DUTCH KILLS

27-24 Jackson Ave, Long Island City

dutch kills

The Place: A very cool speakeasy cocktail bar in LIC recommended to me by my bartending pals who always know the best places to drink (duh).

The Time: Thursday April 28, 6:30pm. I was seeing a friend in a play at the Secret Theatre in LIC that evening. I had been home alone all day waiting for the UPS delivery of my new bike. The UPS guy finally came at 5:30pm in a delivery window of 9am-7pm (thanks, United Parcel Service!) He appeared like a knight in brown uniform sent from Maspeth delivery center to rescue a damsel in distress from having to order in food a third time. Not that I need a man to rescue me from Korean food and House of Cards. But once he dropped off my package and I was a free agent, I had to get out of the apartment, so I remembered Dutch Kills as a great spot to try in a borough that I am not that familiar with.

The Vibe: Because I don’t know Queens (why is it 27-24 Jackson, why can’t they just pick one number!?) and because it’s a lil hidden, it took a hot sec for me to find it. All I had to do was look up and see the flashing BAR sign, but I’m a New Yorker, I never look up. Once in, I got the feeling of being in an old saloon, but with a cocktail bar edge. The layout of the place is inverse to most bars – you walk through tables first in order to get to the bar in the back, which I dug. After passing many couples and groups of friends, I found myself a stool at the end of the bar, next to another solo lady drinker. We didn’t acknowledge each other, like “hey you’re part of the club,” because she looked like she wouldn’t have appreciated that. I wasn’t crazy about the bar top itself; the front is slanted which made it hard to rest a book or my elbows on, and the flat part is the metal spill drain that is normally reserved for behind the bar, so the bartender in me didn’t want to put anything on it for fear of getting things wet. I eventually got over it. There was a lovely skylight over the bar, which was nice at 6:30pm in April but not sure what purpose it serves at night or in the winter. The bottles on the back bar all had numbers over them (prices) which is fucking brilliant because any time someone asks how much for a Jameson, the bartenders can just be like “look behind me, asshole.”

The Drank: Whiskey Fix, which is just a whiskey sour over crushed ice. It was part of the happy hour menu, consisting of 4 simple cocktails (margarita, daiquiri, Moscow mule and whiskey sour) all at $8, a total bargain compared to their normal $13. I was fine with my cocktail for $8, but at $13 I’d think it was a bit boring. To be fair, the rest of the cocktails looked great and a lot more complex. Maybe if I hadn’t been feeling as cheap, I would’ve splurged on the Tiger Coffee something, a concoction of rums, allspice, cinnamon syrup and cold brew coffee. Because what I actually could’ve used in that moment was a coffee, not a cocktail, but you get what you get and you don’t get upset.

The Bartender: A lady who absolutely seemed like she would’ve said “look behind me, asshole” to someone who asked how much for a Jameson. She was a bit curt and didn’t seem to like looking people in the eye, but hey, I’ve had those days too. Other people around me were asking her for things like “a stirred tequila drink with some herbs or something” and “an old man drink with rum” and she was taking it in stride so kudos.

Was I Hit On? Nah. Though the two dudes eating some jerky next to me looked over at me a few times but that was it. And when they left, a group of girls swooped into their spot and then kept fighting over who was gonna pay for this round. After my other solo lady drinker left, I seemed to be the only person hanging alone, but I didn’t feel out of place at all.

Should You Drink Here Alone? Sure, why not? No reason not to. But next time I go to Dutch Kills, I wanna snag one of those booths in the front, hunker down with some friends and drink the good shit.

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BLACK AND WHITE

86 E. 10th St nr 4th Ave, East Village

black and white bar

The Place: A total dive bar that I found randomly online. Granted, dive bars are not my normal stomping ground, but I was willing to give it a go since this place seemed pretty cool.

The Time: Sunday April 17 at 5:30pm. I was chillin’ before seeing my friend’s mime show (yes, you read that right; I have really awesome friends) and when I googled bars in that area (East Village just south of Union Square), I found Black and White, which I thought was fitting before seeing a mime show 😉 I didn’t do much other research than that because I was too tickled by my own idiotic cleverness, and because I was eager to avoid places like The 13th Step and the Village Pourhouse.

The Vibe: There were two people at the bar: an older guy with his iPad and an Amstel Light and another long haired dude who knew the tatted-up, easy going bartender. And then me. With my giant backpack and shopping bag from spending the weekend with my mom for her birthday. They were playing old-school rock, which was dope. But it was borderline too dark to read in there, so unfortunately I spent the entire time on my phone because I felt too awkward not to do anything else. The walls were pink and red stripes which made me think of Eloise. I’m probably not supposed to think that. I was also probably not supposed to see them but I did because it was still light outside. The best thing that happened the whole time was when a couple came in with their schnauzer and I got to play with him for a second before the bartender told them they couldn’t have a dog in the bar. Which is common sense but was very sad for me.

