• Barred

    Barred: The Astor Room


    When: 6:32pm, Saturday

    I’ve been to The Astor Room a surprising amount of times for someone who doesn’t live in Astoria (and used to live in Carroll Gardens). I’ve brought my mom and grandma there for happy hour when they’ve visited and I think we ended up drunk and teary. I honestly don’t remember–two-for-ones will do that–but I have a photo of my grandma and one of the bartenders

    This Saturday I took the only open seat and happened to sit next to the only other woman who was solo and appeared to be over 40. She read as a regular, drinking white wine and eating hummus, and ordering another glass declaring, “I’m not feeling it. It’s weak.” I thought she might be Middle Eastern, long chestnut hair, dark features, shades of Amal Clooney, but turned out to be French.

    This was her break from her husband and kids. She was supposed to be detoxing and not drinking wine or eating hummus. Her husband is on her about her weight. She used to cry about being a size 6 and now she is trying to get back there. We were both 5′8″. I am on a size 14/16 cusp, she was no more than a 10. I told her about when I was an exchange student for a month in France my host family said, “We knew you were an American at the train station because you were so big.” I weighed 50 pounds less than I do now at 17. And how I’m about to head to Seoul where clothing sizes are one size because it’s assumed all women are like 0-4. 

    I couldn’t help but ask how old she was. 45. I told her my age in exchange. She said, “You don’t look 44. Never tell anyone that you are.” So French. 

    Was I carded? There is no gatekeeper, and I can’t imagine any yahoos wandering into this basement.

    Age appropriate? Definitely.

  • Barred

    Barred: Keens

    Matt Furie via Little Wolf

    Matt Furie via Little Wolf

    When: 6:47pm, Wednesday

    Keens’ bar room was filled with the expected after-work scrum, but I’d under-estimated the tourist factor, both seemingly Japanese and of the baggy denim and white tennis shoes persuasion. The primary benefit to so many out-of-towners is that their politeness and hesitancy can work in your favor: assertiveness and lack of respect for strangers’ personal space is practically required to get your $14 Manhattan during peak hours.

    The crew of short, shouty men nearest to me included members who were recently married and recently celebrating 40th birthdays. One thought he was “more of a jerk” than when he was younger while another thought he’d mellowed out. “I don’t just jump on anybody for the fuck of it,” he declared, thoughtfully. The merits of Wolfgang’s vs. Empire Steak House were also discussed, but more importantly, Keens ranked highly because there were fewer women present than at other steakhouses.

    Of course, there is the reclining nude over the bar, a.k.a Miss Keens, and a bun-less, fry-free burger named for her, yet I still wouldn’t lump Keens into the same category as Los Pollitos III and its gendered cocktails.

    Age appropriate? Yes. Dark, woody bars that haven’t been fashioned to look dark in woody in the last five years, are usually safe bets.

  • Barred

    Barred: McKeown’s

    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. 

  • Barred

    Barred: Iona

    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.

  • Barred

    Barred: Rum House

    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.

  • Screen Time

    I refuse to use the C word (no, not cunt) for Joan’s old friend, Kate, the Mary Kay saleswoman from Spokane, despite her insistence on visiting a tourist/teenybopper hangout to hit on the much younger waitstaff. It did lead to whisky-swigging in a cab and a night out on St. Mark’s at Electric Circus.

    Would that be age appropriate for a 37-year-old like Joan (same as Christina Hendricks in real life) and Kate, played by Marley Shelton (39) whom I mistook as Heather Graham for a second? Perhaps, but Joan now looks comparatively matronly (but hot) with her dated up ‘do and girdle-requiring dress next to the girls with loose hair, pants, mini-dresses and go go boots.

    As someone who at 10pm was still feeling the effects of the night before (no, I can’t drink eight drinks like I used to–do keep in mind that a 5pm-2am span means less than one per hour) I could relate to the twosome’s bed-ridden morning after. Good for them, whooping it up on a weeknight.