Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Real End Of Spring

Fall has definitely arrived with freezing temperature upstate New York and cool and damp down here in the city. Even worse, it is now dark when I wake up in the morning. I am not ready for this.

818) Schiller’s Liquor Bar

I headed back to the general area where I finished up yesterday and found Schiller’s at 131 Rivington. Actually it is hard to miss and Bar Man does appreciate the large and unambiguous signage.

It is a large place and has a bit of an unusual décor for a “Liquor Bar.” It looks like it could have been a soda fountain, the kind of place where Mickey Rooney would jump up and say “Let’s put on a play.” The curved bar has a silver metallic top with a dark wood front and a silver foot rail. The bar stools are standard, dark wood with dark leather seats fastened with large-headed brass tacks. Two silver bar stations that match the top of the bar sit on top of it and have the mysterious unmarked handles so you have to consult the menu to see what they have. Not a very inspirational either. Also sitting on the bar were trays of donuts and rolls and bowls of fruit and yogurt. What kind of bar food is that? Behind the bar is a ceiling high mirror back set of shelves that hold an impressive selection of liquor. There is a dark wooden cabinet with drawers with white knobs along with metal coolers down below. I am not sure how you would retrieve the bottles from the top though, I didn’t see any ladders. Maybe they are just for display and the working stock is stored in a more accessible location.

The walls are white ceramic tiles that, unfortunately, remind me of a public restroom. Don’t get me wrong though, the place is clean and has no smell. The windows on two sides also have that public restroom look, kind of opaque with embedded chicken wire. I wonder what this place was before the area began to become gentrified and restaurants and bars took over the space. A cool, in fact chilly, breeze was blowing through the place on this overcast and rainy day. The floor in here is made up of large black and white tiles. The ceiling is cream colored patterned tin with old-fashioned ceiling fans and industrial looking fluorescent lights with exposed tubes. Rows of numbered wine bottles line the top of the walls but they look like they are just there for show. Antique looking mirrors line the walls without windows and they are separated by subway station looking lights with what appears to be random letters and number on them. The manager said the only one that he knew of that meant something was the one by the door (SLB131). There are booths along the walls and tables in assorted shapes and sizes throughout the rest of the place. There are also thee or four square white ceramic columns with mirrors on all four sides.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic.

819) Juanita

It was beginning to turn into a really nasty day when I ducked into this little Mexican restaurant and bar just down the street at 153 Rivington. It looked like the place might serve a decent margarita but the day didn’t seem to call for one. Just too cold outside and I was a bit damp. There is a nice dark wood bar with chrome bar stools that had spinning round black seats. A wooden frame mounted on the bar was festooned with red and green pepper lights. Not much of interest behind the bar, a bright rose colored wall and a couple of shelves of liquor, a sink, a cooler, and a frozen margarita machine. A nice back-lit panel with a decoupage of bright Mexican doilies and some cutouts of masks and a skull sits high up on the wall.

The wall to the right of the bar, up by the windows and door, is pea-soup green and has a great display of small versions of weird movie posters.

Hanging above the little dining area are a number of lights with shades decorated with doilies like the ones behind the bar. The wall opposite the bar matches, in color, the wall behind the bar and has dark booths with green seats. A large bright poncho is mounted up front and little lamps hang above the tables. They are broken though. The bartender says that customers keep swatting them. I suggested that maybe he should mount them a bit higher up because they do look like they would be in the way.

In the back is a round, outdoor type, picnic table with an umbrella decorated with little white lights. Next to that the green and white striped wall is covered with a number of brightly colored sombreros and right next to them are some wooden mariachi players. Across from the table is a dark wood trellis decorated with flowers and an interesting looking light.

There weren’t any other people at the bar or eating in here but there was a brisk business with people, most of whom seemed to know each other, coming in for takeout. I got the impression that they all worked or went to school nearby.

I had a Dewars and soda to take of the chll.

820) Apolo

I walked around quite a bit but didn’t see any more bars in the neighborhood that were open, too early in the day. I made a bit of a tactical error and headed to Delancey Street and it is pretty commercial along that stretch. I was really getting chilly and damp when, right across the street from the entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge, I found this kind of a hole-in-the-wall. It is one of those combination Chinese/Mexican restaurants and take-out places that seem to be unique to New York. Not much of a bar at all, more of a bright red counter with a couple of stools. A very small selection of liquor, but enough for the Bar Man. The decorations in here consisted primarily of photos of family members and friends of the owners (I presume) and a couple of large red ball shaped Asian style lamps.

I didn’t stick around here long. I ordered a Dewars and soda but they didn’t have any Dewars so I ended up getting a Johnny Walker Red Label on the rocks and then added a splash of water. It served to warm me up enough to get me to the next place.

821) Bread

This place was right next door to Room 18 back on Spring Street. When I went by it yesterday I couldn’t tell whether or not it was a bar, but it was crowded. It was crowded when I walked by it the first time today. It had cleared out enough so that I could get a seat at the bar/counter this time around. It would be pretty much a noisy lunch counter except for the fact that they had a pretty decent wine list. The bar has a white ceramic top and everyone but me seemed to be drinking either soft drinks or tea. The white painted brick walls did have some interesting original art hanging on them done by someone named Parantonkis.

One end of the bar is taken up by a glass cabinet with loaves of bread and plastic containers of small tomatoes. Most of the area behind the bar is taken up by the very small “kitchen,” a couple of microwave ovens and a small shelf with bottles and glasses. There are more bottles stuck by their necks into holes in a white plywood rack on the wall behind and to the right of the bar. There is a nice silver painted patterned tin ceiling with a couple of overhead fans. A bit of a raised area in the back has a couple of booths and there are lots of small cafeteria type tables up front. Not exactly my cup of tea, but it was on the way back to the subway, it was cold and wet, and, well, of course, it did have a bit of a bar.

I had a glass of Chianti and, best of all, the sun had come out and it had warmed up by the time I left.

A bit of a miserable day but I did hit 4 bars to make 821 for the year with 179 to go. I doubt if I will make my 825 before heading to Spain though. Probably just one tomorrow when I do an interview at Third And Long. Saturday will be for packing but I might go out for dinner and sneak one in, and there is always the airport on Sunday. We shall see.


Anonymous said...

Barman -- will you be back from Spain by October 19th. I'm coming to Manhattan on business and would like to woven into the broad tapestry of your 1000 bar march? Good metaphors eh?

Bar Man said...

I will be back by October 19th. Shoot me an email and maybe we can figure out how to hook up.

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