Saturday, December 03, 2005

Beers (And Shots) With The Boys

A reader of this blog, Nick, was coming into Manhattan from New Haven with a bunch of his buddies and wanted to get together for a drink or two. They started out at McSorley’s where I joined them for a few beers. I couldn’t count McSorley’s though because I have already been there. We didn’t have to wander too far after we left though to find virgin (and I use that term a wee bit loosely) territory.

971) Coyote Ugly

Barman, John, John, Doreen, and Michael Heading In

On 1st Avenue between 9th and 10th is this, by now, notorious watering hole. Not too many bars have a movie made about them, but this one did. Or was it the other way around. After an hour or so in here who knows or cares. This is one of the few places in this neighborhood that has a bouncer during the day checking everyone's IDs.

Adam The Bouncer (Even Bar Man Had To Show His ID)

The bar looks ancient and almost worn through in spots with a metal pipe arm rest and the metal bar stools with the wobbling and spinning torn black vinyl seats keep you on your toes. Of course the creaking wooden floor with little changes in height here and there doesn’t make keeping on your toes, or your feet, for that matter, very easy. Relatively cheap beers and generous shots just add to the confusion. Behind the bar is a huge chest full of ice and beers and shelves packed with booze. You will not go dry in here, if you can get the bartenders attention that is. But once you do it is worth it.

Samantha The Dancing Bartender

The two duct-taped beer stations with 5 spigots each added a nice touch. Of course they seemed to be out of anything I actually wanted so I settled for bottled beer. It seemed somehow right though.

Running down the center of the place are poles with small round tables built around them and a few chairs scattered here and there. There are also a few booths against one of the walls but this is mostly a stand up and toss them down kind of a place.The walls are covered in red peeling paint, pictures of patrons, and bras, hundreds and hundreds of bras.

More Bras Than You Could Shake A Breast At

If you come in here wearing one be prepared to leave it. From the looks of most of them though they were bought from a street vendor for about twenty-five cents each. I don’t think I have actually seen anyone wearing a bra like most of these since I was in high-school. Up by the front windows there is a large cowboy hat hanging from the ceiling with a green light bulb in it. I particularly liked the poster on the wall of one ugly coyote.

An Ugly Coyote

Come in for a few drinks and with almost no encouragement the bartender will dance on the bar for you. Come late at night and the customers will too.

I had a bottle of Budweiser and a couple of shots of Bushmills.

972) The Central Bar

Well, I was going to just head home because I had plans for dinner with friends but I passed by this place on 9th between 3rd and 4th. I had to take a whiz and had a bit of a thirst for another shot of Bushmills so in I went. I have to say, this was a really nice place and I didn’t even know it was there. An old dark wood bar with two sets of 9 curved silver beer spigots that actually poured beer. Little cracked crystal globe lights hung over the bar. There is a wide expanse of shelves behind the bar and square wooden bar stools with dark and light brown soft leather seats attached with brass headed tacks.

There were lots of televisions showing sports, mostly soccer around the place. There is a small brick fireplace in the front in the center of the room built into a column. Mostly red walls with a small lounge area up front with brown padded seats facing a bench with matching brown padding. This was a spacious place that still maintained and intimate and cozy feel to it. The friendly manager, Leslie, and bartender, Iva, added to the ambience and we chatted a bit about quest and bars in general. They were very generous in providing suggestions of places to visit. Maybe they were trying to get rid of me.

Leslie, The Manager

Iva, The Bartender

In the back was a staircase decked in white lights that was leading up to somewhere.

I had a pint of Boddington’s and another shot of Bushmills before catching the subway home.

A decent day, and a lot of fun. Several new friends and two new bars making 972 bars for the year and leaving 28 to go. I will be taking tomorrow off. It is my birthday and I will be going to Chinatown to have a birthday dim sum with the Mysterious Chinese Woman and her family. That will be fun, I am sure.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Bay Ridge With Bernie

It was another nice day today, although a bit on the windy side. My friend Bernie and I had planned to go to Bay Ridge with a couple of other friends but, unfortunately, they weren’t able to make it. Ah well, the two of us had enough fun for four.

