Friday, December 30, 2005

Preparation For 1000th Bar

Well, tonight I am going to Pioneer for my 1000th bar of the year, and you have to prepare for something like that. My brother-in-law Jim, the fellow that I hit my first three bars with way back last January 1st, took me to Peter Luger's for a belated birthday lunch. My friend Bruce from Minnesota joined us as did the Mysterious Chinese Woman. Mysteriously enough she doesn't seem to appear in any of the pictures.

Jim, Bruce, and Bar Man Prepare To Enter To Lay Down Our Base

For those of you who may not know, Peter Luger's typically gets rated as one of the best steak houses not just in New York but in the entire world. We ordered the porterhouse steak for four and had a beer while we awaited its arrival.

Awaiting The Meat

After our meal we went back to my place in Brooklyn to wait for my friends Bernie and Marianne to show up before heading into Manhattan and Pioneer.

Bar Number 1000 - The Begining

1000) Pioneer Bar

Well, the big night finally arrived, and it turned out to be much bigger than I anticipated. Not just because of the large number of friends who showed up, but because of the media coverage. It was a bit overwhelming.

I got to Pioneer a bit after 5:00 P.M. but my stated goal was to have my drink to make the bar official at 6:00 P.M. Some of the press was waiting when I arrived so I ended up being interviewed as I nursed a club soda.

Meeting The Media

It was champagne all around at 6:00 P.M. and the media was there to capture it all.

Capturing The Moment

When the excitement started to abate I was finally able to have my drink and make it official, Pioneer was bar number 1000 and my quest, but not the party, had officially come to an end.

Mysterious Chinese Woman And Bar Man Make It Official

The party went on well into the night and I will post again with more pictures of the evenings festivities. It was a great night and I really want to thank everyone who showed up, David, the owner of Pioneer for hosting the event, and all of you who read this and send me emails or post comments, it was really gratifying to know that what I was doing provided some enjoyment.

Humble Beginings - Bar Trek

Long before my quest to drink in 1000 bars in a single year a friend and I came up with the idea of having a Bar Trek. This was to be held the Saturday before the Boston Marathon and the idea was to drink in 26 bar in a single day. In five years, from 1985 to 1989, only two people were ever successful. A few people who had participated in these Bar Treks showed up and several of the brought along the tee-shirts we had made up for the event. The shirt from the first and last Bar Trek were the most popular.

Ronnie And Bernie With The Bar Trek Collectible Tee-Shirts

Adrian Rice was the first to accomplish this task and win the coveted drinking, er, loving cup.

Ronnie, Adrian, and Debbie, Adrian's Wife

The next, and last person to complete the circuit was Gary. I am sure you have seen him in before, he is an old drinking buddy of mine from back in the day. Wait a minute, this is the day.


Check back later. I am heading out to meet some friends at McSorley's for lunch and will be posting more pictures when I get home, if I am in any kind of shape to do so. No more one drink in a bar restrictions, I can stay as long as I want and drink as much as I want. Well, maybe not, the Mysterious Chinese Lady will be keeping an eye on me.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Day Worth Posting

Get it, I am meeting with Dakota Smith of the New York Post, so I thought I would say something about posting in my heading, Post, posting, get it, get it. Okay, so it wasn’t that clever.

999) Wheeltapper Pub

That is the whole crew up above, my friend Bruce from Minnesota, the Mysterious Chinese Woman, me, and Bernie

Located right next door to the Fitzpatrick Hotel on 44th and Lexington and just a short walk from Grand Central Station is this cozy Irish pub. It is named for the railroad workers who inspected the train wheels for cracks. Some of the instruments used in their trade are mounted on the wall and there are plenty of pictures of trains and train stations as well. The pub is, in fact, designed to look like a bit like an old railroad depot, albeit one that has been converted into a charming Irish pub.

Bar Man With Manager Richard And Assistant Manager Rosario

What would have been the ticket office now has little tables for dining. The center of the room is dominated by a replica of a turning table that was used to turn train engines around. Garlands of evergreen decorated with berries and pinecones were draped over the u shaped bar it gave the entire room a cheery Christmas feeling.

