Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Seaport Stroll

I was supposed to meet some people from out of town for drinks but we missed connections. This was mostly my fault because I forgot to take my cell phone with me after I left a message for him earlier. Scott, if you read this, I apologize and hope we can do it another time. Instead the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I headed to the South Street Seaport and subjected ourselves to mostly overpriced drinks in touristy bars. Oh well, sometimes Bar Man must suffer for his quest.

566) Pacific Grill

Located in the touristy, and pricy South Street Seaport this is about as far removed from yesterday’s haunts as you could get. Bar Man will probably not hanging out here, although the scene is a little more reasonable during the week when they have Happy Hour specials. The bar itself isn’t bad, just empty because everyone was sitting outside on the deck. The front of the bar has got a greenish copper fish-scale design with a shiny copper top and a wooden armrest. Mirrors with attached glass shelves behind the bar are loaded with liquor and wine. Below the mirrors are blue lit Lucite tiered shelves holding even more bottles. There are what looks like stylized palm trees flanking and separating the mirrors. The palm trees repeat the green copper fish-scale motif. There are two large plasma televisions, one at each end of the bar.

Two large wood frame and blue cloth fans turn lazily overhead. For some reason they reminded me of the scene in the Frankenstein movie where they guy gets caught up on the blades of the windmill. Probably not what they intended. The wall decorations have a nautical touch, wooden fish, a lobster, and a seahorse on one wall and a large ceramic fish of some type on the other.

The walls are kind of a pale tan with a waist high repetition of the fish-scale design. There is an indoor eating area down a couple of steps from the bar area and it is separated by a wood and glass-brick partition.

I had a gin and tonic, no brand specified, and served in a plastic glass even though I sat inside at the bar. The Mysterious Chinese Woman had a club soda. The tab was $11.00 so I wasn’t real happy.

567) Sequia

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Almost next door to the Pacific Grill is Sequia and it wasn’t doing nearly as much business. There is a nice long wooden bar with a black marble tank and a brass rail. A large fish tank, badly in need of cleaning, held three sucker fish and a couple of quite large fish of an unknown, but obviously hardy, species. There is a fairly ornate set of mirrors flanked by columns with decorative gold painted tops but no liquor was set out so it kind of gives the appearance of a bar going under. A shiny gold beer station with the spigots removed added to that feeling. Most of the activity seemed centered in the smaller area adjacent to the deck where they had frozen drink machines. The most distinctive decorative touch is the old wooden hulled boats hanging from the ceiling. Given the miniscule size of the drink that was served, once again, in a plastic cup, it didn’t take me long to drink it and head on out.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic and along with another club soda it was $8.75. I don’t usually bother listing prices unless they seem either very reasonable or a bit out of line. Just want to give anyone that plans on heading here a heads up on what to expect.

568) Il Porto

Still in the South Street Seaport but across the street from the building right on the East River is this bar and restaurant that is a bit more to Bar Man’s taste. At least here they trust you with real glasses. The picture above is their outside bar where it would have been fun to sit and toss one back. Unfortunately it was closed because the bartender doesn't come on duty until later in the evening. Go figure. The place is packed, the day is beautiful, but you have to go inside to sit at the bar and have a drink.

The inside bar has a blue padded front and a multi-colored tile top, quite festive. There is a silver colored bar rail. A standard mirror backed setup behind the bar with glass shelves holding a decent selection of liquor and glasses. Tubular shaped, multi-colored lights hang from the ceiling that seems to be mostly ventilation ducts. The lowered ceiling above the area immediately behind the bar is white ceramic tiles.Old Italian movie posters line the front of the column supported overhang above the bar.

Far and away the best bar in the Seaport with a very friendly staff.

They have a decent selection of bottled beers but not much on tap. I had a bottle of Peroni Nastro Azzurro in a real glass.