967) Bally Bunion

After getting off the N Train at 95th I met up with Bernie who was on the train right behind mine and we walked over to 3rd Avenue, kind of a Mecca of bars. It is located at 9510 3rd Avenue and it is kind of hard to miss. This was a very friendly place despite the bartenders refusal to let me take her picture for posting on this blog. She said she had a bad experience once with her picture appearing on the internet. Oh well, you win some and you lose some. The bar had a white top with an oak arm rest and front. Two beer stations with four spigots each sit on the bar. There was a brass rail and wooden bar chairs. Nice old wood shelves and cabinets behind the bar with the shelves holding liquor. More bottles sat on tiered shelves sitting on top in front of mirrors festooned with little white branches decorated with little white lights and red bows. There is also a brass bell to be rung when someone buys a round of drinks.

Above the area behind the bar were three good sized wooden racks hanging from the ceiling that had glasses hanging from them. Clear inverted dome shaped crenulated lamps hang over the bar from the black ceiling. There were also several overhead fans. The front window had a lot of plants hanging from the top and road signs with the names of Irish towns on them hanging above along with lights like the ones hanging over the bar. The wall next to the bar up by the windows had what looked what might be mirrors hanging on it, but they were wrapped to look like presents.

The wall opposite the bar was green above wood paneling. There were signed pictures of ball players along with a baseball that was signed by the player in cases hanging on the wall. A lot of little tables with green tops and chairs were up front and there is a dining area in the back that has a fireplace.

We spent a fair amount of time chatting with a retired firefighter, mostly about fishing. My friend Bernie is an avid fisherman although he is allergic to fish. Kind of ironic. This fellow, I believe his name was Fred, also told us about a bar in his neighborhood that is on the water and has all kinds of pictures and mounted fish on the walls. He said you could spend a couple of hours looking at it. I don’t remember the name of the place or where it was but Bernie wrote it down so I think we are going to visit it next week.

I had a pint of Guinness.

968) O’Sullivan’s

Just down the street a couple of blocks at 8902 3rd Avenue is another classic Irish pub. It has an old oak bar with a brown tile foot rest and wooden bar chairs with green seats. Two round brass beer stations with five spigots each sat on the bar. Coolers with wooden doors and tiered shelves of liquor behind the bar with more bottles sitting on top. Three large mirrors with the name of the bar frosted on the middle one that is partially obscured by a large wreath with red bows and white lights are behind the bottles. Shelves and cabinets with leaded glass paneled doors were on each side of the mirrors.

There are two large televisions but they were both turned off. There was another small one in the corner with OTB showing and that was generating a lot of attention. Apparently a group of guys had just barely missed winning a trifecta in a photo finish. The funny thing was that they came in after the actual race was over so they were watching a replay but didn’t know what the results would be. They weren’t amused by my suggestion that they might have better luck if it was replayed again.

Wide ledges with bar chairs in front of them were against the wall opposite the bar. The floor was patterned light and dark tan tiles and the ceiling was white. There were several chandeliers hanging from the ceiling each with five inverted dome light. There were also several more televisions around the place but aside from the one I mentioned and one showing that lotto-ball game they were all off.

The bartender, Eddie, recognized who I was so we chatted a bit about bars and the life of a bartender.

Eddie, The Gregarious And Generous Bartender

He bought my Bernie and me each a $1 lotto ticket with the number of his bar, 968. Check the papers tomorrow to see if I won.

I had a Dewar’s and soda.

969) Henry Grattan’s

Just down the block a bit at 8814 3rd Avenue is this really nice Irish pub with all kinds of interesting things sitting on shelves, hanging on the walls and, in the case of a suit of armor wearing a Santa Claus beard, standing on the floor. The owner, Barry Donovan, was in the process of hanging a huge wreath outside the place when we walked up and they were in the process of doing a nice decorating job inside as well. I think the suit of armor was going to get a hat to go with his beard. It really was kind of like a little museum in here with an old accordion sitting on a shelf, a violin in its case hanging on the wall, pictures galore including a couple of dogs in formal evening attire, a gold record for a song and an artist I have never heard of, all kinds of stuff. You could spend a fair amount of time in here just looking around. There is also a fireplace with logs burning that just added to the warm and cozy feel of this place.

Barry, The Pleasant Owner

The bar was old, dark wood with the familiar wood bar chairs with green seats. There was an elaborate bar back with old wood drawers, cupboards, and cabinets. Mirrors above those with tiered shelves of liquor and glasses stored underneath. There were all kinds of Christmas decorations such as pine boughs, red bows and ribbons, and little white lights. There is a wooden overhang above the bar that is also well decorated. In fact the whole place is done up for Christmas.

