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. Follow him on Twitter.[Bess Adler]
"Don't be too successful," said the sage with the load on at the end of the bar. "It's not the Irish way. It's egotistical." The Colleen next to him gave him the same Am-I-Really-Sitting-Here-Listening-to-You stare she'd given him all night. It was the look of an opinionated woman who's only tolerating your bullshit because you happen to be the pal of her boyfriend. The boyfriend was smartly not mixing in. He just looked on with a big open grin, thoroughly enjoying himself.
The McLoughlin family have not taken the sage's advice. They've made a nice go of their small Astoria pub for 46 years. Their generosity might have a lot to do with that long run. Since 1965, they've laid out a Thanksgiving buffet on the night before Turkey Day. It's open to all, free of cost. A free dinner is also offered on one other calendar date. As to that day, I'm only going to say: this is an Irish pub. You figure it out.
The pre-holiday showdown doesn't mean McLoughlin is shut down on Thanksgiving. They'll be open. (They're open 365 days a year.) If you've got nowhere else to go, and are in the mood for a bucket of Little Kings for $10, come on in. You'll be served by a kind-faced bartender with the gentlest Irish brogue and the cleanest white shirt I've ever seen. Even the sage is welcome. "You should read Francis," he said. "Francis Bacon?" asked the Colleen. "No. St. Francis of Assisi." The Colleen said she wasn't the religious sort, and didn't put a lot of stock in a book written 2,000 years ago by people she know. Did he know who wrote it? "It was divinely inspired," he replied after some hesitation. "You're a smart man," she told him. "You're smart. But I don't know how much sense you got."
"We haven't had a real President in the White House since Teddy Roosevelt," said the Franciscan, launching into politics. "Teddy. Not Franklin Delano. Obama is an idiot. He was once asked what his favorite baseball team was. He said, since he grew up in Hawaii, it was the Oakland A's. So he was asked who is favorite player was. He said, uh, ah, um. He couldn't name one! He looked like an idiot. Now, if George W. Bush had done that, it would have been news all over. Take away his teleprompter, Obama isn't that smart. Before he was elected, he didn't work a day in his life. My father always said, don't trust a man who hasn't worked a day in his life."
"But," said the Colleen, "you're unemployed!"