569) Carmine’s

I heaved a sigh of relief as I left the Seaport area and wondered just a block or so away to tuck into Carmine’s at 140 Beekman Street on the corner of Front Street.. There are other Carmine’s in Manhattan, but they are not related to this one. This is the real deal and it has been around since 1903. If you aren’t hungry when you walk in here you probably will be once you get a whiff of the Italian cooking. It has a moderately sized dark mahogany bar. The walls are paneled in dark oak. Old cabinetry behind the bar frames three mirrors, two of which are pretty much obscured by tiered shelves holding the liquor. The mirrors are flanked by two cabinets with glass doors holding the premium liquors. Flanking the center mirror are two narrow wine racks. The top of the cabinet displays beer, wine, and a large old Cutty Sark bottle. There are also several carved wooden figurines, a mounted fish, a framed golf shirt, and a few other knick knacks. There are mounted fish on the walls around the rest of the place as well.

The ceiling is authentic dark brown patterned tin. Large globe lights are mounted below ceiling fans. In addition to the fish, there is other mounted nautical themed stuff mounted on the walls including a life preserver from the Honey-Fitz. Four wooden booths line one wall and three tables with four chairs on a side occupy the middle of the space. One small table sits by the front window.

If you get to the South Street Seaport I would strongly recommend that you pass by the restaurants there and head a block or so west and stop in here. A word of warning, this place really packs up at lunch and dinner, especially during the week when the people who work in the area head here.

I had a Sapphire Bombay martini up with a twist at the bar before sitting down for a delicious seafood dinner.

Well, that was it, four bars for the day making 569 for the year and leaving me with 431 to go.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A Really Fun Friday

I was going to meet Larry McShane and his brother at Siberia but I hit midtown a bit early to drop of a tape of my German television spot, all of two minutes long, at Langan’s for Steve Donleavy. He has a cameo (sorry Steve, I couldn’t resist) appearance and I thought he would get a laugh out of it. Steve’s photographer makes a brief appearance as well. Well Steve wasn’t there, which is a good thing or I probably would still be there myself. He has that affect on people. Anyway, I had a bit of time to kill so I walked across the street to:

563) Pig ‘n’ Whistle

Right across the street from Langan’s at 165 West 47th Street is this Irish pub. It has a long, dark wood bar with a footrest and dark wood bar chairs with dark green vinyl seats. Hanging over the bar are large, dim orange, globe lights under old looking metal shades. Five large mirrors are behind the bar and are separated and flanked by wood pedestals. The pedestals are topped by coppery looking arches that frame the mirrors. Televisions sit on top of the four middle pedestals and there are two more televisions, one at each end of the bar. The center mirror is adorned with the bar’s name, the fact that it was established in 1969, and a nattily attired pig, complete with a top-hat, blowing a pipe, apparently trying to lure small children into the bar. An ample supply of liquor sits on tiered shelves under the mirrors.

Booths line most of the wall behind the bar and the yellowish tan walls boast pictures of actors ranging from Humphrey Bogart to Abbott and Costello. The booths, and pictures, are separated by wide wooden panels each framing two narrow mirrors with a candle-like lamp mounted between them. The portion of the wall towards the front has a poorly rendered (is that supposed to be Frank Sinatra at the piano?) picture of people drinking in a bar with very large windows, I think. Next to that is a poster featuring a dozen famous Irish writers. Next to the entryway to a small dining area in the back is an old red telephone booth with a Budweiser sign on top.

I had a draft Widmer Brothers Hefewiezen.

564) Siberia

Next was my stop at Siberia and what a stop it was. Behind the, while non-descript would be an overstatement, unmarked entrance is a surprisingly cavernous bar. A classic dive bar, but a dive bar in all the ways that make this a place you want to hang out in and come back to whenever you have the opportunity. Everyone in there seems to know each other and the owner, Tracy Westmoreland, says that is the way he prefers it.

The Owner

The bar itself looks like it is made of plywood sporting a decent light-wood top with the requisite cigarette burns. A Playboy pinball machine, photo-booth, and large orange Harley Davidson add to the eclectic d├ęcor. The artwork on the walls has a vaguely Japanese anime style to it and is done by a local artist named, I think I have this right, Richie Miller. They have a decent sound system and although Tracy managed to get the bartender to put on something vaguely Country Western it had somehow switched to Tears for Fears by the time I left. Well, he can’t keep an eye on everything. He also owns Bellevue around the corner which explains the similarity in ambience. Bellevue is much smaller though but, as you can tell from my earlier review, still a great dive bar.