Bernie, Adding To The Christmas Spirit

There were overhead fans with inverted dome lights hanging from the wood beamed ceiling. The floor was wood as well. There is a very nice dining room in the back that looks like it could be your Aunts, if your Aunt had a large theater screen against the back wall (showing ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.”. Everyone was friendly in here and Bernie said he was definitely coming back for St. Patrick ’s Day next year. I will be Mexico drinking green margaritas but I am going to come back here for dinner one night. I understand the food is great.

I had a Dewar’s and soda.

970) Kettle Black

We didn’t have to go far, just up to 8622 3rd Avenue to find our next bar. This place used to be Fitzpatrick’s and just opened as Kettle Black in 2004. I am guessing that it was remodeled and glassed in extensions on two sides were added at the time. As a result it doesn’t have a very cozy feel to it, but then almost any place would suffer in comparison to Henry Grattan’s. The fact that the day was turning a bit gray didn’t help but it might be a lot nicer on a bright sunny day given the floor to ceiling windows on two sides. I will have to say that the black and white tiled floor didn’t add a lot of warmth to the place either.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about this place. It has a nice old wood bar with a very narrow ledge just big enough for your big toe. The bar chairs here have black seats. Eight curved silver beer spigots protrude from the bar. Old wooden shelves and mirrors behind the bar with a couple of Jackson Pollack looking American flags painted behind the shelves at each end. There is a shiny tine ceiling. Multi-colored lights in plastic tubing run around the walls near the ceiling. There are at least a dozen televisions around the place so it would be a good place to stop in to watch a game. There is certainly plenty of room. There is also a dining area in the back.

I had a Dewar’s and soda and Bernie and I headed off to catch the train vowing to return to the neighborhood again and to Henry Gratton’s in particular.

A very fine day indeed with four very nice bars visited making a nice round 970 for the year and leaving 30 more to go. Tomorrow I am meeting some out-of-towners at McSorley's, which I have already visited, and then we will try to find one that I haven't been to before in the general neighborhood.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bar Number 1000 Is Approaching

Just another reminder that Bar Number 1000 is just around the corner and it is going to be PIONEER in New York. I will be having my drink on Friday, December 30th and should be there around 6:00 P.M. Of course I will be sticking around for awhile. Hell, there will no longer be a reason for me to go anyplace else. I might just move in. Stop by, have a drink with me, be a part of history. It is also a great excuse to start your New Years Eve celebration a day early.

PIONEER is located at 218 Bowery, and what could be more New York than that. It is easy to get to by subway, which would just add to the experience. You can find out more about PIONEER by clicking the picture below.

  • I am certainly looking forward to this and looking forward to seeing all of you.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    A Fun Day And Night With Friends

    A friend of mine, Allen decided to take the Amtrak into Manhattan today from Pennsylvania and we managed to hook up and hit a few bars. Allen, you may remember, is the fellow who invited me to attend a Yankees game with him and his buddies earlier in the year. Always a good time when he shows up. By the way, if his girlfriend is reading this he didn’t have anything to drink (now I will burn in Hell for lying).

    964) Muldoon’s

    This is a great old Irish pub, the way they used to be, not far from Penn Station over on 3rd Avenue between 43rd and 42nd. There is an old wood bar with a black footrest and wooden bar chairs and beer stations on top. Wooden cabinetry behind the bar had tiered shelves of liquor in front of large mirrors. On each end were cupboards with wooden doors that had had panes of glass. Christmas wreaths and boughs of pine lit by little white lights draped the mirrors. Stained glass lights hung over the bar. The walls are green above wood paneling with a ledge and seats in front of it. There are booths in the back for additional seating.

    I didn’t get a chance to take too many notes, I common occurrence when I am drinking with someone and chatting as well. And of course you have so many interesting conversations while drinking. We were pondering whether there were more bars on the avenues in Manhattan or on the streets. Conversation like this can, of course, go on for hours.

    I had a pint of Guinness.

    Muldoon's Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

    965) Blarney Stone

    Just on the next block, between 44th and 45th is this classic Blarney Stone, one that hasn’t been remodeled to the point where it is no longer recognizable. The bar has a black linoleum type of top and front with an oak armrest at the front of the bar. There is a black foot rest and the bar stools are metal with round black seats. There are large white lights hanging over the bar but they were unlit at this time of the day. Black coolers and oak shelving behind the bar. The shelves were filled with liquor and there was more liquor on the tiered shelves on top. Mirrors festooned with red Christmas stockings and multi-colored Christmas lights hung above the mirrors behind the liquor. Sitting on the shelf was a dancing Santa and his dancing wife. There were three televisions behind the bar and two shiny blackboards with beer prices listed. Pretty reasonable too, most bottles were $3 and the drafts ran about $4.

