Saturday, July 02, 2005

Crowbar Inn

No bars today so I thought I would take the opportunity to model a tee-shirt that was sent to me by Andy Wakeford. He heard about me as a result of an interview that I did on KFGO-Fargo. His parents once owned the Crowbar Inn, which was located in the small town of Osnabrock, ND. He said it was the typical, rural North Dakota Bar. The Crowbar Inn, unfortunately, is no more. It was opened in September of 1985 and after changing hands several times in the mid-1990s it was gutted by a fire in 1999. Mr. Wakeford was kind enough to send me a tee-shirt that he managed to dig up.

Pretty cool looking tee-shirt. Too bad the bar is gone. Thanks so much Andy, I really appreciate it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Some Hope In New Hope

I headed out to New Jersey for the July 4th Holiday and the celebration of a couple of birthdays, my brother-in-law’s (the one who helped me start my quest) and my sister-in-law’s who was hosting the week-end. My role was to be the grill-master for two days. And I was, smoking chickens, ducks, sausages, and clams. Quite a bit of fun. I got there Friday afternoon and after doing a bit of shopping we headed to New Hope, Pennsylvania for dinner. While the Mysterious Chinese Woman and my sister-in-law went shopping beforehand, I popped into a couple of places.

603) Triumph Brewery

This is another working brewery in New Hope, right by the railroad tracks, that sells their beer on the premises. And quite good beer it is too. There is a large black wrap-around bar with the serving stations in the middle. There are several sets of modern looking beer taps sitting atop. The foot rest looks a bit like model railroad tracks with that third rail in the middle. The bar chairs are kind of a Swedish modern design, light wood, with blue fabric seats, some of which show signs of beer spillage. Behind the bar the wall is knotty pine and there are glass shelves holding glasses and a dark wood cabinet and shelf holding the wine and liquor selection. A chalkboard behind the bar lists the available beers and another larger one on a side wall lists both the available and the soon-to-be available beers along with the alcohol content, the tank it is being or was brewed in, the date it was or will be ready, and the original gravity. The menus give a brief overview of the brewing process and is worth looking over.

Heather, the Friendly Bartender
Graciously serving me beer and samples till the rain stopped.

The bar and dining area are built into a large brick warehouse-like structure and the brewing facilities, along with one of the dining areas, are upstairs. Silver brewing tanks, catwalks, and the high ceiling add to the bar in a brewery atmosphere. Flowers and pictures on the walls in the dining areas make them more intimate and less brewery-like.

I had the Bengal Gold IPA and then, because it was raining when I finished, had the Gothic Ale that was a hand-pull ale. They were both very good. I also got to taste both the Honey Wheat and the Heffeweizen. They were both very good but the Heffeweizen was especially good and quite different, almost a banana-like aroma and taste to it. I decided I would come back and get a growler to go after dinner.

604) Mother’s

Mother’s is on 34 North Main Street and it has a small area for the bar but a much larger attached dinning area. The bar has a light wood top with a granite-like plastic front. Almost the same type of chairs that they had at Triumph. There is a white ceramic brick wall behind the bar with a dark wooden shelf holding the liquor. Wooden racks for glasses hang overhead and metal-shaded industrial like lights illuminate the bar. Festive July 4th banners are strung from the overhang above the bar that serves as the floor to the upstairs dining area. The ceiling is beamed. There are some small tables by the windows opposite the bar. There is a television at one end of the bar and a pool tournament was being televised. The bartender, Vince, was quite interested because he said he was a pool player himself. I was telling him about a couple of times I was in Europe and the major snooker tournament was being aired almost continually. So we chatted about pool and snooker a bit, although I am a terrible pool player.

Vince, the Pool Playing Bartender

An elderly couple came in and the guy ordered a Corona so we got to talking about Mexico and then what New Hope was like in the old days. Now it is quite an expensive enclave of boutiques and restaurants and very expensive houses. He remembered when Mother’s was just a coffee shop where you could buy pastries and about the only other place was an ice-cream shop. My, how things do change.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic.

605) Marsha Brown

I headed down the street to Marsh Brown at 15 South Main Street to meet my dinner companions and, of course, to have a drink at the bar. This place is, quite simply, spectacular. It is in an old Methodist church and the bar is located in what once was the narthex. A narthex is the vestibule, usually at the west end of a church. The bar here is quite classy and is there is a wraparound mural that can be glimpsed through an archway behind where the bartender, does her work. The bar is very elegant and because I couldn’t stay long, having to have go upstairs to the lovely dining area for dinner, I will let the pictures do the talking.

