Saturday, November 05, 2005

Australia Angst And Anger Part Deux

Well, all I can say is that there is something a bit off with Mr. Beckett Tucker. After sending him my email stating that I was no longer interested in coming to his bar in Sydney and expressing my disappointment in him I got the following two emails on Monday, October 31st. The second one, apparently, was because some of you actually took the time to contact him to let him know how you felt about things.


Give me this week please I am meeting with alcohol companies tomorrow (Hieneken, Absolut and StArnou) to finalise a sponsorship plan with them to help fund it. I have a hotel sorted out and everything is looking good. I have had problem accessing emails recently and have been going crazy trying to organize everything, we still want everything to go ahead. There are still two months to go and I have the tickets held by a friend of mine at a travel agency. I will call you tommorrow when I find out the story.

Kind Regards



Hi Dan,

I have been recieving some pretty hateful emails like the one I have attached, if I do in fact manage to sort this out I hope you make it clear that I never actually meant not to reply to your emails or do you wrong. I found this email below embarrassing for the person who wrote it.

Look forward to seeing you soon.

Kind Regards,

Beckett Tucker

Now forget the contents of the email that he felt was so hateful, note a few other things, aside from the obvious ones, that he never did call me and I have yet to receive any kind of follow-up email:

First, he says that my airline tickets are being held by a friend of his and he has the hotel sorted out. I don't understand how this could be because I have never been able to get in touch with him to finalize travel dates. This despite the fact that I would need advance notice as to when I would leave and I would want to schedule the dates for my return from Sydney so that I would have time to see a bit of the city. This is from an email that I sent to him addressing these issues:

"I will be leaving for Spain tomorrow and will be gone for a couple of weeks. Perhaps we can work towards finalizing some travel arrangement when I get back. I would like to stay in Sydney for awhile after the first of the year but I will, of course, pick up the expenses for that part of the visit. Deciding on the date to leave for Sydney and the date of my return is something that I would like to do fairly soon though so I can start to make arrangements at this end."

Now how do you hold tickets when you haven't finalized the dates of travel and don't even have my wife's name.

Then, second, if you read between the lines, despite having said seveal months ago that this was a "done deal," he now says:

"...if I do in fact manage to sort this out I hope you make it clear that I never actually meant not to reply to your emails or do you wrong."

If I do in fact manage to sort this out?

Also, he says "I have had problem accessing emails recently..." Recently? I have been sending him emails for a couple of months trying to get more information about what was going on.

I might be willing to give Beckett a nod on not being malicious, but it certainly seems as though he bit off a lot more than he could chew and just could not pull this off. And again, why would you tell someone you have the tickets already and have sorted out the hotel arrangements and will call the next day with the details and then not call or send an email. I totally do not understand this guy.

Two people with whom I have exchanged emails have actually visited the Vanilla Room to try to talk to Mr. Tucker in person and have not been able to find him.

Anyway, once again I will give you his email address if you want to let him know how you feel about this. For my part I want nothing more to do with him.

Beckett Tucker

If you do drop Mr. Tucker a line, do keep it on the civil side please. I don't think there is anything to be gained by being rude and obnoxious just because someone else is inconsiderate.


Boys and Girls, let this be a lesson, you are never too old to learn from your mistakes, unless, of course, you are the Bar Man who never seems to learn from his. First off, when meeting people from out of town at a bar you have already hit, do not start out by having “a few beers” just to warm up. Then, well, for yourself.

921) Orange Valve

Well, the name was appropriate, because there was an orange valve handle on the door, but other than that nothing was quite as it seemed. It is on the Bowery and certainly looked like it should have been just another dive. Instead it was like walking into a bar in Tokyo. Other than the crew that I stumbled in with there were no other round-eyes in the place. Now, granted, my eyes weren’t exactly round at this point either. The semi-large screen at the end of the bar was tuned to a Japanese station showing some kind of fight to the death no holds barred ultimate fighting match. Makes professional wrestling look like hop-scotch. Between the rounds they switched to what looked like a match between two gamers playing Mortal Combat. The guy at the end of the bar playing some kind of a quick reflex video game of his own, and who ended up behind the bar, gave us the low-down on the screen action. It turns out this was some kind of a championship match and they were down to the final eight or something. The skinny guy who ended up winning went in as a heavy underdog and his entire training regime concentrated on throwing a two-inch punch, something that he seemed to do with devastating effect.

