry so I didn’t check it out. It was here that I met Damian, my guide for the day. He introduced me to Pat, the bartender, who was a bit of a character and a lot of fun.

Damian, Pat, and Bar Man

It turned out that Pat was a Vikings fan (Bar Man is originally from Minnesota) and showed me his tattoo to prove it.

He said that when he was just a baby someone gave him toy Vikings that he had in his crib with him and he has been a Vikings fan ever since. Kind of hard for me to imagine this guy ever being in diapers and in a crib though. He also reads my blog and had bought a bottle of Tanqueray just for the occasion. However, I was really thirsty after the song subway ride so passed on that for the time being.

Pretty much a typical Irish bar setup, old wooden bar, bar chairs, and lots of bottles behind the bar along all kinds of stuff posted about bar activities. You need to check it out. There are also a few televisions with sports and horseracing showing. The place was doing a decent business and everyone in there was most friendly. Damian is a regular and Pat is a friend of his. A fellow, whose name I forgot, came in with his dog, whose name I remember (Shadow) and said hello. Apparently he was the first one in this crowd to have discovered my website. Damian’s wife popped in with their little son, Eamon, to say hello. A good time was being had by all but we had work to do and places to go.

I had a Magner’s Irish Cider.

737) Goal Posts

Didn’t have to move too far to get to this place, just down a couple of doors from J.C. Mac’s. Pretty much the same setup but their trophy case contained mostly softball and football trophies. They also had a pool table in the back and dartboards. A deer head hung on the wall (I should have taken a picture). The bar was the standard old beat-up wooden affair and there were non-working beer spigots, only bottled beers were available. They had a half dozen televisions showing sports. Aside from the Coors Light banners hanging form the overhang above the bar the primary decoration were the montages of customers hanging on the walls. They also had a bunch of boxes of wine behind the bar but I passed on that.

I had a bottle of Heineken.

738) The Punch Bowl

Just down at the end of the block and very convenient to public transportation

was this good-sized, I know this is going to be hard to believe, Irish bar. This place also has an old wood bar, foot rest, and black bar chairs. There was a little nook opposite the bar that had small butcher-block tables and a bull-fight poster on the wall. There was a pool table in the back with green lights hanging over it. They also had, of course, dart boards. Pretty much the same décor as Goal Posts but their banners were for Corona Extra. Kind of half-globe white lights hung from the overhang. They did have a very nice, ornate, dark brown ceiling though and fans, each with three tulip shaped lights hung from it.

The bartender, Kevin, was most accommodating and poured a great Guinness.

Kevin, The Accomodating And Skilled Bartender

He generously allowed Damian and me to come behind the bar to have our picture taken.

Kevin, Bar Man, And Damian

It was my turn to pop for the round and I inadvertently walked out without paying. Luckily we didn’t go far. We actually headed back to J.C. Mac’s to hook up with Pat to go out for dinner and, of course, to crack the bottle of Tanqueray. I ran back to The Punch Bowl and apologized for not paying but the bartender said the drinks were on him. I did, however, leave a generous tip and felt somewhat embarrassed about my gaffe.

I had a well poured Guinness.

739) Jake’s Steakhouse

After having a couple of Tanqueray and tonics back at J.C. Mac’s we all piled into a cab for the short ride to Jake’s Steakhouse. Right by the last subway stop on the #1 Subway. is this classy multi-floored steakhouse. There was a real nice bar setup and the place was fairly packed. Cowboy pictures on the walls and booths on the main floor. There were a couple of flat-screen televisions and the lights hanging from the ceiling were somewhat reminiscent of lanterns with yellowish orange glass panels. The upstairs dining areas are very nice and large windows look over Van Cortlandt Park. Now this is a very large park, 1146 Acres, complete with a golf course. Another friend, Carmel, joined us for dinner and the food was great. I had a flank-steak in a pepper sauce and it was delicious, thicker than some porterhouse steaks that I have had. Scallops seemed to be popular with several of the others and they looked good as well.

