Monthly Archives: October 2011

Pub crawl NYC thoughts following this weekend's suprise winter storm

The weekend’s surprise snowstorm got me thinking about winter.  Sometimes, pub crawling in the cold weather can be a great time!  In a future post, I will discuss some good winter spots for an NYC pub crawl.  Typically, one type of spot includes those cozy establishments that reside on basement level without windows and, therefore, patrons have no visual reminder of falling snow or people walking around completely bundled up in winter attire.  Establishments with fireplaces are also solid during the cold months.  What are your feelings on good spots for a winter time NYC bar crawl?  Share your thoughts here.

Reviews of three recently-opened bars in Manhattan's Financial District

The Fulton (121 Fulton Street, btw Nassau and Dutch Streets)

A new gastropub at the northern edge of the Financial District!  One of the first signs of the somewhat predictable makeover of Fulton Street, The Fulton is located in the space left behind by Blarney Stone.  Very spacious with a long bar area and two small to medium-sized seating areas on either end of the space, along with a larger dining space in a separate room, The Fulton is a new after-work hotspot in an immediate area that is lacking in such places.  For sports fans, there are numerous flat screen TVs on either side of the bar.  Eight fairly generic tap beers round out a drink menu that includes several $15 artisinal cocktails (with creative New York-centric names such as The Downtown, Bull & Bear and The Fulton Mary).  The food, which can be described as a mix of upscale bar and bistro fare, is solid.  For those who live and work nearby, this spot is a must visit.

The Irish American (17 John Street, btw Broadway and Nassau)

A block south and around the corner from The Fulton, The Irish American plays a similar role in the makeover of the western-most block of John Street.  The place formerly known as The John Street Bar & Grill had a facelift.  The sizeable front bar area is dwarfed by a very large dining area in back, which has a mix of high-top tables and booths.   A lone pool table resides at the back of the dining area.  The tap beers consist of 30 mostly quality offerings.  The Irish American is a solid addition to the Financial District Irish NYC pub crawl and the budding Financial District craft-beer focused NYC bar crawl.

The Growler (55 Stone Street, btw William Street and Coenties Slip)

As if Stone Street needed another bar!  But, as much as I like Stone Street, until Growler opened, I always felt Stone Street was missing a true craft-beer focused bar.  Ulysses’ sort of fills that void, but there are still too many easy-to-find beers at Ulysses’ for it to be considered a destination beer bar.  The Growler has 20 beers on tap and most of them are from the New York or Pennsylvania (Six Point, Lake Placid, Troegs, among others).  A limited food menu of sandwiches, sausages, cheese and chacuterie.  The space is long and narrow, with entrances on both South William and Stone Streets.  The long bar takes up almost one entire side of the space.  Along the wall opposite the bar are several high-top tables.  On the basement level, near the bathrooms, there is another smaller bar area that looks available for private parties.  In short, a great spot.  Definitely one for the Financial District’s own craft-beer focused NYC bar crawl.

Have you been to these places?  Share your thoughts here.

Brief reviews of three recently-opened spots in Williamsburg

Crown Victoria (60 South 2nd Street, between Wythe and Kent Streets)

The South Side has a new beer bar!  Past the sizeable outdoor area sporting 10 picnic tables, Crown Victoria’s welcoming vibe features a long, 15-person reverse L-shaped bar.  There are two high top tables in front and, along the wall opposite the bar, are eight four-person tables.  24 draught beers, nearly all a quality mix of regional craft and imports.  Terrific happy hour specials (I had a $2 Kelso Nut Brown during my visit).  I can’t wait to return.  This is a new stop on the craft-beer focused South Side Williamsburg NYC bar crawl.

The outdoor area in front


The 24 tap beers. A beautiful thing.

Midway Bar (272 Grand Street, between Roebling and Havermeyer Streets)

A small bar area near the entrance greets patrons.  Opposite the bar are five video games.  A lounge-y area up a few steps behind the bar area takes up 2/3 of the entire space and includes one pool table and a Cruisin’ USA console.  $3 happy hour specials available on most of the quality eight tap beers.  Midway has that Williamsburg hipster feel to it.  Definitely one for the Williamsburg Grand Street NYC pub crawl.

The bar area by the entrance.
A view of the back lounge area

High Horse Saloon (103 Havermeyer Street, between Hope and Grand Streets)

Located on a quiet block on Havermeyer, High Horse Saloon (next to the High Horse Salon, same owners) is fairly small and intimate.  Two small seating areas reside in front, while most of the space is taken up by the bar area.  There is also a small, semi-private area in beyond the bathroom entrance.  Six solid draught beers available.

