Friday, December 16, 2005

Don't Forget 1000

"His glance has grown so tired
of the bars passing, it cannot hold anything anymore.
For him it is as though there were a thousand bars
and behind a thousand bars no world."

That is the first verse of the poem "The Panther" by R.M. Rilke and I thought it was most appropriate considering my quest and it's near completion.

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 dancing hats.

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

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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tippling On Third

It was a chilly day but not all that bad because there wasn’t any wind. I have taken a few days off but made up for it today. On Sunday I went to a Jet’s game (they actually won for a change) and I made an excellent Glogg from a recipe out of Chile Pepper magazine. Not only was it delicious, but it was potent as well I needed Monday to recover. Also, I have to be careful I don’t finish my thousand bars too early. I had actually only planned on going to three bars today but got a bit carried away. Temptation is such a difficult thing to resist.

983) Salty Dog

It’s not every day that you walk into a bar wit an old fire truck inside, but then not too many bars are inside an old firehouse, or at least what looks like an old firehouse. The bright red truck is decked out for Christmas with a Christmas tree and Santa.

Salty Dog is on that great strip of bars on 3rd Avenue in Bar Ridge, at 7509. The bar has a heavy wood top, a well worn wood front, and a brass rail. There are three beer stations and one of them is buil into an old fire hydrants. I am not sure if that one is functional though.

Julie Pretending To Pull A Beer

The lights over the bar are old looking metal spotlights in metal holders. They are decorated with large candy canes and in-between them are large gold bulbs.

Old shelves, some wood and some glass, hold a large selection of liquor and a lot of fire department themed memorabilia ranging from an old autographed fireman’s helmet to models of old fire trucks, some of them horse drawn. There are statues of firemen carrying flags and an old call box too. Large mirrors are behind four sections of shelves and exposed brick wall behind the others. Old looking wooden cabinets with wooden doors and wooden drawers above sit below the shelves. The middle section down below is open wooden shelving with more liquor.

There are about ten decent sized televisions lining the walls of this good-sized place. There is a dining area in the back that was brightly lit up by small white lights entwined in garlands of pine boughs and a large wreath. There are two sky-lights and a Santa Clause is making his way down one of them. This place is kind of like a little museum and the more you look around the more fireman related things you can spot, photos, uniforms, patches, you name it and it is there. The people were very friendly and I had to pry myself away even though I would have loved to stay a bit longer.

I had a pint of Guinness.

984) Mooney’s

Moving down Third a bit to 7710 3rd Avenue is this old neighborhood Irish bar with a couple of neighborhood old-timers hanging out at the end of the bar loudly talking about everyone else in the neighborhood. The large light wood bar is well polished and nicely grained. A wooden foot rest runs around the bar and the bar chairs are of two styles, some are plain wood and the others have black metal legs with well worn dark maroon plastic seats.

This is pretty much of a no frills kind of place but there is a nice old wooden bar back with arches on each end and a square section in the middle with a set of heavy brass shelves for glasses. The liquor sits on tiered shelves under the arches at each end. There are mirrors behind the shelves and they are draped with little blue lights. A small Christmas tree sits on a table in the back. There is a ledge in front of the window next to the door with a few chairs sitting in front. A couple of poinsettias sit on the ledge on each side of a small neon shamrock with the name of the bar in the center.

There are lots of framed collages of photos of regulars along with posters of famous Irish poets and Irish Americans hanging on the wall opposite the bar. A narrow ledge with chairs in front line that wall and wrap around to the back. A doorway in the back leads out to a little patio with a couple of snow-covered tables with drooping umbrellas. It might be nice to sit out there in the summer. There is a dartboard in the back as well. Stop in here for some authentic old Bay Ridge ambience.

I had a pint of Guinness.

985) Greenhouse Café

Across the street from Mooney’s is this charming place that the Mysterious Chinese Woman will probably want to visit once she reads this. Although it is right across the street from Mooney’s, the ambience is a mile away. It is really cozy with a narrow bar area and a cute dining area next to it but separated by a wall. There is a piano at one end of the dining area so maybe they have live music at night.