We had a great time that started with a Bombay martini at the bar made in individual shakers (Damian had one as well) by Chris, the affable bartender.

Chris, The Bartender, A Real Shaker

740) Dorney & Malone's Tavern

The Gang, Pat, Damian, Carmel, and The Mysterious Chinese Woman

A sports themed bar with posters and pennants from every New York team hanging on the wall someplace. The bar was dark wood and there were chalk-boards behind it listing the beers. Plenty of liquor behind the bar and a few beers on draft. But, at this time of night, it was no time for beer. This was the last stop before hitting the subway home and because we were all laughing and talking and having a jolly old time I didn’t get a chance to take a lot of notes. Suffice it to say that the bartender, Michele, poured a decent drink and was a most pleasant person.

Michele, She Of The Decent Drink

The place was doing a nice business and after quaffing a few drinks Bar Man and The Mysterious Chinese woman toddled of into the night.

I had a couple of Tanqueray and tonics.

I had a most enjoyable day and met some very nice people. The Bronx is a bit out of Bar Man's normal range, a good hour away by subway from where I live, but the trip was well worth it. I will be back and I want to say thanks so much to everyone who made this a most pleasant visit. I am looking forward to seeing Pat at Friday's Jets/Vikings game (you know where to find us).

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Seventh Heaven

I took a short stroll on 7th Street this evening for a bit of nostalgia. One bar in particular was the scene of many long, very long lunches back when Bar Man had a real job. Drinking four, six, and even more beers at a time, cascading the beer from one mug to another, was one of our favorite pastimes. And ordering sixty beers at a time wasn’t at all uncommon.

733) McSorley’s

Ah, what can you say about this place that hasn’t been said before. The place is over 150 years old and a lot of the stuff in here dates from the day the doors opened. You can only get two kinds of beer in here, McSorley’s light and McSorley’s dark, and don’t even thing about buying them one at a time, it just isn’t done. Even ordering just two at a time is a bit suspect. The bartenders and waiters all wear gray smocks and have a faux brusque attitude that quickly fades if you can engage them in a conversation. That isn’t too easy to do however because this place is usually jammed and everyone is busy, schlepping twenty beers at a time, ten mugs in each hand, to the well warn and carved up tables and then scooping up the empties and carting them off. And nothing goes better with the beers than soda crackers, cheese, and raw onions. They have pretty decent hamburgers as well and their hash with red cabbage is a favorite of mine.

The current proprietor, Matty Maher, is only the sixth owner of this place and he started here as a dishwasher before buying it. I used to drink with Matty at Molly Malone (now Molly’s) when I used to live right around the corner from the place. He is a great guy and his daughter now tends bar at McSorley’s (the first female bartender ever). Actually, until 1970 they didn’t even allow women customers and they only had a single bathroom much after that. They finally had to add a second one because too many altercations broke out when some bloke with a lady-friend using the facilities tried to keep guys from entering. Doesn’t work too well when everyone has been pounding down beers all night.

Back when I was but a wee Bar Boy in Minneapolis I remember reading about this old bar in New York in a Readers Digest. Many years later when I walked into McSorley’s I instantly recognized the place. It was the dust covered turkey wishbones hanging over the bar that did it. The article said they spray them with hairspray to keep the dust from falling off. The wishbones have a story behind them too, as does everything in here. Before local lads went off to fight in World War I (called The Great War at the time) they would stop in here for a turkey dinner and hang the wishbone above the bar. Those that returned retrieved them. The ones that are left are all mementos to those who lost their life.

Despite rumors to the contrary, no American President ever drank here but Abraham Lincoln once did before he became president. Peter Cooper was a supporter of Lincoln and let him use the hall in his school to give a speech. Cooper Union still sits only a block away and many of the students make McSorley’s their second home.