Anyway, there was a karaoke bar downstairs and periodically, like ants, a bunch of people would emerge, order drinks, and then head back down. I didn’t even want to pop my head in for a look. When I was a child I once saw a bunch of ants drag a caterpillar down into and ant hole and I had the horrifying image that this too could be my fate.

Well, as followers of this blog well know, I have a certain, shall we say, taste for sake so that is what I had. Not a shot, well, yes, a shot, but that was just on the side, you understand, but a glass. It seems like the crew I was with, Mike, Gary, Jose, and Sean, had a tradition of calling in a shot to a pal in San Diego (yes, they are chargers fans and I will probably run into them at the game tomorrow). So there is where the shot came in.

Bar Man And The Crew

Anyway, all I can tell you is that the bar had a white top and the place was, basically, orange. If you like sake, or even if you don’t, and you find yourself on the Bowery looking for something a bit different, do drop in.

Sake, sake, and more sake.

922) Great Jones Café

Well, the name is appropriate, it is on Great Jones Street, a short street that spans the distance between Bowery and Lafayette. It is a Cajun place, just a hole in the wall really, but has great food and dynamite Cajun martinis made with vodka they steep in their own peppers. Can’t really tell you much about this place because I was buzzed when I went in and more buzzed when I left. There are 45’s on the wall and, well, and…damned if I can remember. Suffice it to say that I had a few of the martinis and washed away the heat with a beer. The picture pretty much sums up how I was viewing things at the time.

To my credit I did walk with my new buddies to Nevada Smith’s where the were going to watch some kind of a sporting event and then I managed to weave my way to Cappucine’s where I met friends and they ever patient and oh so understanding Mysterious Chinese Woman (do you forgive me now) for dinner. Tomorrow is an all day tailgate party and Jets game. Woot, I can hardly wait. Can't count it as a bar but if I get pictures I will post them anyway.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Hell's Kitchen And Chelsea

I visited the dentist early this morning and his office is up on 40th near Grand Central. It was an early morning appointment (my teeth and gums are in excellent shape) and nothing in the neighborhood was open so I decided to go for a walk. It was a beautiful morning, crisp and sunny. Well, walk I did, all the way over to 10th Avenue and down towards Chelsea.

918) O’Farrell’s Pub

This is a good morning Irish Bar (well, it was open) on the corner of 33rd and 10th Avenue. The standard wooden bar with a black wood foot rest and light wood bar chairs with dark green plastic seats. Two round brass beer stations sit on the bar, each with five spigots. An old wood bar back with little cupboards that have stained glass windows and three glass mirrors with etchings of a seaside village and the bar’s name. The mirrors are largely covered with pictures, shiny black plastic squares upon which the bar specials are listed in fluorescent colors, a couple of football boards, and a drumhead with a Gallic design and O’Farrell’s Pub on it. Someone must be into origami though because there is a bunch of little paper birds and insects hanging on the center mirror. A clutter of liquor bottles sit on the tiered shelves in front of the mirrors and there are gray metal coolers with glasses sitting on top of them down below. Lightw with stained glass shades hang from the ceiling just behind the bar.

Opposite the bar is wood paneling with a ledge for drinks at the top and bar stools in front. Above the ledge are opaque glass panels. With various designs; a running horse, a harp and shamrocks, an eagle, and some kind of a crest with two flags. There is a narrow strip of dark patterned tin on the ceiling surrounded by wide, and thick, wood paneling. There is a dining area in the rear.

It is getting close to noon and the regulars are drifting in for lunch. Everyone seems to know everyone else in here. Some local lad is fighting somewhere tonight and it seems like most of the bar is planning on being there. I am guessing the fighter is John Duddy because I know he is fighting at the Hammerstein Ballroom here tonight and he is a big favorite of the Irish. He is also 12 and 0 with 11 knockouts under his belt. Sounds like it should be a fun night.

I had a Dewar’s and soda for an eye-opener, and quite an eye-opener it was. They pour with the proverbial heavy hand here. My kind of place.

