Saturday, February 05, 2005

One For The Weekend

Well, I had kind of planned on taking the weekend off, but it was a nice warm sunny day and I kind of thought it would be nice to go for a walk. There is a bar that I have passed by but never stopped into before so I thought this would be a nice time to do it.

166) Freddy's

On the intersection of Dean and 6th Street in Brooklyn is this classic neighborhood bar. In the front window is a stuffed shark (or a plastic replica) and a couple of spike high-heel shoes. Behind the bar is a stuffed, and framed, bat and a large skull of unknown origin. One mirror behind the bar is festooned with pictures of people giving the camera the finger. Lot's of old books strewn about and copies of Lurch magazine available for browsing. There was a very strange montage of video clips compiled by the owner playing on the TV (the clips were playing on the TV, not the owner). Old 1960's Batman, what looked to be Mexican horror movies, kung-fu, very weird but quite engrossing. The whole place is strewn with old "stuff" and you could probably go in any number of times and not really see everything. They have a back room where a variety of entertainment is featured later in the evening. There is a painted tin ceiling and old lights with fans overhead. The bathroom features better than average graffiti.

I had a draft UFO Hefeweizen from Harpoon.

Well, only one today, but you can only chop a forest down one tree at a time. 166 down and 834 to go.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Across The Bridge

It wasn't too bad a day out. Kind of chilly, but much warmer than it has been. I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge into downtown Manhattan and hit a few bars.

162) The Beekman Pub

This place, on Beekman Street, is about one block from City Hall in downtown Manhattan. About a four or five block walk once you come off the Brooklyn Bridge. It is an old Irish pub that has been around since at least the 1920's. It is a very nice place with a fairly large dining area as well. The bar has nice stained-glass lamps overhead. There is a framed Kevin McHale jersey that he signed hanging in a prominent position by the door. I mentioned it to the bartender, I am from Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota so am a big McHale fan. It turned out that the bartender had also been in Minnesota for a few months. In 1977 he tried out for the U of M hockey team as a walk-on but didn't make it. We chatted about Minnesota, hockey, Herb Brooks, and other Minnesota trivia. The place was pretty packed with people grabbing hamburgers and such for lunch.

I had a Highlander Scottish Ale

163) Ryan's Sports Bar

This place was kind of like a mini-Beekman Pub at 46 Gold Street between Fulton Street and Eden's Alley. It also was very crowded and noisy and was a very nice, cosy type of place. Lot's of TVs about the place showing ESPN and ESPN 2. I fixated on a woman's 9 ball tournament. They must get a lot of customers from Verizon in here because there were several "Keep Verizon Jobs Here" stickers about the place.

I had a Murphy's Irish Stout

164) Reds

I headed along the East River and just at the edge of the touristy area (well, alright, just inside) was Reds. Kind of a strange place in a way, the longer I was there the more it grew on me. It had a tin, or tin-like covered bar and floor to ceiling windows wall-to-wall. This made it quite bright. Had a vaguely Mexican look to it with sombreros behind the bar and large, mural-like pictures of Mexican Indians on the walls upstairs. The large overhead lights looked like something out of Star Wars, like large bowls with vaguely alien life-forms trying to escape. Not sure what that was all about. The TV was over the frozen-margarita machine at the end of the bar where I was sitting so I watched ESPN greates Superbowl moments while eating corn chips and a real nice and quite spicy salsa.

I had a Dewars and soda

165) Fraunces Tavern

Heading south back towards the area that I was at yesterday I stopped in at this venerable institution. This place is at 54 Pearl Street right on the corner of Broad Street. For those of you interested in such things, it is where George Washington gave his farewell address to the officers of the Continental Army in 1783. There is, or was, an attached museum at one time. The bar is to the left when you enter and the eating area is to the right. I headed left. Although this place could easily have become a tourist trap, it most decidedly didn't and is pretty much of a local watering hole for those that work in the area. It gets especially lively later at night. There are a few artifacts, or replicas of artifacts (the copy of the Constitution is probably not real) strewn about but nothing overbearing. A decent enough place to pop into for a quick libation.

I had a Dewars and soda and headed to the subway and home.

I probably am going to take the weekend off as far as my odyssey is concerned. A bit ironic in away, a lot of people only drink on the weekends. I have some things that I need to do on Saturday and then I am going to a Superbowl party on Sunday. I am sure there will be a bit of drinking, but nothing that can be counted, unless I can convince people to watch the game at a sports bar. Pretty unlikely though.

