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.

    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    Partying On Smith Street

    I decided to go back to PaNe e ViNo for dinner tonight, it really did look like a nice place when I was there yesterday and the bartender, manager, or whatever he was treated me well and seemed very enthusiastic about the restaurant. That is always a good sign. I also decided to check out a couple of bars that I had passed that usually open later in the evening. Unfortunately they were both hosting private parties, as were several other bars that I passed along the way. Nonetheless, I did manage to chalk up another one.

    996) NY Perks

    This is another fairly new place at 193 Smith Street that isn’t open during the day and wasn’t really open tonight either. There was a private party going on in the back where there is a separate bar under a fairly impressive stained glass ceiling. The manager let me buy a glass of wine there and bring it up front to drink at the bar by the entrance. This was a nice gesture but it would have been nice if he had turned on a couple of lights. I think he was discouraging non-party goers from entering, but a sign on the door would have been just as effective. As it was the only light came from the large screen television above the bar that was showing an Austin Powers movie, and not one of the good ones either. The continue switching between light and dark scenes gave of a disco effect of sorts and also gave Bar Man the beginning of a headache. The throbbing disco music provided for the party didn’t help either. It looked like kind of a dismal party too, people just sitting around and not really talking to each other. Well, it was a bit early so maybe it was just getting started. It looked like the DJ was just getting set up.

    The bar up front is fairly small, just room for four chairs and it is kind of a curved, inexpensive light wood affair that wouldn’t look out of place in someone’s basement recreation-room. The area behind the bar was pretty sparse too, just a couple of plain cabinets with liquor bottles on top and a couple of shelves mounted on the rose colored wall. The smaller upper shelf held a few more bottles of liquor and the lower shelf held glasses.

    There is considerable space devoted to lounge areas that consist of nice looking dark plush leather looking sofas and love seats and light wood coffee tables. My guess is that people just go up to the bars to order a drink to bring back to their little nook. Even the bar in back where there was a party going on didn’t have anyone hanging at it having a drink. It might be worthwhile to peek in again when this place is actually open, but nothing that I saw would really draw me back.

    I had a glass of white wine.

    Well that was just one for the night, but that was what I had planned on. I now have hit 996 for the year and have only four more to go. I probably won’t be hitting any until next week though. I am heading out for Christmas and, although we will be going out for dinner on Friday, it is to a place I have already visited. Word is that the subway strike will be over though so I won’t have any problems finishing up my quest.

    Oh, just to let you know, The Mysterious Chinese Lady and I did have our dinner at PaNe e ViNo, and it was very good. I had a poppy seed encrusted tuna in some kind of a lime sauce with spinach and potatos and The Mysterious Chinese Lady had monkfish in a rich spicy soup. Service was very good and friendly too. The same guy that served me my wine yesterday was there and he remembered what kind I had and that I liked it, so I had it again. The place was packed and later on they were going to have live Brazilian music, but we didn’t stay for that.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    Coping With The Strike

    Well, it really wasn’t too difficult. Even though I have gone to so many bars in my neighborhood, new ones open up all the time. I found two today and passed by another two that don’t open until later in the evening. I will probably visit them tomorrow night. Then I will only have one more to hit before my scheduled appearances at bars number 999 and 1000.

    994) PaNe e ViNo

    This Italian restaurant and bar at 174 Smith Street has been open for about six months now. I was a bit confused because the décor looked Italian but there was a map of Brazil on one of their flyers. It turned out that they were advertising a Brazilian night with caipirnhas and wine all night. The bar was kind of an angular U shape with the wide center area large enough for six stools with metal legs and round green seats. The top of the bar is dark wood and the front has wood paneling painted to look like green marble that is framed in wood that matches the top. There are silver rails for your feet. Four swollen tube shaped lights, two light lime green ones and two orange ones, hang low over the bar. The end of the bar closest to the front is covered with glasses and the end towards the back has a large espresso machine and a coffee machine wearing a Santa hat.