919) Bottino

Heading down 10th Avenue I stopped into this place between 25th and 24th. It is a newer place that is following the art galleries that are moving into Chelsea. I guess they were just opening for the day because although there were a lot of people scurrying around there wasn’t anyone behind the bar and, it seemed, nobody seemed interested in going back there. People were drifting in for lunch and the hostess would seat them but didn’t seem able to find a bartender despite my asking here twice. After about ten minutes I finally managed to attract the attention of a waitress who took my order for a glass of Sangiovese di Romagna Poderi dal Nespoli 2003. Now, when you order a $9 glass of wine you should be shown the bottle, given a taste, and then, if it is acceptable, have a glass poured for you. Not here. About two minutes later the waitress appeared with a glass of wine that was already poured. I can only assume that it was what I ordered but have no way of knowing. And it wasn’t all that good either. Probably left over from the night before. I will not be coming back here because for a place trying to appear classy it doesn’t appear to have much class. If this place stays in business I will not only be surprised, I will be appalled.

There is a narrow wooden bar with a foot rail that is flat silver metal. The silver barstools have narrow metal legs and small round seats. The bar back has a plain mirror with a tiered shelf for liquor sitting atop a black cooler with a white top. There is also a set of dark wood shelves with wine bottles, glasses, a bit more liquor, and three shelves of cans of soda and a few bottles of tonic and soda.

The wall opposite the bar is lined with padded dark salmon sofa like seating with round tables and chairs in front. Above that the whole wall is lined with shelves of wine bottles. There is a dining area in the back, but believe me, I will never see it as a customer.

I had my glass of red wine and headed out, never to return.

920) Tia Pol

Down 10th Avenue a bit at 205 between 22nd and 23rd is this real hole in the wall. It is maybe 15 feet wide and has no sign out front, but it is a real tapas bar. The place was really crowded and I broke down and ordered the deviled eggs. They were delicious, and Bar Man knows his deviled eggs. The small bar has a white marble top and a distressed metal front with a black metal strip for a foot rest. The bar stools are metal with square brown seats that spin. Whee!! The only problem the place was too small to do it. Three hooked metal silver metal beer spigots sit on top of the bar and there is a round frosted glass vase holding sprigs of branches with rose colored leaves and berries. The bar back is kind of a plain bookcase looking thing with bottles of wine and glasses instead of books. The top two shelves have narrow compartments for wine. A blackboard in the center section lists their daily specials Plain, unadorned lightbulbs hang above the bar from the deep salmon painted ceiling.

The wall opposite the bar is brick and has a couple of beat-up silver painted metal doors on it. One is like a fire door and it is slid open to reveal a narrow nook with a table. There is one other table in the back that seats six. Other than those two tables the only seating, other than at the bar, is a narrow ledge against the wall with stools in front. The doors in front were open to the street and it was really nice on this pleasant day. Very reminiscent of Spain.

Now here, when I ordered a glass of wine that Meryl, the bartender, recommended she showed me the bottle, let me taste it, and only after I said I liked it did she pour me a glass.

Meryl, A Bartender Who Knows How It Is Done

This is the way it should be done. If you are in the neighborhood do yourself a favor and stop in here. There was a reason that this place was packed and it wasn’t just because it was small.

I had a glass of the aforementioned wine and headed on home.

Another three bars today bringing the total for the year to 920 and leaving just 80 to go. Someone who reads my blog is coming into New York tomorrow and I am meeting him and some of his friends for a drink. I will be meeting him at Swift's at 3:00 P.M. I have already had a drink there so I won't be able to count it, but I am sure we will find someplace close that I haven't been to before.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Dark, Guinness Dark, Day

I took the subway to Grand Central again today but decided to walk over to 2nd Avenue to see what I could see.

915) Manchester Pub

A bit of a hole-in-the-wall Irish pub at 920 2nd Avenue (between 48th and 49th Streets) that is a pleasant enough place to drop into for a pint. There is a decent sized wooden bar with a shiny varnished surface and metal beer signs mounted on the front. A silver foot rail and plain wooden chairs. There is a raised arm rest on the front ledge of the bar (where else would it be) that makes it necessary to use little wooden platforms to set your plates on if you are eating at the bar. A large inverted U shaped silver beer station on the bar has about a dozen spigots.

The bar back is pretty much all mirrors with glass shelves in front of them holding the liquor. A wood shelf underneath holds the glasses and there are metal coolers underneath that. A cricket bat with Double Diamond (a beer) printed on it hangs in front of the mirrors. Bare orange bulbs hang over the bar but they are directed more towards the bar back.

