When: Thursday, 7:11pm; Saturday, 10:53pm
What did I drink? B Side Daiquiri Down (rum, rye, honey, lime, Aphrodite bitters), Randolph Paloma (Holland pepper-infused tequila, lime, grapefruit, strawberry, agave nectar, smoked salts) $12
Though the style The Randolph in Brooklyn is going for is that rock and roll ‘70s/’80s intersection that’s gaining popularity–old timey meaning neon, graffiti and eight-tracks–the feeling is refreshingly midwestern. The space is midwestern big (where else in NYC are two allowed to take up a booth?), the staff is midwestern friendly and the clientele is kind of uncool, which yes, I’m equating with the midwest too.
There’s also the matter of young customers and old people music. And I don’t mean ’80s pop so much as We Five (I’ve always loved their one hit) Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Neil Diamond and REO Speedwagon (popular in the ’80s but not ’80s pop). It’s jarring. The closest thing to an old person is the gray-beard bartender who appears to be firmly in his 30s.
Was I carded? Apologetically on the weekend. I wasn’t clear if the “sorry” was for having to card period or because it was so ludicrous based on my appearance.
Age appropriate? Not so much. One visit was on Halloween when a friend was dressed as The Greatest American Hero. Her coworkers didn’t know who that was, and I’m doubtful that anyone at The Randolph did either, despite the nostalgia embraces elsewhere.
When: Thursday, 6:31pm
What did I drink? Pint of Bass ($4); Maker’s Mark on the rocks ($10)
Though all Irish pubs, Upper East Side and otherwise, look the same, and I thought I had blocked out this incident, I’m fairly certain upon this random re-visit that McKeown’s was where I had a few (seriously, only two) beers before my 2008 birthday dinner when I got sick at the table at Cafe Boulud and threw up in a planter out front. I do not blame McKeown’s. This was also a stop off before a belated birthday dinner, this time at JG Melon (the difference five years makes).
There were young white kids that I would’ve pegged as Mormons if not drinking happy hour beers, men of retirement age, wrapping things up by 7pm bottled beer only, who mostly knew each other, and one woman who I like to believe was at least 40 because she wanted a white wine spritzer, sauvignon blanc, not pinot grigio, but was probably only 35 because she was British, and I don’t know, English ladies age differently.
As someone who has recently taken to Aperol spritzes, I won’t mock a white wine spritzer drinker. If anything, they are less likely to induce dinnertime vomiting.
Age appropriate? Yes, but more so If you’re an old guy with rough edges.
When: Friday, 6:45pm
What did I drink? Two Goose Island IPAs ($3 each, one bought for me)
This was my first date in 14 years and I mean that nearly literally. I consider my last date to have taken place over Labor Day weekend 1999.
Today, there was much written about that 40 Days of Dating couple. I can only assume, or hope, that it ended in a murder suicide. I’m not clicking any of those links. None of it will matter by next week. (If by chance someone reads this in the future, even the near future, will they have the faintest memory of what this even refers to?)
I had a realization. Because I’m single and childless in my 40s and most of my friends are single and childless and in the same age range, and we are all fun to be around, can hold a conversation and are not completely broken, I assumed that I should be looking for a guy who is also childless and never married, but I don’t think it’s the same for men. Men who have made it to this point in life and have never had a serious relationship or found a woman who wants to procreate with them, tend to be weird. There, I said it. Sexist.
Also, I didn’t realize how many short (and by short, I mean shorter than me, 5’8") and bald men were out in the world. I’m lookist, too. If a guy puts his height on Tinder, though (saying you’re 6’2" when no one asked is like a woman listing she’s 110 pounds) that’s an automatic “nope” because vanity. No photos with newborns either, and definitely no shirtless photos.
And while I’m drawn to underdogs and am repulsed by bravado and status-obsession, I like some nice things, and will pay good money for them. Someone who wouldn’t balk at a $200+ dinner (I just bought tickets to Alinea for when I’m in Chicago for work at the end of the month) or a $300 bottle of perfume (I haven’t shelled out the cash on this yet) but is also not a douche, is not easy to find. I was going to say that I’m classist or careerist, but I’m the opposite of both of those. I do not abide underachieving at this point in life, though.