The Anticipation

The Satisfaction

Christie, the Friendly Bartender

Cornered by The Mysterious Chinese Woman

I had a Bombay martini, up with a twist. Very well made by the lovely and friendly bartender. The food here is also great, although a bit pricey. I have eaten here several times and have never had a bad meal. I usually order steak but the Mysterious Chinese Woman and her sister usually go for fish dishes, all of which are delicious. Their crabcakes are mostly crab, and that isn’t as common as you might suppose.

I stopped back at the Triumph Brewery to pick up my growler of the Heffeweizen but, even though it was fresh that day, the line appeared to be clogged so I couldn't get any. I settled for the Bengal Gold IPA that was quite good, but Bar Man was a bit disappointed.

Well that wasn't bad, two more bars than I thought I would hit making 605 for the year and leaving 395 to go.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Bar Man's Holiday

Well, I had planned on hitting 600 bars by the end of June and I did it so I figured I would take today off. And what would the Bar Man do on his day off? Why visit one of his favorite bars, Pete’s Waterfront Ale House (Home of Warm Beer, Lousy Food, & Ugly Owner), just a couple of blocks from where I live on Atlantic Avenue. I have been here before so it doesn’t count, but I thought I would take a picture and post it. Unfortunately they are doing work on the building so it is covered in scaffolding and I couldn’t get a good shot. Another time perhaps. I did settle down to a bowl of free popcorn from their popcorn machine and had a couple of interesting beers from their extensive selection. I started with a draft Six Points Bengali Tiger I.P.A. that was nice and hoppy, dark, and very flavorful. That was followed up by a Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale. This is from Heather Ale LTD in Scotland. It was quite dark and thick and did have a distinct elderberry flavor, but not in any way cloying or sweet. I liked it and would have it again. It would be a great after-dinner drink.

By the time I finished with my two beers it was a bit after six so I figured I would mosey on down the street a bit to a bar I have been wanting to try but that doesn’t open until after 6:00 P.M. so I have missed it on my daily wanderings. I guess it wasn’t really a holiday afterall.

602) Kili

Down Atlantic Avenue to Hoyt and then make a left to 81 Hoyt. This is a fairly small place and during the summer there are a few chairs in front, but you can’t bring your drink out there, no sidewalk café license. This is a neat place with a well-broken-in look to it. The bar has a dark wood top and kind of a paneled front. No bar rail or foot rest though. Brown wooden bar stools with square seats. The cement floor looks like it would be more at home in a parking garage and the wall behind the bar is kind of an industrial poured cement. Jackson Pollack like paintings on brown butcher paper (remind me to tell you why butcher paper is brown someday – it has to do with Egyptian mummies) hang on the wall not just behind the bar but on other walls as well. Glass shelves hold the liquor and there are a couple of narrow mirrors.

On the front wall between the windows is a yellow cement fireplace with a stack of split wood piled above it next to another abstract painting done in a different style. A large hoop light fixture hangs from the ceiling of exposed beams. The light fixture has a lot of cone-shaped lights hanging from it. Nice soft looking red banquettes line the back wall.

The two bartenders, Trini and Jackie were very friendly.

Jackie was experimenting with making a plum flavored vodka and playing chess with one of the customers at the end of the bar while paying attention to the needs of the customers at the bar. She also has very large angel wings tattooed on her back (I kid you not). The crowd was very friendly too and I chatted with a couple of them. One was looking for an apartment in what is now becoming an increasingly cool neighborhood. There is a move afoot to start calling it BoCoCa (BOerum Hill, CObble Hill, CArrol Gardens). Jeez, I hope not. Particularly when Kili is actually in Downtown Brooklyn, and that is a cool enough name. Whoever came up with the name DUMBO for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass should be shot.

I had a Perfect Maker’s Mark Manhattan, up. It was quite good after I convinced Jackie to put in a few drops of Angustora Bitters. To Kili’s credit, they did have bitters on hand. I am not sure where the reluctance to use bitters comes from, but it is quite common. And yet so many recipes call for it, including almost all recipes for Manhattans.