I could write pages trying to describe the décor here but suffice it to say there is not an inch of wall space that isn’t covered with something, from old campaign buttons, newspaper articles, pictures, just about anything you can think of. I am sure you could write a dissertation for your Doctorate in History using just this place as your reference material.

I got pulled down here today by a reader of my blog, Terry, and then met a friend of his, George.

George and Terry and Me

I downed a few beers and then parted company with them as I headed down the street.

I had four McSorley’s Dark Ales

734) Standings

This place used to be Brewski’s and they had about 500 beers available. The beers were stored in the basement and someone handed them up through a hatch in the floor. I always envisioned a dwarf down there with an enormous right arm developed from continually handing up beers. Alas, they have now rented out the basement for other purposes and the beer menu, although still extensive, was a bit more limited.

Brewski’s, and now Standings (as of six weeks ago, and still the same owners), was built to look old and to, I guess, compete with McSorley’s. Everything in the place, except for the televisions, a recent addition, is, in fact, old, but it was all bought somewhere else and then installed here. Even the flooring came from someplace else. The bar is a nicely carved old bar with a brass rail. The chairs are wooden with black vinyl seats. Because they do not serve anything but beer and inexpensive wine here there really isn’t much behind the bar. There are four brass beer stations on the bar with three spigots each that pour a great selection of beers. They still have a fairly extensive bottled beer menu.

An enormous collection of beer cans ring the walls above the tracks for a model railroad. The train must have been in for maintenance though.

Standings has become a sports bar, hence its name. A large chalkboard does, indeed, have the latest MLB standings posted. They have four televisions but the Mets game had just ended so two of them were showing the races at Saratoga and two were showing ESPN. This place isn’t real big but there are small tables and chairs that ring the walls and the ones by the windows are separated by low partitions affording a modicum of privacy.

The bartender, Rachel, lives in Williamsburg where I am celebrating bar number 750 at Duff’s.

Helpful Rachel

She was familiar with the place and said she would try to drop by but she works later that evening. She also gave me a list of a lot of other bars in Williamsburg that I should visit. Bar Man is always grateful for this kind of information.

Terry’s friend George had run off so he tracked me down and we headed next door.

I had a draft Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale from the Sea Dog Brewery. It was quite good, not sweet and with just enough blueberry flavor to make it different.

735) Burp Castle

This place, too, has undergone a bit of a change. The bartender and waiters no longer where monk habits. They do have a couple hanging on a hook so if a customer wants to wear one I guess they will let them. As you might imagine, they specialize in Belgian Abbey style beers and ales. Again, no hard liquor so the behind the bar setup is non-existent, just a large picture. And their pictures are most interesting, one large one on each wall other than the front wall which has windows.

Bar Man, Bartender, And Fellow Travelers

A Party I Would Like To Attend

It is dark in here and meant to look a bit like a monastery with pew like seating and dark orange lights. A dark wood bar and bar stools. The bar is covered with beer stations that pour a large selection of beers and they also have a lot in bottles as well. When you order a beer the bartender calls it into a little walkie talkie and then it mysteriously appears. Probably that dwarf dug a tunnel over here.

Anyway, Terry and I kind of settled in here and I made this the last bar for the night so I tried a few different beers.

Terry and Bar Man Settling In

The bartender, Christian, was a most pleasant fellow and also provided me with an extensive list of bars to add to my intinerary.

Christian, Another Helpful Bartender

I had a Delirium Nocturnum, a St. Feuillien Triple, and a Franziskaner Hefe Weiss Hell. (their light version) The Delirium Nocturnum is a 9% beer that comes in a 20 ounce bottle and the Freuillien Triple is 8.5%. The Hefe Weiss Hell was a reasonable 5%. Anyway, Barman was a happy man when he toddled off to the subway.

I hit a nice three bars today and had a most enjoyable time moving up to 735 for the year and leaving 265 more to go.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Assault On Astor

I decided to head back to Astor Place and hit a couple of bars that I had walked by yesterday. I got off to a late start and these were all close to the subway stop so it was an easy jaunt.