Well here we go again, 835 left to go. Still a lot, but certainly looks a lot more manageable than it did a mere month ago.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Fame and Fortune

Well, not exactly fame and, certainly, no fortune, but the New York Post did print a nice little article about my quest in today's paper. It is in the Pulse section if you care to check it out. Please note that in the second paragraph where it said that "Since he started on New Year's day, Walker has bent an elbow at 155 bars..." they really mean I had bent an elbow. I was being interviewed in Walker's. Also, I hit the 155 bars yesterday, the day after the interview. An editor did call me up after I got home yesterday to get the updated number so it is accurate as of this morning. Also, I am much better looking in person than in the picture, but I did like the comment about my bright eyes and clear skin. Maybe I can get some kind of an endorsement deal for vitamins or a skin-care product.

156) Delmonico's 2000 Bar & Grill

This place is an adjunct to Delmonico's, one of the uber restaurants in New York. They are located in the heart of Wall Street, right on Beaver (go figure) and is the place where I have paid the most so far for a drink. $10.00 for a Dewars and soda and then they added the New York City sales tax (no other place except maybe that TGIFs has ever done this). Anyway, this drink cost me $10.86 without tip. Now I will say they poured with a heavy hand so I am not really complaining all that much. I mean we are in the heart of the world's economy and there were a lot of suit-and-tie guys sitting around drinking martinis. Made me somehow happy.

The bar is really nice old horseshoe shaped bar. The door is a revolving door like you once saw in department stores. Venetian blinds over the two front windows. Dark wainscoting with a panel of scenes of New York done to look like old charcoal drawings on parchment. Very interesting. A place where deals are, or should be, getting done.

I had the aforementioned Dewars and soda.

157) Ulysses'

Moving about a block from Delmonico's is this place. If you walk down Mill Lane into Stone Street you will walk right into this bar. It has a really large bar, the length is the width of a block, and you can enter from both ends. There are a lot of pictures of James Joyce hanging on the wall. The street that it sits on from where I walked in is cobblestone and it is blocked off from traffic. In the warmer weather they have outside tables and it is quite festive. Very European in concept.

I had a draft Chimay, one of my favorites, and not too readily available.

158) Cassis

Down the block, almost next-door, is Cassis. Walking into the place was an experience. It was warmer today than usual so a lot of snow and ice was melting. Apparently the waterspout next door was backed up so there was a shower, no exageration, of water spewing over the entrance. I got drenched. They give you nice napkins to wipe off and an umbrella service to get out, but getting in was interesting.

Anyway, this place also is the width of a somewhat narrowing block, but has no back entrance. It has brick walls and interesting paintings on the wall. The back of the bar had some real nice liquor cabinets with stained-glass fronts. They had nice little red stained-glass lights hanging down over the bar. The rest of the place had those same lights that reminded me of the principal's office. Somehow more relaxing in this context though.

The owner wanted me to say that it is "located on a coble street which reminds you of Europe. Warm, intimate ambiance, great food and a fun crowd." I saw no reason to disagree. She also pointed out that a prominent beam in the middle of the place was actually a part of a beam that was in the great fire of 1815 when, apparently, the whole neighborhood (warehouses, at the time) burnt down.

Anyway, I drift.

I had a Dewars and Soda

159) Gerardi's

More of an Itallian restaurant, but with a nice little bar at one end, if you can find it. This is a fairly large place that does have entrances on both streets. It also has two levels. Well, I left Cassis and entered through the restaurant side. I walked right up the stairs to the dining area, but the bar was not there. I then went back downstairs and wended my way through a labyrinth of rooms to the front. There they had a nice little bar and a very friendly bartender. It turned out we both knew a few of the same bartenders. She is Russian so we chatted about some of the few places we knew in Brighton Beach, places. She taught me a Russian toast that I can only spell as "poe hali" and means, essentially, Let's go.

I had a glass of Ruffino Chianti

160) Waterstone Grill

The last of the restauraunts on this reconstructed cobblestone street. Another pleasant place with real Irish bartenders and what looked to be decent bar-food. I was getting hungry by now. It turned out that they also knew the same bartenders as the woman next door knew. Small world.

