When: Friday, 6:53pm
What did I drink? One glass of Torrontes, $9; The Reformer (Avua Amburana cachaça, Elcano Fino sherry, Cherry Heering, Peychaud’s Bitters, pasilla and moruga scorpion chiles), $14.
With oysters for $1 (6-8pm, Tuesday-Friday, all day Monday, Sunday) and oysters that are bong-smoked (not $1) Desnuda would seem to attract a younger crowd (not that grandmas are opposed to good deals and stoner gimmicks). And it does.
On the early side, though, the bar is relaxed, the chairs are comfortable, the staff welcoming. I would feel ok with returning on my own. A few solo men had taken up residency, one, slightly too serious, definitely older than 40 and reading The Memory of Love (yes, I had to look that up), which I don’t know how to interpret at all.
When the gentleman preparing the plates of raw fish asked how I liked the place, I said, “It’s nice; it’s not obnoxious,” which is kind of an obnoxious thing to say in retrospect, but it was worse, though funnier, because he thought I simply said, “It’s obnoxious.” As if I make a habit out of telling staff to their faces that their establishments are obnoxious (that’s what blogs are for, duh).
Was I carded? No. Places that are equally bar and restaurant rarely ID.
Age appropriate? Pretty much–at least in theory–at this point I’ve all but given up on seeing any women over 40 in bars, at least in North Brooklyn, but persist, nonetheless.
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: 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: Wednesday, 9:30pm
What did I drink? Gin and tonic, Maker’s Mark on the rocks (prices unknown, but not expensive)
Do you ever feel possessive of something that matters to nearly no one? Neighborhood borders are the smallest stakes. I still have a sense of ownership for Ridgewood, Queens, my first NYC neighborhood, circa 1998-2000. (I even wrote a Village Voice snapshot a million years ago.) When people tell me (and they do) about how kids are now doing cool things there fifteen years later, I don’t think that they mean there are music venues and galleries in the Archie Bunker/Italian/Polish/Bosnian/Romany heart of Ridgewood, but closer to the Bushwick border, if not actually Bushwick, a strange reversal where claiming Queens grants cachet.
A friend and former coworker from my Ridgewood days, now also somewhere in her 40s, recently moved to “Ridgewood” and had mentioned Pearl’s as a local bar of sorts (three L stops away in Bushwick proper, this leads me to believe that Ridgewood still lacks a substantial hipster element, despite reports to the contrary). A seed was planted.
And then I really had to see for myself after reading a Yelp review (sure, I’ll consult the site for questions of atmosphere and tone–never food) containing this troubling bit: “Plenty of dirty hipsters – old ones! Like, peeps in their mid thirties. Mmmmm, come ‘ere gramps." No grammas?
No. There were tattoos, cocktails in mason jars, muscle shirts, beer-and-shot drinkers, mostly men (and to be fair, a solo young lady ordering Fernet) and an androgynous butt rocker that excited me more when I thought it was a woman emulating ’70s-era Jodie Foster.
It was certainly not "Berry Hill;” bros and tourists aren’t treating Flushing Avenue like Bedford quite yet, and the rash of recent muggings targeting oblivious bar patrons only emphasizes how in flux the neighborhood is.
Pearl’s is probably the closest bar if you decide to hit up alcohol-free Bun-Ker or Western Beef, so it does have that going for it.
Age appropriate? For Bushwick, perhaps, where an older crowd means 31.
Was I carded? Yes, indeed. And the man sitting outside on a stool should’ve been a giveaway; grown-up bars do not need to ward off underage drinkers.
Photo at Pearl’s: Lauren Carol Smith via Bedford + Bowery
Because I don’t regularly read The Times’ Booming section, subhead Living Through the Middle Ages (yesterday’s piece, an evergreen that seems to pop up at least yearly, from a woman bravely going gray at 53 could’ve easily fit there) I only now discovered the series, “A Quiet Drink,” described thusly: “This feature presents bars and restaurants where one can have grown-up conversation over a good drink.”
Sounds good in theory, though I don’t require peace and quiet, just one other adult woman in the room. Shouting and juvenile chats? Fine, as long as there’s another female born in at least the ‘70s present.
The photo for this week’s installment, Bar “21,” doesn’t fill me with hope.
When: Tuesday, 9:29pm
What did I drink? One Manhattan (unsure of price)
Despite the name (it put me off for quite some time) Roebling Tea Room is more restaurant than café. It’s not really a drinking establishment either, but there are a sufficient number of eaters and drinkers sitting on stools that the bar area is more than a holding pen.
There was a finance dude in a pristine ten-gallon hat and cowboy boots who insulted the bartender’s intelligence while thinking he was complimenting her beauty, then later slipped her his number (I think—hope—she wasn’t having any of it) which seems exactly what a 30-ish bro dressed like J.R. Ewing in Williamsburg would do.