The Drank: Since it was before 6pm and I had “ladies who lunch” lunch of lentil soup, kale salad and iced tea, I was looking for something on the lighter side. “Do you have prosecco?” Tattoos gave me a look that was a cross between a smirk and an eye brow raise. “Ok, I’ll take a bourbon on the rocks.” Today is a moment in which I am severely questioning all my choices in life. BUT it was $9 as opposed to the area’s usual $11-$14 for the same thing so that’s cool.

The Bartender: A super nice guy who didn’t talk much. But the world is the smallest place because when iPad guy said the bartender’s name, something clicked. Turns out, Tattoos also works at the restaurant where my ex-boyfriend used to work, and he gave us a couple free drinks one time. So. There’s that.

Was I Hit On? I asked for more ice at one point, because, y’know, I was drinking straight bourbon while the sun was still out on a Sunday, and I made a joke that I drink slowly so I’m a cheap date. iPad chimed in from the corner of the bar with: “As long as you’re not waiting for someone, that’s good for me!” He laughed. I didn’t. Then he asked what I did for a living. I told him I’m an actor. Then he gave me a whole story about how he took an acting class once and totally loved it, so people can surprise you but I still left pretty quickly after that.

Should You Drink Here Alone? I’m sure Black and White would be a really fun hideaway in the East Village with some friends, and the cheaper prices are certainly welcome in this part of town. Solo drinking? Not so much, unless you work in the area and want a post-shift shot and beer before you hop the train home.

THE UP AND UP

116 Macdougal St nr Minetta Ln, NYUtown aka The Village

the up and up

The Place: I first heard of The Up and Up from one of my fab friends at work who said it was a great place to go as a solo lady. Also they got this killer review from The New Yorker which solidified it as a place I had to check out.

The Time: Thursday April 7, 6:30pm. I was seeing Exit Strategy at the Cherry Lane Theater (also GO SEE THAT SHOW), so I wanted to find a watering hole nearby, and since I had my sights set on The Up and Up, it was a sign from the cocktail goddesses that I had to go to there.

The Vibe: Dive bar feels meets cocktail bar quality meets one of the friendliest establishments I’ve ever been to. I descended the stairs and was greeted by a lovely man in a newsboy cap who asked how big my party was or was it just me, without any condescension! I made my way to the bar and was instantly welcomed by the bearded bartender (Jacob), the pigtailed bartender (Katie) and another guy named Rafa. I put my feminist book on the bartop (Where the Girls Are by Susan J. Douglas), and I was instantly swept up in “oh how do you like it?” and “have you ever read any Ruth Rosen?” and “are you studying for your masters or are you just a nerd like me?” Before I even ordered a drink, I knew these folks got me. There’s no standing room allowed (hence the door policy), which means that there was never a chance of anyone lingering over me to try to steal my bar stool. PLUS on the menu, under their few “Decorum” policies was, and I quote, “Gentlemen are kindly asked not to introduce themselves to ladies.” I FOUND MECCA.

The Drank: Zuzu’s Petals, a tequila cocktail which was everything I want a margarita to be: good tequila, lime, ginger, habanero for some extra zing, rose water for fragrance and a little demerara sugar to bring everything together. Jacob and I discussed the importance of terrific drink names, and this place had some of the best I’ve heard: One-Star Yelp Review, Watching Cool Runnings, Dad’s Manhattan, Peat’s Dragon, just to name a few. My second drink wasn’t on the menu, one of Jacob’s concoctions, The Red Herring: aquavit, hot sauce (cholula, god bless ‘im), lemon, cucumber, magic. They killed it in the drank department.

The Bartender: I feel like I’m repeating myself, but Jacob and Katie were so awesome. So was Rafa. So was newscap door guy. We chatted about a ton of different things: sexism in the service industry, SoulCycle vs. biking, the clowns vying for the Republican nominee, where we’re from. Katie’s from Kentucky. Jacob is from Wisconsin AND HIS LAST NAME IS CHEDDAR (spelled crazily, but pronounced “cheddar.” You can’t make this shit up.)

Was I Hit On? No! Because it’s literally in the rulebook that I can’t be! I cannot believe this bar is in the middle of NYU town – there was not a single 18 year old dumbass in the place and I was so grateful.