The bartender did a great job of keeping our glasses topped up so they would look good in the pictures. They even have a little shamrock embedded in the foam.

The bartender did a great job of keeping our glasses topped up so they would look good in the pictures. They even have a little shamrock embedded in the foam.

Joe, The Hard Working Bartender

Needless to say, when we weren't busy giving interviews and having our pictures taken we did manage to find time to actually sit at the bar and have a drink.

The Crew And Joe The Bartender

The bar and the cabinets behind it are made of glossy dark wood. Small flat screen televisions are mounted on either side of the cabinets. There is also a large television mounted on a side wall. A row of lantern shaped lights hung over the bar. The wall opposite the bar is exposed brick The other walls are dark wood on the bottom half and painted a burnt orange on top. There is a cream colored patterned tin ceiling. The ornate wooden bar chairs have fabric covered cushions.

Bar Man Posing

Just one bar for the day leaving only one to go. Hard to believe, but it is almost over. On the way to the subway home I took my friend to see Campbell's Apartment which is a nice, but extremely over-priced bar that you can access by a somewhat obscurely located elevator. Although I didn't have a drink at the bar there I though I would include this somewhat gratuitous photo of the bartender there who had many assets at her disposal.

Gratuitous Picture Of A Bartender At A Bar I Didn't Drink At

Well that is almost it for the year. If you can, be sure to join me at Pioneer on the Bowery tonight for number 1000. I am sure many of you thought I would end up on the Bowery, just not standing upright at a bar.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Newsworthy Day

I met up with Jose Martinez and Tanya Braganti of the New York Daily News today to do an interview and photo shoot for an article that should appear in Friday’s paper. It was a very pleasurable afternoon. I had previously spent the good part of a day with Jose earlier this year when we hit three bars together. A likeable chap he is, as was the photographer, only she was no chap.

998) McGee’s

A very nice upscale Irish pub on 55th between Broadway and 8th Avenue that comes complete with a cheery fireplace built into an ornate wooden mantle and what looks like a fancy breakfront. There are stockings hung, with care, I presume, from the mantle and Christmas tree made out of red bulbs sitting just above them. Garlands of fir with red bows and clusters of silver bells frame the mirror and a cheery snowman and his little girlfriend hang on the mirror that has a green light mounted on each side of it.

Tanya Shooting Me As I Shoot Her


The bar is a good sized old dark wood affair with two inverted brass U shaped beer stations each with a dozen spigots. There is a brass rail and chairs with fancy backs and soft, dark red vinyl seats. Antique looking chandeliers hang from the ceiling along with a variety of Christmas ornaments, red and silver bells and balls. The bar back is a very ornate dark wood construction complete with columns, arched mirrors, wine racks, shelves of glasses, and little cupboards with glass paneled doors. It is draped with strings of red and green lights and decorated with bows, wreaths, shiny fuzzy garlands. Very festive.

The bartender, Denise, was very friendly and patient about letting us do the interview and take pictures from all conceivable angles. She kept a cheerful smile the whole time and kept the Guinness flowing.

Denise The Lovely and Friendly Bartender

There are a few televisions but they are placed so you can watch them if you want to but can also easily ignore them. Green upholstered settees line the wall opposite the bar and they have small wooden tables and chairs in front of them for your dining pleasure. Immediately behind me as I sit at the bar is a large framed painting of dancing Greek or Roman women clad in flowing togas. There is a staircase leading up to what I presume is another dining area and a good sized wine rack sits at the bottom.

I shared a few pints of Guinness with Jose before heading on home.


Just one for the day but I will be hitting bar number 999 tomorrow where I will be doing an interview with Dakota Smith of the New York Post. Ms. Smith was the very first person to interview me for an article that ran way back in February when I was just getting started. That was at Walker's where I stopped in before taking the Mysterious Chinese Woman out for her birthday (well, one of her birthday's) dinner at Chanterelle, a great restaurant but one that had no bar.