The bar clientele was more motley than I’ve come to expect for the area, as if partially made up of lost walk-ins. Steely Dan, a persistent aural neighborhood presence, would seem to indicate a certain level of comfort for the older set, but the adult male in his 50s with thinning hair seemed out of place (he may have been a P.O.M., a.k.a. parent of a millennial). So too, the mid-30s gent with a leather jacket and dangly earring. That was more a matter of wrong decade than physical place, though.
Age appropriate? I really don’t know. My first instinct is a yes, though the masculine vibe, maybe not typical, further clouded the lack of grown women issue.
When: Tuesday, 9:19pm
What did I drink? Old Overholt Manhattan and Old Fashioned, $14 each.
For drinking, Times Square, despite all its tourist ills, is far more integrated than the upper quadrants of Brooklyn. Rum House runs the gamut: theater nerds, multicultural clusters of gay men, bowties, affected accents like when talkies were new, older American men in ripped European jeans with younger Russian women, beer-drinking couples in their 70s, piano players, Hotel Edison residents, a woman who looked like the 1968 Megan Draper wearing a dramatic brunette fall, and me, trying to mitigate the effects of my Bubba Gump Blue Hawaii with brown spirits.
If I wasn’t averse to spending more on drinks than my typical lunch, I’d be inclined to slip away from my desk midday for a pick me up.
You could look like this.
Or this. Either way.
Was I carded? No.
Age appropriate? Extremely. By far, the most 70+ crew yet.
When: Friday, 11pm on the dot.
What did I drink? Turkey Jerky (Redemption rye, Osocolis brandy, cinnamon sugar, Angostura bitters, Bittermen’s Tiki bitters) Two Hemingway daiquiris (maraschino and grapefruit juice makes the difference) which I’ve decided will be my spring drink if it ever becomes spring-like outside. $10, apiece.
Old To Be here? Oblivious To Boundaries? On The Bench? Obviously Too Broken-down?
OTB proves that it’s possible to even make off track betting (RIP) Brooklyn old-timey. It also reminds me that I really need to get to that Aquaduct racino for a very different, mostly likely highly age-appropriate, experience.
What the bar could’ve looked like.
The design includes a trio of antique rotary payphones that will make elders feel welcome while confounding digital natives (my favorite new coded job description phrase). The evening candle light (ours was snuffed out three times because I’m a blowhard–but it was promptly relit every time) is also kind to the older woman. That doesn’t mean you’ll see any, though.
As with Williamsburg generally (I swear, I’m branching out soon) a quick sweep of the room rarely turns up anyone obviously over 32. It’s the obvious aspect that’s making me start to wonder, though. I don’t think that I or most of my female friends look overtly 40+ (though stating that aloud is a sure sign of being Wurtzel-level delusional) so who is to say that I’m accurately pegging the ages of others?
Was I carded? No, OTB is semi-restaurant in nature.
Age appropriate? Yes, in that no one will pay attention to you one way or the other.
Photo: Yana Paskova/New York Times
When: Saturday, 5:46pm.
What did I drink? Daiquiri, Haunted House (Appleton Jamaican Rum, rye, Swedish punsch, ginger syrup, Angostura bitters) $7, 2 oz. Buffalo Trace, $9.
Like Linda or Deborah, Donna is not a young person’s name (even The Donnas, once girl wonders, are now in their 30s). Donnas were teens in the ‘70s, like my aunt’s friend whom she met working at Winchell’s when I was in preschool and recently friended me on Facebook.
It may go without saying, but daytime drinking (weekends and furtive workplace slip-outs) is tailor made for the older set. And Donna, down low on Broadway near the Italian waterfront restaurant everyone knows about, but has never visited, is a perfect place to spend a few daylight hours. On Saturdays there are tacos. Before 7pm, even on weekends, there are discounted drinks, $7 instead of $10, which encouraged me to try the Haunted House, an iced alcoholic mishmash, a.k.a. hipster Long Island Ice Tea.
On the early side, there was a group of gay men visiting from Boston, possibly over 40 but well-preserved, a tan gentleman in a preppy v-neck sweater who had to be in his 50s with a decade-younger woman who had that darker eyebrow, blonde Argentine look, both polished. It was our group, though, celebrating at 41st birthday that raised the average age in the room. Seven out of ten were 40+ (and I was rude enough to ask the two attendees I’d never met before how old they were).
But beware, the Belle and Sebastian, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan (Peg!), all favorite soothers, give way after dark, and the sunny, leisurely atmosphere shifts with the arrival of a DJ. Stay too long, and it’s a standing room only scene for people who’ve never known anyone named Donna first-hand.
Was I carded? No doorman, no nonsense.
Age appropriate? To a point.