I had a Samuel Adams Winter Lager

161) White Horse Tavern

Well, now I moved out of the cobblestone area and headed to my subway stop. I knew, however, I that I was going to pass by and stop in at the White Horse Tavern. This is an older place that makes no pretences about it. Mostly older guys reading the racing forms and watcing OTB. Great steam-table though so I had a corned beef sandwich with mustard on rye. But I ate it sitting at the bar so it all counts.

I had a Dewars and soda.

After I got home from my round of bars I got a call from KROC and did a radio interview that they aired. They did a good job of editing it, I actually sounded much better than I thought it should have after just coming back from having a drink in six different bars.

Now here we ago again, the pain at the end of every post, only (1000 - 161) = X left to go, where X equals the number of bars left to go. Email me with your answer.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A Long Stroll But Few Bars

I figured today, because it was fairly warm and the sun was out, I would just take a bit of a stroll and limit myself to just three bars. I did more than anticipated yesterday and that, coupled with a fair amount of wine at dinner, led me to believe today should be a day of moderation.

153) La Nostra Soria

In Park Slope on Seventh Avenue this place is more of an Italian restaurant than a bar, but they do have a nice little bar with a huge metal eagle sitting on the end. The bartender was very nice and I chatted with her while I enjoyed:

A glass of 2003 Stella Sangiovese (a red wine).

154) Snooky's Pub

Down Seventh Avenue a bit is this nice old neighborhood bar. It had six TVs but all of them were off except one showing CNN. There were pictures of old Yankee's teams adorning the wall, but I forgive them. It had a nice long bar and wood plank floors. There were a couple of ladies sitting at one end of the bar doing crossword puzzles and everyone seemed to know everyone else and were all quite friendly. I told them about my quest and passed out a few of my cards. The bartender wanted me to say that she was an "Attractive, older bartender with a great personality and a loyal following." She really wasn't older, at least by my standards, but she was attractive. And remember, this is only my second stop of the day.

I thought they had a pretty decent crowd in there seeing how early it was, but I was assured that if I came back after 5:00 P.M. the place would really be jumping. No reason to believe that it wouldn't be, but I am afraid I will have to pass for the time being.

I had a draft Anchor Steam.

155 Tea Lounge

Now this was a bit of a stange place, for a bar, on Union Street between 6th and 7th Avenue but closer to 7th. More like a 60's kind of coffee-house, but with internet access. Kind of like a beat Starbucks with a little bar in the back. Mostly a college-aged crowd banging away at their PCs and a few young mothers with kids in tow who looked like they gathered there on a regular basis. Even though it is called the Tea Lounge, they did have a large Tiki carving on the bar and a surfboard propped up against the wall. They had 9 draft beers, including a Chimay, and a sign that said no Budweiser. The Doors were playing on the sound system.

They had neat overhead fans shaped like leaves and a set of the same shaped fans mounted on one of the walls, but these went back and forth. Lots of sofas and plush chairs strewn about with coffee tables. It looked like a lot of the crowd just used this as their living room, and I could see why they would. The place was pretty packed. A large selection of coffees and teas and a nice selection of pastries.

I had a Lindeman's Cassis (black current) Lambic Begian Ale.

I thought 155 was a nice number for the day so I headed on home. I had a fair ways to walk so I stopped into Hank's and used the bathroom. Of course the bathrooms are for customers only so I had a Dewars and soda but, because I have been here before, cannot count this towards my thousand. The guy next to me was kind of in the bag and said he gave a stand-up comedy routine at a club up the street. He tried to try out a routine on me that involved someone defecating in a supermarket aisle. I chugged my drink and bolted.

Only 845 left to go. I was thinking about trying to hit 200 bars before I leave for Mexico on the 16th, but I have some family gatherings to attend and a Superbowl party on Sunday. Probably won't be able to make it but we will see how it goes. Might be spending some time with my mother-in-law celebrating the Chinese new year. We are moving out of the year of the monkey and into the year of the rooster, whatever that may mean. I think 175 bars before I leave with a few days off before departure to pack and stuff is a more reasonable goal.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A Bit of Wall Street

I know, I said because it was my wife's birthday I wasn't going to go out today. But about 10:30 A.M. I got a bit antsy and decided to go out. I downloaded about two hours of birthday related songs, promised I would be back by 2:00 P.M. and headed out.

