Entries in Midtown (6)

Tuesday
Apr242012

'21' Club

I haven’t been out on a searching for a swizzle stick adventure since I started TWM, so I thought tonight I’d go out in search of one. One classic New York Bar I’ve never been to is the ‘21’ Club. The ‘21’ Club originally opened in Greenwich Village in 1922 and was called the Red Head. They moved to the current location at 21 West 52nd Street in 1929 and changed the name to Jack and Charlie’s 21 Club in honor of the new address and the two owners first names. As time wore on, it became simply known as ‘21’ Club. You’d think an iconic place like this would have swizzle sticks, let’s go and find out!

And it's down into the subway we go as we make our way to 21 West 52nd Street.

And just as I walk onto the subway stop, a train is approaching, one of the best feelings in the world!

And here's an iZombie texting her life away seated next to me. She never once looked up from that thing.

I hate this escalator at the Fifth Avenue subway station. It's the tallest escalator ever and it really fucks around with my fear of heights. I get vertigo just looking at this picture.

Okay, I made it up the escalator with only a minor anxiety attack and here we are. The '21' Club is about a block away.

And here we are. While there's no sign outside, one thing that gives it away...

Is the ceramic jockeys out front. Through the years, horse owners and breeders have donated jockey's to '21' Club and you can read about the history of that here.

Here's more of the jockeys leading you up the stairs in the front of the building.

And here's more on the top floor. Okay, enough of the jockeys, let's check out the bar and see if we can score a swizzle stick.

This is the bar, it's situated in the front of the dining area. it's a classic dark bar and so all the photos will be flashless and maybe a little on the dark side, but I didn't want to break the mood of this place by popping off a bunch of flash photos.

Here's a shot of the wooden bar from where I stand. There are no seats or stools at the bar. One thing that's cool about this place is the way its lit, small spotlights hang from the ceiling lighting up certain areas and leaving others dark. It really gives the place a cool ambiance. You kind of feel like you're in a movie in here.

I ordered a gin and tonic in a tall glass and was disappointed that there was no swizzle stick in it. I expressed my disappointment to the friendly bartender Anne-Marie (she's camera-shy and didn't want to be photographed) and she said she could fix me right up.

She summoned Michael, who's worked at '21' for over 25 years to come over with a '21' Club swizzle stick especially for me. It seems they are on short supply and are waiting on a new order to come in, but they dug this one up just for me! Very nice!

Houston, we have a swizzle stick! Very cool, now let's take a look around in here.

Here's a shot of the back of the classic, old school bar.

A glance of the circular wooden bar from the opposite end from where I was standing.

And here's the dining room behind the bar. Notice all the items hanging from the ceiling.

There's everything from model airplanes to trucks, to football helmets and basically anything you can think of dangling from the ceiling in here. It's really something to see.

There's also lots of pictures from the past and memorabilia on the wooden walls in here.

As the night wore on, some of the tables emptied out, here's a shot of some of the spot lit tables and the red banquette behind them.

And here's the new swizzle stick...

That is added to the collection. Thanks to Anne-Marie and Michael for making this a great night out at the '21' Club and a successful swizzle stick adventure!

‘21’ Club
21 W. 52nd St. (Near Fifth Ave.)
212-582-7200


Further Reading: Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, Wikipedia and Hub Pages.

Never 21 when everyone's a sailor,
Coming up strong at the animal bar,
Ever loving mug of Mr. Norman Mailer,
Turn another page at the animal bar.

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

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Surprise Candy And Fear Of A Stalker!

Last week a mysterious package showed up in my mail from Vermont. I wondered what it was, as I don't know anyone in Vermont, so I opened it up.

Inside there was a gift box, but no card saying who it was from. I opened it up and inside...

It was filled with maple candy. I immediately remembered answering a question from Gidget in her questions post  at her blog about my favorite childhood candy. I told her it was maple candy that my grandma gave to me as a kid. I thought maybe the candy came from Gidget so I called her. She told me that she had planned to send me maple candy, but hadn't had time to do it yet, so now I was a little freaked out. Who had my address and was sending me candy? I immediately started looking both ways as I left my apartment, fearing a stalker. Then yesterday, TWM commenter, BBC member and friend, Gene sent me an email stating that he and Smoopy had sent me a package and wondered if it had showed up. It turns out he and Smoopy read Gidget's blog, sent the candy and the people in Vermont forgot to include a card saying who it was from! So a belated thanks to Gene and Smoopy for sending the candy! It was delicious and brought back fond memories of my childhood and my grandma!

Friday
Apr202012

The Russian Vodka Room

Like my friend and 365 Bars co-pilot, Al Rizo, I’m a fan of dark bars. And the less TV sets, the better. I found a bar on my 365 Bar Crawl that not only has no TV sets, there’s not even any windows in the joint! It’s like it’s midnight at all hours in there. The bar is the Russian Vodka Room and I’ve never been back since my happy hour. Today changes all that as I’ve chosen it for my happy hour bar of the week.

The bar is in midtown, about ten blocks from Times Square, so we'll take the subway there.

And here we are amongst the tourist madness in Times Square.

Jesus Christ, I need a drink! Let's get to the bar, pronto!

And here we are at the Russian Vodka Room. Even though it's daylight outside...

It always feels like night time in here!

The bartender was shy and didn't want her picture taken, but she wanted to take one of me, so why not? Cheers! I got a martini in here instead of my usual Budweiser, as they're just five bucks during happy hour.

Archy the manager of the bar isn't shy about photos and posed with a bottle of what the bar is named after.