There are four televisions in here including a good-sized flat screen one mounted behind the bar by the windows up front. The ceiling looks like inverted gray egg cartons for very small eggs under dark wooden slats. There are three octagonal tables with chairs opposite the bar. There are also narrow bench-like tables up a step and against the far brick wall. Nothing too fancy in here, just a good functional place to have a drink.

I had a pint of Guinness.

916) Smorgas Chef

A Swedish restaurant with a Polish bartender just across 49th from Manchester Pub. They didn’t have lefse or lutefisk on the menu, but they did have Swedish meatballs with lingonberries though. It has a nice little bar with a shiny wooden top, and a brown cement foot rest. Just room enough for half a dozen dark, well worn wood bar chairs. A bar back that featured an espresso machine, a breakfront with a mirror and a shelf for bottles near the top and a tiered shelf below. The beer station, a gunmetal gray tubular device, has only one spigot for Carlsburg. The beer glasses surrounding it have gold rims and sport the Carlsburg name. A silver metal modern art kind of a light at one end of the bar looked a bit like five metal eyeballs on a stalk. At the other end of the bar was an empty vase holding a collection of dried twigs. A tubular brass rack for glasses hangs over the bar. There is a large mirror at the left end of the bar that makes it appear so much longer (not).

The rest of the space is filled with little square tables with white and gray marble-like tops. The wall opposite the bar is brick but largely covered with a mirror. There are maroon booth-like seats against it with tables and chairs in front. The lights that hang from the ceiling are made out of small blue bottles mounted in clusters. The yellow flowers on the tables also sit in the same type of blue bottles. The restaurant is on a corner and there are tables and chairs on the sidewalk outside.

I had a glass of E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone, an excellent red wine.

917) The Press Box

A good-sized Irish bar that veers a bit towards the fancy side at 932 2nd Avenue. It has a nice polished wooden bar with a brass rail. The bar chairs are wood with kind of brocade patterned cloth seats. The bar back is a fancy wood affair with columns, glass shelves, cabinets with glass panes. It really is pretty nice. Coolers with flat-black metal doors and round silver handles are down below. Two U shaped brass beer stations on the bar have ten spigots each. Lights with flat bottomed pot shaped shades of pale tan and brown veined marble hang over the bar. There are brick walls and a wooden floor. Lots of photos of historic events and framed newspaper clippings hang on the wall (Press Box, get it), along with wood framed mirrors. There are a lot of little tables with chairs and stools and small lit candles sit on all of the tables. A large dining area is in the back and stairs in the front lead up to what I presume is another dining area.

I had a pint of Guinness and headed on home.

Another nice day with three bars hit making 917 for the year and leaving 83 to go.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Going For Class

I was feeling a bit lazy today so I just took the subway to Grand Central Station and hit a couple of bars close by on 42nd. The closest one were both classier than my usual fare so it made for a change of pace.

913) Manhattan Sky

Kind of tucked away in the center of the Manhattan Sky restaurant on the mezzanine level of the Grand Hyatt is this more secluded than usual hotel bar. It has a wavy bar with a thick greenish brown marble top and a pea-soup green front and a thick silver foot rail. The black bar chairs have pale yellow seats and basket weave backs. Two silver T shaped beer stations sit on top of the bar and they each have four spigots. Little silver lidded bowls of snacks including wasabi dried peas sit on the bar as well. Bar Man loves these dried peas.

I asked the bartender if I could take a picture of the bar and he misunderstood and insisted on taking a picture of me instead.

A shelf of marble that matches the bar sits behind it on top of coolers with metal doors. Above the shelf, in the center, is a fairly small television surrounded by an inordinately large wooden frame. Large ripple glass panels with red and yellow panels on the sides and bottom are on either side of the television. Glass shelves in front of these panels hold the liquor and glasses. Orange beehive shaped lights hang over the bar and small spotlights suspended on two wires illuminate the glass panels with the shelving.

A View From The Opposite Side Of The Rippled Glass Panels

Opposite the bar are large floor to ceiling arched windows that let you look out upon the street below. A couple of tables and chairs sit next to the windows. They are separated from the bar by a curved divider with a marble top and a wavy-topped glass panel on top of that. Somehow I thought there should be a piano on the other side. There are two large shiny round columns with white drapes on either side of the bar area and these serve to separate it from the dining areas on either side.

I had a draft Brooklyn Lager served in a tall glass.