More than you probably ever wanted to know about Manhattans:

Samuel J. Tilden was elected Governor of New York in 1874, and to celebrate, socialite Jenny Jerome threw a party at the Manhattan Club in New York City. Jerome asked the bartender to create a drink for the occasion. The bartender mixed 1 1/2 ounces bourbon, 1 1/4 ounces each of sweet and dry vermouth, and a dash of bitters. It met with Jerome’s approval and she named the drink the "Manhattan," after the club. Jenny Jerome later earned her place in history as she later became Lady Randolph Churchill, the mother of Sir Winston Churchill.

Over the years, much like the Martini, the amount of vermouth has been reduced but, and this is important, the bitters should never be left out. A dash of Angostura or orange bitters is key to the unique taste of a Manhattan

Anyway, I had but one new bar to add to my list but it was a nice bar and near to where I live so I will be back when time permits.

Up to 602 for the year and that leaves 398 to go. Bar Man is heading to New Jersey for the July 4th weekend and to celebrate a couple of birthdays so I don't know how many, if any, bars I will hit until I return. If I do hit any I will post them on Tuesday, July 5th.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


My resolve was much better today and, besides, I had already stopped into most of the bars on the way to:

598) Chelsea Brewing Company

This place has an English pub combined with a brewery feel to it, appropriately enough. Not just a cute pseudo-brew pub look.

No offense Heartland, your beer is fine, but you are no longer a brew pub and shouldn’t continue to pretend that you are. Anyway, this place has a nice wood topped bar with a wood paneled front. Flags of various nations are painted on each panel. Big copper tanks are behind the bar, and these aren’t just for show. There is a blue tile wall between the tanks and various awards that the brewery has won are displayed there. There is also a chalkboard listing the available beers. A small shelf holds their liquor supply and there are a couple of machines churning frozen drinks. If you come here, though, you really should be coming for the beer. It is excellent and as fresh as you can get it.

There is lots of dining space both downstairs and upstairs as well as outside tables right next to the marina. On a nice summer day like now (rain is predicted for later) you can easily forget you are anywhere close to Manhattan. The bartender was very friendly and I had a chance to chat with the head brewer, Chris Sheehan, who was sampling some of his handiwork at the bar.

I had a Henry Hudson IPA, a fairly stout 7.4% alcohol content, and that was a good start to the day.

Another non-bar. I went next door to the bowling alley and walked upstairs to the AMF Legends bar.

The lights were on, the televisions were on, the doors were unlocked but, nobody home. I wandered around a bit, contemplated how much trouble I might get in if I simply poured myself a drink, thought better of it (I am getting old) and left.

599) Jason’s Riverside Grill

Kind of a beachside restaurant and grill looking place with peach walls and turquoise trim. But hey, a bar is a bar and after the trauma of the bowling alley I needed a drink to steady my shattered nerves. Actually a nice hammered copper topped bar with a stone block front. It would be a really neat bar if it didn’t kind of curve around to a walk-up fast food counter. Oh well, you can’t have everything. Neat black rimmed dome lights hang from the ceiling. The wall of windows has pink tablecloth covered tables on the inside and turquoise and pink picnic benches outside. Again, it all looks out on the marina so it is quite pleasant.

Not much behind the bar, just a couple of glass shelves holding a small liquor selection, beers, and wine. There is a black cooler with glasses on top and another one with glass doors holding their beer. They have a little cooler, like the ones that usually hold Red Bull, but this one held bottles of Grolsch, the bottles with the ceramic tops. Kind of cool, I probably should have had one. For happy hour you can get a bucket of five bottles of Rolling Rock beer for twenty bucks. Let’s see, that is only four bucks a bottle. Such a deal, I think not. Just walk down a bit and have a really good beer at Chelsea Brewing Company.

They had a nice plasma television on the wall to the right of the bar with a soccer game that seemed to be holding the attention of most of the staff. It was Brazil versus Argentina and, believe it or not, the score was tied. Go figure.

I had a draft Sam Adams Boston Lager.

600) The Half King

A great older bar at 505 West 23rd with most friendly bartenders, Kate and Jaimee.

