Some of you may have seen from my incessant and irritating Instagram pictures that I was in New York in December. I spent a few days eating my way around the city, before a little pilgrimage to Asbury Park for religious purposes (more on that soon).
Beers and cocktails featured heavily in the trip, so I thought I’ve share a few of my favourites. Places with great tunes, stories, and music (not just Bruce Springsteen, but yeah, there is a bit of him too).
Yes that’s two words merged together to form one new word. Now normally I’m not a fan of this type of behaviour, but when it produces results like this? Well, they are forgiven. It may be located in Hipsterville (Willamsburg), but this bar/arcade has great tunes, a hefty and impressive beer selection, and some top arcade games (Double Dragon, MBA Jam, and the more usual Tetris etc).
They swap the beers on tap every few weeks, and during our visit I tried the 21% (yeah, 21!) Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (*acting like I know what that means*).
|Doink! 21 %|
Who is this hunk of a man standing in candlelight with a shrine to Bruce Springsteen? He’s not as weird as he looks. In fact, he’s great, and new friend in the Bruce Springsteen community (not all Springsteen fans are old, balding men FYI). Steve works at a chilled neighbourhood bar called the Achilles Heel in Green Point (near Williamsburg). A local kind of place, with Springsteen regularly played, especially on Sundays. If you go – and I really think you should – say hello to him. Also, go to Paulie Gee’s for pizzas before, because it’s nearby, and it’s some of the best I’ve had (and toppings include spicy honey).
Apparently in the US people visit bars based mainly on the bartender’s good chat (I worked behind a bar once and the customers hated me because all I played was Bruce, and they said there was ‘too saxophone’ – turds). Anyway, during our visit we met loads of great people working the bars, including Steve (at the Achille’s Heel above) and Jen, who works at The Shanty. The Shanty is a little bar linked to the New York Distilling Company (they offer great tours if you like that kind of stuff). The cocktail menu is extensive, and lets be honest, way beyond my knowledge – the kind where you read the ingredients and the only thing you recognise is the word “butter” – yeah there was butter in my cocktail. I tried it, because I love butter. It was very nice.
The tunes are excellent, including Nick Cave, Bruce, Leonard Cohen and Iggy Pop, but on Saturdays and Sundays they get bands in for some live music. They say these are the nights to visit, but the night I went – a Tuesday – was also great, if a little more chilled. The peppers stuffed with prosciutto and provolone are bought in from a local Italian deli, and they are niiiice.
DA BRONX! That’s how you have to say it according to people there. It’s a bit of a schlep to get over to da Bronx where the the Bronx Beer Hall is, but if you like craft beer, a bit of local, history, and great food, then you must go. The Bronx Beer Hall is set in the middle of Arthur Avenue market, a historical market (it’s been there since 1940) full of local vendors selling anything from fit Italian food to cigars. There are around 15 beers on tap at all times, and the blood orange pale ale I tried was a zesty little thing. You can get food from the surrounding stalls (meaning anything from pizza, to antipasti to Italian style burgers), and when it gets late (and you’ve had more to drink) they’ll call in food for you. Takeaway food delivered to your table as you drink beer. Does it get better than that? Nope.
Ooh a dive bar! It’s in Williamsburg, and the walls are decorated with vinyl covers (including The River and Born to Run). It’s retro, a bit grimy, and the drinks are served in schooners (that means they are large).
It may seem like a cop out to order a margarita in a city of crazy cocktail creations, but tequila is my tipple. This shiny retro style diner is a good place to go, and if you’re adventurous, the darling of a bartender can put his own little spin on your marg. There’s good Mexican food and a jukebox in the corner.
That’s it, for now.