Saturday, May 14, 2005

500th AT THE GATE - Part One

I really want to thank everyone who showed up at The Gate to help me celebrate my having a drink at my 500th bar of the year. Many more people than I expected and I am sorry I didn't have more time to talk to each of you. I will certainly try to get back to those of you who left me your names. Hopefully we can hit a few more bars together and have more of a chance to talk. I want to give special thanks to the photographer who followed me around all day trying to get my good side. And to my "good" friend Bernie, who promised he would be there but failed to show, all I can say is "Pffft." There is no excuse for still being hung over at three in the afternoon.

A special thanks to the bartenders, some of the best and friendliest I have encountered to date. I liked being able to taste all the beers (and a very nice selection, indeed) before making a choice.

I didn't have a chance to take notes so my brother-in-law did the honors and once he emails them to me I will post the official entry for my 500th bar. Again, I hope to see many of you in the future, I will try to do something special for my 750th and, certainly, my 1000th bar.

Again, thanks to everyone who showed up. You made a special day even more special by being there.

500th AT THE GATE - Part Two

Okay, here is the "official" write-up of The Gate, courtesy of my brother-in-law Jim. He did such a good job I would like him to follow me around and do all of my write-ups. Sad to say he has other obligations.

500) The Gate

The Gate, located on the corner of 5th ave and 3rd st in Park Slope, Brooklyn, is an exceptional neighborhood bar. When you walk in you feel right at home. Wood floors and built in benches (The wood backs are there but there are some stools instead of true benches.) create the feel of an English Pub. The main room is spacious and the lighting is intimate ( Provided by these lovely little frosted hanging lamps, made of a amber glass, very Pottery Barn.) very conducive to a long night of drinking and talking. Besides the wood paneling there is brick work on the upper half of the wall opposite the very spacious mirror backed bar. Little green x-mas lights around the bar mirror and various wall decorations, ranging from Celtic like garden fixtures to a wall of mirrors, round out the decor.

The rest of the Gate consists of a small alcove (you can sit a small group 8-10 people) right by the stairs leading to the bathrooms (which, for good or bad has chairs for you to sit in while you wait.) There is also a sidewalk sitting area that is on the 3rd street side, very roomy and I do believe they do B-B-Q in the
summers. Check out for more info. There is also a secret little room behind the stairs, I think, or thats where they keep the garbage. Hey Dan, hopefully the description meets your approval, I even mentioned the lamps.

As for the beer, top notch! They have 24 beers on tap. Ranging from standards like Guinness and Harp to micro staples like Dog Fish and Stone "Arrogant Bastard" Ale to imports like Fullers of London. A good mix of flavors all and all. Finally, the
thing that really made the bar was the exceptional bar staff. Jesse, the tattoo festooned barkeep and Megan, the cute blond barkeep. Male and female respectively for those of you who care. They were attentive, sometimes getting your drink before you ask and they actually knew their beers. In this day and age thats amazing or maybe I frequent bars of questionable repute. So there you go, give it 5 stars , two thumbs up or any measure of rating you like but do stop by if you are in Park Slope.

Thank you Jim for your exceptionally lucid write-up because I was probably a bit less than lucid at the end. I had several beers of various types so will not single any out. They were all good. Suffice it to say it was bar number 500 for the year leaving me with 500 to go.

Friday, May 13, 2005


One final reminder about tomorrow at The Gate. I plan on being there at about 2:00 P.M. and will be sticking around for awhile. No other bars scheduled. I hope to see many of you there.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Don't forget, Saturday afternoon, May 14th, at THE GATE for NUMBER 500. The address is 321 Fifth Avenue in Park Slope and can be easily reached by subway. The closest stop is probably on the F train at 9th Street.

The Gate has about 24 micro-brews on draught, many single malt scotches, and an outdoor deck with, maybe, a barbecue.

You can check out the gate here:

I hope to see all of you there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Another Short Stroll

I headed back to Madison Square Garden and then just took a short stroll west on 33rd. I didn’t have to stroll far because I found four bars within the space of a block. Three of them were right next to each other, including one that just opened a few weeks ago.