They gave me a few suggestions for bars to visit in Williamsburg where I plan on hitting my 750th bar, Duffs. Rumor has it that this place is owned by Sebastian Junger, the author of The Perfect Storm. It is a narrow place that also has seating on the sidewalk in front and an outdoor “garden” area in the back. The bar itself is a classic old worn wood affair with a wooden slat front and an old wooden footrest. The bar chairs are black with fabric seats. Kind of a smeary orange wall behind the bar with pictures of ducks done in a somewhat Asian style. There were also a couple of primitive looking shanks, or throwing knives, stuck into the sides of the wooden shelves holding wine and beer bottles. Copper shaded lights hang over the bar. They have a decent selection of beers, both draft and in bottles.

Booths line the light tan cement wall opposite the bar. Rustic wood paned windows look into another dining room next door. Little lamps hang over the booths. Not a bad place at all to mark my 600th bar.

601) Kashiwa

Heading east on 23rd to the subway home I passed Kashiwa at 300 West 23rd. I figured I would stop in for a bit of a change of pace. I didn't manage to get a picture of the outside of this place because it had started to rain when I got there and was still raining when I left. This is a Japanese restaurant with both a sushi bar and a regular bar. Not too unusual, Nice little shiny wooden topped bar with a lighter wooden front and a silver bar rail. Comfortable wooden bar chairs with padded maroon vinyl seats. Behind the bar is a 5 by 12 set of square wooden shelves that hold bottles of sake, wine, fans, bamboo in ceramic bowls, little statues, and lanterns.

A very mellow place and the sake helped contribute to the overall sense of well being. Kenny G is playing in the background and the rain is starting to come down hard, but I get to watch it through large windows, kind of a pleasant effect.

The lights above the bar are just sake bottles with the bottoms cut out and a light bulb inside with the wire coming out the top. Kind of cool. I will discuss this decorating tip with the Mysterious Chinese Woman who isn’t here to see the simplicity and beauty. The interior is done up pretty much in beige with light colored wood floors. Lots of tables for eating and overhead there are small globe lights in wooden box-like frames. Luckily I am just steps from the subway so if the rain doesn’t let up I can just bolt for it and head home. It is really pouring out now.

I had a Hitorimusume (Only One Daughter) ‘sayaka.’ I am really starting to like a good chilled sake, and this was a good one. The rain slacked off a bit and I made it to the subway staying relatively dry. By the time I got to Brooklyn it had stopped. Lucky me, lucky day.

Four for the day and I broke the 600 mark making 601 for the year and leaving 399 to go.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Failed Mission

Well, the day wasn’t a failure, I just failed at what I set out to do. I was going to go to the Chelsea Brewing Company, one of the few places in New York that actually brews their own beer and serves it on the premises. I took the subway to 14th Street and 7th Avenue and headed toward the Hudson River but didn’t even make it to 8th Avenue before I hit five bars. Ah, you have to love Manhattan.

593) Gavroche

A small bar and restaurant at 212 West 14th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue. It has a dark wood bar with a brass rail and seven wooden bar chairs. There is a large wood framed mirror behind the bar that is flanked by empty wine racks. Wooden tiered shelves held the liquor. There are old wood floors and pale yellow walls. The ceiling is white tin and there are old fashioned lights hanging from it on the bar side of the room and small track spot lights on the other side. The street side sports wood framed windows and a glass paneled door. Little tables are covered with white tablecloths with colorful buckets holding the white cloth napkins sitting on top. There are maroon cushioned booth like seats along the brick wall opposite the bar. There are lots of interesting paintings on the wall done in a somewhat primitive style. They are of street parades, a snow covered boat yard, landscapes and waterscapes. They look like they are set in the fifties but they were recently done by Erich J. Preis. There is a large chalkboard up front announcing the menu for July 14th, Bastille Day.

I had a bottle of Guinness.

I walked by a place that looked interesting, The Cabin, and saw people in it so I walked in and ordered a drink. Alas, even though the bar was fully stocked it was going out of business and the people inside were prospective buyers and the current owner. The owner said I would have to buy the whole place to get a drink.

There were two other bars, one on either side of this one, that were more obviously out of business. The neighborhood, it is a changing.