The small, semi-private area in back

What are your thoughts on these establishments?  Please share your views here.

Some pictures from Oktoberfest at Bohemian Hall in Astoria

A visit to Bohemian Hall in Astoria is always a good time.  Here are several pictures from a recent Saturday afternoon visit.

The crowd enjoying the gorgeous weather and tasty beer
The Polka Brothers band entertained for a few hours
Another shot of the crowd.
Burcak (prounounced 'boorchaak') was available for sale. Burcak is wine in its first stage of fermentation.
A Sam Adams sign remaining from the previous night's events

Brief reviews of Terroir Murray Hill and Winston's Champagne Bar

Terroir Murray Hill (439 Third Ave, between 30th and 31st Sts)

This is the third location of the Terroir empire (the others are in the East Village and Tribeca).  A reverse-L shaped, 15 seat bar resides on the left side of the establishment, while eight six-person high top tables fill the right side of the space.  Dozens of wines available by the glass and bottle and there are six quality craft beers on tap.  The food is a mix of small plates, charcuterie and other types of wine-bar food.  There are not many wine bars in Murray Hill, so if you are in that nabe and are looking for a different scene from the typical Murray Hill night out of sports bars and Irish pubs, this is the place for you.  If a few more such spots open up, then we will have the makings for a Murray Hill wine-focused NYC bar crawl.


Winston’s Champagne Bar (Gansevoort Park Hotel, 420 Park Avenue South, entrance on 29th Street)

Located as part of the Gansevoort hotel, this just might be the most expensive, non-nightclub establishment in Manhattan.  Much has been made of the of the $18 artisanal cocktail bars that have sprouted around Manhattan recently.  Well, if Winston’s had an $18 drink on their menu, it would have been the least expensive one!  The focus, as the name suggests, is on champagne, available by the glass or bottle.  There is also red and white wine on the menu.  The least expensive offering was a glass of red wine for $20.  The bottles of champagne started just below $200 and went all the way up to $28,000 (no, that is not a typo).  The space is bi-level and has seating in front and a small bar area toward the back.  Up a spiral staircase (that is next to a yellow grand piano), there is some more seating on the second level.  Not my first choice to for a night out, but if you like champagne and wine and you’d like to spend some money, Winston’s is worth a visit.

Have you been to Terroir Murray Hill or Winston’s?  If so, I’d like to hear from you!  Please share your thoughts here.

Thoughts on Manhattan Dive Bars

Reading this article on dive bars got me thinking that Manhattan has very few old-school dive bars remaining.  When I say dive bars, I’m not referring to college or post-college dive bars or trendy dive bars.  I’m talking about borderline scary dive bars.  Ones that you don’t feel very comfortable entering.

One day, I will do the NYC Dive bar crawl and it will include the following:  Subway Inn, Blarney Cove, Blarney Stone (on 9th Avenue), Billymark’s West, Holland Bar and Rudy’s.  It’s interesting to note that four of those six are located on Manhattan’s west side along 9th Avenue (Chelsea or Hell’s Kitchen).  Some of them may have some timesharing aspects to them now, but I think those are the last of the remaining borderline scary dive bars in Manhattan.

Pictures from Stone Street Oktoberfest

Entering Stone Street from the east.
A view looking west from in front of Ulysses.
A view of Mill Lane, which, by the way, is the shortest street in Manhattan!
A view down Stone Street from the west
I'm no Franziskaner fan, but this Ad is priceless!
A new bar on Stone Street called The Growler! Detailed review upcoming in a future post!

Great time today on Stone Street!  Several different tasty Octoberfest-style beers.  In addition, I was so happy to learn of The Growler, which has all the looks of a craft beer-focused bar.  I think we’ll now have enough such bars in the nabe to create a Financial District craft-beer NYC bar crawl.

A visit to Astoria's Bohemian Hall

Toward the end of an afternoon showing some out of town guests around Astoria, I (along with the guests) had the distinct pleasure of being the first patrons of the day at the century old Bohemian Hall.  I’ve been there numerous times, but never at the 3pm Friday opening.  It was quite a thrill to walk into the beergarden and be the only ones there (some pictures of the moment below)!

The Hall will be celebrating Octoberfest starting 10/1, running through 10/9.  Each day will mark beer tastings from American and Central European brewers.  More details here.

Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of beergardens across the five boroughs.  Most of these new spots are just a pale version of the real thing — Bohemian Hall — the last of the original beergardens in New York City.

Bohemian Hall celebrated its centennial in 2010
The outdoor stage; below the American flag to the left is the Czech flag and to the right is the Slovak flag