The great thing about New York is that one can have high-and-low experiences very easily. That’s why we decided to visit and compare a recently renovated Wall Street bar/cocktail lounge with a scruffy Lower Eastside bar where very few changes have occurred.
THE BEEKMAN HOTEL AT 123 NASSAU STREET
This is the place for you – if you’re looking for drama. We went on March 9th and the place was jumping. Since Thursday is when New Yorkers like to howl, I said, “This is a great night to go out.” My friend replied, “It’s like this all the time.”
The building was built in 1883 and became a landmark in 1998. It was empty from 2001 until 2014 when it underwent two years of expensive renovations.
The cocktail lounge, which opened in August 2016, is located directly under a spectacular nine-story atrium that has a pyramidal skylight at the top. Trust me when I say that you’ll spend a great deal of time looking up when you’re there. It’s irresistible.
The nine-story atrium at the Beekman Hotel that bedazzles everyone
The noise level was fairly high when we went at 7:00 pm, but that’s to be expected. I was in an adventurous mood so I ordered a drink called “Jungle Bird” that was described as having “Cruzan Black Strap Rum, Pineapple, Campari and Lime. My friend ordered “Paper Plane” which consisted of Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Montenegro and Lemon. Each drink was $18.00. A bit steep, but when we asked if we could get a few “munchies” we were given honey-roasted stuffed olives (gratis) that were to die for.
MCSORLEY’S AT 15 EAST SEVENTH STREET
This famous New York bar is celebrating its 163rd anniversary this year. It’s at the opposite end of the spectrum from The Beekman. First of all, McSorley’s is basically one very large room with a bar at the front. We sat at a table in the back and since we were there early (4:00 pm) the noise level was quite low.
McSorley’s – the oldest bar in New York City has a “cash only” policy
The surprise comes when you get the bar menu – you think you’re looking at typos. But no, each drink order comes in “twos” and so you order “Two Draft Ale, Light or Dark, $5.50” and for munchies we got “Crackers and Cheese, $4.00.” On the other side of the menu there’s an article reprinted from Harper’s Weekly, October 25, 1913.
We had a personable waiter who gave each of us McSorley’s 2017 calendar and pointed out some very interesting memorabilia in the backroom, e.g, the painting of a nude and a parrot (until 1970 she was the only female in the place), and the gold record donated by J. Giles when his album reached one million in sales. One of my favorite things at McSorley’s was the potbellied stove in the front room that gave off a lot of heat.
The cover of McSorley’s celebratory calendar
A NEW JERSEY ROCKER TELLS ALL
I’ve just finished reading a book titled Born to Run written over seven years by Bruce Springsteen and published by Simon and Schuster in 2016. It’s a gripping tale of how a blue-collar, aspiring Irish-Italian musician chases the American Dream and lands on the covers of Newsweek and Time magazines at the age of 25. When I reserved this book at our local Manhattan library I was told there were 427 people ahead of me on the hold list. “But 19 copies of the book have been purchased by us,” the kindly librarian added, after seeing the expression on my face.
This is a drama-filled tome or 500+ pages of up-and-down experiences that will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat and reading until 5:00 am. Living a bi-coastal life with homes on both coasts sounds exotic. That is, until you get the inside scoop on a shaking, crashing earthquake in LA that terrified the Springsteen family of two adults and three children.
Bringing back memories, I loved all the info about Jon Landau, the 27-year-old, who wrote a review saying, “I have seen the future of rock and roll – and it’s Bruce Springsteen.” That marvelous sentence rocketed around the world and kicked off a 40-year friendship.
And, let’s not forget the humorous touches in the book. After learning how to ride a horse on his New Jersey ranch, Springsteen offers this advice. “Never get on a horse named, Thunder, Undertaker, Hurricane or Widow Maker.”
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