Life Isn’t Everywhere: On Finding Franklin Park by Kevin Nguyen
When I moved across the country to Brooklyn, I first subletted my friend Ami’s apartment while she was traveling for three months in South America. Because of the timing, we didn’t see each other before she left. She’d mailed me the keys, and I’d promised to PayPal her the rent each month. I’d never seen pictures of the apartment and I knew nothing about Crown Heights. I figured, at worst, it was only three months. (Read more…)
Irregularities: What It Means to Find Your Bar by Marian Bull
When I got to Brooklyn the typical fantasies of Regular Status began. At some point, I thought, I’d find my bar and I’d feel comfortable going there alone to read or write or chat and also to drink. It seemed like a rite of passage for independent city-dwelling adults who liked to have a drink or three. The idea only grew brighter and more alluring the longer I stayed. My beautiful dark drunken fantasies.
A year or so after I landed here, Rosie Schaap’s uber-lovely memoir Drinking With Men came out, the sort of book that will make even a hermit want to wear down a bar stool at her local dive. In each chapter, Schaap was a local at a different bar, each of them “small, welcoming, with a lively chorus of voices and the house lights turned down to a warm glow.” What more could a listless reader want, really. It was just the drinking life I wanted. (Read more…)
How To Break Up With a Bar by Jen Doll
In a lengthy and decadent life of bar-going (I’ve been over 21 for a while now, though the best bouncers know to still ask for I.D.), I’ve had a string of favorite spots. Like an adored song played repeatedly until it can be tolerated no more, these bars were my go-tos—if I was going out, I was going to them. After all, a good, reliable, conveniently located bar can be better than a boyfriend or girlfriend. You know its curves and its quirks, and you not only tolerate, you appreciate them. And it, yours. (Read More…)
Our Styrofoam Youth: An Ode to Rosemary’s Tavern by Anna Hezel
If you’re not looking for it, there amid the swift, monochrome rustle of long-legged, wan hipsters and waifish bearded men in old-timey hats rushing here and there into banh mi shops and bodegas, you won’t find it. But if you know what you’re looking for—that particular configuration of Christmas lights strewn in that haphazard zigzag arrangement across the tiny, unassuming bar front—you find yourself standing in the doorway seconds after you emerge from the subway. Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern, known affectionately as “Greenpoint Tavern” or “Rosemary’s” or “Rosie’s” has been in this same spot on Bedford Avenue since the 50s. (Read More…)
Someplace Safe: Where You Go When You Have Nowhere Left to Go by Alana Massey
Of all the text messages I have sent from the depths of blackout drinking binges, “I just want to be somewhere safe,” is the one that haunts me most. I sent it to a friend one night in 2010 after my typical Irish Goodbye from one of many 25th birthday parties we attended that year. My predilection for abandoning social functions in pursuit of drugs or one-night-stands (and often both) was commended as an adventurous spirit in college but swelled to a general concern after graduation and became an actual crisis by our third year away from the shelter of excuses an undergraduate status offers. I emerged from the blackout in daylight in Bushwick on a street I didn’t recognize and with my pocket buzzing with impending regret in the form of text alerts on my phone. (Read More…)
The Bar, Tender by Jared Keller
It was after my sophomore year of college that my mother gave me a copy of The Tender Bar, journalist JR Moehringer’s sprawling memoir of growing up among the drunks, kooks, and crazies of his neighborhood bar in Manhasset, New York. Moehringer, a Pulitzer-winner reporter who started out as a meek kid in a destitute home with an absent father, found paternal guidance in the rogues gallery of patrons who attend his beloved Publicans. That bar, from the way Moehringer describes it, had more of an impact on his life than any college or internship at the New York Times ever did, born on the back of a simple battlecry: “Be a man.” (Read More…)
Puking in Cabs: A Drinking Story by Tyler Coates
Maybe you’ve seen it after hopping into the back seat of a cab upon your arrival at O’Hare International Airport and chuckled at the sign posted next to the Taxi TV. Or perhaps one of your friends snapped a picture of it and uploaded it to Instagram so that all of their followers can laugh about it as they drive into the city.