As I sit at the very short end of the bar next to the front window, only room for one bar chair, I can look out through the windows in the back into the enclosed greenhouse area where people are enjoying summer in the middle of, well, Fall. It is cold enough today though so it might as well be Winter. The bar is nice old wood with a brass arm rest in front and a matching one for your feet. The bar was well attended by friendly locals who, when I expressed interest in seeing a menu, went out of their way to tell me how good the food was and what a great deal the appetizers that you can get at the bar are. Small orange lights hang over the bar and little spotlights with rose colored shades light the walls.

The brick wall behind the bar is dominated by three large mirrors in an ornate set of carved wooden frames. It is brightly decorated for Christmas in here with pine garlands, red ribbons, and little white lights. The wall opposite the bar has a narrow ledge and a couple of nice pictures of flowers. This is a very pleasant place with a friendly crowd. For some reason the discussion got around to burial plots, how in some places you can bury more than one person in a single plot, the merits of burial versus cremation and then my suggestion that being made into sausage would be a good idea. I think I am still welcome back.

I had a Dewar’s and soda.

986) Griswold’s Pub

I was heading back to the subway when I spotted this place and realized that it was one of the only ones on this stretch 3rd Avenue that I hadn’t hit yet. What was I to do but drop in. It was a good call too. This place was the most ornately decorated one yet, and not just Christmas decorations, of which there were plenty. The bar itself was plenty nice, old wood with a brass rail arm rail in front and a wooden foot rest. Nice cone shaped rippled orange glass lights hung over the bar and the bar chairs had tan vinyl seats.

The wall behind the bar was brick and alternated mirrors with stained glass windows lit from behind. The mirrors were well decorated with wreaths and sparkly garlands with multi-colored lights. The front windows with very, and I mean very, large Christmas tree lights hanging in them have arched stained glass at the top. The ceiling over the bar are is nicely patterned tin.

Opposite the bar is a dining area separated by a wood partition with curtains hanging from a brass rail on top. Multi colored lights below ceiling fans and more garlands and lights gave it a very festive look. Back lit stained glass windows on the far wall added to the classy look. There were lots of wine racks in here and although the place was pretty empty in mid-afternoon it smelled of good food. The bartender was enjoying his lunch. I bet this would be another good place to stop into for dinner.

I had a Dewar’s and soda.

987) American Legion Post 157

Well I really was heading back to the subway now, walking down 78th Street, but then I passed what looked like a closed American Legion Post. I crossed the street to get a closer look and heard voices so I headed in. This place was the busiest place I had been into all day, and with fifty-cent beers and $2.00 shots I can see why. Don’t try to get in unless you are a member though, they do check your card. Luckily Bar Man comes prepared. This really was a great place with a great old crowd, and I do mean old. Bar Man is no spring chicken, but I was probably one of the youngest guys in here. People were very friendly in here. Somehow I mentioned that I liked cooking so they had to show me the great stove they had in the kitchen and how I would be more than welcome to come in and help out some day. They have barbecues in the summer so that would be right up my alley.

The bar was quite large with a wood-grained vinyl top and a wooden armrest. The mirrored bar back was decked out in multi-colored Christmas lights and there are a couple of televisions. There is a pool table in here that was getting some pretty good actin. The paneled walls are covered with military memorabilia and pictures of members. The top of the walls are lined with license plates from American Legion Posts from around the nation. Bay Ridge is the kind of neighborhood where people grow up and stay so you have people in their 70s in here who have known each other their entire lives. But they still make you feel welcome so, as I said, I will be back. In fact I think I am going to transfer my membership to this post.

I had a glass of beer or two of beer and a shot or three of Yukon Jack.

Well, it was another might fine day. Great bars and great people. I was on a roll so I hit 5 for the day making 987 for the year leaving but a lucky 13 to go. I will be taking tomorrow off, but then heading to Queens with my buddy Bernie on Thursday.

Be sure to check below for information about the 1000 Bar celebration.