Hey, Hey, Hey, I hit 998 today, just a couple of more days to play, then at my favorite watering hole, Pete's, I can stay.

Ready For My Close-Up

For those of you who might be interested, there will be a segment about me on Countdown With Keith Olbermann on MSNBC tonight. I know I will be watching.

Number 1000 Is Near

"The bars which pass and strike across his gaze
have stunned his sight: the eyes have lost their hold.
To him it seems there are a thousand bars,
a thousand bars and nothing else. No World."

Just another reminder that Bar Number 1000, the end point of this somewhat besotted journey of the past year, will be Pioneer Bar at 218 Bowery on Friday, December 30th, starting at 6:00 P.M. For more details click on the dancing hats to the right.

Murph's Bar Guide did a nice little promotion for my 1000th bar, you can check it out here:

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  • Hoping to see a lot of you on Friday.

    Tuesday, December 27, 2005

    Winding Down In Bay Ridge

    I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Killer Kwanza, or simply sacrificed a goat or something. I had a great time at my sister-in-law’s house where we had a family gathering that lasted almost four days and involved much more than a goat being sacrificed for our eating pleasure. Of course we didn’t do the actual sacrificing, we left that to highly paid professionals. Actually, I felt I was being sacrificed by having to sit through King Kong, the most over-hyped movie I have ever sat through.

    But enough chit chat, it was time to get back to business, I do still have a few more bars to go so I can’t just sit on my stools, I have to sit on bar stools.

    997) Kelly’s Tavern

    Between 92nd and 93rd and between 4th and 5th Avenues is this classic neighborhood Irish, well, I guess, tavern, with a classic Irish neighborhood crowd. When I walked in there was a loud discussion going on about, of all things, caviar. It started out on the loud side, somewhat opinionated, but focusing on the taste and quality of various types of caviar and who liked and didn’t like caviar. Of course it quickly disintegrated into a comparison of caviar to other things that might smell and taste the same and, well you can just imagine where this conversation ended up.

    There was a nice long old wooden bar that pretty much ran the width of this place that has entrances on both 4th Avenue and 5th Avenue. Of course the entrance on 5th Avenue looks more like an exit, but probably provides a place where you can kind of sneak into the place somewhat unobserved.

    Only five beer spigots set a bit below bar level with just the handles peaking out. Pretty standard domestic brews but, of course, they did have Guinness. There is a traditional brass rail and captain's chairs, the kind with armrests. Above the bar are fancy old fashioned white frosted inverted bowl shaped light fixtures with delicate etched patterns.

    Behind the bar is a collection of old cabinets with wooden doors and drawers and a bright red chest full of ice and beer. On top are glasses below slightly raised tiered shelves of liquor sitting in front of two large mirrors. Above and in front of each mirror are another couple of old light fixtures with more of an inverted tulip shape. The mirrors were framed with white twigs entwined with white lights and decorated with red bows and boughs of holly. Between the mirrors was a sculpture of iron workers taking their lunch break while sitting on an iron beam. Sitting next to each mirror are nice old high wooden cabinets with wood framed glass doors that contained memorabilia of unknown origin along with a few, for display only, bottles of fancy liquor.

    There is a dartboard up front next to a montage of photos of regulars and a fairly significant display of trophies won by the bar’s team. A Christmas tree sat opposite the bar and a large wreath was mounted on the wall that was kind of a tan swirled plaster above wood paneling with a ledge between them. There were several televisions in here including two nice plasma televisions behind the bar. Emeril was on one and OTB was on the other. The one showing OTB seemed to be getting most of the attention but the bar did seem to be divided into two camps, one at each end of the bar, that seemed to enjoy hurling insults at each other. As I was leaving I notice that Emeril was giving a recap of his show that must have dealt with vodka and caviar so I presume that was what sparked the conversation I walked into as I arrived.

    I had a Guinness and it was well poured.

    Well, just one for the day making 997 for the year and leaving only, gasp, three more to go. I am just sneaking up on number 1000 though, kind of stretching out the an-ti-ci-pa-tion.