730) Virage

Kind of a cluttered bar, empty coffee cups and glasses with the remnants of drinks and fruit slices sat on top. There was someone at the end of the bar taking pictures of the coffee cups when I arrived and then she took pictures of the empty glasses too. It turns out she was doing a photo-shoot of some kind because as soon as she left the bar was quickly cleaned up.

The location is convenient, 118 2nd Avenue at the corner of 7th Street. The bar is fairly small and shaped like a truncated V. It is wood and does have a brass rail. The bar chairs are wooden with red vinyl seats and backs. Behind the bar is a large mirror with glass shelves mounted on it on black wrought braces. Not an overly large collection of liquor, but maybe there is more out of sight someplace. To the left of the mirror is a nook with a shelf above a refrigeration unit and a tiered shelf holding a few more bottles of liquor. Above that is a shelf mounted on the wall that held glasses and there was a wine storage area above that. A brass beer station with six spigots sat on the bar and next to that was a coffee machine and an espresso machine. The lights above the bar looked like little pale orange fezzes with narrow darker orange and brown stripes at the top and bottom.

The walls are mostly brick with floor to ceiling windows on two sides. Interesting, somewhat gothic looking, pictures hang on the walls. They featured letters of the alphabet with a corresponding picture, V for Villain, R for Robber, and my favorite, I for Idiot are a couple of examples. Two large mirrors with their wine offerings hang on the side wall. Green benches along one wall and benches, black and white rattan-like chairs, and small square tables throughout the rest of the place. There is a small chandelier and a couple of orange and pink lights hanging from the ceiling over the dining area. The floor is black and white square mosaic. There is outdoor seating on the sidewalk under large awnings and they are open 24 hours a day The buzz on the Mediterranean style food is good.

I had a draft Brooklyn Lager.

731) Via Della Pace

Right across at 48 East 7th Street is this cozy little Italian restaurant with a small green marble-topped bar with a wood paneled front. Just plain brown bar chairs. A large jug of sangria sat on the bar and I got a taste of it. Actually, the bartender gave me an entire glass of it. It was good too. She said the guy who makes it is from Mexico so he makes it Mexican style, not Italian style. She confided to me that that basically means he laces it with vodka. Sitting behind the bar is a kind of country looking set of wooden shelves holding the liquor and glasses. Wooden shelves against a brick wall held wine bottles, decanters, and flat-bottomed flagons. Old wood floors contributed to the little place in the Italian countryside feel. Little green and purple shaded lights hang above the bar.

There were green cushioned benches up against the windows and kind of swollen orange tube shaped lives hang above them. A narrow panel of a greenish landscape ran around the place just below the ceiling.

I got into a very pleasant conversation with the bartender, Maggie, who was from Poland and a customer who was drinking a bottle of wine and was headed to Seattle where he was going to be a bass player in their orchestra. Bar Man used to play bass in high school but has a tin ear. We talked about the wine and he raved about how good it was so Maggie poured me a glass of that to taste as well. Then she topped of the glass of wine that I ordered.

Maggie, The Very Friendly And Very Generous Bartender

I had a wonderful time and would recommend it to anyone.

The wine that I ordered was Moscato D’Asti Patrizi and it was very good. A bit sparkly and quite sweet. The sample that I was given was a Gavi of some sort but I forgot to write down the name. It was quite good but I would need to try it again before having the sweeter stuff.

732) Continental

Right across the street from the Astor Place subway station at 25 3rd Avenue is this mini-version of CBGB, and it draws just about the same crowd and musicians. Just about everyone from Blondie to Iggy Pop has played there and the top of the walls are lined with signed black and white pictures, taken on the premises, of the various artists. There are booths along the wall opposite the bar and a stage in the back with a large, standing room only area. You can buy professional quality earplugs at the bar for a buck so one can only imagine how loud it gets in here. The walls, and everything else in here, is painted black. The hallway and bathroom doors had their own look, as did the bathrooms themselves.

