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29 April 2008

Four Tin and Gonics

Continuing yesterday's theme, I was originally going to pick four purveyors of burgers in New York but after a good five G & Ts tonight, the last one being the Spooner Special (tin and gonic), perhaps it would be more appropriate to choose four bars instead. It amazes me how sometimes, I can drink and drink and drink and not really get very drunk at all, while other times, a glass of wine is enough to crack me. Tonight, Hall played a blinder and served three courses I liked (parma ham and rocket salad, salmon and potatoes (minus the courgettes of doom) and then superb profiteroles. The grad common room was having lighting difficulties (in that there wasn't any) so we had to give up on the idea of post-Hall port in favour of racking up the Bombay Sapphire at the Mitre.

If only we had been in New York; then we might have been able to go to one of the following four establishments for a post-prandial nightcap:

4. Barcelona Bar - 923 8th Avenue, midtown. Some nights, only a dive bar will do and Barcelona has the jukebox (complete with '80s power ballads - hooray for White Snake!), it has the almost infinite variety of shots ("Shot," they sez on their website, "YOUR NEW FAVORITE 4-LETTER WORD"), it has the bizarre mix of seedy and uber-cool customers and it has a convenient, midtown location. I spent a very fun night there, throwing back multiple screaming orgasms and brain haemorrhages, followed by a dangerous participation in karaoke. What larks.

3. The Village Pourhouse - 64 3rd Avenue, East Village. Big and a bit fratty if you pick the wrong night as all of NYU's hoards head on in to the Village Pourhouse for happy hour but this place is quite a pleasant place to hang out with a few friends and a few beers. It's also a "green" bar and does all sorts of recycling and stocks organic beers and wines.

2. The Hudson Bar - 356 W. 58th Street, midtown. The Philippe Starck-designed Hudson Hotel is pretty funky, even by Manhattan standards and the bar, which is daubed with shades of Starck's characteristic lime green by night. The drinks are expensive - even by Manhattan standards - but there is usually a fun crowd and the wine list is good. There are also quieter nooks and crannies in the "library" area, which is perfect for a more intimate one-on-one.

1. Employees Only - 510 Hudson Street, the West Village. You can tell Employees Only is a great bar because this is where the bar staff of NYC's finest establishments go on their nights off. From the outside, it doesn't look much - I would have walked right past it had I not been with a native - but the drinks are fantastic and I had one of the best mojitos I'd tasted outside Cuba, even if it was so strong (combined with half a bottle of red) that it was a miracle I managed to walk the 60 blocks to my hotel room unassisted. It's busy and quite cramped but nicely decorated and populated with the beautiful people of the West Village. An all-round great bar.

Honourable mention: Whiskey Blue, at the W, Lexington. "At Whiskey Blue, the waitresses are all dressed like upmarket hookers and you can lounge back on a sofa while they bring you these amazing cocktails," sez Papa. "You'll love it." How well he knows me! I do love a good upmarket hooker! And being served by a tall, leggy blonde in a corset and French knickers is one of my favourite things. So began one night of over-consumption with my parents. The cocktails at Whiskey Blue are obscenely strong. I had a pineapple martini (or something) which was enough to knock me out for the rest of the evening but I dangerously followed with a couple of mojitos. I was wrecked in the morning.

The irritating thing was that I had been keeping up with Maman on the drinks front and she was as wasted as I was when we went to bed at about three in the morning. Five hours later, I have a splitting headache, am exhausted, dizzy and generally not feeling ready for public consumption. Maman, on the other hand, is as bright and breezy as ever. She is a borderline alcoholic, I'm sure, but no matter how drunk she is the night before, as long as she has four hours sleep, she is fine the morning after - no headache, no hangover, no nausea. It's so unfair; that would have been a very useful trait to inherit.

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