When: 4:40pm, Friday
I ended up at The Churchill after drinking an expensive cocktail at Marta after discovering they no longer have a happy hour (I also discovered the cocktail wasn’t as expensive as it initially appeared as the restaurant is one of Danny Meyer’s latest to go tip inclusive). I wanted a beer no-fuss. At this hour, at least, it was very neighborhood-y, solidly middle-aged-plus.
I couldn’t help but butt into the conversation happening on my left after hearing “At my age, age-appropriate women don’t go out alone to bars.”
Then doubly-nosy, “Do you mind me asking how old you are?”
The 72-year-old who’d given up on meeting women in bars also turned out to have two daughters around my age, one 42, with a boyfriend in his early 30s. The more I parsed, the more I liked.
As is often the case, I stayed longer than intended and started discussing my long distance relationship with strangers who never ever think it’s a good idea and then I relay this to the other member of this long distance relationship because I’ve had too much to drink and that’s always an even worse idea. I’ll learn eventually.
Was I carded? No. I don’t think young people would try sneaking in here.
Age appropriate? For sure. Despite my big mouth, it was a fun early evening, and nice to talk to British couples in their 50s who come across as sensible just because they have an accent even if they might also be drunk
When: Thursday, 7:33pm
What I drank: Gin and tonic (brand unknown), Maker’s Mark on the rocks ($8 apiece)
With its peeling linoleum, bordello red glow and jaunty exterior neon, Subway Inn gives off a whiff of crusty old man hang, though that has never been the actual case on my early evening visits where it feels more like I’ve walked in on someone’s party. Or rather, clumps of parties, all made up of youthful mixed-gender groups with a lack of overtly unifying characteristics that would imply coworkers. This extends to the jukebox, which in the course of 30 minutes could play Justin Timberlake and Jay Z, initially unidentifiable metal (Memphis May Fire, thanks to Shazam) and unidentifiable-even-to-Shazam contemporary country. And the solo drinking men–too young to be so gruff and too early to be so sloshed–are twitchy about encroachment of their space at the bar.
I am not looking to make friends anyway (and after a few drinks kinship begins to simmer). Subway Inn serves as my pre-game option on the rare occasions when I dine in the E. 60s, the land of solid double-digit cocktails. Soon enough this dying breed may be snuffed out altogether–or who knows, repurposed by John DeLucie.
Was I carded? No, I only noticed the bouncer on his doorway stool as I was leaving.
Age appropriate? There’s nothing about the atmosphere that is specifically repellant to grown women who don’t mind a little dust and dishevelment, though in my limited experience I have not encountered them. Based on comments I’ve read, this is because ladies be shopping at Bloomingdales and Subway Inn is the refuge for sad and miserable husbands and boyfriends.
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: 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.
When: Saturday, 11:22pm
What did I drink? Manhattan, Velasco (mezcal, mint, sweet vermouth, maraschino) $10 each.
So many Mays so suddenly: Mayfield, the Crown Heights restaurant, Maysville, the Flatiron’s Char no. 4 spinoff, and The Mayflower (sometimes referred to as Mayflower Social) the tiny pseudo-speakeasy behind Aita in Clinton Hill.
If you ask someone, even an area resident, if they’ve head of it, it’s likely the answer will be no. The 25-seater (five being little stools smooshed at the bar) doesn’t draw the masses, which is good because the slightly hidden (there is a sign, though there wasn’t one originally) bar isn’t much bigger than a typical NYC bedroom.
Clientele generally ranges from early 30s downward, and despite the Brooklyn address, the beardo factor is low-to-nonexistent, as happens the farther you stray from the L train. The fact that you can hear yourself speak over the music (Joanna Newsom, Hall and Oates) often means that there will be at least one table with an older (not old) couple. On a separate night, Jonathan Ames and a lady friend filled that quota.
I don’t think the real Jonathan Ames drinks–and certainly not white wine–does he?
Was I carded? No. Despite the small size, it can get a little hairy if more than one party wants drinks at the same time, so there’s no time for the bartender to ID check.
Age appropriate? Yes, but it tends to attract couples and groups of couples, so the odds of meeting strangers are slim.
Photo credit: fuck yeah schwartzmans. Fuck yeah, I know I’m supposed to reblog, but I’m old school.
When: Tuesday, 6:11pm
What did I drink? Maidens Blush (see below) $12, Gladstone (rye, parfait amour, caraway aquavit) $14.
Leaving the 11211 zip code, going out before 9pm and avoiding weekends is an advisable tactic. I’m only sad that Dead Rabbit showed up a block from my office right as I’m moving into a building that will have a Señor Frog’s on the ground floor.
Amidst all the grown frattiness of Stone Street and the disappointment that was Demi Monde, Dead Rabbit gets everything right. Not only are you given a cool glass of water, the hallmark of the adult bar, but also a teacup of welcome punch. It sets the tone. The dim, flattering lighting, minimal cell phone absorption and seated parties only, added to the pluses. And importantly, the bar stools turned out to be plush leather 2×2 seats (even the cranks at Mouthfuls would approve).
Working theory #2: the more expensive the drinks, the more mature (or douchey, depending) the audience. $14 cocktails ensure plenty of suits and quite a few over-50s.
From 5pm-7pm, though, there are dollar oysters and $12 specials like the Maidens Blush (Ransom Old Tom Gin, Pernod absinthe, lemon, raspberry cordial, rose water, orange bitters) which is not a delicate drink, despite the name but brown and intense. Two straight-up cocktails are enough to work their magic and get you home at a respectable hour.
Was I carded? No, I encounter that far less in Manhattan, but there was an Irish doorman, presumably for crowd control.
Age appropriate? Highly. Mission finally accomplished. For a brief period, we could’ve sworn our group consisting of two 40-year-old women and a token 36, were the youngest in the room.