The crowd is largely young, hip, tattooed and pierced. I couldn’t have looked more out of place if I was carrying an accordion. But I didn’t look as out of place as the middle-aged guy in a suit and tie that wondered in and ordered a beer and a shot of Jameson’s. If not his appearance, just ordering a single shot made him stand out. Jagermeister was three shots for five dollars and just about everything else was five shots for ten dollars. In the short time that I was there I saw one guy order and quickly down six shots of Jagermeister and another guy order and down five shots of Jack Daniels. This is no place for amateurs. It was only a bit after 5:00 P.M. but I guarantee you this crowd didn’t just come from work. The bartender was quite attractive in a Morticia kind of way. She didn’t want her picture taken though, the flash probably would have turned her to dust. But hey, I liked the place.

I had a bottle of Bass Ale

A nice little three bar day bringing the total for the year to 732 and leaving 268 more for the year and only 17 until number 750 at Duffs.

More Fun At Duffs

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

First Rate Day On First

After a fairly, shall we say, intense day yesterday I decided to take it somewhat easier today.

726) Lunasa

This place, at 126 1st Avenue, between 7th Street and St. Marks Place, is named for an ancient Celtic harvest festival in honor of the Irish god Lugh, patron of the arts. It is also the name of an Irish musical group of some note. This is a very nice looking place and appears to be fairly new. A shiny wood bar with a wood paneled front and a brass rail. Wooden bar chairs have either a brown or a black vinyl seat. Inverted L shaped brass spigots serve up a dozen draft beers including one of Bar Man’s favorites, Speckled Hen. Thought I would just start with a bottle of something today though.

The wall behind the bar is old brick with wood framed oval mirrors and a large blackboard listing their beers and wines. The section of wall with the blackboard is painted light grey. Five square wood columns with copper colored translucent panels lit from within separate the tiered shelves holding the liquor. A single row of bottles sit under the blackboard. Copper cone shaped shades cover the lights directly above the bar and recessed spot lights are over the mirrors behind the bar and in the pale green ceiling elsewhere. A large metal heating and cooling duct runs the length of the place suspended from the ceiling.

The wall opposite the bar is paneled about a third of the way up and dark green paint above. There are a couple of tables towards the door and a narrow ledge runs along the rest of the wall with stools in front. There are a few tables with benches and small stools up front by the windows. A couple more tables are in a narrow room leading to a very pleasant garden area.

Large heaters out there probably means that they can keep it open most of the year.

I had a bottle of Red Stripe beer.

727) Simone

Not far away at 134 1st Avenue, right on the corner of St. Marks is this place that looks like it could have been designed by Liberace, if Liberace was Asian. The top of the bar was the only normal looking thing in the place, that and a brass rail. The top of the bar was black plastic that looked like marble with silver flakes embedded in it. The front was paneled with a somewhat hallucinogenic scene of barren trees. The bar stools had leopard print seats ringed with the round heads of brass tacks. Directly in front of me were two gold-framed arched mirrors with large Christmas balls, two maroon and one gold.

To the left and to the right of them were black lacquer shelves holding the liquor and glasses.

The ceiling is bright red painted patterned tin and narrow crystal chandeliers hang from it directly over the bar. Three larger crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling back a bit from the bar. The wallpaper is mostly deep red with Asian style pictures of flowers, pagodas, and weeping willows. Beaded curtains hang in the windows that wrap around this corner location.

Small fringed lights pretty much ring the ceiling but there are star shaped lights up front.

More mirrors are on the available wall space along with interesting lamps, pictures, and wall hangings.

A wrap-around banquette in the corner has black seats and zebra striped backs.

At least one bench in the other part of the room has a black and white cowhide look to it. It is amazing how much stuff they have managed to pack in here. The food smelled good too, so you could pop in for a bite to eat and and take in the scenery. They also have a little pastry counter up front, something a bit unusual for a place that bills itself as a martini bar.

I had a draft Grolsch.