    This is one of the few remaining places that has an old-fashioned steam table with lots of good stuff. I always like to get the corned beef sandwiches from these but passed today because I was going out for dinner later. There was quite a line of people getting there lunch so I guess the food tasted as good as it looks. I have a friend, Bruce, coming in from Minnesota to visit me for bar number 1000 and I am going to take him here for lunch one day. It doesn’t get much more classic New York than this. There are a couple of large soft drink dispensers where you can fill your own bottomless glass that you get when you buy your meal. There are plenty of tables with chairs so you can sit down and eat. The walls in here are green above paneling and a ledge for drinks.

    I had a pint of Guinness.

    966) Peter Luger’s

    Later in the evening I met a bunch of friends at Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn, right across the Williamsburg Bridge. It is located at 178 Broadway, just a few blocks from the F Train subway stop. It is kind of fun to go there by subway too because the train goes across the Williamsburg Bridge and you get a nice view. A lot of people already know about Peter Luger’s reputation because it is possibly the best steakhouse in the world. At least many people think so and I can say that I have never been to a better one. There is also a pretty decent old bar in a separate room but it is standing only and no foot rest or rail. You have to be tough to drink in here. I don’t think it is really a neighborhood bar, more of a holding area for the people who are going to eat here. And, if you are going to eat here for anything but lunch you will need to make your reservations well in advance.

    There is a T shaped beer station on the bar with five spigots and it is surrounded by little bottles of Pellegrino. Three are old wooden shelves, cabinets, and sagging wine racks behind the bar with tiered shelves of liquor sitting on top and glass shelves holding glasses. Behind these are three large mirrors festooned with fir tree boughs and wreaths with red bows and gold pine cones. Hanging over the bar are old fashioned chandeliers that look like they could have once held candles but now hold candle-like light bulbs.

    The wall opposite the bar has dark wainscoting going up about halfway and vanilla colored painted patterned tin above. The wall is plastered with Zagat’s Survey awards rating Peter Luger’s Top Steakhouse and various other articles proclaiming its virtues. Apparently the late Johnny Carson once said “The best meal of my entire life was at Peter Luger’s.” Well, as I said earlier, they have the best steak I have ever had in a restaurant and I am about to have part of one tonight (they serve huge porterhouse steaks big enough for several people) once I finish my beer and the rest of my group arrives.

    Eat your heart out, this is me and my friends tucking in to our meal. In addition to the steak, which was great we also had shrimp and bacon appetizers and creamed spinach and fried potatoes with the meal. It was finished off with a great slice of pecan pie.

    Bar Man And Friends Tucking In (posing, actually)

    My friend Ben was pouting because a tuft of my hair covered up his nose in the group photo. Sheesh, the things I have to put up with.

    Ben And His Nose Pouting

    At least Ben didn't send me back a retouched picture that toned down a shiny forehead like the Mysterious Black Woman did.

    I had a draft Brooklyn Lager at the bar and a couple of Maker's Mark Manhattans with the meal along with a wee bit of red wine.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2005

    A Little Touch Of Cuba

    I continued with my walk around the neighborhood to see what was new and found another place that has only been open for a month or so. And this was a very pleasant find indeed.

    963) Café El Cubanito

    A very colorful little Cuban restaurant with a decent sized bar on the corner of Henry and Cranberry, not too far from where I live in Brooklyn. The L shaped bar has a pale green tile top and a wooden front painted light turquoise with yellow insets with pink edging. There is a silver rail for your foot. The chairs are dark wood with bright turquoise seats. Behind the bar are black coolers and blue wooden shelves in front of shiny turquoise tiles. Above the tiles the wall is brick and there is a light yellow wooden shelf mounted on it with a shiny tiered shelf holding liquor and a couple of small figurine lamps. Above that is a kind of collapsed in the middle looking picture frame around a mirror backed set of shelves filled with little knick knacks and a variety of salt-and-pepper shakers. There is a mobile of pastel sea-shells hanging off to one side Sitting on the coolers are a couple of large containers of Sangria, white and red, with fruit floating in them. A glass bowl shaped vase of pink flowers and peacock feathers sits at one end of the bar and a black, white, and gold ceramic table lamp sits on the other. A light pink and white striped awning hangs over the bar and the area behind it.