914) The Capital Grille

Just across the street on 42nd is another very elegant place with prices to match. Well, they weren’t too high, just strange. My Maker’s Mark Manhattan was $11.28 and when you added in the 94 cent tax it came to a grand total of $12.22. I guess the concept of rounding escapes them.

The bar here is also marble topped, but this time the marble is black with silver flecks. The front is black wood paneling and there is a thick silver foot rail. The wooden bar chairs have plush dessert rose seats and backs. Table lamps with black shades and twisted gold brass bases sit on the bar along with a large glass container with neatly sliced pineapple covered with vodka and a spigot on the bottom. The lady next to me was eating a pasta dish and commented on how good it was but she couldn’t have it with shrimp. I asked her if she was allergic and she said no, she was Jewish so she couldn’t eat shellfish. She wasn’t too happy when I said they probably just removed the shrimp before serving the pasta to her but it most likely was cooked with them. Bar Man was just trying to be helpful.

The bar back is dark wood with large columns at each end and a mirror in the center. The mirror is flanked with glass metal shelves holding liquor and glasses. Down below are cupboards, coolers, and drawers; all dark wood. Above them is a marble top that matches the bar and is covered with more bottles.

For some reason there are several deer heads mounted on the wall and a lot of old portraits. I didn’t recognize too many of them; Eleanor Roosevelt and, I think, Fiorella LaGuardia were a couple I did know. The overhead lights are orangey tan inverted pyramid stained glass ranging in size from very large to just simply large. A dark wood partition with a wavy glass panel on top separates the bar from the seating for dining. There is a large cabinet of wine with wire mesh doors sits against the wall next to the door and opposite the bar. There is a row of clocks showing the times in major cities around the world sits above an archway in front of the open kitchen. There are a couple of televisions viewable from the bar and a news ticker that you have to crane your neck to view.

A lot of people from NBC must eat here, and several of them talk loud enough to make sure you know. They included the woman sitting next to me who made sure everyone knew she was the first female Executive Vice President in whatever division she worked in but had to threaten to resign to get the position, that she came from Michigan, and oh, so much more.

I had a Maker’s Mark Manhattan and did my best to avoid eye contact with anyone but the bartender.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Up Above Times Square

I took the subway to Times Square and worked my way through the crowd for several blocks up to 54th and 7th Avenue where I had a place in mind.

910) The Irish Pub

A classic old Irish pub, did the name give it away? An old faded wood bar with a metal ridged black tile foot rest. The bar chairs are old dark wood with black cushions. The walls are all paneled in wood that matches the bar. The bar back, also matching wood, has large mirrors separated by square columns. The mirrors are etched in gold with the names of beers; Guinness and Bass. Tiered shelves of liquor bottles sit in front of the mirrors. Cupboards and coolers with wood doors sit down below. Above the mirrors is a very faded mural of an English fox hunting scene.

There is a narrow ledge on the wall opposite the bar but no place to stand and put you drink because small round tables and chairs are pushed up against it. Just kind of generic sports pictures on the wall, one of Cassius Clay glowering over a fallen Sonny Liston, one of Chris Everet, you have seen them all before, and the obligatory map of Ireland. Overhead fans with tan lights hang from the white tiled ceiling. The floor is nicely patterned dark tan tiles.

A pretty generic place that serves up a great pint of Guinness. I got to sit and watch the World Series of Poker that was on two of the three televisions. Soccer was on the other one and I gather that this is a serious soccer bar.

I had a pint of Guinness.

911) Oldcastle

Right around the corner is this larger and better lit Irish pub with more of a crowd. A newer looking wooden bar with a brass rail. A good sized inverted elongated U shaped beer station with a dozen spigots serve up a decent selection of beers. The wooden bar chairs have plush peach colored seats. A similar looking bar back to the last place but with only two sections with mirrors. The sections on each end have good-sized televisions. There are tiered shelves in front of the mirrors and a glass shelf above them holding their top-shelf stuff. Narrow sections at each end have a shelf for a few bottles and wooden wine racks above. There are shelves for glasses down below and metal ice chests keeping the bottled beers cold. Inverted helmet shaped stained glass sights above the bar have pink and green rose and rose bud patterns.

There is a fairly long entryway and to the side of that are booths in a narrow area. Opposite the bar are elevated wood booths with peach cushions that match the bar chairs. The backs to the booths are gray fabric. Highly polished wood tables sit in front of the booths and “bar chairs” sit in front of the tables. There is a good-sized back room with booths on each side. The walls are deep rose with framed paintings of various landscapes.