728) Cheap Shots

Just down a few doors was this Yang to Simone’s Ying. A good old dive bar that threw me for a loop when I walked in. There was a large flat screen television above the bar and it looked like the Vikings were playing the Steelers with Minnesota leading seven zip in the top of the fourth quarter. I thought it was a pre-season game but couldn’t understand why Madden was providing the color commentary. Then I realized someone was playing Madden NFL. The graphics are quite realistic. They guy playing the game wasn’t too happy though because he was playing Pittsburgh against the machine. There were two real televisions, but they were playing the SciFi channel.

There is an air hockey table towards the back and all the way back was a room with walls that were basically chalk boards. There was a dartboard back there and a Big Buck Hunter game.

This is a nice old bar and cheap shots they did serve, two bucks each and seven dollars got you a pitcher of beer. You get to drink free on your birthday too. This would be a good place to watch a real football game but this one wasn’t too bad. No commercials and it was fun watching the guy playing. The Vikings were still up seven zip at the two minute warning but they had just missed a fifty yard field goal attempt so the Steelers had a chance.

I had a draft Guinness Stout.

729) Rancho El Girasol

As I was heading uptown to catch the subway I passed by this Mexican restaurant between 13th and 14th Streets. The name means Sunflower Ranch and, coincidently there is a Rancho El Girasol in Puerto Vallarta where Bar Man hit 150 bars earlier in the year (in Puerto Vallarta, not on the ranch). Although it is a Mexican restaurant there is a nice little bar in the back. The wall behind the bar was brick and had a set of shelves for the liquor, mostly tequila. This is an authentic Mexican restaurant too, the owners and all the help are Mexican and it looks pretty much like something you would see if you visited Mexico. Plenty of pictures of Zapata on the walls as well as some Aztec warriors and seductive maidens about to be sacrificed, rescued, or seduced. A large steer skull complete with long horns is mounted on the wall next to a sombrero and a non-Sears poncho.

The wall opposite the bar is primarily brick with one stretch of orange wall that has a niche containing a colorful wall hanging, some Mexican artifacts and a statue of the Virgin Mary. It was flanked by two pictures of You Know Who.

There was a poster on the back wall that I first thought was a political poster for Mexican President Vincent Fox but turned out to be for Vicente Fernandez, They do kind of look alike.

Vincent or Vicente

I had an excellent margarita made with fresh lime juice. The food smelled good too so I ordered the shrimp filled jalapeno appetizers and they were excellent. Large jalapenos, lightly battered and stuffed with chopped shrimp and served on a bed of lettuce.

A pleasantly moderate day with four bars hit making a total of 729 for the year and with only 271 more staring me in the face.

Ending Up In Sing Sing

I decided to concentrate on St. Marks Place (8th Street) that is kind of between Greenwich Village and the East Village. St. Marks Place is named for St Mark's-in-the-Bowery, a church two blocks north of the street that started out as the Stuyvesant family's private chapel. And, yes, I did indeed end up in Sing Sing. Bar Man has a bit of advice as a result; If you have your picture taken with an attractive young woman named Michelle, do not come home half in the bag singing the Beatles tune of the same name. This is not conducive to a night of romance unless, of course, you are actually romancing someone named Michelle.

720) DoJo

The first place that I came to after getting off the subway at Astor Place (check out the beavers on the subway station’s walls) was this restaurant and bar at 24 St. Mark’s Place, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. It is more of a restaurant but there is a small bar separated from the dining area by a wood and glass partition. It only has six beat-up bar chairs, some of which had red vinyl seats covered with very frayed and torn green with red and gold patterned strips cloth. The bar didn’t seem to get a lot of attention from the staff. It wasn’t really the fault of anyone except, perhaps, management. Everyone was busy working the tables and the serving counter for the people ordering food, and the place was quite busy. The bar really was too small for a full time bartender. Once I got the attention of someone the service was quite pleasant and she remembered that I was there so she did come back a couple of times to see if I wanted anything else. Can’t really complain.