594) Ipanema

Just down a few doors was this somewhat interesting but not too friendly place. I think it was because the bartender, a very lovely lass, was new and had a limited command of the English language. I ordered a gin and tonic and although the bottles of tonic were sitting right in front of her and the bottles of gin were right behind her she had no idea how to go about making it. Now that is poor. When I tried to explain what I wanted she wouldn’t, or couldn’t, listen to me and had to have the manager come over and show her how to make the drink. I suspect she was there more for her looks than her bartending prowess. When someone from the back came to the bar and ordered a beer in Spanish she had no problem however. Oh well, what can you do. Then when I asked if I could take her picture, even though the manager said it was okay, she said no because she had to clear it with her “boss.” Suddenly her English became a bit better. I am not sure who her “boss” is but I wasn’t about to press the point.

Not wanting to deprive anyone of pictures of good looking bartenders, I stole these from a website. Apparently not all of the bartenders who work here are camera shy.

There is a bar up front and another one in the back where there is a pool table and a couple of televisions. The place is quite dark with blue florescent lights on the wall opposite the bar and blue and red lights behind the bar. Little beaded shaded track lights hung over the bar. It was quite an interesting place but I didn’t feel real comfortable there after my initial exchange with the bartender so I downed my drink fairly quickly and left.

I had a gin and tonic.

595) McKenna’s

Across the street was a much more comfortable, for me at least, bar. More of your standard dive bar but in a nice kind of way. It has a tin topped wooden bar with a brass rail and wooden bar stools. Old wood floor and nice stained glass shaded lights over the bar. Dark green walls and comfortable looking maroon booths. The ceiling is ornate patterned tin with track lighting. There is old wooden shelving and mirrors behind the bar. Actually, there are mirrors all over the walls, kind of an interesting effect. Surprisingly, they were out of Dewar’s though. No matter, the bartender Lindsay was pleasant so we chatted a bit. And she let me take her picture.

I had a shot of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey and a water back.

596) Tequila’s Bar & Grill

Just next door is this interesting place that has the real feel of Mexico to it. Even the televisions were playing Mexican stations. A fairly small L shaped light wood bar sits in the back. It has a brass rail and dark wood bar chairs with dark green seats. I will not be able to do justice to this place because there is so much going on. Flamingo pink walls with brick archways separating the small dining area from the bar. A few tables up front as well. A string of small lights that hang over the bar are shaped like tequila bottles and margarita glasses. Bar Man wants a string like this for his Christmas tree.

I am probably going to get in trouble for this, I asked the bartender her name and wrote it down somewhere, but now I can't find it. Oh well, she said she was going back to Mexico for three months so maybe she won't see this.

Green and yellow piñatas in the shape of tequila bottles hang from the ceiling along with several colorful papier-mâché parrots sitting on perches. There are lots of pictures of Mexicans of note and regular customers hanging on the walls along with sombreros, and Aztec wall hangings. It has just about everything you have ever seen for sale in Mexico hanging on the walls or sitting on shelves. Great picture of a nude kneeling woman holding a bouquet of very large lilies.

Not wanting to risk an NC17 rating I will not document the thoughts that the picture elicited, and luckily the Mysterious Chinese Woman wasn’t there to monitor them. This place was a real hoot and it will be revisited when time permits, quite possibly for a meal. There was quite a lively crowd that got bigger at 4:00 P.M. when McKenna’s closed for a private party.

I had a decent, but not great, margarita, up with a salted rim.

597) Flannery’s

This place, just a bit further down the street and closer to 7th Avenue, is a serious dart bar. All kinds of awards hanging on the wall indicate the prowess of their teams. They have three dartboards positioned for competition. This is another old dive bar, and believe me, I was here before it was spiffed up. You either reinvent yourself or go out of business like the three places across the street. They had a nice selection of cheese doodles and chips on the bar. A bunch of college kids came in who were even more out of place then me in my somewhat garish attire. I may stop dressing like I am still in Mexico when I begin to hit the more serious bars. I look way too much like a tourist.

The place had a very nice bar, dark wood, black foot rest, somewhat sticky from the humidity, and metal and plastic bar chairs. Nice looking chandelier-like lights hang over the bar and below the ceiling fans. There is some sports memorabilia on the wall opposite the bar. Booths in the back have pedestals at the ends that are topped with what look like converted gas lamps. An altogether cool place that has changed a lot from the days when people used to nod off at the bar and the Bailey’s Irish Cream poured in clumps (Marianne, I am sure you remember). Now it is a decent, but not too decent, place.

