Man, I miss bars.
Had a bit of a back and forth with Will Gordon on Twitter about bars, particularly about random super sketchy type bars, like ones in grocery stores or here in NJ where there are some extremely suspect liquor stores that seem mostly empty and also have a bar that only seems to have one dusty tap and also seems to come pre-equipped with it’s own regular drinker. This is probably a weird artifact of New Jersey liquor license rules, which are real confusing and bad.
At this point, I’d be happy with just about any bar, and really in any format. Any port in the storm.
For me the most recent incarnations of this have been brewery tap rooms, but the standard bar works too. I’ve worked in New York City on and off over the years, and have probably interviewed for dozens of jobs during that time. Living in the suburbs and traveling to the city always is a process, you almost always have some time to spare before or after depending on the trains, and hell, you’re in NYC, might as well take advantage and see what you can see. For me I’d often find a good bar, one serving food, and try to arrange it so I’d have time to chill and have a beer or two in a new place. One thing to do, and a lot of time to kill around it.
There’s something pretty zen about just chilling out in a new place. These days it’s hard not to whittle away the time also on your phone, zoning out your surroundings, but it’s good to put the phone down and just absorb the atmosphere. Before smartphones, I remember a nice afternoon at McSorley’s with sawdust on the floor and only two types of beer. I ordered a burger, brought a book, and just read on and off in the dim light of the bar for hours.
Another vivid memory was a lunch I had at Reichenbach Hall in midtown. A German beer hall serving lots of standard German beer and food, just half a block from Penn Station, so it was a great location to kill some time if you got in early, or had a while until your train out. I recall one particular time just chilling at the bar post-lunch when a young man in a suit came in, to this German beer hall, and had three shots of Vodka in pretty quick succession and then left within 15 minutes. It just felt so at odds with the place that it stuck. Was he building up courage for an interview? For a date? For something else? Why this beer hall of all the places on the block?
A third story to leave you with today, this one featuring another person! Strange right? I’m no stranger to the solo bar act, but given quarantine the idea of going to a bar WITH someone, has a certain allure. I harken back to early 2000s, still living at my parents post-college, where my future wife had a job but I didn’t. She’d turned in, but I ended up at a standard irish dive bar with a friend. I don’t know if the craft beer movement has totally killed the “Irish bar” as some sort of default dive, or if I simply don’t notice them anymore, but this one, called the Dubliner, was typical. We’d been semi-regular there for a few months, so it was an easy “Let’s just go there and get a beer or two.”. They did bad pours of Guinness, crappy Half and Halfs, and had some weird bottled mead that wasn’t particularly good either. We had a few beers, chatted for a while, and went home.
Nothing particularly amazing or special about any of these stories, and yet, I’d love to repeat any of them soon. Let’s get on that.