I had a pint of Guinness.

912) Faces and Names

Right across the street is this bar with orange wash walls that are covered with paintings of, you guessed it, faces of famous people. Some are easy to identify, the Rolling Stones and the rat pack, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. Others are a bit harder to identify though. I did peg Christopher Walken, but misidentified Tom Waits, I guessed Shane MacGowan, formerly of the Pogues, and thought Willem Dafoe was Lou Reed. Either I am bad or the artist is.

The bar is well worn dark wood with a brass rail and is in a square with a set of shelves in the center holding the liquor. There are round brass beer stations on two opposite sides of the bar and they each have six spigots. The only problem with square bars is that you get to see the what is under them and usually hidden from view, the sink, rags, condiments, the cheap well liquor, stuff like that. There are also coolers with metal doors with a red mat on top where the glasses sit. Brass racks of glasses hang from the ceiling and small blue lights hang above the bar.

You have to walk up several steps from the sidewalk to enter, but then you can at the ledge in front of the windows and look down at the busy street below. In a back corner is a curved brown sectional with tables and chairs in front of it. There is also a back room behind a doorway black drapes but I didn’t peek in to see what was there.

I had another pint of Guinness and headed on home.

A pleasant little jaunt, once you got through the crowds. I hit three bars making 912 for the year and leaving 88 to go.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Columbia Crawl

Well, not really enough bars to call it a crawl, but I did head up to Columbia University and, after cutting through the campus I headed down Amsterdam Avenue where I found a few bars not too far away.

907) Bistro Ten 18

A neat little place on the corner of Amsterdam and Cathedral (110th). It is almost across the street from where they are building The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

I think it should be done in about another 100 years, and that is just about how long it took to build the cathedrals in Europe that this one is modeled on. Of course I think they had an easier time raising money back then, just loot some neighboring countries treasury or something. But, I digress.

The bar is a black wood L shaped one with a brass rail. Light wood high-backed bar chairs with yellow seats. The bar back is an interesting dark wood breakfront that incorporates two recessed windows that have glass shelves built in front of them. Liquor sits on the shelves as well as the window ledge. The center section is a mirror of diamond shaped panels with two glass shelves in front of it that also hold liquor bottles. There are narrow shelves on each side of the outside edge of each window. The one to the left holds champagne glasses and the one to the right holds a few bottles of rather exotic looking liquors such as Pyrat Rum. The lower section looks to be coolers with sturdy looking dark wood doors with silver handles and hinges. Good-sized inverted umbrella shaped white glass light fixtures hang from the ceiling over the bar. Little black bats have been placed inside so you can see their silhouettes. It looks kind of like they just flew in there and died. Poor bats. A bar station with three spigots sits on the shorter side of the bar.

There is a large set of wine racks along one wall and kind of wrapping around a doorway. Most of these have wire mesh doors but one refrigerated section has glass doors. There is a large panel of white translucent diamond shaped panels lit from behind by small bulbs. Two corner shelves have the same type of back-lit panels. One holds wine bottles and the other holds empty clear glass containers.

The floor is small black and white hexagon tiles. Tables and wood chairs with dark gold and bluish-gray floral patterned fabric seats fill up the room and it has a bit of a tea-shop look to it. Good-sized windows in the front and on the on the side up front next to the bar. There is a dining room in the adjacent room separated by a burgundy draped doorway. Lots of cobwebs decorating the place.

I had a draft Laqunitas Pils, a very good Czech style beer that is actually brewed in Petaluma, California.

A quick break for some fire action. Apparently there was a fire in a drier in the laundromat between Birstro Ten 18 and my next place, Sip.

908) Sip

A small, narrow and not too deep place with a narrow bright-red bar. No foot rest or rail but modernistic looking metal bar chairs with low backs. A most eclectic décor and a very friendly bartender, Matt. We chatted about the neighborhood, his bar, various wines, lot’s of interesting stuff and he gave me some recommendations of other bars in the neighborhood that I should try. It will have to be another day though, but I will be back.

Matt, The Informative And Friendly Bartender

The white painted brick wall has a kind of a lattice like set of shelves made of red painted wood that holds a lot of bottles of liquor, and various interesting stuff; Bali masks, a Mexican skeleton, gold Asian lion-like dragons, clear vases with bamboo stalks and colorful fish swimming around – the is plenty of stuff to look at. Little blue lights with small circular frosted shades hang over the bar.