The college kids were looking for a pool table so I sent them over to Ipanema, maybe they will have better luck then me.

I had a Dewar’s and soda and walked the very short distance to the subway home.

A productive day, just not in the way I had planned. Tomorrow I will make it to the Chelsea Brewery, I promise. Five bars for the day, 597 for the year, and 403 left to go.

Monday, June 27, 2005

West Beech At Long Beach

Didn’t do much over the week-end in terms of hitting bars. In fact didn’t do anything. To much hanging out, barbecuing, and eating at a restaurant where I had already had a drink, Sutton Place. Wish I could tell you I had a great meal but in fact I didn’t. Not only did the restaurant run out of bread which meant we had none to sop up the sauce in the Mussels we ordered, my tuna was so bad that I couldn’t eat it and they took the price off the bill. This was interesting because my buddy ordered exactly the same thing and his came out beautifully. The two dishes didn’t even look the same and then the manager tried to tell me I must have ordered mine well-done. That would be cute, the name of the dish was “Rare Tuna.” Luckily the waiter, probably at the risk of losing his job, stuck up for me and said that I distinctly said I will have the same after my friend ordered. Oh well, the bartender was nice. Maybe they just had a bad night. But I digress. Monday I got back to business.

588) Shines

On the corner of West Beech and California is this old neighborhood bar. Kind of appropriate because this is an old neighborhood. The bar has a plastic brick front with a wood grained Formica top. The back of the bar looked to be fake brick as well with narrow wooden shelves holding the liquor selection. There are a few carriage style lights hanging behind the bar. The ceiling is dark brown with a couple of overhead fans with clear, old fashioned light fixtures hanging underneath. The dark wood walls were covered with autographed pictures of actors including one of one of my favorites, Lee Marvin. Although he was great as both Kid Shelleen and Strawn in Cat Ballou, he is much better, in my opinion, when he plays more scarier roles such as Nick Devlin in Prime Cut. But, again, I digress. There were also numerous montages of photos of regular customers.

There is a back room with a pool table and a television that must have a VCR connected because there are a couple of shelves of tapes in the passageway between the two rooms on a bookcase that also holds a number of standard bar reference books.

I had a bottle of Budweiser, as it seemed like the appropriate thing to be drinking here.

589) Whale’s Tale

A nice little beach bar not quite on the beach but rather on 916 West Beech. It has a copper topped bar with a corrugated metal front with a mural on it depicting an underwater seascape. The same artist did the bathrooms and portions of the ceiling. Lots of large plastic fish are hanging on the walls and ceiling including a not-so-friendly looking shark and his next meal.

The place has seven televisions with sports on six of them and Quick Draw on the other one.

The wall immediately behind the wooden bar chairs is lined with a bench with small tables and chairs in front. Above the bench is a narrow mirror and above that the white wood slat wall are not only the plastic fish but pictures of old Long Beach, a porthole, a ships wheel, and hooks for coats mounted on what looks to be French waiters and waitresses carrying trays holding bottles of wine. There is also a nice picture of a dock, the kind of place you would like to hang out and have a beer.

A large ship's wheel with ship’s lanterns hanging from the spokes hangs from the ceiling towards the back and lights up the place a bit. Christmas lights line the walls above the booths in the back. There are a couple of round glass tables up front by the windows with lots of ferns and that area has a bit of a different feel to it than the rest of the place, but it is small. The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I had fish sandwiches while sitting at the bar (special, $8 for the sandwich and a draft Miller Lite). Bar Man is not a big fan of Miller Lite but couldn’t pass up the deal. The sandwiches were very good and came with a large portion of fries.

There are frozen drink machines behind the bar to churn out margaritas, strawberry daiquiris, and pina coladas or, as my dear departed mother used to call them, penis colossals.

I had the aforementioned Miller Lite served to me by the friendly bartender Jenna.

590) Traynor’s

This place, at West Beech and Wisconsin, has a good-sized knotty pine pegged bar top, quite nice, and kind of a sea-foam green carpeted front and a green tile foot rest with a rubber tread. Mostly knotty pine walls give this place a nice cabin-like feel. Overhead fans and various shades of green tiled floor. Booths along one wall are separated from the bar by a partition. Kind of a brown fabric back to the bar with wooden shelves holding the liquor and a few beer steins. Pennants promoting beer and the New York Yankees hang from the ceiling and provide most of the décor. There is a pool table in the back. The place was full of what appeared to be regulars and I was quite impressed by the degree of intoxication they had managed to achieve given that it was only about 1:00 P.M.

