While still composing my ode to my favorite NYC dive bars, I am quaffing Lagavulin's 16-year-old whiskey from Islay. Some would use words like, "peaty" or "smoky" but for me this whiskey tastes like some put a cigar out on a plate that had a pork slider on it and then dumped water onto it and collected the run-off. I consider that a compliment and the whiskey is wonderful from beginning to end.
6. Rudy's Bar and Grill. Did you say free hot dogs anytime you want...any amount you want? That would be enough to propel a bar to mythical standards, but several bars now offer free food. Rudy's is a throw back NYC bar -- it's not Clinton when you are in Rudy's red duct taped booths -- it's Hell's Kitchen. Rudy's opens at 8 am and there is usually a spirited discussion to go with the spirited liquid breakfast at that hour. One morning, the rummies and I couldn't figure out what movie was on the television -- it was a western with a breathtaking Sophie Loren and then there was Burt Reynolds and suddenly Jim Brown -- it was as if the drunks had remote controlled the casting. Sadly, it was not drunken hallucinations, but a 1969 film titled, "100 Rifles." I still like to think that the Rudy's morning crew willed the movie to happen, like a Choose your own Adventure book. Rudy's is the Old West and also the best place to hook up with the opposite sex at 3 am. It's true -- the big pig outside is an aphrodisiac mascot calling out to all those who don't want to go home to their own beds...or livers.
5. Coyote Ugly. At the recent twentieth anniversary of the original dive bar the owner Lil, a stunning brown haired beauty, thanked me for coming to her bar for twenty years. Really, I should have been thanking her and I as pointed to the returning revue of former bartenders, I told her as much. Kristy was there, but not Maria, my two favorites who gamely donned hot dog bikinis and burger bras and entered my shower for a DVD extra of the documentary about my competitive eating. Needless to say, it is a very popular DVD extra. Coyote Ugly, long before the franchised bar -- over twenty "faux" dive bars in many cities and the article by Elizabeth Gilbert that turned into a movie (Why is her book not titled, "Drink, Pay, Lust?") -- this bar was the real deal. I've spent six Thanksgivings in this bar. Granted, the regulars now are a collection that makes the crew from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" look like Wall Street bankers, but occasionally the bar top is filled by girls shaking their booties and the juke box gets turned up to eleven. Lil's vision exists in the photos that adorn the walls and the bras that line the walls -- Coyote Ugly, the original bar is a place to let it all hang out. I am often there and despite loving canned beer have drunk my lifetime quota of PBR. I'll take something in a bottle and if Anna, Christina, or Maya is pouring (or either of the stunning managers Danielle and Tahnee) then I will be at my bar seat for a long while. It is easy to knock this bar as a tourist trap, but if those walls could talk...well, they would slur. A lot.
4. Coopers (also Dempsey's). I walk out my door. I usually head to 2nd avenue. Perhaps that is why the Irish bar Dempsey's is my regular as opposed to The Edge at the end of my block (Sebastian Junger preferred The Edge but he's a lot tougher than me and gets paid for his writing). Dempsey's is a real Irish bar, where the person tending bar and the girl running food are from Ireland. I would love to start a Youtube channel titled, "Fake Irish Bars Around the World," because I've been in a lot of them from Singapore to Thailand (although there is a good one in Guam). The Irish Fry Up is great, the Guinness is poured slow, and the Shepard's Pie will both cure and cause a hangover depending on one's mood and accompanying beverage. Dempsey's is owned by a neighborhood bloke named Tom, who feels that if the East Village is good enough to raise a family in, then it's good enough to welcome the regulars to a second bar. Taking a location that was cursed since the diner moved across the street, Tom opened Cooper's. It has big beautiful windows so one can see the equally big beautiful beer boards. I prefer Cooper's over The Pony Bar or Tiger Ale House, all NYC gourmet beer bars. The beers rotate like a George R. R. Martin plot and it's best to not to become too attached to a characteristic brew, because it will be gone soon, but another worthy pour will take its place. The Scotch egg is the best I have had and the wings look as if the chickens competed in the Olympics before getting fried and sauced. Cooper's is a day drinker's destiny and the bar can support one's frame as one bounces from hoppy ales to strong stouts. It is the only bar that I don't order a beer -- I ask the bartender to chose for me. I have never been disappointed. Slainte... which I assume is Irish for, "pour me another."
Crazy Legs Conti is an organ donor but his liver is already listed on Ebay. His Twitter handle is @ColemansBandG and his CB Handle is PowerTool.
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