496) Hickey’s

A no-frills Irish bar at 139 West 33rd. It is very narrow and fairly deep with a long wooden bar and a black foot rest. Metal bar stools with red vinyl seats (kind of like what you might find at a soda fountain). The paneled wall behind the bar is lined with mirrors behind tiered shelves holding the liquor. Above the mirrors are pictures of old-time boxers. Small green Christmas lights are strung over the mirrors. The wall behind the bar stools is also paneled and lined with mirrors. There is a narrow ledge under the mirrors with a couple of stools sitting by it. A place to sit, or stand, and set your drink. There are a very few tables in the back. Fans with light fixtures hang from the ceiling. The floor is light tan and red square tiles. A lot of beer cases, empties, were stacked up front.

I had a bottle of Guinness.

497) Blarney Rock

Right next door was the Blarney Rock, not to be confused with the Blarney Stone (or maybe you are supposed to confuse them) This is kind of a bigger version of Hickey’s. In fact, the bar stools are exactly the same and the bar is similar too. But then most bars in Irish bars are kind of similar. Although there are mirrors behind the bar you can hardly see them because they are hidden by bottles, pictures, patches and decals. The space between the mirrors and the ceiling has seven televisions, a few more pictures, and bank notes from various countries in various denominations. Track lighting over the bar has little spotlights directed at the wall behind the bar. There is a small area in the back with about eight small tables with green and white checked tablecloths. Green and yellow shaded lights hang from the ceiling back there and there are also mirrors and neon beer signs hanging on the wall. There are tables against the wall behind the bar stools and two large shiny blackboards with the specials written on them. There were a lot of cases of empties in the front of this place too. It must be collection day.

498) Stout NYC.

Right next door, you can never have too many, is this new place. The bartender said it opened three days before Harrington’s. The bar has a shiny oxblood colored plastic-like top and a rough dark-wood plank front with a wide metal band running its length. A metal bar rail, but not brass. There is a station for real ales but none were currently available. The bartender said maybe by the end of the week.

The wall behind the bar is paneled with the same rough wood as the front of the bar. There are two banks of beer spigots mounted on bright copper panels behind the bar as well as lit up tiered shelves of liquor and a small cooler holding bottled beers with wine bottles on top. The wall towards the left side of the bar is flagstone and has a large set of glass shelves holding bottles of scotch. There are four large flat screen televisions behind the bar separated by chalk boards listing beers, specials, and wines by the glass. Above that is a catwalk with a red wall above it and the words Stout NYC painted on it in faded yellow letters.

The wall behind the wooden bar stools is brick and has signs for Jameson Irish Whiskey and Murphy’s Stout painted on it in kind of an old-fashioned style. Carriage house style lights are mounted on the pillars that run down the center of the place and kind of unusual looking lights are mounted above the tables lining the brick wall. There are two levels of dining.

There is an impressive selection of draft beers and a real impressive selection of bottled stouts, about 25 of them, and other beers from around the world, another 75 or so. A place worth visiting and one that I will return to.

I had a draft Belhaven.

499) Joe O’s

I had to go all the way across the street for this one. A big wrap-around bar with a copper top and a wood front with copper panels. The bar chairs have kind of chocolate brown colored vinyl seats. Coolers and cupboards with gray doors are were behind my side of the bar. Mirrors with tiered shelves of liquor are above the coolers. Brass beer stations are mounted on the bar and serve an interesting selection of beers. Pith hat shaped glass and dark metal lights hang from an overhang above the bar. Light lemon colored walls and ceiling. Metal racks above the bar hold an assortment of glasses. The floor is light wood. There is an elevated dining area about two step up from bar level. The dining area is separated from the bar area by a wood and glass partition. High round tables with tall chairs are behind the bar stools in the lower level. A round wood-framed Smithwick’s Ale sign is behind the two mirrors behind the bar. This is a nice looking place and will probably face some still competition from Stout NYC, which looked to be doing a bit better business today.

I had a draft Belhaven.

