Entries in Classic NYC Bars (3)


My Last Supper At Bill's Gay Nineties

I haven’t been to Bill’s Gay Nineties on TWM yet and decided I should go soon. Rumors started swirling last year that Bill’s is going to be bought out by restauranteur John DeLucie, whom I and many others fear would wreck the joint if he takes it over. On February 10th, Lost City reported that they’ve heard it’s a done deal. I’ve heard the same thing from various people and decided I better get in there before this happens. I’ve never eaten in Bill’s and I’m meeting my friends, The Duncester and Shawn Chittle there tonight for what could very well be a last supper at Bill’s Gay Nineties. The Duncester was inspired by my Mad Men tour and said he’s wearing a suit tonight. Not to be outdone, Shawn and I decided to dress up as well. Hey, if this is a last supper, may as well go out in style and with a smile!

Here we are, Bill's Gay Nineties, it's always like a trip back in time walking in here.

And it's through the swinging saloon doors we go, into Bill's.

And as usual the bar is packed, but I see a small opening so I'm going to grab it.

And here's Tom the bartender. Tom confirmed the sad news that the nights for Bill's in this location are numbered. The last day it's open is March 24th. It seems that the landlord isn't going to renew the lease and someone else is going to take over. The landlord hasn't revealed who this someone else is, but all bets are on John DeLucie, even though it's been denied in the press. My question is why would the landlord deny Bill's lease when they pack them in nightly...

I mean check it out and this is a Tuesday night! The good news is that Tom told me that they're moving the whole operation somewhere nearby. Stay tuned for details! In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my last night at Bill's.

And here's a blast from my 365 past, it's Marc who was bartending the night I came in for the 365 bar crawl! Great to see him again!

I love the vintage boxing photos on the wall's in here.

And the framed original Broadway playbills are classic as well.

Okay, Shawn and the Duncester should be here any minute, so time to move to our table in the back.

And here we are, The Three Amigos! From the left: The Duncester, Yours Fooly and Shawn Chittle. Shawn broke out a tuxedo for the evening, he doesn't fuck around!

Chittle...Shawn Chittle, shaken, not stirred!

And here's Bill's piano man, Elliot Paul with the Duncester.

Here's our charming and lovely waitress Maureen, who's worked at Bill's for years.

And the food arrives! The Duncester got the cheeseburger and fries.

Shawn got the filet...

And I got the crab cakes. The food was delicious, our compliments to the chef!

And Elliot starts the first song of the evening. He has an impressive song list that ranges from The Rolling Stones, to Billy Joel to Frank Sinatra and everyone in between. A great and talented piano man!

And at the end of the evening, we were lucky to be joined at our table by Bill's proprietress Barbara Bart. Barbara's run this place since her father passed away in 1979. She told us that there will be a new Bill's in the future, not far from this location. Look for updates here and on Bill's website. The good news is that Barbara owns all the memorabilia and antiques in Bill's and they and the staff will be transported to the new location. I can't wait for opening night!

And as the empty's stack up, time to call it a night at Bill's. Thanks To Barbara, Tom, Marc, Elliot, Rich, Shawn and The Duncester for a great last night at Bill's. I look forward to many more at the new location!

Bill's Gay Nineties

Further Reading: Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, Village Voice and Eater NY.

Well it's all right, everything'll work out fine,
Well it's all right, we're going to the end of the line.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!


Bonus Photos by Shawn Chittle!

Shawn sent in some photos he took last night and here they are. Great shots, Shawn! Thanks for sending them and for hanging out last night!

Bonus Linkage!

My friend Gidget is tweaking her blog and yesterday posted a story about how she met and became friends with legendary radio personality, Rodney Bingenheimer. I’ve bugged her for a long time to write this and she did a great job, check it out here:
Gidget Bates Crap She Spews.

And don’t forget to tune in to “The Secret Weapon” on Woody Radio. DJ Gidget hosts the show and “Boris” picks the tunes, it’s a great show and you’ll hear music that you’ve probably never heard and will want to hear over and over!