    The wall behind the bar is white painted brick with wood shelves holding a small selection of liquor, several types of wine, and wine glasses. The wall opposite the bar is cream colored with a large wood-framed mirror, a picture of a landscape, and a couple of pictures, kind of sketches, of Roman statues. There is a small statue of a Roman woman clutching a toga around her in a failed attempt cover her breasts. The lights on the wall look like dark waffle cones. There is a real nice looking heated garden in the back.

    I had a generous glass of red wine and, as I was getting ready to leave the bartender gave me another generous pour. He recommended that I stop in when they have their monthly wine tastings and I do believe I will.

    995) La Cantina el Pitayo

    Just across the from PaNe e ViNo was this hard to miss place. And, What do you get when you convert a sushi bar to a Mexican restaurant and bar? A Mexican restaurant with a very low bar. A bit humorous when you think about it. I pictured a bunch of tough hombres walking in and sitting down on the short bar chairs and peering up at the bartender while they ordered their shots of tequila and beers. I guess you could stand, but then you would have to hunch over. It is one of those “What were they thinking?” kind of places. The top of the bar is shiny red Formica with small black and white speckles and it sits above about a four inch drop to the ledge where you used to be able to set your sushi. It is a bit low for a drink though, but when I went to set my margarita on the bar top it flopped over. I didn’t notice that set back about four inches from the front the bar it drops down about a quarter of an inch. My drink was replaced but still, what a horrible design for a bar where you might want to sit and have a drink.

    Behind the bar is a set of light wood shelves below a fake brick wall. Kind of neat wood shelves hung from the ceiling against the wall with racks so glasses could be hung below them. There were a few bottles of liquor on display including a couple of decent tequilas. But if you are displaying stuff like Crystal Palace Gin and Alexi Vodka one can only wonder what you use for your well drinks.

    There were a few cactuses on the bar and walls along with some colorful ponchos and sombreros. The portion of the wall between the bar and the windows was protruding flat rocks that looked like they were left over from when it was a sushi place. The lights hanging over the bar looked like the shades were made from chicken wire rolled into a tube and covered in aluminum foil Christmas wrapping paper. There were a couple of pictures of Zapata on the wall behind the bar but my favorite decoration was what appeared to be a large road kill mounted on the wall back towards the bathrooms.

    I had a margarita that, despite being told it was made with fresh lime juice, was obviously made with a syrupy mix and was way too sweet as well as being a kind of sickly green. I probably won’t be running back here for awhile.

    Not a bad day, two bars close to where I live so I didn't have to walk far and two more spotted for tomorrow. Just five more to go for the year. Friday I am supposed to be heading out to my sister-on-law's house for the Christmas week-end, but if the subway strike is still going on that might be delayed a bit. We shall see.

    Tuesday, December 20, 2005

    Trouble Is Here

    Well, I knew I should have saved bars close to home for the final stretch, but I didn't, and now there is a subway strike. I guess I am going to have to do some serious hoofing. Children, let this be a lesson.

    By the way, I found another translation of "The Panther." This one is by Stephen Cohn and I think I might like it a bit more, seems to more accurately reflect my state of mind.

    "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."

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

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  • Monday, December 19, 2005

    Ready For My Close-Up

    I hooked up with MSNBC today and they shot another segment that should air on Countdown With Keith Olbermann sometime next week. If I get advance notice of the specific date that it will air I will certainly keep you informed.

    992) Twelve

    I met up with the MSNBC crew at Twelve which, to my chagrin, I had visited once before. I didn’t realize it because they also go by XII and that is how I had recorded it. However I caught a break. They have a separate bar in the back that actually has its own liquor license and that is where I had my drinks and MSNBC did their filming.

    The Back Bar

    The manager, Brian Molloy, graciously opened the bar and Amy, a bartender, came back there and served up drinks.