Well, that is 499 bars for the year so I am primed for number 500 on Saturday. I hope to see many of you at The Gate.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

When Harry Meets Sally

490) Harringtons

This is a new bar and restaurant at 370 7th Avenue, between 30th and 31st, not far from Madison Square Garden. It has only been open for about four weeks and is quite large and fancy. The bar is kind of an elongated Z shape and has a nice marble top as well as a marble foot rest. Three sets of a dozen silver spigots pop up from the bar but they all serve the same beers. The bar chairs are gray with fabric seats. Seven flat screen televisions are mounted on the light wood paneled wall behind the bar. There are also tiered shelves that hold plenty of liquor. The ceilings are quite high and there is a mezzanine type seating area. Part of the ceiling looks like hammered tin and the rest is a decorative tile with a marble-like pattern. Above the bar lights with interestingly shaped glass shades hang from chains. There is a lot of stone work, columns and on the walls.

The bar area is separated from the dining area by a very ornate divider topped by stained and patterned frosted glass. Little lights are mounted on the columns between the partitions. A ledge runs along the partitions with stools in front of it. There are a few sports related pictures on the wall but this place is more elegant than cluttered. I didn’t make it upstairs or into the dining area but they were both doing a lively lunch business. The Irish bartenders (one had just come over from Ireland) were very friendly. I discussed Irish football, Australian rules football, and stadium construction with one of them. Apparently they have issues in Ireland that are similar to the ones here regarding the construction of a new stadium. Also, once every couple of years there is a match between Irish footballers and Australian footballers with modified rules. According to the bartender the Australians are more physical but the Irish are quicker. There you have it.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic.

491) Mustang Harry’s

Not a new place, but elegant nonetheless, if a bit more worn. It is located at 352 7th Avenue. A long wooden bar with a brass rail. The bar chairs have seats covered in fabric in a couple of different patterns. Lots of televisions mounted all over the place but they are the older, smaller screen type. Nicely framed mirrors behind the bar above brown wooden shelves holding the liquor supply. An arched wooden slated ceiling that kind of reminded me of the warped floor of an old roller rink was supported by red metal pole like structures. Kind of an interesting juxtaposition and not unpleasing. Several of the televisions were mounted on the red supports. Flying saucer-like lights hung from the ceiling but they didn’t seem to give of much light. There are two wooden columns separating the mirrors behind the bar and sitting atop them are figurines of various types staring down at you. The walls are a nice yellow with red hi-lights.

The wall behind the bar chairs is lined with booths separated from each other by wood and patterned frosted glass dividers. There is a large red plush settee under a mirror in the entry way. Dark gray and greenish-gray tiles on the floor. Kind of blurry cityscapes painted on the walls high above the bar and a couple of small stained glass windows up there too. Quite a nice place.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic.

492) Seven

Just next door, at 350 7th Avenue, was this place that had a style that looked like a cross between art deco and someone’s living room. The first things that catch your eye are two very large crystal chandeliers hanging from the somewhat drab looking ceiling. In fact, the ceiling looks like something you would see if you looked up in one of the older subway stations. Kind of a fuzzy brown. But that is the only thing in here that isn’t pretty nice. The entry way, that is black metal and glass windows and door looking out onto the street, has marble walls and a curved patterned ceiling. Stuffed sofas and hassocks with little tables give you a place to wait for a table it is crowded.

The bar is a long wooden affair with an interesting square metal rail for your foot. About every six chairs is a yellow glass partition sitting atop a wooden base. Sitting atop the bar are little old fashioned lights with fabric shades that look like truncated pyramids and are dark tan with black thread-like fibers running through them. Behind the bar is a light wooden affair with glass shelves and mirrors. Above that is a black metal catwalk that gives access to a large collection of wine. Partitioned booths line the wall behind the bar chairs. The bar chairs have bale green seats and backs. A small two level dining area is in the back and the kitchen is open to view to the lower level. There is also a small, secluded dining area downstairs. Nice wood floor throughout the place except for the very front where there are large rectangular tiles of yellow, pink, and gray.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic.

493) Ginger House

Fate pulled me into this place. I was actually heading into the Triple Crown next door but this doorway was in the way. I see a door, I walk in. I felt like I had walked into a place in Chinatown. It had an all Chinese staff and had the hustle and bustle and loud talk and clanking of dishes that you don’t usually find in this area of town. I felt, somehow, at home. There is a fairly small wooden bar that is suitably beat up and would look at home in an Irish pub, and it does have a brass rail. Two large mirrors are behind the bar above tiered shelves holding a small liquor selection. Asian style lamps hang from chains above the bar. There is a large grandfather clock sitting at one end of the bar. Reminded me of when I was in the Forbidden City (which now has a Starbucks on the premises) in Beijing. There is an impressive collection of clocks on display there because, apparently, the various emperors were somewhat fascinated by them and often received them as gifts from visiting dignitaries. There is an ornate model of an Asian three masted sailing vessel sitting on a shelf behind the bar. A few brick walls and a fake stone back wall. Ducks, hanging by their necks, were being slow cooked in the bustling kitchen behind the bar chairs. They have a fairly brisk take-out and delivery business going. I chatted with the female bartender a bit but she was quite busy doing accounts.