The bar was kind a kind of beat up wooden thing but it did have a brass rail. A large gold Kirin Ichiban good fortune cat that looked suspiciously like a repainted Hello Kitty sat at one end of the bar next to a vase of pink flowers whose expiration date had obviously passed. There is just pretty much a plain set of shelving behind the bar with a green and white marble top over the section where the cash register sat. Kind of neat lights hung over the bar, Glass domes that were white on the inside and royal blue on the outside. Indirect red lighting above the bar back added a kind of cozy, Tokyo at night glow to the place. There is outdoor seating on the sidewalk.

I had a draft Pilsner Urquell.

721) Bull McCabe's

Not far away, just across the street actually at 29 St. Marks Place, is this real bar that was icy cold inside. Good air conditioner. The bar is long with a brass rail and wood bar stools. The bar-top was kind of laminated wood though, not a real manly bar, but it did have a nicely paneled front to it. The wall behind the bar is old brick with five framed mirrors hanging on it. A Brooklyn Brewery blackboard had the beer specials listed on it, none of which were from Brooklyn Brewery. I will have to tell Garrett, their brewmaster, the next time I see him. Tiered shelves in front of the mirrors hold the bottles and glasses and shelves underneath hold more. There is also a large ice chest holding bottled beers (and cider). There is also one of those dispensers for chilled Jagermeister but I was somehow able to restrain myself. This was one of the last good decisions Bar Man made today.

Cone shaped lights above the bar cast little circles of light about every four feet or so. Three tube shaped brass beer stations with three spigots each sat on the bar. A pool table in the back was getting some decent action. The wall opposite the bar was paneled with knotty pine and had mirrors that looked like window panes hanging on it. There was also a large Guinness mirror and some Irish themed pictures as well. Set a bit away was what looked like a service bar but the bartender said it was just another place for people to hang out when the main bar got too crowded. Black benches and round tables with chairs sat in the corner next to the door by the front windows. There were four televisions and a Big Buck Hunter machine.

A large outdoor seating area was in the back with lots of tables and chairs and old beer posters hanging on the walls and fence. Jus make sure you don’t sit on the landing strip, it is vertical.

I had a Magner’s Irish Cider.

722) Zen

Right next door to Bull’s was a sushi bar but the trained eye of Bar Man spotted a real bar in there. Kind of a nice dark wooden bar too, with a foot rest. Seven wooden bar chairs with tan textured and patterned vinyl seats. Pyramid shaped rippled turquoise shaded lights hang over the bar. A large, but not yet fat, Buddha sat on one end of the bar. There is a large mirror behind the bar and two rows of sake bottles sitting in front of it. Shelves on each side of the mirror held a small selection of liquor. Below are shelves for glasses and pitchers. I didn’t see any spigots for beer but a sign over the actual sushi bar in the back did advertise draft Kirin Ichiban beer. There was a non-disfigured Hello Kitty sitting on an upright piano towards the back on the way to the beer.

The walls were pale green above wood paneling and wood backed benches. It was a fairly narrow place so just one row of tables up against the benches and along the wall. I didn’t venture back to the sushi bar area but there were a couple of tables back there as well.

Although they had a lot of sake on display, when I asked for a chilled one the waitress said they didn’t have any, only warm or at room temperature. That didn’t make a great deal of sense to me and I spotted a refrigerator under the bar and asked her to double check. Sure enough, there was a bottle in there and, I guess because she was a bit embarrassed, she poured me a large water glass full.

I had a large water glass full of chilled Harushika Extra Dry Sake.

723) Jules

Moving along St. Marks Place a bit to #65 is this French bistro that does, indeed, capture the ambience of the real thing. They don’t serve hard liquor here of I would have had a Pernod. A pleasant enough place to pop into though and it would really seem like the real thing at night when they have live jazz. There is a tee-shaped beer station on the bar with six spigots and a decent selection of beers (no spigots were wasted on generic domestic brands).