Mad Men Tavern Tour

Last week, TWM commenter, esquared suggested taking a Mad Men tour of Manhattan, via a page that Eater put up highlighting certain Mad Men bars and locations that happened within past episodes, here’s a link to their map. I like this idea, and it’s a timely one seeing that the series is coming back in a month, but if I went to every stop on their map, the post would be way too long. Plus, a lot of the places are closed now, so I picked out a half a dozen bars that are still in operation and that will be our Mad Men tour for the evening. Oh and I plan on getting a Mad Men drink at each stop and rate them with a Freddy Rumsen rating scale from one to four Freddy's.

If you don’t watch Mad Men (you really should, it’s one of the best shows on TV in my humble opinion,) Freddy Rumsen is a recurring character who is the highlight of one of my favorite Mad Men moments. Here it is, without being too much of a spoiler, let me just say it’s a pisser! Freddy's Last Meeting.

Okay, I've got the whole tour planned out on my expanded Kindle GPS, so it's off we go on our Mad Men Tavern Tour!

Stop Number One: Keen’s Steakhouse
72 W. 36th St. (Between 5th and 6th)
Mad Men Episode: “The Arrangements”

It's happy hour and it's crowded in here. I need to find a spot at the bar.

And look at this, a spot just opened up, I'm snagging the stool while I can!

And bartender Rob serves up the first drink of the evening. He told me that after the second season of Mad Men, the cast and crew had their wrap party in here and it was a lot of fun.

And I thought I'd dress up for the role and put on my suit and tie for the tour. Okay, I'm more Freddy Rumsen than Don Draper, but what are you going to do?

Mad Men Drink: A Manhattan
Freddy Rumsen Drink Rating: 4 Freddy’s, it was loaded with booze and expertly crafted!

Stop Number Two: Sardi’s
234 W. 44 St. (Near 8th St.)
Mad Men Episode: “The New Girl”

And here we are at the upstairs bar at Sardi's. I see a familiar face back there!

It's Joseph the bartender, who we met last year on MAD. Great to see him, as always!

In addition to the Martini, I bought the cheese and crackers plate. I sure miss the big communal cheese bowls that Bloomturd and the fucking Department of Health shut down. It's just not the same! Freddy Rumsen would not like this at all!

Mad Men Drink: Martini
Snack: Cheese and crackers
Freddy Rumsen Drink Rating:

4 Freddy’s, Joseph makes a mean martini!
Freddy Rumsen Snack Rating:

Half a Freddy, bring back the free communal cheese bowls!

A lot of people mistake this for the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. This is the Oyster Restaurant.

This is the Oyster Bar/Saloon. And it's...Stop Number Three: Grand Central Oyster Bar
Grand Central Station—42nd and Park Ave.
Mad Men Episode: “Red in the Face

Here's the main dining area in the Oyster Bar, a classic place complete with red-checkered table cloths.

I settled in at this end of the highly polished wooden bar.

And bartender Alex serves me up a vodka gimlet. Cheers!

Mad Men Drink: Vodka Gimlet
Freddy Rumsen Drink Rating: 3 Freddy’s, it was good, but not very strong. Freddy likes his bartenders to lean in while pouring.

Stop Number Four: P.J. Clarkes
915 Third Ave. (@55th St.)
Mad Men Episode: “The Hobo Code"

It's always packed in P.J. Clarke's!

I wiggled through the crowd though and got up to the bar...

And even managed to get a shot of Doug the bartender serving me a sidecar with a side of water. I got the sidecar in honor of the legendary P.J. Clarke's sister restaurant.

Mad Men Drink: Sidecar
Freddy Rumsen Drink Rating: 4 Freddy’s, it was strong and very tasty!

Stop Number Five: The Oak Room Bar
10 Central Park South (Near Fifth Ave.)
Mad Men Episode: “Red in the Face

I wondered why the light wasn't on in the sign and it's because it's closed. Shit, when did that happen? It seems like only yesterday I was enjoying a Mel Gibson in here!

