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.


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