Age appropriate? Like Williamsburg, I’m not sure that any of the East Village is truly age appropriate anymore. A woman at the bar was telling what seemed like a first date (though she mentioned a boyfriend) about how her parents let her boyfriend stay over in her basement bedroom when she was in high school and this was a military family, but she got away with it because she had older siblings. Tell me about it. I was the oldest, never getting a break, always paving the way. She was 31, and fairly representative of the happy hour crowd. The oldest person in the bar was probably my date, 45, undeniably middle aged.
When: Saturday, 11:26pm
What did I drink? Bottle of Heineken.
Metal buckets of beer, sluggish air conditioning, “Moves Like Jagger” and “Empire State of Mind” on jukebox repeat, a legit grandma-aged woman at the end of the bar, and a young lady bartending in a ratty Daniel Johnston t-shirt, despite the bar’s anti-hipster petition, all make for a not unpleasant experience.
I would’ve stayed for a second drink if I knew what awaited me at Mission Dolores.
Age appropriate? If anything, this is what a dive does best. There will always be at least one woman older than you no matter how old you get.
When: Saturday, 12:33am
What did I drink? Nothing.
A friend and I were projectile vomited on by a bro before we even made it to the bar to buy a drink.
Age appropriate? Uh, no?
When: Friday, 11:10pm
What did I drink? Redrum (Goslings rum, hibiscus, lime, rosehip syrup, Peychaud’s bitters), $12.
I’m not used to drinking with moms, so it really threw me for a loop when the 39-year-old at the table, a high school friend of a friend, mentioned a realization about her 20-year-old son who lives in Williamsburg and is a DJ. “He’s a grown man.”
The rest of us childless middle-agers had a hard time wrapping our heads around being the mother of a grown man, and one you might run into on the street and at parties (this has happened).
Time for a stiff drink.
Age appropriate? More or less. The bartender was wise enough to call me miss, not ma’am.
When: Saturday, midnight on the dot
What did I drink? Maker’s Mark on the rocks ($8), Rolling Rock ($4) Rolling Rock (free).
A friend of a friend bartending: What are you doing tomorrow?
Us: Watching Ghost Dad.
Bartender: Oh, I’ve been watching a lot of Jarmusch lately.
Me: Dad, not Dog!
Age appropriate? Not naturally. The secret to drinking in Williamsburg is to have your own pack to travel with in order to skew the ratio slightly.
Pic via We Are the LAW
When: Thursday, 11:09pm
What did I drink? Ruby daiquiri (rhubarb jam, vanilla syrup, lime juice, Angostura bitters, 5-year rum), Meadow Mist (Zubrowka bisongrass vodka, elderflower, sorrel, dandelion, burdock bitters, Agrapart), Manhattan. 100-120 dkk, roughly, $20 apiece.
It’s surprisingly easy to spend $60 on cocktails in Copenhagen, especially if you tire of pints and aquavit. Ruby is sort of a Danish speakeasy, no sign, just inside the entrance to the Georgian embassy, and done up in a cross between gentleman’s study and Victorian parlor. In theory, the leather wingback chairs, gilded mirrors, oriental rugs, frilly lampshades, and pricing structure would attract a mature crowd (or young, flashy Europeans). And it did, for the men at least.
Upscale foreign bars always seem to be the setting for at least one large multinational work outing where everyone speaks English with different accents. The bigwigs are always middle-aged-plus men who leave early and are often American and wear khakis, polos and wire-rim glasses. Females are in the minority, if present at all, and are always in their 20s. Most of the women at Ruby were also in their 20s.
Upon leaving and approaching the bus stop on the other side of the little river in front of the bar, we nearly got into a physical altercation with a taxi driver parked across the street, an incident locals I recounted this to later found hard to believe, considering how polite everyone seems in Copenhagen.
Taxi driver: Screaming unintelligibly, possibly in Danish, something, something, assholes!
Me to James: Did he just call us assholes?
Me screaming back to driver: Are you talking to us?