I had a gin and tonic.

494) The Triple Crown

Well, I didn’t have far to get here, right next door at 330 7th Avenue. But then all of the bars I visited today are on a two block stretch. A bit of the old Irish bar look to this place. A long wooden bar with a wooden foot rest. Nice chandelier-like nights above the bar. Vinyl covered bar chairs, but the vinyl looks like fabric. Irish flags on display. There is an elaborate wooden back to the bar with mirrors, cupboards, shelves, small wine racks, and drawers. Square wooden columns run down the length of the place and they have lights mounted on each of the four sides. Little tables project out from each column with a couple of stools by them. The wall behind the bar chairs is wood and has booths running its length. There are pictures of race horses mounted on the wall (get it, Triple Crown).

I had a Newcastle Brown Ale

495) Mustang Sally’s

This is Mustang Harry’s sister bar and is located about a block away from it at 324 7th Avenue. There is a nice long wooden bar with a brass rail. This bar also had dividers between the chairs at the bar, but these are wood and frosted glass with designs etched into them. You can at least look through these if you want to do so. Elaborate cabinets are behind the bar with mirrors, glass shelves, wine bins, coolers with wooden doors and a couple of small televisions. The bar chairs have turquoise vinyl seats. Booth behind the bar stools have round street lamp like lights sitting on top of the columns in front of the glass partitions that separate them. Some flying saucer type lights hang over the three tables in front of the place. The floor has tiles reddish tiles. There are a couple of oddly positioned televisions behind and above one end of the bar. Kind of a dark brown tin ceiling. One very drunk and very loud guy at a booth reminiscing about the Knicks golden years.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic.

An excellent day in terms of progress made, and an enjoyable one as well. I hit six bars bringing my total to 495 for the year with 505 left to go. I plan on hitting four bars tomorrow and then taking Thursday and Friday off in preparation for my 500th bar at The Gate on Saturday.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Visiting The Garden

Well I didn’t get out and about yesterday but did have a nice little family get-together for Mother’s Day in Chinatown where we filled up on dim sum. That is where they push the little carts of food around and you order small dishes of whatever catches your fancy. The place was so crowded though that people were chasing down the carts instead of waiting for them to show up at the tables. Quite a spectacle, if I do say so myself.

Nice day today so I decided to take the subway to Madison Square Garden and hit a few places in the neighborhood. I went to four bars within the space of one block, three on one side of 8th avenue and 1 on the other. I am heading back to the neighborhood again tomorrow.

486) Blarney Stone

This must be a fairly new Blarney Stone at 410-412 8th Avenue, just south of Madison Square Garden’s back side. If it is not new it must have been newly remodeled. Usually Blarney Stone’s tend to be a bit on the seedy side, not that there is anything wrong with that. There is a long bar with a shiny, newly varnished looking light wood top. It has a brass rail and bar chairs with black vinyl seats. Fans and lights with small stained glass shades are mounted on the white, recreation room style ceiling. Behind the bar are a lot of metal topped black coolers with glass doors. Above them is a wooden pillared set of shelves, mirrors, and wine racks. The mirrors have “Blarney Stone” and a shamrock etched into them. There are also four televisions back there, two with large flat screens. Also a quick-draw screen for those interested in throwing their money away. The walls are mustard yellow, the floors are wood, and the place is quite bright, especially for an Irish bar. The have a steam table and the corned beef looked and smelled great. Lots of tables and chairs so it would be a great place to pop into for a beer and a sandwich.

I had a bottle of Smithwick’s Imported Irish Ale. This was the first time I realized it is made by Guinness.