Mad Men Drink: No drink at this stop.
Freddy Rumsen Drink Rating: 0 Freddy’s, a blackout!

Stop Number Six: Tha Dublin House
225 W. 79th St (Near Broadway)
Mad Men Episode: “My Old Kentucky Home

This is a classic Irish bar on the Upper West Side. I used to come here all the time when I lived up here.

And bartender Mike serves up the final drink of the tour while flashing the TMW card...whoops, Mike, you need to turn that card around!

Mad Men Drink: Tom Collins
Freddy Rumsen Drink Rating: 4 Freddy’s, Mike Mixed a great drink to end the tour!

And it seemed only fitting to end the tour with an obligatory bathroom mirror shot in honor of Freddy Rumsen! See you all tomorrow!

Further reading: Time Out New York, On Location Tours and Gridskipper.

Oh, when your heart's on fire,
You must realize,
Smoke gets in your eyes.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!


Donohue's and The Subway Inn

I don’t eat steak a lot, but I’ve been craving it all week. One place I’ve been meaning to go to is the legendary Peter Luger Steakhouse in Brooklyn. I tried to get a reservation, but they were all booked up. Maybe next week. Then I thought I’d try Keen’s Steakhouse here in Manhattan, I’ve eaten at the bar, but never at the main dining room. I thought I’d eat at a table and then have a few beers in the bar afterwards. I called for a reservation, but no dice, they were booked all night too. Everybody else must be craving steak too! So I racked my brain and then thought of a classic place I haven’t been to for quite a while now, Donohue’s Steak House on the Upper East Side. There’s usually a seat at the bar if you go after 7pm, so that’s where I’m headed tonight to get my steak fix and have a few beers too. But first, a few appetizers at the home base here.


Okay, three beers and a quick subway ride uptown and here we are at Donohue's.

It's crowded tonight, but there's a seat at the bar, so I hang my coat on the barstool and settle in.

And friendly bartender Maureen serves up a beer and an award-winning smile!

Maureen's not only the bartender here, she's the owner. Her last name is Donohue and her father and grandfather were the original owners and opened Donohue's over 60 years ago. When Maureen's father passed away 12 years ago, she took it over. Here she poses with a photo of her father behind the bar. Maureen's keeping it all in the family, several of her nieces work here.

Johnny was seated next to me at the bar and after I told him about my 365 bars blog, we discussed the New York bar scene and it turns out we both were regulars at the old P&G Bar.

The multi-colored lights behind the bar, always give the place a festive feeling.

Maureen told me this is the original cash register from when Donohue's first opened the doors. Very cool!

Obligatory bar mirror shot!

A long shot of the classic wooden bar and some of the patrons gathered around it.

There's tables and booths in the back dining room...

But you can also eat at the bar, which is what I chose to do. I came for a steak, but saw they had honey-dipped fried chicken on the menu and decided to go for that.

And I'm glad I did, it was delicious! Some of the best fried chicken I've ever had. I left the carrot and parsley so the empty plate picture would have a little color.

I thanked Maureen for the hospitality and headed out the door for the Subway.

No, not that subway...

This Subway, the Subway Inn. I'm taking Jeremiah Moss' advice and stopping in here for dessert, since it's just a couple blocks from Donohue's.

Nice and dark in here, a classic NYC dive bar.

And here bartender Will poses with tonight's dessert, a bottle of Budweiser.

Here's the back of the bar.

Above it, Marilyn laughs with hard hats and various tchotchke's surrounding her.

A shot of the bar from the opposite end. Being it's Sunday, it's a little low-key in here, which is why I like going out on Sunday's.

I love the nuclear green lighting in the booth's in here, it's perfect!

Okay, one last look out the neon-tinged window...

And it's down into the actual subway we go. Thanks for tripping out with me and we'll see you all tomorrow.

Further Reading: Ev Grieve, NY Eater and New York On Tap.

Green Onions.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!