Should You Drink Here Alone? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. The Up and Up is a haven for anyone who wants to avoid the monstrosity that exists in that neck of the woods. But I’ll also travel to go to this bar again. So should you! And when you do, tell Katie and Jacob and Rafa I say hey.

BAR BOULUD

1900 Broadway at 64th St, Upper West Sidebar boulud

The Place: A really nice French restaurant that I have no business being at.

The Time: Thursday March 31 at 6:30pm. I wanted to grab a quick drink and bite before meeting the boyfriend at the opera (fansay), and the bar I intended on going to was so crowded with old white couples that I couldn’t even get in the door. There’s a strip of restaurants on Broadway across from Lincoln Center, and they were all filled to the brim. Bar Boulud was the only one with any seats available, and considering I wanted to eat, that seemed necessary.

The Vibe: There wasn’t a bar to actually sit at so the hostess sat me at the hightop communal table after a curt and apologetic “just you?” To which I responded proudly “just me!” Pre-theater on a weekday on the Upper West Side means there will only be old white couples in the place with you, just a heads up. The other people at the communal table were, you guessed it, an old white couple. They were drinking espresso, and the male in the equation loudly called out “check!” to no one in particular three separate times. I’m pretty sure I was the youngest in there by at least 30 years.

The Drank: Literally the cheapest thing on the menu, a glass of rose at $11. It was very nice but all rose is nice. I also spent a long time staring at the food menu – everything seemed to be a form of cured ham or a $22 beet salad. I finally ordered a side of spinach (sautéed) and a side of mushrooms (fricasseed).  I’m really glad I didn’t pay for the opera tickets because this meal of wine and veg almost cost me the price of one. But the veggies were indeed delish, and they gave me a plethora of free bread so I was cool with it.

The Bartender: I don’t think there were any? It looked like they made drinks in this little alcove behind the cured meat display. No clue who made the drinks. Total mystery. I also realized halfway through my time there that I was sitting next to the meat slicer. Ain’t life grand?

Was I Hit On? No thank god cuz that would’ve been creepy. But the server and bussers were the nicest guys ever – constantly refilling my water, giving me more free bread when I ate all of my allotted free bread, politely asking how my night was going then walking away. If only all men could be that attentive to a woman’s needs.

Should You Drink Here Alone? Sure, if you’re in the neighborhood, have money to burn and want to be treated like a queen.

NOMAD BAR

10 w. 28th St nr Broadway, Flatironnomad bar

The Place: I’d been wanting to go to NoMad Bar since it opened, and especially after it was rated best bar in the city in some article by some magazine that screams faux importance (probz NY Mag)*. Also my bartending bud Hector says he would work there, so I was like, done.

The Time: Tuesday March 15, around 8:30pm. I took a class with a casting director at a studio nearby; the boyfriend was busy working, so I had an hour and half to kill and decided to treat myself to an expensive drink (anything more than $12 is expensive for me, and this one would cost me $16 sans tip).

The Vibe: Swanky flatiron hotel, which is what you’d expect from a bar inside the NoMad Hotel. The bar was smaller than I expected, I had to walk through a sea of people in suits sitting at tables in order to get to the bar all the way in the back, which was pretty awkward considering I had my backpack the size of a great dane puppy strapped to my back. More suits to wade through in order to get to the actual bar to get a menu, and I had to do a bunch of hovering before I nabbed an upholstered bar stool/chair contraption. Once there, the bar itself is super nice, high ceilings so it’s not claustrophobic even when a clusterfuck of finance bros are unwinding with their old fashioneds after a hard day’s work doing whatever it is they do.

The Drank: The Montauk; a variation on a classic negroni, with navy strength gin and punt e mes playing with both blanc and sweet vermouths. Yum. The menu was stacked with drinks I’d drink, and they separate the vast array into categories like “classics” and “our classics” and “adventurous” and “refreshing bubblies” (I made these up, but you get the idea).

The Bartender: The lads and lasses in the maroon aprons know what’s up. I chatted with the one lady behind the stick and we griped about idiot bartenders who don’t know how to make a negroni, or worse, those who try to shake one.

Was I Hit On? With the best pickup line I’ve ever gotten. As I took out my magazine (NY Mag, don’t judge) and started reading, the guy in the upholstered stool/chair next to me nudged me on the shoulder, and said, “So you read.” I said, “I am literate, yes.” He didn’t understand why I wasn’t flattered by his keen observation skills, so he turned to his finance pal and knew not to try to talk to me again.

Should You Drink Here Alone? Yes? But I’d go earlier, when it’s less suity and you can read in peace.

*Just kidding, it was Time Out NY, but I was really close