< topography - Alphabet City

  

Barmacy
14, W of B
Alphabet City
Manhattan
Shrug? The thematic quality of the interior is interesting and has provided the owners with a surplus of witty advertising material. Barmacy, in truth, has everything one could want from a hip bar, and I find myself wondering why it just blows through me without a hitch—the perfection of form leaves that form imperceptible? [Oh, perhaps I'm being too harsh, kittlings; you can have a hell of a lot of fun here.] [Good Authority has it that Sunday nights are still go go; boys pay 5, girls 0, to see the Brooklyn Bettys—how is that spelled?—dancing around in this strange, stage area near the rear of the establishment.] { PK1 11/16/99: The go-go party has been moved to tue. nights...} { PK1 11/19/99: There is a community [ff!] at Barmacy (which commingles tangentially with that of the sister: Beauty Bar) of tattoos, or leather, or motorcycles, or boots, or dancin' girls, and some "refuse to be seen dancin'" tough guys. It is also a community of artists, photographers, performers, builders, and rock musicians. It is also a community that contains multitudes that make the trip across that river to the east. And it is a community that is unusually welcoming to those who don't have tattoos, leather, motorcycles, or boots. And as with every community having become habituated to their, in this case, "work-a-play" schedule, they are a community that is bored (though they themselves are not, for the most part, boring). They come up with all kinds of ingenious antics to release themselves from this boredom within the absurd regularity of their night-lives. And when you are there experiencing their success, there can be no more fun in the world, while the other extreme, the uneventful evening, the failure: a horrible and depressing because typical experience. Too harsh? It  is a nice place to get a drink or four, without all this analysis that may, in the end, be more intriguing than the reality it attempts to disclose. Go on, get a shot, check it out—especially the "à go-go" party [on Tuesday nights].}

Mona's
B @ 14
Alphabet City
Manhattan
It is true that the era of The Red Door Bar is over, an era when no matter how few days you had been in The City, you had heard of The Red Door Bar, that until recently featured, indeed, a red door. For all intents and purposes, Mona's has the feel of the old Reed College pool room, which goes a long way to explaining why it has been and continues to be an unofficial Reed alum gathering spot. All the same, the drinks are incredibly inexpensive, in particular pints of McSorley's, and the box features some superb selections. { PK1 12/7/99: The Lisa of bars. It paints in one's mind the perspective of symmetry that exists bi-coastally with PDX.} [Mona's perdures perfectly as the queen of B despite low cost nostalgia. Plus! passably tuned Monster Bash PB where that driving game used to be...] { gray-Neo and e-Lux 5/27/00: Theo's getting to know good ol'Mona's again reminded us also that hey, a lot of our best afternoons have been here shooting pool and drinking cheap pints of McSorley's in this very kick-ass bar, so we went in last night and got fully loaded for only 20 bucks each! (totally helped that we didn't eat any dinner) The crowd wasn't bad at all and it was a Friday! Go figure.} [Mondays are apparently set aside for free, live Irish music.] [!] [If you're "going out" (and think of all that that entails), whatever... For the  drinker, Mona's frequently reaches a kind of perfection, if we can speak of perfection at all in this context.] { Cassandra 1/21/01: I hadn't been to this jewel in the crown of the east village since 1994, since I lived in the area. It's amazing what time can do to your memory. The place seemed much bigger. I was there with PK1 and we were able to order drinks and lapse into a long three hour conversation without any interruptions or distractions from the other patrons. The bartender seemed to read my mind, replacing my beer the minute I looked up. It was the quintessential bar for cash poor, over-educated underachievers and I must add that this includes Vassar alums, as well as Reedies. Maybe it has something to do with the overweight butt crack guys that can always be found there—our next incarnation?} [!] { Cassandra 2/2/01: I think this place is now my favorite bar. I was already three sheets when I got there, and the naughty Cassandra was out to play. I have been wanting to urinate on someone's leg for some time now and have always had to wait due to circumstances. "I really want to piss on your leg," I whispered in PK1's ear, as I sat on his lap. "I would love it if you would," he replied. So I did. The minute the warm stream penetrated both our pants to his leg, in a fit of adrenaline, he grabbed me around the waist and ran across the pool room, holding me out in front of him, screaming surprise. Mona's, you make all my dreams come true!} [!]