They have entertainment here and there is a basement area that can’t possibly look more like a basement than the upstairs. I didn’t make it down there this visit but I will have to stop by again. I met Joanna Parson who puts on shows there including “Reddy or Not,” a humorous treatment of Helen Reddy. I picked up a flyer for “fag APALOCZA,” a musical review slated for Friday, June 24th. Too bad I will be out of town or I would have stopped by to see it.

When you stop by, be sure to ask about the toilet bowl with the blow-up doll apparently barfing into it. That toilet bowl has been to Japan and you need to find out why.

I had about three Budweisers here well chatting with everyone including Larry’s brother who had to leave early because he was taking a test the next day. Such discipline.

Larry was tied up working on a piece about the second helicopter crash this week so Tracy walked me over to the Holland Bar, where everyone seemed to know him, bought just about everyone, including me, drinks, and we hung out there for a bit.

565) Holland Bar

Just around the corner from Siberia and a couple of doors down from Bellevue at 532 9th Avenue is another classic dive bar. Jeez, I am starting to love this neighborhood. Once I finish my 1000 bars I might just hang out around here all the time, just sleep in the bus terminal across the street from Siberia. The story is that this bar used to be located in the Holland Welfare Hotel, hence its name. This place and Bellevue have about the same dimensions, kind of like a large hallway. Just enough room for the beat-up bar, the stools, and barely enough room for another row of people to stand behind them. And the place was packed. Once again, a very friendly crowd, but then everyone seemed to know Tracy. The bartender goes by the name of Doctor Billy and hands out little notes from the doctor written on what looks like a prescription slip to get you out of work if you overindulge. And I would guess that most people who stop in here do overindulge.

There are all kinds of newspaper clippings hanging on the walls and a really great Holland sign hanging behind the bar. I asked if I could take a picture of it and people in the bar started hollering “Get Charlie in the picture.” Doctor Billy obliged by jumping on top of the bar and grabbing a gold urn that contained the ashes of former beloved patron Charlie. He put a green St. Patrick’s day hat on top of it and posed for a picture.

Doctor Billy and Charlie

I never had a chance to meet Charlie, but he must have been a hell of a guy.

I had a Budweiser and Tracy and I headed back to Siberia to meet up with Larry.

Well, that was three bars for the day bringing my total to 565 for the year with 435 left to go. I would like to say I headed home, but as you can see, I didn’t. I ended up hanging out for a bit longer with Larry and several other Associated Press guys, this must be their regular after work place. We dumped down a few more Budweisers and a couple of shots of Jameson. Tracy had put me on a scholarship which basically meant I got to drink for free. He also asked me if I wanted to be a guest bartender at either Siberia or Bellevue one day. I said I thought that would be great fun (I won’t have to know how to make any fancy drinks, that’s for sure) and we are going to set the date and place sometime next week. I will be sure to keep you posted.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Playful Day

I had a most interesting day today. Didn’t hit many bars, only two, but had a most delightful stay at the second one. So delightful that I was there for quite a long time and had quite a number of…, well you shall see.

561) Luna Park

This is a real find and the day couldn’t have been better to find it. The weather was beautiful, sunny but cool with a nice breeze. A perfect day to spend time in a park and what could be better than to find a bar in a park. And right in the heart of Union Square where you are surrounded by great restaurants and bars. Nothing too fancy here, but then it wouldn’t be fun if it was. The front of the bar was painted in Park Board green and white and had a brown patterned Formica top with a heavy wooden arm rail. No foot rest though. A white overhang with recessed lights would help keep out the rain, but I don’t think I would be drinking here if it did that. There is a trellis that extends out from the overhang but nothing growing on it. It would be cool if it had vines or something. The barstools are metal rods with either orange or yellow vinyl seats. Planters separate the bar area from the red and white umbrella covered tables in the rest of this restaurant and bar oasis.

The longer planter behind the bar stools has a ledge for setting your drinks and has barstools in front of it. There were plants in the planter but the Mysterious Chinese Woman wasn’t with me to identify them. The floor is hexagon asphalt, it is outdoors after all.

