MAYSVILLE

17 W 26th St btw Broadway and 6th Ave, Flatiron

The Place: A big beautiful bourbon bar off Broadway. (Sorry. I had to.)

The Time: Sunday April 2, 6pm. My friend and I were in midtown having a meeting for our upcoming cocktail book (more on that soon!) when the day became gorgeous. After we parted ways, I decided to take a nice long walk around Manhattan. I found myself in Flatiron, and walking by Maysville, I thought, “it’s not too early to start drinking bourbon, right?” Right, she answers.

The Vibe: It’s definitely larger and more upscale than the cozy little whiskey bars I’m used to in my corner of Brooklyn, but it’s easy to make myself at home at the bar. There’s a great light coming through the big window, a lovely reminder that spring is, indeed, on its way. The high ceilings are nice, something I’m now realizing seems to be ubiquitous of other Flatiron bars, but make the space feel cavernous. Mirrors of different shapes and sizes fill the back wall. The other wall has three enormous paintings of horses, and I later find out they were painted by the owner’s mother-in-law! It’s a very quiet, pleasant Sunday early evening crowd. A first date to my right, two men to my left, a couple at a table in the back. They’re playing Solange!?! I’m good here.

The Bartender: A lovely woman with really kind eyes and a nice demeanor. She is super apologetic when the flatbread I order comes with pig ears after I asked for it without pig ears because I don’t do things like eat pig ears.

The Drank: The stunning back bar is filled with all different whiskeys, and when I’m handed the menu, I’m also handed a September-issue-of-Vogue-sized book of whiskeys. But I go with the Nor’easter, a cocktail of bourbon, ginger beer, lime and maple. Spicy, citrusy, refreshing, yet it kinda tastes like a regular Kentucky Mule. I’m okay with that though.

Was I Hit On? No. But I spend a lot of my time eavesdropping on a conversation between two late 20s guys, both in glasses and plaid shirts. One guy is talking about a girl he’s seeing who is like SUPER CHILL and says what she wants and does what she wants and is really open and understanding but doesn’t want a relationship so he likes where it’s going so far. The other guy processes all this and eventually says, “…wow.” They met at a work happy hour. Her name is Megan. Shoutout to all the Megans out there getting what they want from this world and not apologizing for it!

Should You Drink Here Alone? Sure. I prefer my whiskey bars a little homier, so I might stick to my regular joints in BK for my whiskey fix. But Maysville is definitely a nice place, and if I was in the neighborhood, I’d stop in again. If only to hear about how my girl Megan is doing.

THE GANDER

15 W. 18th St btw 5th and 6th ave, Flatiron

The Place: A nice, big restaurant right in the middle of Union Square/Flatiron hullaballoo that is directly across from the studio where I’ve been rehearsing for the last month.

The Time: Thursday July 14, 5:45pm. It was a really hot day, as each day seems to be at this point in summer. I had an audition earlier not too far away and was meeting a friend in the same area later so there was plenty of time to kill. Then, as summer likes to do, it started torrentially downpouring unexpectedly and I ran into reliable, overpriced City Bakery for shelter, only to be kicked out 20 minutes later because they were closing. I knew The Gander was right next door and I had no better ideas.

The Vibe: I don’t know anything about this place, but for getting here before 6pm, it was already filling up pretty fast. The hostess says hello but doesn’t tell me anything else, so I make my way to the enormous bar. There’s a nice big marble bar top. The space inside is huge, with a large area in the back slightly sectioned off, presumably for the “finer dining” experience. But nobody was in it. The front section where I was was populated by couples and small groups. At the bar, there were two single guys on their phones, a couple, and a group of three guys on the corner. There was no unifying factor of people except a mid-30s, post-work feel. There are these really tall illuminated panels on the bar made up of bottoms of clear wine bottles. It’s a neat trick. The music is all over the place, like it’s being controlled by the guy at the party with iPod ADD. But the general vibe is very pleasant.

The Drank: A mule off their 3-drink-long happy hour menu that I asked to be made with gin instead of vodka. Thank god for happy hour, because otherwise cocktails are normally $16 but now it’s $10. I really only ordered the mule because I’m cheap and the other two options didn’t appeal to me (a sazerac is too heavy for this time of day, and my other choice was a mysterious “rum punch”). The mule was fine, pretty basic. I wanted more ginger. They have two frozen cocktails in those big machines usually reserved for tiki bars and 7-11. This strikes me as odd because their regular cocktail list isn’t that innovative and has a lot of dumb names: Itza Spritza, Less Boozy Suzy, Matcha Scotcha. Like, come on guys, this isn’t a Dr. Seuss book. After a while, I ordered a side of cauliflower as a little snack, and the bartender tried to put a placemat down for me, which was awkward for both of us since I like to spread out all my stuff and pretend the bar is my home office. Food came out super fast, and was really yummy–it’s a giant hunk of roasted (“charred”) cauliflower and I think it’s the closest I’ll come to feeling like I’m eating steak.

The Bartender: I was waiting at the bar for a while before anyone showed up. Eventually, a tall dude with a bushy beard dressed in all black made an appearance. He was very nice and got his stride quickly, but spent most of the time running around, pouring and repouring beer. They have this big fancy white wine contraption built into the bar, and I ask him about it. He tells me it basically makes bottles of wine come out on tap, but “it’s not working right now, and we’re having trouble with the keg too.” Rough night to work at the Gander. 

Was I Hit On? The solo guy to my left asked the bartender for another glass of wine without looking up from his phone. Rude. Then he sneezed and I said bless you and he didn’t say thank you! Ruder. Then when my food came out, he goes, “god that smells good,” gets up and literally STICKS HIS NOSE IN IT. Rudest! THEN he has the audacity to look at me and say, “Hi, I’m Gary.” Yo, Gary, see all these bar stools? Sit the fuck down. I say nothing and elbow him out of the way to get to my cauliflower. He leaves shortly after that.

Should You Drink Alone Here? I’m gonna say sure, but also, I wouldn’t seek this place out again. If the cauliflower I ate is any indication, come for dinner because it must be good. But the bar scene at The Gander isn’t anything special, even though it’s a nice spot. And I sure as hell don’t wanna run the risk of seeing Gary ever again. 

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