Musical Box
B, across from Mona's
Alphabet City
Manhattan
[Though not nearly as oooh-chichi as Luca Lounge, which is across the way, Musical Box should nonetheless be included among new lounges of that nature (sans food though)...the Alphabet City explosion! It's quite lovely, in fact: A deep, narrow bar, with enough supercozy little couches and chairs (forget the bar proper, which has a ridiculous bar-to-stool ratio) and a pool table, MB is apparently overrun on Those Nights; however, on a Wednesday, say, it makes for a pleasant destination—with its inconspicuous, unmarked door, a conspiratorial destination.] [Conspiratorial [whatever that means, Theo -SYborg] indeed! but even MB's quote-unquote insiders seem in the dark about this 'conspiratorial'-ness. Caries and cabals! So predictable! that only in entering from an outside do you entertain [sic] the thought of being in an inside [this strikes "me" as a gross redundancy -SYborg]. You must cross—something!—and be cut, by the question itself [better! if only because, let's face it (and this will be what is driving the so-called postmodern artist to drink), in the absence of an edge or boundary, there is no 'envelope to push' -SYborg]? If I'm not mistaken (which is simply one way of saying that I'm probably wrong), Musical Box is, pardon the locution, prime real estate. I can't vouch, for the weekends, but my few experiences in this bar have been, ultimately [ah, finally, after much f****** around, Theo falls back into le pli, the syntax of our inaugural "reviews" -SYborg], of a good-strange-strange-OK nature, and all on Wednesdays (why Wednesdays?).  That Trouble-Gnome may be living in the brick-work of this swell spot, but all involved seem friendly and predisposed to granting a fair pour, for better or worse.]

Luca Lounge
B, S of 14
Alphabet City
Manhattan
I've been but once—disaster ensued, though it could hardly be said to have originated in Luca per se (closer, in the end, to a certain suggest-ability that overtakes one in such surroundings, which is not to say that this -ability doesn't already assume the form of ubiquity). [The Word On The Street has it that Luca has developed into a fine, fine lounge.] { Cassandra 8/27/00: You know things are bad when you are on Ave B and the bar is jam packed with glam wanna be ex frat jocks. I was lucky to have a seat at the bar with my friend. My conversation with said friend was constantly being interrupted by loud men bragging about how loaded they had been the night before and how hot the chicks were. Furthermore, they kept trying to lean on the bar, which usually meant they inserted right in between us, or against us. When I went to use the bathroom, there was puke in toilet. We left when one jock guy drooled on my shoulder and then slurred a pitiful excuse, proving that I didn't imagine it. Wish I had. It might have served me right, it was a Saturday night.} { Eclipse the Gum 2/16/01: I was there on a Saturday night. I found it neither good nor bad. There were no fratties, yet there were no hot chicks (save the ones I was with). And I hate to sound chauvinistic, but...in the absence of hot chicks in the decor, there should be a hot server. There was not. I did not eat. I did not go up to the bar. I did not linger past my first drink. I would not give this place a second chance.}

"no name"
11, A/B
Alphabet City
Manhattan
That when I asked, "What is the name of this bar?" I was given a shrug that suggested, "Who cares?" seems sufficient reason to return. [Walking by, however, one summer evening, has changed my mind: the glances of the patrons were hostile.] { PK1 11/16/99: The place with the Guiness sign and nothing else. I've heard primarily writers patron this establishment made from custom woodwork and a touch of Anglo-pub style. Prices are decent in relation to the pours received, though not cheap. There is, however, something too comfortable about this place. It's the type of place i would bring my father to have a drink, but not my brother. Both of my visits included lively conversations with some of the slightly older (27-55) crowd, though i would just as soon go there to read a book over a beer.}

Boxcar Lounge
B, 10/11
Alphabet City
Manhattan
{ MisterDasein 2/9/00: A small and skinny space tucked into the still dark grime of colonized B. Layout and ceiling shape explain the name. Affable bartender, relaxed and uncrowded on weekdays. Some fun and moderately priced special cocktails, none of which I remember. Haven't been on the seekEnd [sic!], it's probably jammed.} { PK1 9/22/00: It might be unfair to include this location in the topography, for i have never stayed for a drink. This is not because i particularly dislike this place, rather it has, for over a year straight, smelled like vomit. don't they own a mop?}