There are a couple of large gold framed mirrors hanging on the dark blue wall behind the bar and glasses hang from wood and wire-frame racks just behind and above the drinking area. There is an overhead fan and a couple of lamps hanging from the white ceiling in the bar area. No ceiling anywhere else, just blue sky.

The only downside to Luna Park is the prices they charge, $8.00 for a small Tanqueray and Tonic served in a plastic glass. One guy came up and wanted to buy a bottle of water but left when he was told it cost $4.00, I would leave too, but then I don’t drink water. They had a frozen margarita machine and they were $10.00 and I suspect they weren’t very big either.

I had a Tanqueray and Tonic.

562) The Players

I ambled over to The Players, a club for actors and people in professions related to acting, located right across from Gramercy Park At 15 Gramercy Park West. The building was built in 1845, then remodeled 1888 by Stanford White after Edwin Booth bought the building and turned it into an actors' club. Interestingly, Mr. White met an untimely end. He was rather gruesomely shot to death while attending the opening of the musical review of Mam’zelle Champagne. But I digress, as I often do.

This is a members only club but I was invited by Lee Pfeiffer, a fan of my website and the publisher and editor and chief of “cinema RETRO,” a magazine that focuses on movies of the 60’s and 70’s. You can visit his website by clicking Clint:

Well, to say this place is gorgeous in an elegant but somewhat informal way hardly does it justice. I was given the grand tour by Lee and even got to see the living quarters of Edwin Booth, the founder of the club. It is unfortunate that Edwin is not nearly as well known as his brother, John Wilkes. Edwin’s living quarters remains essentially unchanged since his death and is kept locked but I got a peek, thanks to Lee.

The bar area, where I spent most of my time, surprise, surprise, is fairly small with old long benches and a few smaller old wooden tables. The walls are covered with photographs, paintings, and caricatures of actors and actresses. The bar itself is an old dark wooden affair with a couple of spigots for draft beer. The bartender comes on duty later in the day so it is somewhat of a serve yourself affair until then. No barstools but I did stand at the bar for a beer, rules are rules.

Standing on the other side for a change

To say I had an entertaining time is an understatement. After I arrived we were joined by Michael Allinson, a former president of The Players. Mr. Allinson, a well known British actor, came to the United States in 1960 to take over the role of Henry Higgins in the Broadway production of “My Fair Lady. He regaled us with anecdotes, which cannot be repeated here, of the time he traveled with Rex Harrison as his understudy in the play. Later we were joined by Lawrence Samuel Shaw who, among other things, does impersonations of Groucho Marx professionally. Although has done many other things he looks so much like Groucho that it is what sticks in my mind. Others came and went as well and the hours just kind of went by. It was a really fun day, Thanks again Lee, I hope to reciprocate when you come to Brooklyn one day. The Mysterious Chinese Woman was most disappointed that she missed this delightful afternoon.

I had one, two, many Sierra Nevada Pale Ales and topped the whole thing off with a Sapphire Bombay Martini after the bartender showed up. Oof. Do not believe anyone who tells you Bar Man only has one beer in each place he visits.

Bar Man Waving Good-Bye. I remember to stand up later.

Tomorrow evening I am having drinks with Larry McShane and his brother. Larry is the guy who wrote the Associated Press article that gained so much attention and it was his brother who turned him on to my blog. No article this time, just having a gargle or two.

At any rate, just two for the day (two bars, not two drinks) but they were a fun two. My total is now 562 for the year with 438 left to go.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bar Man, Mariah, Angelina, Tom and Hwang

I probably won't be getting out to a bar today, too much stuff to do. But I thought you might find this of interest. Who would think that Bar Man would find himself in the same company as Hwang Woo Suk, Mariah Carey, Angelina Jolie, and Tom Cruise? Of course I have no idea why my picture is on the bottom. But then I don't know why Hwang Woo Suk is on top either.