Taxi driver: Motherfuckers, you don’t call a cab and take the bus!
Us: We didn’t call a cab. (I don’t even know how to call a cab in Copenhagen.)
Taxi driver: The bartender said you did! Motherfuckers!
Us: Um, no we didn’t. Call the bar back if you have a problem. (Would anyone actually get into a vehicle with someone who is yelling at them?)
Taxi driver: Motherfuckers!
Us: Hey asshole, come say that to our face. (I don’t think he was used to back-talking New Yorkers and this enraged him further.)
Taxi driver getting out of car: I’ll kick your ass. I’m going to kill you.
A fuck you, no fuck you shouting match ensued until he finally gave up and drove off.
It’s worth noting that absolutely no one is on the streets of Copenhagen at 1am–despite what anyone will tell you, it’s not a late-night city–and I never once saw a police officer in my whole week there. This was the first time it ever occurred to me that it’s worth knowing the 911 equivalent when in another country.
Was I carded? No, I’m not sure if they even do that in Denmark.
Age appropriate: Yes, though you may be the only woman over 35 in the place.
When: Friday, 6:07pm
What did I drink? Bottle of Stella (?), gin and tonic ($8).
I came close to heaven once. In fact, it was around this time last year when I was inexplicably upgraded to business class on Emirates, on an Airbus A380, the double-decker with a real standalone bar (flat beds, showers, whatever) an amenity that seared itself into my brain the first time I saw the ad filled with multi-culti jetsetters. Alas, close doesn’t cut it. Being a flight between Dubai and Hong Kong, apparently not long-haul enough, the bar stood empty, unmanned, no sky party for the attractive and ethnically ambiguous.
The closest I’ve come since is the Air Bar in the Sutphin Blvd. AirTrain station/transit hub. There are a lot of wheeled carry-ons propped at tables, there are JFK workers drinking beer and shots while flirting with the bartender in Spanish as she periodically sings Shakira songs along with her iPod, and there are people like me who journeyed to the ends of Queens just for something different to do post-Independence Day, a staycation, if you will.
Tim Hortons occupies the adjoining space, so you can snack on Timbits while nursing a happy hour (5pm-8pm) Killian’s (which was sold out) or Coors (which no one wanted) and watching The Manhattan Project (teenage Cynthia Nixon) on the TV behind the bar.
Age appropriate? Sure, there was a cuspy woman sitting at the bar and another, clearly over 60, sitting nearby with a homemade sandwich and a bottle of V8.
Was I carded? No, but a young man who appeared to be barely out of his teens was, and then proceeded to hit on my 41-year-old friend.
When? Friday, 4:05pm
What did I drink? Mother’s Milk stout, $6; an indeterminate IPA bought for me (no, not by a stranger).
I have discovered the secret to Williamsburg drinking for oldsters and it is as dependent on having nothing going on in the late afternoon as a poor unemployed millennial (or a twentysomething trust-funder, depending on your level of crotchety-ness). Ok, no secret, just start drinking earlier. Many neighborhood bars don’t open until 5pm while Iona, god bless them, starts serving at 1pm.
I may have been the first to set foot in the inviting backyard on a Friday, but the neighboring table was quickly filled by a Caitlin Moran-esque woman, but blonde and definitely over 40. She gave me the side-eye, surveying the early Friday scene, lamenting to her seltzer-drinking gray-templed male companion about the area “tourists, hipsters and college kids” who pay rent who knows how. One sounds like less of a crank with a British accent, it turns out.
That’s another truth: where there is a high foreign factor (as is the case at Iona) age is often less of a constraint. Also, smoking is de rigueur.
By the way, shit can go down at Iona. Just the year before last, a normally mellow mid-40s friend (he’s in a twee band, for crying out loud) got into a fist fight there. I did not witness this first-hand, but it sticks with me.
Age appropriate? Two beers later, still light out, and three-fourths of the bar, outside and in, were over 40. Sure, some were men with white pageboys, but a high ratio, nonetheless. Does everyone go home by 8pm? Do they disco nap and go back out later as I unwisely did? If you start at 4pm, don’t restart at 8:30pm.