Sip opens at 6:00 A.M. when it sells coffee so there are coffee dispensers, an espresso machine, a large coffee maker, and a couple of coffee grinders (always a sign of fresh coffee).

The wall opposite the bar is white painted brick with a red ledge and more of the metal chairs in front of it. Lots of pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns sit on it along with a fairly gruesome head popping out of a candy bowl.

The little kids coming in trick or treating have to overcome their fear to get their reward. Actually the bartender was handing out the candy to them so they didn’t have to confront their inner fears.

Four interesting large photos of various parts of the body hang above the shelf. Now note, these aren’t pictures of body-parts, that would be really gruesome. The small back area, up a step, has walls covered with black and red padded cushions in a checkerboard pattern. There are cobwebs and skeletons back there and an interesting painting “Le Demon” for sale for $350. I hope nobody buys it, it looks like it belongs. The bathrooms are behind a picture of a fat nude.

They are having a Halloween party tonight featuring Zombies and Chicken Blood (actually just sangria, but don’t tell anyone). This is definitely a place to pop into if you are in the neighborhood.

I had a glass of Bull’s Blood. Now this wasn’t a Halloween special, it is the name of a very good Hungarian wine.

I don't usually insert direct plugs for a bar in my blog but this was kind of a cool place and Matt was quite friendly so I said I would stick in a link to his website. And, yes, I still had to pay for my glass of wine.

  • 909) B’way Dive

    A nice enough bar despite its name between 101st and 102nd and Broadway. The pink-haired bartender wouldn’t let me take her picture though. She seemed to be suffering from a hangover, to many mojitos the night before she said. Several of the patrons were suggesting cures. She rejected my suggestion of two quick shots of Jagermeister and opted for bitters and water.

    There is a good sized wooden bar in here with a wooden foot rest and old wooden bar chairs. Three old brass beer stations on the bar and a decent selection of beers. An old wooden bar back with a couple of large mirrors and a good sized aquarium with a bunch of goldfish swimming around. Kind of strange, two bars in a row with fish. Rippled red lights wrap around wood columns at each end of both of the mirrors. Half a dozen televisions of various sizes scattered about and lots of other interesting stuff; cobwebs, a large harlequin doll, a boar’s head wearing a party hat, dangling spiders, a large wooden model airplane.

    A couple of ceiling fans, one missing the milk glass shade covering the two bulbs, hang from the black gold trimmed ceiling. There is a ledge up against the windows in front. A dartboard is in the back and the adjacent wall is covered with plaques the bar’s sponsored teams have won in various competitions. A large, heavy picnic-like table sits in front of a bench built into the wall and a few smaller tables in front of more benches stretch towards the back. There is a heavy smell of incense in here that seems a bit out of place considering the nature of the bar.

    I had a draft Harpoon I.P.A.

    Another pleasant day with three bars hit bringing my total to 909 for the year leaving 91 to go. I would have hit another but the streets were becoming a bit crowded with trick or treaters so I just headed on home.

    Sunday, October 30, 2005

    A Sunny Sunday Stroll

    It was a lovely Sunday, bright skies and quite warm. A fine day to visit one of my favorite neighborhoods, the East Village (AKA Alphabet City). And, as isn’t difficult to do in that neighborhood, found three bars closely clustered.

    904) Mona’s

    At the corner of Avenue B and 14th Street is this dark, narrow bar with no markings outside other than a sheet of typewriter paper taped to the door that said you have to be 21 and able to prove it in order to enter. Of course this place doesn’t really need a sign, it is a neighborhood bar that has been around since the 1970’s, long before this are was trendy and, in fact, was barely habitable. The bar is old dark wood with a crushed stone in cement foot rest. The rest of the floor is the same, but with different colored crushed stones. Two mirrors behind the bar and separated by columns with built in rippled bluish-gray lights. Below the mirrors are old wooden cabinets with tiered shelves of liquor on top. You can have your choice of sitting on metal bar stools or chairs with black seats. There are three old tubular brass beer stations, two have three spigots and one with but a single spigot pouring hard cider.

    I chatted with the bartender, Nicole, about the neighborhood, other bars, life in general…, the usual stuff that you chat about. She was most friendly and it was a fun visit.

