When: Saturday, 2:16am
What did I drink? 70% of a Sixpoint of some sort
Breaking my nothing good happens after 2am rule didn’t result in any traumas, self-loathing, anger, crying jags–you know, the usual–and I do wonder if it’s the Bushwick factor, which on the surface would seem more annoying than Williamsburg but isn’t.
My group of grown women was talked into heading to Tandem by an entertaining, half-crazed 28-year-old man who greatly enjoyed using the word “retarded” and took a shining to us at a nearby rooftop party. Apparently, you can get away with saying you’re also 28 if it’s dark and everyone is very drunk or high. Or crazy.
In my notes (like the older-than-me coworkers who print everything out and re-type words rather just copying and pasting, my generational Achilles’ heel is texting troubles) that read: “3” arcrgw partyikxuoimmmm ok Cupid drunk dual" the only correctly spelled phrase was Norman Reedus, by which I meant to remind myself that there was a bartender who looked like Norman Reedus, but in no way was anywhere Norman Reedus’ 44 years of age.
An accompanying friend had drunk dialed (not dualed) the wrong OkCupid date, ending up with wires-crossed booty call. That gentleman was sitting at the bar and appeared to be the only patron over 40. We left this friend in the green lasers-and smoke-machine back dancing room in the company of the rooftop guy, and she’s still alive so I guess that was fine to do.
Was I carded? Yes, and I’m starting to wonder if bouncers only do that to preserve your dignity.
Age appropriate? Nah, though now that women close to 60 are snatching up lofts like it’s Soho in the ‘70s, all this could change.
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: 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
When: 10:47pm, Saturday
What did I drink? Dieu du Ciel Revenante Smoked Porter, $9; Single Cut 18 Watt IPA, $6
Nilsson. Destroyer. Man music for a beer bar that’s not really all that beer geeky. People, i.e. couples and groups, just go for the backyard seating.
I had written off the entire place when an hour or so in, a friend (a previously unmentioned 40-year-old–apparently, I know more neighborhood old-timers than I thought) clearly on a date, passed by my stool. She was with a visiting Italian gentleman in his early 30s, it turned out.
Apropos of nothing: If I ran a bar, I would put on Duran Duran’s Tiger Tiger as the let’s close this place down music. It would work as a dog whistle to the aged and a repellent to the cool. In other words, there would be no stragglers at 4am.
Age Appropriate? There’s nothing overtly inappropriate about Spuyten Duyvil…apart from the ages of 98% of the clientele. You could sip a beer unnoticed, no problem, unless you wanted to be noticed. Bringing a younger foreigner might be the only remedy.
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? 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.
When: Tuesday, 7:14pm
What did I drink? A Saison Darkly, $5 (small size) Even More Jesus, $11 (big size). I think there were actually three beers, but even in wine glass-sized servings, proofs approaching 12% can cause forgetfulness (I’d rather blame the alcohol than senility).
When I arrived at Tørst, I was pleased to see the friend I was meeting (41) had found another friend alone at the bar who seemed grown (4Ø, it turned out). But that was the end of that. Beer lures men, and the only other women were younger and better halves.
It could be the prices or maybe the seriousness of purpose or possibly the subtle demographic shift from 11211 to 11222, but the men were higher caliber than I’ve come to expect for the area. Probably still 90% under 40, but mature, no bros, no fedoras, even a suit or two.
This raised a conflict, however. When a third friend (41) showed up, she declared the bar age appropriate because of all the pool of men. (She had also gone on a sort of date with someone–younger, of course–affiliated with the establishment, so I should disregard her biased input.)
That wasn’t my original intent. Perhaps I’m more hardline than I realized because I meant these bar visits to test the climate for peers, fellow females in solidarity, and once again there weren’t really any. One obviously older woman came in, walked to the back, turned around and left. Maybe she was looking for someone she didn’t find, or maybe what she didn’t find was anyone like herself.
Was I carded? No. I may have to retire this criterion since only gross places seem to card and I’m committed to avoiding them.
Age appropriate? From the men with potential angle, yes. It also introduced the concept of Parents of Transplants. Tørst, it appears, is also appropriate for showing visiting elders the neighborhood, and jacked the age range up to 60something.