487) The Molly Wee Pub

On the corner of 8th Avenue and 30th Street is this cheery, rather small Irish bar. It has a decent sized, somewhat beat-up wooden bar with a brass rail. A couple of brass stations on the bar with spigots for beer but, surprisingly, no Guinness on tap. Old fashioned looking metal and frosted-glass lights hang over the bar. Wooden shelves and coolers are behind the bar along with mirrors, a couple of them oval shaped. A kind of hokey, in my opinion, American flag with the World Trade Center towers and September 11, 2001 overlaying the field of stars is draped over one of the oval mirrors. Not quite sure it is the right way to commemorate 9/11 to, in a way, deface the American flag. Just my opinion, however. Three televisions behind the bar and one mounted on the wall-papered wall. A couple of glass shelves by the door and a glassed in cabinet mounted on the wall hold Irish ceramics and glassware. There are a lot of sports related pictures and framed newspaper pages (featuring the Ranger Stanley Cup win) on the wall in front. The wall more towards the back has pictures of customers, maps of Ireland, framed Irish currency, and other stuff.

I had a draft Widmer Haffeweizen.

488) Tempest Bar

Across the street and in the middle of the block was this interesting place. The back wall sports a good-sized brick fireplace. To the right of that are two dartboards that see league action. One side wall has brick columns with mirrors inbetween, the back wall is yellow, and the other side wall is red. Dark wood paneling goes up about a third of the way. Benches are placed with their backs to the side walls with tables and chairs in front of them. The large area in the middle, in front of the fireplace, has a dark linoleum-like floor and is empty. It looks like it should hold a pool table. The bartender says the place gets packed at night and people mill about and sometimes dance back there. The walls are decorated with all kinds of interesting paraphernalia including a metal sign advertising a Daisy Red Rider 1000 shot air rifle.

The front has a nice bar with a wooden foot-rest and wooden bar chairs. A nice back to the bar with coolers, cabinets with glass doors and wooden doors that are topped with mirror backed tiered shelves holding liquor. In the center is a metal shelf for glasses. Small blue-shaded lights hang over the bar. The ceiling is deep red and matches the walls. The ceiling has dark wood beams with copper bands around them. There is an interested covered area with benches, low tables, and bar stools. The floor is wood.

I got into a discussion with some gentlemen at the end of the bar about whether or not the “poor” play of a person sitting in front of you at a blackjack table would, in the long run, affect how well you do. This is a recurrent topic among blackjack players because people always remember when a bad play is made and as a result the card you get results in your losing the hand. People seldom recall the times a bad play gives you a winning hand. People’s opinions on this, however, can be very strong. Kind of like a friend of mine, Nick the Quick, who will never play at a table with an Asian woman dealer.

I got a Guinness here.

489) Charley O’s

Back across the street and right across from Madison Square Garden, what a great location. Of course I was a bit put off by my conversation with the young female bartender on how to make a margarita. The menu advertised that their margaritas were made with fresh lime juice and margarita mix. When I asked if I could get one with just the fresh lime juice she said they didn’t actually have any and that without margarita mix it wouldn’t really be a margarita. When I suggested that if she looked up the recipe in a bartender’s guide or simply just checked out the back of a tequila bottle she would see that most recipes don’t call for a mix she said “Well, that is the way the make them in bars.” When I told her that many bars make them with fresh lime juice she said Well those must be really expensive places and it isn’t the way they make them here. At this point I realized it was futile to pursue the topic any further.

The bar is decent enough with orange cone shaped lights that look like they are beaded hanging over it. There are windows on two sides so this is kind of a bright place, especially on a sunny day. As you might imagine, there were a lot of sports related pictures on the walls. Although most of them depicted event held at The Garden, there were a few pictures of the Mets. The wall behind the bar is a deep rose and the others are shades of green. Wooden shelves and a large metal cooler with glass doors are behind the bar. There are a couple of televisions. There is a large upstairs dining area with a small bar that wasn’t in use. I suspect it is for private gatherings.

I had a Dewar’s and soda and, surprisingly, the bartender wanted to know if I wanted it straight up or on the rocks. Most places don’t ask but I think the British tend to drink theirs without ice. Or maybe she was just being cautious after our discussion about the margarita.

A nice sunny day for a short stroll, but four bars visited making 489 for the year and 511 left to go. Most importantly, only ten more to visit before Saturday's celebration at The Gate.