The wall behind the bar is cream-colored painted brick. To the left of the bar on the wall is a large blackboard advertising Jules Champagne Cocktails. To the left of that is a mirror with a quote from Jacques Brel but it was in French so I couldn’t read it. Probably lyrics from one of his songs though. Directly behind the bar were a couple of mirrors with glass shelves mounted on them that held wine bottles and glasses. These were above an old set of wooden shelves and drawers. The shelves held more wine bottles and glasses.

There is a narrow dining area in the back and a larger one opposite the bar. All white table cloths and linen. Very classy. While I was there an order of white lilies arrived and the bartender was busy arranging them in vases.

Nina, Bartender and Floral Arranger

The wall opposite the bar has two large mirrors and French posters, the largest one for a 1955 movie, Port du Desire.

A smaller poster advertised cigarettes. The rest of them I have no idea what they were for.

Sitting here, sipping my wine, made me wish I was in Paris in the 20’s, spending my days and nights in the cafes writing scathing political treatises while smoking and drinking absinthe, perpetually angry because my genius goes unrecognized. Come to think of it, I could do most of that here, I would just have to drink the non-hallucinogenic absinthe (they have largely eliminated the wormwood).

I had a glass of chilled red Sancerre. It was quite refreshing and I had never had a red Sancerre before. I will bring the Mysterious Chinese Woman here for a night of jazz and to atone for the Michelle faux paux and then I will get the name of the wine so I can buy some for myself.

724) Klong

Well, my intentions were good. I actually thought I was headed home, but for some reason the taste of sake lingered on my tongue and I wanted more. It is always the last place (or second to the last place) that does Bar Man in. You lose a bit of focus, the trembling hand steadies, you become invulnerable.

St. Marks Place seems to be going a bit Asian so I passed right by this classy Thai restaurant and bar on the way to the subway. And boy, did they have the sake. It is located at 7 St. Marks Place and the entry way is marked with a sculpted noodle, or something. The theme is repeated in the interior décor as well. There was seductive music and a wavy, light green stone topped bar with cream colored laminated front panels. The bar stools look like chrome bicycle seats, but were much more comfortable (unless you happen to be Lance Armstrong). Another slim Buddha, I think, welcomes you as you enter.

The bartender, Bobby, turned out to be from Boston where Bar Man lived for a couple of years and currently lives in Chinatown, where Bar Man spends a bit of time, some of it above ground, so we had things to chat about.

Bobby, The Bartender

I found out that klong means canal in Thai, for example. Kind of coiled overhead lights and a floor that looks like what you might find in an old garage. The seating in the dining area is kind of minimalist with small butcher block tables and fifties style white scoop seats.

They served their chilled sake in reasonably sized glasses set in a small wooden box. I has a chilled Kaori Sake and it was so good I had another. I should stop by during happy hour which runs from 11:00 P.M until 2:00 A.M when they close.

725) Sing Sing

Well, I told you I ended up in Sing Sing. This is a Japanese and Korean karaoke bar with 15 or 16 private booths.

A bit kinky, if you ask me. Kind of reminds you of a porno place. My notes for this place consists of two lines “Smooth greenish marble-topped bar” and “Too drunk to write.” Luckily I was able to take a picture of the interior so that will have to do.

Then I asked Michelle to write down something about the place. She wrote that the place has been open about 2 months and the price per hour to rent a booth (it ranges from a low of $3 per hour from 1:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M during the week to a high of $8 per hour after 7:00 P.M. on Friday and Saturday nights. Her final comment was Michelle loves to sing sing!

Michelle, Who Loves To Sing Sing!

I figured it was time to leave and after having but a single chilled sake did, in fact, head home.

A much more productive day than I had originally planned with six bars for the day and leaving 275 to go. Tomorrow I will be taking it a bit easier. I find that three bars in a day is a piece of cake and four is not bad. Once you go over that, however, strange things begin to happen. I might even start to sing sing!