It’s toward the end of the list of fares, between the fifty-cent rate for additional passengers and the two-dollar charge for a ride to or from the airport: a hefty price of $50 for the Vomit Clean-Up Fee.
I’d like to come clean and admit that I consider myself personally responsible for that (Read More…)
The Third Place, Or: Drinking Our Way to Our Ideal Selves by Alanna Okun
When I got my own apartment, I thought it would make writing easier. In fact, I thought it would make everything easier (except, of course, having money); I would go to sleep and wake up when I wanted, shower without waiting for a roommate to finish, do dishes covered in nothing but the remains of food I myself had chosen. It would all be mine, and so in these ideal conditions I would naturally become the ideal version of myself. (Read More…)
A Girl Walks Into a Bar by Caitlin White
A girl walks into a bar.
I’m the girl, and the bar is called Fort Defiance. It’s the place where I’ll try a Bloody Mary for the first time, goaded on by my brother’s soon-to-be ex-wife. The drink is spicy and thick, like a slightly scary snack, and it’s speared with pickled okra. It’s my second time visiting New York City, the first time since high school. I’ll live inside my brother’s breaking marriage with them for a week, too selfish (or maybe too young) to understand why the air in their apartment feels like pain, but perceptive enough to know that he and I both feel better when we’re at the bar, not at home. (Read More…)
When a Bar Is More Than Just a Bar: On Sharlene’s by Alana Levinson
Sharlene’s is a place where people fall in love. Not because it’s special or romantic or impressive in any way—it’s none of those things. Not quite a dive, but definitely not fancy—Sharlene’s is one of those bars that’s just a bar. There’s none of the pretense that comes with either grit or class. It’s just one big darkly lighted room with medium priced beers, basic cocktails and hot pretzels for $3. People go there to chill, or to catch up, or to read. Most spend some amount of time staring at their phones. (Read More…)
The Night Dimebag Darrell Died by Jason Diamond
The singer of the hardcore band I liked back in high school flipped his phone shut.
“Dimebag’s dead,” he said as I was about to throw back my fourth shot of Jameson. I looked down at the glass in my hand. It was my third shift as a bartender and I was drunk, probably too drunk to be serving anybody else. Possibly near the point of intoxication where another bartender would say, “You’re cut off.” (Read More…)
Strings Attached: What It Means to Have a Relationship With a Bar by Jane Bruce
My relationship with 4th Down started like most of my relationships have—with a crush on a boy. After a night of drinking and watching a game with a friend at 4th Down, I ended up flirting with the bartender before getting on the G train home alone; the next morning I found a message from him on Facebook.
My relationship with Paul quickly became one that can feel impossible to find—prolonged casual sex, with no strings attached. (Read More…)
Freddy’s, My Love by Ruth Curry
For someone who’s logged as many hours as I did at Freddy’s (RIP), I really can’t remember much about it. No sign outside—or maybe just the one, for PBR, flickering, upside down. (Or was it?) Wooden booths, a backroom—or a downstairs? Both? Saloon style-shutters leading to the graffiti-covered toilets, which otherwise didn’t really close. Three-dollar PBR on ice in a cooler under the bar, never cold enough, but for $3 (or was it $2, back then?), who’s complaining? Freddy’s either didn’t serve wine or served it in such a way that asking felt weird and not okay. When patrons ordered pizza delivered they left any extra crusts or slices in the box on the bar; you could help yourself by making meaningful eye-contact with the assumed-owner, though it was marginally more polite to wait until offered. A jukebox—there was definitely a jukebox—I definitely made out with a few dudes I don’t remember clearly in the corner near that jukebox. One of the guys had a dog, also present. (Read More…)