    Brian, Bar Man, and Judy (an MSNBC producer)

    Amy, The Charming And Proficient Bartender

    This is a very handsome Irish pub and sports bar located in the Murray Hill section at 206 East 34th between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. This would be a great place to watch a game because they have 17 large plasma televisions mounted where they are easy to see. There were 5 above the bar in the back where we were. They also have little television screens mounted on the beer spigots. More of a novelty than anything else, but they do attract your attention. There were 18 beer spigots with an equal number of beers, and a nice selection too. The top of the bar is bluestone and the ledge for your feet is also bluestone tile. Quite fancy. The front of the bar is made up of frosted plastic panels that are lit from behind. The color of the lights can be changed to match the lighting behind the bar. The lights were just dim white when we walked in because the back bar wasn’t open yet. Brian quickly changed them to a cheery red though. There are square shaped ceiling lights recessed in the beige ceiling. The wooden bar stools have seats of black padded leather.

    The wall behind the bar is covered with mirrors and rows of liquor bottles line the ledges below them. A huge Christmas wreath hangs on the left side of the bar from the walls that are a combination of dark wood and soft orange paint. The dining area has a number of tables in front of benches along the wall and, of course, there is another large bar in the front.

    Everyone was very accommodating and friendly. It is amazing how much time goes into what, I am sure, will be about a two minute segment. When you watch it on television it looks so natural, like I just walked into the bar, sat down, and started talking. In reality it took well over two hours. It was fun though. It was mostly the same crew that did the first shoot so by now we were kind of like old friends, especially the sound man who had to wire me up. Brian invited The Mysterious Chinese Woman and me to come back sometime for dinner and I will certainly take him up on his offer.

    I had a Guinness and then (well, it was a long shoot) a Winterhook, a seasonal from Redhook brewery that was quite tasty.

    993) Wolfgang’s

    By the time we left Twelve it was getting to be late afternoon so The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I decided to pop into Wolfgang’s for a late lunch, early dinner. It was convenient, being right next to the subway station at 33rd and Park Avenue. The bar and restaurant is located in a land marked building with an elaborately vaulted ceiling designed by Rafael Guastavino, an architect who emigrated to the United States from Barcelona, Spain in 1881. I commented that the place reminded me of Grand Central Station and sure enough, his work is in there as well as in Grant’s Tomb, the Great Hall at Ellis Island, Carnegie Hall and numerous other well known locations. His technique of building tiled arches was actually patented in 1885 and it is the technique of constructing self-supporting arches and vaults using interlocking terracotta tiles and layers of mortar. The building that houses Wolfgang’s used to be the Vanderbilt Hotel.

    Wolfgang’s is named after Wolfgang Zwiener who used to be the headwaiter at Peter Luger’s and the menu is very similar with, of course, steaks being their specialty. The take credit cards here though, something Peter Luger’s still doesn’t do.

    Hanging from the ceiling are antique alabaster lamps trimmed in brass. The whole place makes you feel like you are in an elegant bar in old Europe. You are quickly reminded that you are in modern New York though when you look out the arched windows behind the bar and see the traffic outside. This view is somewhat obscured by the liquor bottles on the window sills. Two large elegant bottles of either brandy or cognac sit in individual glass cases that are kept locked. The bar is U shaped and made of dark wood. The floor and walls, at least below the arches, are also dark wood and a half wall separates the bar area from the dining room. Large Christmas wreaths and pots of red poinsettias are place around the room to give the place a very cheery feeling.

    I had a Bombay martini at the bar before we went into the dining room for dinner.

    Bar Man And His Martini

    We had a bottle of wine with our meal and, just so you know, the cheapest bottle was close to $50 dollars and the most expensive I saw was over $1,800. That must be one hell of a good wine.

    Not too bad a day. I had actually only planned on hitting one bar but Wolfgang’s just called out to me so I made it two for the day which gives me 993 for the year and leaves only 7 more to go.

    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.