Lakeside Lounge
B, N of 10
Alphabet City
Manhattan
Generally OK music, an outer room where you can drink protected from the noise of the stage, and a neighborhood feel. What worries you, of course, is that the Lakeside sometimes shows up in the two-page Camel promotions in  The Voice. Go anyway, since there's no cover; you can always leave. { PK1 12/7/99: Watch out, for there is always an element of guilt captured by the photobooth located within this otherwise easily overlooked stop along the way.} [I can't figure out how I ignored this until now: Lakeside is sort of depressing. Something in the fabric of patrons and space leaves me feeling undirectedly desperate.] { gray-Neo and e-Lux 7/16/00: Desperate ha! A lot of the time that's maybe true, you know but when the Lakeside is in the groove, kittlings, it's pretty fun listening to the band while you also get to watch (that  big window!) rat-fearing boys and girls from hipper joints cruising up and down B.} { Jakeed 10/31/00: bleh bleh bleh for the bar where a quarter is not equivalent to two dimes and a nickle}

Drinkland (647KB wav)
10, A/B
Avenue A
Manhattan
Unless it's your first stop, don't look down, for that spiral paint job seems to want something. Thanks to its "high-concept" name and electronic-lounge-ass action, Drinkland has become intolerable. My brother, when 16, fell asleep there, thus displaying a certain prudence, God bless him. { PK1 11/19/99: Drinkland...hmmm...is that what you think? Did i miss something? I don't thinkland so.} { Jakeed 10/10/00: spiral is on the ceiling doesn't make much difference whether you look up or down or left or right place basically blows with all these young happy NYU type jokers stepping on your toes smiling and drinking their Heinekens or whatever they saw on some ad on the subway} { Eclipse the Gum 1/4/01: All right, this place is crap. But, it's trés populaire with the foreign set. And, therefore, predicates you may soon be starting sentences with "my French lover," i.e., "My French lover says it's all about the sex."}

9C
C @ 9
Alphabet City
Manhattan
You would think that, when, during my first visit to 9C, several roaches endeavored to crawl from under the bar up my arms, I would have left, never to return. To the contrary! G'n'R carried the day, and the pinball was well tuned. Now, so you hear on the street, 9C hops, but don't let the crowd, one of the friendliest around, distract you from the juxtaposition of Metallica (48KB mid) and Junior Brown, the decent prices, and the wooden woman in the devil suit. "Welcome to the Jungle." [9C just gets better and better, kittlings.] { PK1 11/16/99: Their margaritas are fake but so goddamn good—not that this is what they are known for. This bar has been on a consistent slow rise along the popularity trajectory for a long time now. A definite must for far east bar crawls. Check the box, and the djs represent in the same rock/country/punk ilk.} [You need enough people, not too many! in this bar to diffuse the atmosphere of apathy and hide the dust bunnies and other high plains wildlife.]

Baraza
C, 8/9
Alphabet City
Manhattan
[Unexplained, wall-in-set fish tanks are the most thoughtful touch to this small Alphabet City joint, which enjoys the dubious honor of being listed regularly in  T.O.N.Y. This may account for its non-Alphabet City prices, as well as the relative youth of its crowd. Wednesdays are a Latin thing, I think, and there are, so They say, other nightly clubby events there.]

Zum Schneider
7 @ C
Alphabet City
Manhattan
{ Cassandra 2/16/01, 13:46: The first thing that struck me about this Bavarian Bierhaus (as is written on its card) is the vaulted white ceilings, which stand in marked contrast to the dark flat ceilings of many good dirty bars. The whole appearance of the place gives off a viking mead hall feel—the long varnished light wood tables, abundance of windows and lighting, and the three sizes of beer mugs in which you can get a variety of micro brewed German beers, for cheap. I settled for a medium beer, feeling intimidated by the largest size, which I could very nearly put my head into. When I went to get my second beer, a Scottish woman by the bar told me to ask the bartender if he could put a shot in the beer. I looked at her quizzically, but at her urging I did. The bartender then looked at me quizzically until the woman blurted out: "that means fill the bloody thing to the top!" Somewhat to my horror, the bartender did not laugh, but duly filled a new tankard for me. I slunk off in embarassment, but since I think that was his girlfriend, I may be able to show my face there again.} { PK1 2/16/01, 15:09: I had finished a rare marathon of TV. The cameraman must have really big calves from walking backwards so much through the sets of the West Wing. I would love to experience this reverse traverse to the oval office in an IMAX theatre (Forget the actors, watch the WALLS). The next thing I know I'm at Oktoberfest, but the forest here is white not black, and the steins are as big as my chest. (I even forgot to ask, "What no liquor!?!) As the READAH! informed me "you never know when you'll need to stick you head in your beer."}