And here he is pouring bottles of vodka into a glass vat filled with cranberries.

Once the vodka fills the vats, they sit up here and age and make the flavor-infused vodkas that are served at the bar.

Here's the view of the bar from my perch.

Martini glasses are chilled with ice on top of the bar.

There's a lounge area in the back of the bar.

A framed piece of Russian art hangs on the dark-wooden wall.

A shot of the bar from the opposite end.

Peter and Kalbir were seated nearby and told me that they're visiting New York and live in the U.K. They wanted to know of a decent jazz bar, so I suggested Arthur's Tavern in Greenwich Village. I hope they enjoyed it!

Glen was enjoying a Russian dinner at the bar. Archy told me he eats there every single night.

And speaking of eating, Archy presented me with a pierogi sampler on the house. The four pierogis were filed with meat, spinach, cheese and potato and were delicious!

As the evening wears on, the bar is starting to fill up.

And the piano man begins playing his tunes for the crowd.

This painting hangs beside him.

And as I head home, day time had turned to night time in New York City. See you all tomorrow!

Russian Vodka Room
265 W. 52nd St. (Near Broadway)
212-307-5835
Happy Hour Specials: Five dollar flavored martinis and beers from 4 PM to 7 PM.

Further Reading: CBS New York, Time Out New York and Black Book.

On the way the paperback was on my knee,
Man I had dreadful flight,
I’m back in the U.S.S.R.
You don’t know how lucky you are, boys.

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

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Bonus Photos From Danny The Freelancer!

After yesterday's toilet post,TWM commenter, Danny the Freelancer sent in a couple of his own toilet photos, taken on vacation. Here's what he wrote to me: "Here are two photos that I took at the Ancient Roman city of Ephesus in Turkey in 2008. The Toilets were only for Roman's. Their would be a slave on hand to wipe and wash your ass when you were done." That's Danny's girlfriend Donna, posing on the toilet. Very cool, Thanks Danny!

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Bonus Video From The Duncester!

The Duncester sent in this Russian flavored clip from one of my favorite movies, Dr. Strangelove, great scene! Thanks, Duncester!

Tuesday
Apr102012

Christmas Cottage

Yesterday we celebrated Easter and so today, while I’m still in a holiday mood, I thought we’d celebrate Christmas, let me explain. The other week when my parents were in town we walked past a shop I’ve always been curious about. It’s a little shop on Seventh Avenue called the Christmas Cottage and pretty much all they sell is Christmas items. I’ve always been curious how a place like this survives in the off season, so today we’ll go and find out.

And here we are in Midtown. It's just a couple blocks from here.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice! Or if you don't feel like practicing, you could just take the N train to 57th Street, like I did.

And here we are at the Christmas Cottage, a little slice of the North Pole in Midtown.

Here's one of the front windows, which is elaborately dressed with Christmas decorations.

If Mermaids are welcome, then I guess we are too!

Let's go in and see what's happening in the Christmas Cottage.

Wow, this is one sparkly store! You immediately get a Christmas vibe walking in here. All of a sudden, I have an urge to buy a Norelco razor for some reason.

Here's the owners of the store, Diane and Paul Prianti. They started this festive business back in 1985 and have been in this location since 1997. They're very friendly people and they take time to talk to the customers who are shopping in the store. It's not at all like your typical impersonal Midtown store and it brings out a nice holiday feeling when you're in here, no matter what month of the year it is. It's a true family-owned business and their sons work here as well when they're not in school.

Here's Sing, who they told me was the Santa Claus of the store. I didn't see a beard on Sing, but then realized he must shave that thing off for the upcoming summer heat. Let's take a little tour of the store.

Here's a quintet of Father Christmas dolls.

Christmas carolers are up on a shelf in the store.

There's vintage prints that would make nice decorations during the holiday season.

And of course there's a fully decorated tree in here.

Santa is looking down at holiday wooden soldiers on display.

Paul told me that the price of the items in the store range from $2.95 to...

Over $5,000 for this piece of art featuring Santa and his helpers. You can't see it in the photo, but the characters actually move and it's very cool.

There's holiday artwork up on the walls featuring a snowman and various Santas.

And there's buckets on the floor filled with holiday goodies and knick-knacks.

Not everything is Christmas-orientated at the store though, here's a display of ceramic mermaids that reminded me of Coney Island.

Unique handmade pillows cover this wall.

Here's some hand-painted signs for your home bar. You seeing these Al? One of these would look nice in your bar in Miami, maybe I'll get you one this year for Christmas if you're a good boy!

There's other items here, but the main draw is Christmas as these two dueling Santas prove. I decided to get something in here myself.

I found this little fiddle marked with the words, "Carnegie Hall" on it. I thought this was kind of fitting since I had just passed it and decided to get it.

But when I took it up to the register, Paul told me I could have it as an early Christmas gift. This place really brings out the Christmas spirit no matter what month it is. I thanked Paul and now I'd like to pass on the Christmas feeling to one of the TMW readers out there. The first person to comment will get the violin as an early Christmas gift from myself, Paul, Diane and everyone from the Christmas Cottage. Ho, ho, ho and a bottle of Rum!

Christmas Cottage (New website coming soon and they ship world-wide.)
871 Seventh Ave. (Between 55th and 56th St.)
212-333-7380


Further Reading: New York Magazine, NY Citysearch and Waymarking.

Santa Claus is coming to town,
Santa Claus is coming to town.

Surprise link, click on it, I dare you!