  • Japan Times Weekly
  • Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    Almost Nostalgia

    I headed back to an area that once was close to my heart, over on 3rd Avenue and 17th Street. There used to be a bar there called Tuesday’s and this was one of my major hangouts when I worked in the area, the other one being Molly Malone, just up the street a bit. Alas, neither the place I worked nor Tuesday’s are there anymore. Tuesday’s was the major after-work watering hole and Molly Malone was the later in the evening hang-out. Those were the days my friend.

    558) Still

    Just next door to where Tuesday’s once was, at 192 3rd Avenue, is this very nice place. It looks like it has been around a long time but is actually fairly new, just built to look old. It has a good sized dark wood bar with a tin top and the necessary bar rail. The bar stools are wooden with brown vinyl seats held in place by decorative brass-headed tacks. The floor is old looking wood. The walls are brick behind the bar and in the back. The other walls have waist high dark paneling and are then kind of a marbled red above. Narrow mirrors separate the paneling from the rest of the wall. Above the red is a fairly wide band of white. The walls in the front are lined with old pictures of the bartender’s family. The bartender, Joe, did the restoration work on the pictures. Actually, the bartender is the father of one of the owners so the pictures just reinforce the friendly family atmosphere of the place.

    Orange shaded lights hang above the bar and there are those interesting chrome fans on the ceiling that look kind of like a malted-milk machine on steroids. They do the trick though and this is only the second time that I have seen them. There are three nice televisions behind the bar along with mirrors, shelves for liquor, and dark columns. A 91 inch television that is used for special sporting events dominates the half-wall to the left of the bar.

    The bartender, Joe, was a most gregarious gentleman and we sat and chatted for quite awhile. Luckily the place was empty except for me once a few of the late lunch-crowd left, but that is because it was that dead time between the lunch crowd and the evening crowd. If you get in there during the day I am sure you will have a pleasant time and, I would imagine, this place would be a hoot at night. I am posting a link to their website so you can see what I mean. Bar Man will certainly visit this bar again when time permits.

  • Still

  • I had a Magic Hat #9 generously topped off when I had it about half finished. Little touches like this makes Bar Man a happy man.

    559) Summer Palace

    Well, this place, at 180 3rd Avenue, claims to be a Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge but, as you can see, to call this a Cocktail Lounge is a stretch indeed.

    Nonetheless, it had the requirements for Bar Man; a bar and bar chairs. I would have been remiss to have passed it by. There is a large fish tank that greets you when you enter the door and this one does have fish, big, fat, goldfish. To the right is a very small bar with two bar chairs covered in very worn patterned silk. There is a shadowbox on the wall with the top half of what looks to be a Chinese doll and Japanese lanterns hang in the windows. There is a sushi bar adjacent to the “Cocktail Lounge” and a Chinese restaurant on the other side of the room. A fat, aren't they all, gold Buddha sits on one end of the bar and he is surrounded by a large floral display and a small growth of bamboo. Blue banners with fish hang behind the sushi bar.

    The bar itself is light wood with a Formica top. Behind that is a decent sized collection of liquor. There are a couple of small wooden shelves, one holding Chinese decorative plates and a vase, the other holds what looks to be antique tea-pots. Hanging below the shelves are wine and cocktail glasses.

    I had a chilled sake on the rocks with a cucumber slice. Very nice and quite refreshing on a hot day. I wouldn’t recommend that you come in here with a large crowd if you just want to hang out in the “Cocktail Lounge” though.

    560) Galaxy Global Eatery

    On 15 Irving Place is this kind of a combination of a roadside diner and Star Wars. A bit of a trippy place as you might imagine when they have things like Hempnut Buckwheat Pancakes on the menu and reggae on the sound system. It has a black bar with a dark blue, kind of sparkly, top. All of the tables in here have the same tops. The bar is decent sized and has a foot rest. The bar stools are chrome with black tops and are what you would expect to see in a diner or an ice cream parlor. The back of the bar is a patterned metal exactly like what you see in the interior of so many diners. Only a small collection of liquor on stepped shelves and on a couple of mounted metal shelves gives this place away as a bar at all. It does a fairly brisk business at night though because it is fairly close to Irving Plaza where there is always something going on.