7B (sous "Vazac")
7 @ B
Alphabet City
Manhattan
Not only is this the first real "boozer" that Crocodile Dundee visits, but it is also the first bar that Pleaseeasaur and I drank in during my first fall in The City, which would explain, by way of good memories, why I continue to return to this utterly lackluster establishment. Actually, I confess: there is one other reason: pinball, a pair of (usually well-maintained!) pinball machines. { PK1 11/16/99: As far as i can tell, one doesn't go to 7B, one ends up there. This is not bad, but rather a testament that for lack of anything better to do you can always count on good bar entertainment by default at 7B. Plus there's the bonus of trying to figure out one of the tender's psychic powers.} { gray-Neo and e-Lux 2/23/00: We totally agree with PK1. You  end up at 7B a lot yet don't be weirded out if you have to leave after half a pint of beer and a quick pee.} { Cassandra 9/2/00: Been there only once, on a Sunday afternoon. The interior is black and negated the concept of "outside," making it a good place for escapist midday drinking. There is an enormous TV monitor blaring movies, which sort of overpowers the place though—its tastefulness depends whether that is your kind of thing. It does keep you from looking like a total lush if you are doing midday drinking alone.} [Encore: 7B = the default bar, and for good reason...low maintenance, reasonable prices, generous staff. I have no idea what happens to you if you actually make this place a destination in advance of your booze prowlings.] [I renew my appreciation of 7B (mental map shifts, warps a bit around the corner of 7 and B...) by drinking but slightly and dropping my drawers in the automatic photobooth. I punctuate my excursions to the photobooth by dispensing individually wrapped muscat gummy candies. I eat them too.] { Cassandra 12/10/00: Whoa. Someone hosed this place down with winter boughs and frosty white paint for the holidays. The dark nasty dungeon I am used to is...merry scary. Strange, but large, drunken man wanders in. He looks like some beefy biker, yet spends the whole time trying to get a hug from the men I am with. I spend an unknown amount of money in the photo booth with others. Real nice matte black and white pix strip(s). I begin to remove articles of clothing for the shots. I am fevered, confused, flickering in and out of conversation, like in some deranged, brightly lit Christmas-gone-wrong flick.} { Eclipse the Gum 1/5/01: This place has gotten progressively worse with each visit. The strip poker machine has gone. The Theatre of Magic PB has been ousted. The juke is catering to the lowest common denominator more and more. The clientele is getting more and more white-washed—used to be I was the only guy with a collared shirt in the joint. The bartenders and photobooth persist, twin umbilical cords to a stillborn child. Sight of my canine-like, almost pick-up of standing behind some guy and flirted with his girlfriend all night, gave her a muscat gummy and then asked her friend for her number with the intention of girlfriend's fo.}

Manitoba (ex-Avenue B Social Club)
B, 5/6
Alphabet City
Manhattan
(I don't know if the Reverend still plays here on Sunday nights, but if he does, get your ass over there! The price and the pour ain't so bad, but it can get a little cramped.)
For fuck's sake, what happened? A new juke, a total, internal reorg, and a strained, casual quality? { PK1 12/7/99: The era of the Social Club has ended, and to such disgrace. I've been told that Manitoba's owner is a living east village legend, punk star, ex-pro-wrestler, and often-seen-out neighborhood hooligan. Too bad nothing within these intriguing tales seems to have spilled over into the establishment, which can only be described as thoroughly uninteresting.} { gray-Neo and e-Lux 3/25/00: Hey good news! Girls and boys and everybody! Word is the Reverend who used to play a lot at the old Ave. B is the same Reverend who plays now on Sundays at the Stinger. Word!}

Ace
5, A/B
Alphabet City
Manhattan
Tucked out of harm's way, but not too far, being a few steps from both Sophie's and Bouche, Ace distinguishes itself first by its sheer size. The vast open space of the bar does not accord with the experience of the living, but instead functions as an enormous tomb for a petrified culture, the traces of which are readily recognized in the impressive box selections, from Dead Kennedys to Iggy to Clash to Television. Fossils sometimes take on the appearance of living form and provide the archaeologist with an ironic pleasure. [Amusing that it wasn't until later that I noticed the wall display—backlit glass case—of lunch boxes from the 70s and 80s.] { PK1 11/19/99: I've never really been impressed by this bar. But then again, besides the life-sized holographic wolf-man poster, their extensive collection of lunch boxes, and the massiveness of the interior space alone, Ace bar isn't in business to impress you. It's a bar, it's on 5th St., it's got a great post-punk jukebox, it's got pool tables and pinball, it's big, and you can get drunk there. 'nuff said.}