I took the subway to Bowling Green which, for some strange reason, is tiled in orange. Anyway, I got off and walked up Beaver Street until I hit:

147) Killerney Rose

On Beaver Street from one can enter, is this somewhat huge Irish bar that has been around for ever. It has a great steam table where for less than $8.oo easy you can stuff yourself with one of the best corned-beef and cabbage dishes ever.

This place is long, the width of a block. There is also an upstairs area with a separate lounge. I debated about whether or not I could go up and count a drink (it does have a somewhat different name K.R. Lounge) but decided I couldn't

I had a Guiness Stout, very well pulled, and headed out the other door and across the street to:

148) Mercantile Grill

Another nice little restaurant and bar. Built into an old building, unlike Killerney Rose which is old, it still gives off a nice glow and was an enjoyable stop.

I had a Dewars and soda.

149) The Full Shilling

Up the street a bit was this place. Another authentic Irish bar that has a bar that was supposedly brought over from Belfast and is 105 years old. Apparently the whole interior of the bar was shipped over from Ireland and reinstalled. It looks it. A very nice place indeed.

I had a Dewars and soda.

150) La Borsa Di Roma

A very nice Itallian restuarant bar just a bit further up the street but on the other side. Not a large bar but decent enough. The front was padded leather so it made it very comfortable to stand and lean your knee up against. There was a rifle hung on the back wall and it kind of reminded me of Shaun of the Dead. The walls had old copper cooking utensils hung here and about and some other stuff that was either farm equipment or instruments of torture. Not a real bar crowd so I had a quick

Glass of Chianti and headed down the street.

151) Captain's Ketch

This place, still on Pearl Street, has a nice rectangular bar, dark wood, fairly classy. I was actually headed back to the subway when I spotted it and felt the compulsion to stop in. The walls are adorned with nautical pictures and paraphernalia. Unlike the place that had the rifle, this place had old harpoons. Forget Shaun, I am now thinking Jaws.

I had a Dewars and soda.

Now, I really should just go home and take a nap until it is time for dinner. Sometimes, however, fate intervenes. A reporter from one of New York's papers wants to meet me at a bar and interview me for an article that may appear on Thursday. I will say no more about this because, in all liklihood, nothing will come of it. I will keep you posted (hint, hint).

I have to shower and make myself presentable for the rest of the night. Will update this with this evening's encounter tomorrow morning.

152) Walker's

On 16 North Moore Street, on the corner of Varick Street, is this old bar. This neighborhood is full of new places but Walker's is one of the originals. It has an ornate tin ceiling and beige plaster walls with relief designs. Plank wooden floor and a nice old, well worn, dark wooden bar. The lights hanging over it reminded me, for some reason, of the lights we used to have in our grade-school classrooms. Or, more than likely, in the principal's office. The back of the bar was also old and wooden and had a few large mirrors. There were a few tables scattered about for drinking and eating and a larger back room for dining as well.

I met up with the reporter and a photographer for my interview about my quest. It seemed to go fairly well, a lot of pictures were taken and we talked for almost an hour. Supposedly an article will appear in tomorrow's paper. If it does I will give you the details. Of course it could also simply end up in some editor's wastepaper basket.

I ended up drinking a couple of draft Boddington's Ale and then toddled off with the wife for dinner a few blocks away at Chanterelle, a great restaurant but one with no bar.

I know this gets boring, but I feel compelled to do it anyway; 848 bars to go.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Back to 34th

I went back to 34th to have lunch with my wife and my sister-in-law at La Garia. This was a place that I had a drink, a glass of wine, last week. Obviously I am not counting this one. However, after lunch I did make some progress.

141) La Bella's

Kind of a restaurant/bar/pizza place combination. A fairly large place on the corner of 32nd Street and 2nd Avenue. Nice brick pizza oven and interesting overhead track lighting, but not much else going on.

I had a draft Birra Moretti

142) Waterfront Ale House

This is the Manhattan presence, corner of 30th street and 2nd Avenue, of Peter's Waterfront Ale House in Brooklyn (see an earlier post). The place looks remarkably similar to the place in Brooklyn. A couple of people sitting there that seemed to know a bit about beers and bars so I had a pleasant conversation.

I had a Czar Imperial Stout, quite tasty and strong.