    The walls are dark blue with windows on two sides. Blue globe shaded lights hang over the booths along one wall. Blue topped chrome tables with chrome chairs that have black seats and backs run down the center of the room. The ceiling is black with small recessed lights. In the center of the ceiling is a round blue and white mottled dome light surrounded by pin-point lights that make it look like a field-of-vision test with everything turned on. There is a mirror at the end of the hall leading to the bathrooms that make you think there may be a back room. Don’t be fooled, there isn’t. You can buy a Big Blue Galaxy Condom from a machine in the men’s room (and probably in the ladies room) for a dollar.

    I had a Grey Goose de Citron martini, straight up, with a twist.

    Well, there you go, three for the day bringing the total to 560 and leaving 440 to go.

    Greetings From The Swamp Restaurant

    Some fans of my blog from The Swamp Restaurant in Gainesville, Florida sent me one of their tee-shirts. Bar Man just loves tee-shirts and will gladly post a picture of any tee-shirt he receives. Bar Man has no shame.

    The Swamp Restaurant is located right across from the University of Florida (known, affectionately, as The Swamp). Sports Illustrated recently ranked it the eighth best sports bar in the nation.

  • The Swamp Restaurant

  • Thanks so much for the tee-shirt, I think it makes me look much slimmer, or at least much slimmer than I look when I am naked. Bar Man will not be posting any of those pictures, however. And the Mysterious Chinese Woman has ruled out my idea of a web-cam.

    Monday, June 13, 2005

    My Inspiration

    People often, or at least once or twice, ask Bar Man what inspired you to undertake this quest, this search for, well, for who knows what. I have looked deep into my soul, or at least deep into a pint of beer, seeking the answer. Was it Ray Milland in "Lost Weekend"? No, absolutely not, although it might have been his performance in "Frogs." Was it Nicholas Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas"? Again, no. I almost stopped drinking after watchng that movie. Was it Drinky Crow in the "Village Voice"? Well, possibly.

    But no, true inspiration came from the one person, Steve Buscemi, who was in the film, "Fargo," that inspired my tee-shirt and the film that he wrote, directed, and starred in, the film that changed my life, "Trees Lounge."

    It is that little line in the above picture, "A story about one man's search...for who knows what?" that provided the impetus. Or at least planted that small seed which was then watered by, well we all know what it was watered by.

    Here's to you Steve, I can never thank you enough. If they ever make a movie of my odyssey only you, or maybe Mickey Rourke, could do me justice. Perhaps you could play me at the begining and Mickey could play me at the end.

    Sunday, June 12, 2005

    Tractor Parade In Callicoon

    A beautiful sunny Sunday in Callicoon. Started the day off at a pancake breakfast hosted by the Volunteer Fire Department. Pancakes, sausages, eggs any way you liked them, coffee and orange juice. Then we all headed off to the 9th Annual Callicoon Tractor Parade. It was a blast. We had great seats, a cooler of beers, and more tractors then you are ever likely to see unless you are at a tractor parade.

    After the parade was over I was lured to a nearby bar by the star reporter for the Sullivan County Democrat for an interview.

    557) Matthew’s On Main

    A classic small town bar on, you guessed it, Main Street, in Callicoon. The exact address is 19 Lower Main Street, so don’t get it confused with places on Upper Main Street. I will be covering a couple of those on another visit. The bar in here is a beige colored wood with green tiles on top and the oh so important brass rail. There are neat looking brass lights hanging overhead from the white painted tin ceiling. Behind the bar is a mosaic of a sun, a comet, and the moon. The floor was wood. There were little tractor lights decorating the place special for the parade. A nice touch I thought. A large Coal sign dominated one wall and there was also an old Barnum and Baily poster on the other wall. A large baseball trophy for the bar sponsored team sat in a place of honor up front by the window. The place was packed with people coming in for a cool one after the parade. Bar Man didn’t have time to take many notes because he was being mercilessly grilled by the aggressive reporter who kept plying him with alcohol. Kathy, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    I had a Brooklyn Lager in a red plastic cup and a shot of Peach vodka out of a shot glass.

    One more down bringing the total to 557 leaving 443 to go.