Bouche Bar
5, A/B
Alphabet City
Manhattan
I desperately want to love, unconditionally, Bouche, except that this little joint leaves me feeling as though I've been hanging out in the living room of a CK ad. If only the pour were heavier! { PK1 11/19/99: Martha Stewart meets fun-loving mother of the The City. If the phrase holds, this place is a "drinking woman's bar." Many an acquaintance is to be made here, for this cute, well decorated, and cozy little nook provokes, if nothing else, good conversation. There is a small tight-knit following to be discovered within.}

Sophie's
5 @ A
Alphabet City
Manhattan
Sophie's is the penultimate checkpoint in the #***-E.Vill. crawl, which goes like this: Mona's, 9C, Cherry Tavern, Sophie's, Toad Hall. The slightly extended version begins farther north, at Bar 119. Now, if you can actually walk to Toad after all this, particularly if you're doing the extended version, consider yourself lucky. And it is precisely for this reason that my impressions of Sophie's are of a highly mediated nature, and you know what the medium is. In spite or because of the haze, Sophie's deserves high marks: cheap drinks, seating more often than not, a decent box, and a convenient location. I just wish they would get a functional pinball machine in there. [The PB machine is now hardly ever plugged in, and the W.C. gets ever nastier; but when have these ever been significant strikes against a bar? Sophie's still rocks the cheap beer tip, hard.] [Sophie's, la petite soeur de Mona's,  still rocks the cheap beer tip, hard...2$ pints, pool, cool jukebox, and enough grime and spilled drinks to keep back the yuppies eating Italian down the street.] [!] [!] [From the dolled-up to the down-and-out, everybody loves Sophie's! (How's that for conventional bar reviewese?) But shamefully, not everyone loves the tenders, who rock. Ironic that law enforcement ideology (CPR: courtesy, professionalism, respect) should find its actualization in a dive on 5th Street...] [The right-hand wall has been painted a rich red and has been hung with various drawings and photographs. I look from one end to the other and wonder what became of the oily photocopy of an old Shecky's review, which used to be the lone ornament on this decaying wall. The Sophie's crew had apparently been pleasured by this review about roaches and dives and punk rockers. Had it not been for this tattered photocopy, I would in fact have never learned that Shecky's existed.] [!] [Sophie's was the perfect choice for my post-Reykjavík re-immersion in The City...] { Cassandra 1/21/01: I walked into Sophie's the very night after going to Mona's. I hadn't been to this bar in 6 years either and it too seemed bigger. The same bartender who I had shut down Mona's with was behind the bar and greeted me with a smile and a free beer. There were several more of these free beers, when ever the tender had time in between wooing the several attractive young women with whom he was on affectionate terms. Or maybe the free beers were compensation for the obnoxious asshole with a vacant, trouble making grin who insisted on rattling around a large chain loudly enough that eventually some burly, grizzled biker guy had to loom menacingly over him and tell him to shut the fuck up. As I left, the tender introduced himself and told me to come in anytime. His name was V*******, ladies...}

Plant Bar
3, B/C
Alphabet City
Manhattan
[Now here's something new and exciting. You are not going to believe this, but there's a new place in Alphabet City. It's décor and pour are new and exciting too; there can be only, what? 100 other bars like this in The City?]

Wonderbar
6, E of A
Alphabet City
Manhattan
Well, kittlings, what did you expect? I won't be too redundant if I remind you that your mood is intimately connected to your success in certain venues.

Joe's Bar
6, A/B
Alphabet City
Manhattan
{ Friend Abraham 6/13/01: I didn't spend much time looking through anyone else's reviews, but Joe's bar on Sixth between A and B is the only bar worth going to the in the East Village. No Models, Incorporated type crowd there - no crowd at all, actually. Cable t.v., small pool table, cheap beer. The only downside is that it is poorly ventilated - everyone/everything that goes in comes out smelling like shit. They sell non-alcoholic beer (Oh Doul's) in case you or your date has "hit bottom." Great jukebox, too!}

... Avenue A or on to E.Vill. and St. Mark's Place and Thirst Avenue

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The King of Fifth Street—Eddy's tower, on Ave B.