There are more than 6,000 bars in New York City. About 200 of them get regular press. This column is about the other ones. Robert Simonson, a journalist and blogger of the drinking life, and the originator of the "A Beer At..." column, takes a peek inside Gotham’s more anonymous watering holes, one by one.[Jenny Adams]
The Latina woman, who was 24 and insulted by the suggestion that she was 27 (old!), came to the corner of the bar and ordered "four Bud Lights and four tequila shots." She did not specify which tequila, so she got Jose Cuervo Gold. Her order interrupted the conversation an owlish man with grey hair and round glasses was having with his younger, floppy-haired actor friend about Noam Chomsky. But she was pretty, so they were happy to be interrupted. They inquired what occasion had inspired such unbridled imbibing; her party of four, all young, all loud, all pretty free with language as crude as their clothes were slick, had already had a few rounds.
"It's hump day," she says. Duh. The owlish man raised a rakish eyebrow, pretending hump day might mean something other than Wednesday. "On hump day you're supposed to drink until you puke." You are? "Yes," she said. "That's the rule. Someone once told me, when I was seven, that that's what you do on hump day. And I've followed that rule for 17 years." "You've been drinking until you puke every hump day since you were seven?," asked the owlish man, with a smile and an eye twinkle. "Yes," said the woman. She was joking, of course, but didn't say it like a joke. Every thing she said was in the same sassy, straightforward tone. Irony was not in her repertoire. I was left to wonder what the hell kind of person gives advice like that to a seven-year-old.
The two men ordered another Stella and vodka tonic, which came in a stemmed water glass. Down the bar, a man ordered a Cognac. It also came in a stemmed water glass. The only things that don't are the beers.
The 31-year-old Molly Wee Pub is an Irish joint that occupies a corner space of an old, three-story building on 30th and Eighth Avenue. It is within spitting distance of Penn Station and Madison Square Garden on a well-lubricated block; there's a Blarney Stone a couple doors down and two more pubs across the street. And so it gets a lot of commuters, folks getting off work and people coming and going from games.
Particularly Rangers fans. The biggest television in the place is devoted to the hockey team whenever they're playing, and the front wall is filled with Rangers memorabilia. The interior is spacious, with high ceilings. There's a fake fireplace and mantle, and fake tchotchkes in glass cabinets, all adding up to a genuine homey feel. It's obvious a grittier bar was scrubbed away some years back, but something of that rougher spirit still comes out through all the bourgeois polish and wallpaper. And how many bars do you know that have a working dumbwaiter? (The kitchen's in the basement.)
The Irishness of the bar is provided mainly by the selection of brews, the typical menu of pub grub, and the thick Irish accents sported by every bartender and waitress. The waitresses are on the curt side, but the barkeeps are friendly. The one who served me was getting married in a week, and everyone was razzing him about the big mistake he was making, because nobody in a bar ever has anything good to say about marriage. He took it in good humor, while keeping an eye on a football match he had money on. Were there any more plans to make? "Nah," he said. "I just show up on the day. Planning weddings, that's a woman's thing."