There are open windows lining the street side with a narrow ledge just below for drinks and small green wooden stools sit in front of the ledge. I also noticed stools next to the windows on the sidewalk so I guess you can sit out there and have a drink as well. It appears that certain rules are not too rigidly enforced in this part of town because this is the second bar here, Shines being the other one, where smoking doesn’t seem to be discouraged. Ah well, Bar Man’s philosophy has always been live and let live.

I had a gin and tonic.

591) Tiki Bar

Well, from the looks of the shark out back you might think this would be kind of a neat, well, Tiki Bar. The torn plastic coverings over the windows were a tip-off that all would not be as it seemed.

It is actually a bit of a dive, but not in a totally negative way. Just nothing too much about it that conveys a sense of being a Tiki Bar except for a few masks hanging on one of the walls. The rectangular bar has a well-worn cement top rimed with bamboo, a plain corrugated metal front and a wooden footrest. The bar chairs are kind of neat though, bamboo with worn floral patterned cloth seats. A surfboard covered with pictures of regulars hangs over the bartender’s station in the center of the bar. Nothing fancy about the center island, a plain white cabinet holding the liquor and a two step wood shelf displaying the bottled beers they offer, and not much of a selection I might add. They did have Red Stripe though. There are also ice chests, well liquor, and all kinds of tubes for beer and soda lines. It combines to give the place a kind of industrial look back there. Corrugated tin lining the lower half of the vanilla colored wood walls reinforces this factory-like atmosphere. The glasses hanging above the bar looked like they had at least a couple of years of dust accumulated on them so I guess they are just for show.

The windows on two sides were open and given that it was kind of a drizzly day and the air-conditioner was on you got a nice damp chill sitting at the bar. There appeared to be a garden area back behind the shark but it didn’t look to be open. Given the weather and the time of day that wasn’t too surprising. I might try to stop by here at night sometime.

A beat-up pool table with a worn blue felt top sat in the back. I could see the warp and slant of the surface from where I was sitting at the bar. There would definitely be a home-court advantage for the locals.

I had a Guinness because the Sam Adams Summer Ale just kept spurting foam. Interestingly the beer taps don’t sit over a drain so any spillage just goes, well, I am not sure where it goes.

592) Billy’s Beach Café

After stopping back at my friends house to say good-bye and pick up my bags I headed to the train station leaving myself enough time to stop at Billy’s on my way. It is at 222 West Park Avenue which is kind of the main drag up until you go further west at which point West Beech seems to take over that function. The bar here has a turquoise plastic-like top with a pastel blue, green, and yellow tiled front. The bar rail is made out of plain old plumbing pipe. Would have been more appropriate for the Tiki Bar. The walls are pastel purple and orange with the lower part of one side kind of a pale tan stone topped with about a three foot wide band of mirrors. Above the mirrors is painted a seaweed and seashell seascape painted on a pale orange wall. Hanging on that wall are a few large and colorful fish and a somewhat out of place pink and green chameleon. Very colorful beach scenes are painted on most of the other walls and it makes you feel like you are having a drink on a beach.

Numerous papier-mâché parrots sit on perches hanging from the pale green ceiling with light yellow duct work. Spinning rattan ceiling fans keep the air circulating.

One dining area with booths is separated from the bar by a divider of the same type stone as lined the bottom part of the one wall. It is also a couple of steps up. Two round tables with bar chairs sit against the divider on the bar side and one sits by the large front window. The other small dining area is in back and consists of small square tables and fancy rattan chairs with bright beach scenes painted on the walls.

They have a number of televisions so this looks to be a great place to hang out and watch a game or two. The Ali/Wepner fight was playing on a couple of televisions and I really thought Wepner might take him this time. Luckily there wasn’t anyone around to accept my bet.

This place was packed when I got to Long Beach on Friday but it was pretty empty early on a rainy Monday afternoon. I had a gin and tonic and then braved the rain to catch the train back to Brooklyn.

Despite the kind of yucky weather, some sun, then rain, then humidity, then rain again, it was a very nice day and productive as well with five bars hit bringing the total to date to 592 leaving 418 to go.