    Nicole, The Friendly And Informative Bartender

    The walls are mostly deep rose except for a stretch of brick painted a reddish brown. Up front under the two small windows is a small dark wood bench with purple cushions. The wall opposite the bar has wood paneling going up about waist high with a ledge on top and chrome barstools with black cushions sitting in front of it. The wall above the ledge is unpainted brick.

    There is a good sized back room with a pool table. They have live Irish music on Monday’s and this seems like it would be a fun place to listen to it. By the way, Mona was a cat. Doubtful if it is still alive though.

    I had a Woodpecker Cider.

    905 B-Side

    Just down a block at 204 Avenue B between 13th and 12th Streets is this place that is configured much like Mona’s, narrow, dark, with a back room with a busy pool table. An old bar with a metal top and a wood arm rest, plus a brass rail. Te front of the bar is wood with circular decorations. The bar back is patterned tin and mirrors covered with snapshots and blackboards with drink specials written in white chalk. I wonder who actually orders a $9 Mudslide. On the other hand, Bar Man could go for the $5 beer and a shot special, a can of Rheingold and a shot of whiskey. A string of Jack-O-Lanterns hang above the bar.

    I chatted with this bartender, Tracy, about drink preferences. She likes Maker’s Mark, as do I , but seems to prefer it on the rocks or tossed down as a shot. I fancy Maker’s Mark Manhattans. We also discussed the proper way to make Margaritas and how Gimlets give you heartburn. A kindred spitit.

    Tracy, A Kindred Spirit

    The wall opposite the bar is red paneling with a narrow ledge and patterned tiles above. Pinup girls painted on pieces of what looks like a metal airplane wing. The ceiling is patterned tin with light fixtures that reminded me of water sprinklers with red bulbs at the end. Two statures of characters from Hellraiser sit on top of the television sitting to the right of the bar.

    I had a bottle of Woodpecker Cider.

    906) Luca Lounge

    On the way back to 14th to catch the subway home I passed by Luca Lounge which was just opening up when I passed by it the first time. I would have to say that if you are only going to visit one bar in this neighborhood you might want to pop into this one. On the other hand, why would you only want to visit just one bar when there are so many great ones around here.

    This place is like a cross between your grandmother’s parlor and the hotel in Psycho. It probably looks much cheerier during the day but the dim lights, candles, and Halloween cobwebs strewn about the place add to the spooky feel. The bar is old wood with a foot rail. Wooden bar chairs. A vase with a large spray of pussy willows sit on one end of the bar. There are two silver beer stations on the bar, one with four spigots and one with a single spigot poring Guinness. Old wooden cabinets and shelves behind the bar along with a couple of old mirrors hanging on the brick wall. White glass inverted mushroom shaped lights hang over the bar. Mel, the bartender, was most friendly and, again, we chatted a bit about the place and the neighborhood before she pulled me my beer.

    Mel, The Bartender Pulling My Beer

    There is a large back area filled with old over-stuffed chairs and sofas and coffee tables. There was also a foosball machine and a table-top Ms. PacMan machine. This is a most comfortable and quite large area. It looks like this was once two places that have been joined together. The back area spans the width of two places while the bar is in a more narrow section with the dining area and small kitchen in the room “next door.” In the back is a large outdoor area that has two levels to it. A balcony type seating area rings, on three sides, the lower and larger area. There are plenty of tables with red umbrellas and chairs so it would hold a lot of people. There is also a lot of foliage and I have to say it is one of the nicest outdoor areas that I have seen. It was cheerfully lit with candles and given how warm it was I could see where it would do a nice business. It is too bad this place doesn’t open until 5:00 P.M. because it would be a great place to hang out on a warm sunny afternoon.

    After I finished my beer at the bar the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I went to the next door room for a pizza. This area has wooden tables with chairs and a bench along a brick wall. The opposite wall is white tile like you might see in a subway station going up about half way and beige paint above that. Paintings with a wide variety of subject matter, some of it a bit bizarre, hang on the walls. You can look into the open kitchen at one end with a pizza oven occupying the place of honor. The pizza was very good too, especially if you like the crisp thin crusted kind.

    I had a draft Pilsner Urquell before toddling off home.

    A nice three bars making 906 for the year and leaving 94 to go. It still feels a bit strange typing in only two digits for the number of bars to go. Oh Mama, I am heading home.