    The two side walls are also a combination of turquoise tiles below and brick on top and are covered with colorful 50’s era Cuban travel posters and posters advertising rum and cigars. Little tables with a variety of brightly patterned table cloths and pastel wooden chairs fill up the place. The lights hanging from the lemon yellow ceiling are draped with colorful doily like coverings. The floor is covered in greenish orange tiles.

    This is a very colorful and cheery place. The bartender, Steve, was very friendly and we chatted for quite awhile about the neighborhood, his neighborhood, and who knows what else. He is relatively new at bartending so we chatted about drinks for awhile and I gave him some of my advice (always use bitters when making a Manhattan, for example). He had been well trained in making the house specialties though, Mojitos and Caipirihnas. Those were absolutely delicious, made from scratch with plenty of mint. I had one of each before heading on home.

    Monday, November 28, 2005

    What's New On Montague?

    I decided to take a walk around my neighborhood just to see what, if anything was new. I didn’t have to go too far before I found my first place.

    961) Lantern

    I don’t remember what this place was last, it has been about half-a-dozen different things since I moved into the neighborhood. My favorite was when it was Slade’s Drinking Club, even though the bartenders always ate the filberts that I personally bought for them to keep so I could have them in my Rusty Nails. When I was a wee Bar Boy in Minneapolis you always got filberts in your Rusty Nails. You don’t see that anymore and most recipes no longer call for them. I wonder if it was just a local thing.

    Lantern, at 101 Montague Street, is now a Thai restaurant and bar. The top of the bar is kind of cool. It has heavy oak beams on either side of a metal trough containing polished stones. The beams and trough are covered by thick panels of clear plastic. There is a clear vase sitting on one end of the bar and it contains large stalks of bamboo covered in silver balls like the ones you hang on your Christmas tree. The front of the bar is dark wood paneling. The bar stools have metal legs and thick square black seats.

    The wall behind the bar is light tan and has wooden slats projecting out about an inch or so from it. There are small lights in plastic tubes behind some of the slats. There is one narrow wooden mounted in front of the slats and it holds bottles of liquor and wine. Below are plain looking white shelves holding glasses. More liquor and wine bottles sit on top of the shelves. There is a good-sized flat screen television mounted on the wall behind one end of the bar.

    There are lots of clusters of silver balls hanging from the ceiling (conveniently the bottom of them are at forehead level) as well as small dark square metal temple like ornaments. There is seating for dining by the front windows and in the along a long bench that runs down the middle of the room and along the brick wall. A golden Buddha occupies a place of honor in the back.

    I had a bottle of Tsingtao.

    962) Palmiro’s

    This is another fairly new place, although it has been around for about two years now and isn’t on Montague. It is on the corner of Hick’s and Clark Street. Before that it was a sports bar named Stubb’s, but then it sat vacant for almost seven years. The jury is out on how long this place will survive. You go up a flight of stairs from street level and there is a large dining area in front with tables covered with red and white checkered tablecloths. The large marble topped bar is tucked in the back and you almost have to know it is there to find the doorway that leads to it.

    There wasn’t any bartender on duty, just two guys sitting at the end of the bar talking to each other. I assumed at least one of them was the owner or manager, but he paid no attention to me. I was about to leave and actually made it to the door when a party of five came in (the place was empty when I arrived). A waiter appeared and asked them if they wanted to eat at a table or at the bar. The opted for the table but I figured maybe I could get a drink at the bar after-all. I headed back and, after sitting there for a few minutes, finally asked one of the guys if I could actually get a drink. He said “Sure.” And then nothing happened until finally the waiter came in to get a pitcher of water for the people at the table. The guy told him I wanted a beer and after he went to deliver the water he came back and pulled me one. Not, in my opinion, the way you run a bar. If it is open you serve your customers, if it isn’t, put up a sign.

    Interestingly, the bar is really big and there is another dining room behind it. When this place was Stubb’s the bar was always packed, but then I only went there at night. I will have to check this place out some evening just to see what kind of business they do then.

    They have those light, metal bar chairs and large white globe lights hang just behind them from the tan patterned tin ceiling. There are two sets of three tubular beer stations on the bar, each with two spigots. The bar back is pretty fancy with glass shelves in front of narrow mirrors beneath light wooden shelving that also have glass shelves that hold wine, bottles of grappa, and crystal vases and figurines. Two small televisions are behind the bar as well as two monitors connected to cameras focused on the street in front.

    After a long wait I had a Newcastle Brown Ale and although I might stop back one night just to see what kind of business they do here, I certainly can’t recommend this as a place to just pop into for a drink.