143) Paddy Reilly's Pub

This place on 2nd Avenue, across the street from the Waterfront Ale House, serves nothing but Guinness on draft. It has the look and feel of a real Irish pub, with a back room with banquettes and tables for sitting around and chatting and the Pogues on the juke box. A decent enough place to pop into for a beer on a somewhat chilly afternoon.

I had a, let me think, Guinness.

144) Bistango

Down a block on the corner of 29th and 3rd Avenue was this Itallian restaurant Right on the corner and had a huge antique copper espresso machine in the front window. It had a decent sized bar.

I had a Chianti.

145) Porta Rossa

Another Italian Restaurant that served as a stop-in place as I made my way toward the subway. It is on Lexington Avenue between 30th and 31st Street. Not much to distinquish it but it had a bar and I needed to use the bathroom.

I had a glass of Chianti

146) Artisinal

This is a quite classy restaurant that is known for its cheese selection. And I don't mean just any old cheese. This place probably has the largest selection of cheeses of any restaurant in the United States.

They also have a fairly decent bar set a bit up from the rest of the place.

I had an espresso and a Sambuca.

Well, that isn't a bad start on my journey. 146 bars the first month with only 854 left to go. Tomorrow is my wife's birthday and we are going to go to Chantrelle's, one of our favorite restaurants. I will have the full wine course with my dinner but will not count it because it is served at the table. I don't think they have a bar, I haven't been there in a long time, but if they do I will have a pre-dinner libation and count it. Otherwise, no progress tomorrow. Unless my wife lets me pop in for a drink at the bar across the street either before or after dinner.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Smith Street Clean-up

I took yesterday off and was relaxing today when the sun came through the window and I was motivated to get up and go out. Figured maybe I could catch a few places on Smith Street that are usually closed during the day but might open for Sunday brunch. My instincts proved to be deadly on:

135) Apt. 138

This place, on 138 Smith Street, has a nice dark distressed bar (not old, but made to look that way) bar. It has about a dozen small tables with one large dining table set in the back against windows. One wall is brick and has a lot of what looks to be original art work and the other side covered with wallpaper that had a vaguely forest like look to it.

I had a Newcastle Brown Ale

136) Banania Cafe

This place was jammed with a brunch crowd. It is fairly small and the bar is more of a service bar than anything else, but it did have three stools so I am counting it. I ran into a friend of mine that used to work at a now closed place not far from where I lived, so we chatted. It is a great place to go to for brunch if you don't mind a crowd and waiting, which I do.

I had a draft Merlot, yes, a draft Merlot.

137) Village Pub

Downstairs from Village 247 is this place, and it is a real find. You go to the back and take the steps down from the little outdoor seating area. You walk into a small dark bar with a large screen TV showing the Miami/Houston game. They have strange plaster reliefs of faces that appear to be in anquish gracing the walls. The bar looked like it had been painted with the same grey stuff they use on Navy vessels to keep you from slipping. They had a real old shuffle-board table. And I mean really old. Strewn about the place were all kinds of strangely decorated beer mugs, the theme of which I did not fully understand.

I had a Steelhead Scotch Porter, made by Mad River brewery located in Blue Lake, California

138) Cubana Cafe

This is a real small place but had the look and feel to it of a small place in the Cuban section of Miami. It had a little bar in front, blue ceramic, and a small sidewalk area in front. I sampled some of their crispy fried plaintains with chimithurri.

I had an Appleton rum and Coke.

139) Mancora

This is a Peruvian restaurant with a small bar up front. One large wall has a mural of people casting nets for fish on the sea. They have nice red and purple lights hanging over the bar. An interesting picture of two elderly people starring into each others eyes in the front.

I had a glass of Merlot and headed home.

Now, I was going to call it a day but then the wife and I decided to go out for dinner so we went to a place that I knew had a nice little separate bar.

140) Thai Grille

This place is on Henry Street just about on the corner of Clark Steet. This is a nice Thai restaurant that has a separate bar area, almost another room altogether. It is a small place, nice dark bar with overhead lights and bird cages hanging in the front window. A couple of regulars at one end of the bar watching a ventriliquest on the Comedy Network station and comparing him to someone who, every once in awhile, had a similar, but much better act, on the Ed Sullivan show.

I had a Singha beer and then went to the next room and had dinner. We shared Spring Rolls and then I had breast of duck and my wife had the whole red snapper. Great food and the snapper was extraordinary.

Not a bad day, and I am now down 860 bars to go.