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I recently realized, upon recognizing that I have no plans for the Fourth of July, that the best part of this “getting older” thing was Not Giving a Shit.
All throughout college, and even for a few years later, there were a few nights every year where I just had to have plans to feel cool. These nights included New Years Eve, Halloween, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July.
Now I view these days as days where something fun may go down, but they’re mostly just excuses to drink heavily at huge parties with lots of people who you probably don’t know and will never see again. This is why I don’t put much weight in making plans for these momentous occasions anymore.
One of my good friend’s and his fiancee have a New Years Eve party every year that’s rather low key and lovely. And if I feel the need to eat BBQ on the Fourth or Memorial Day, I can order it (or cook it! - which has never happened but I know I’m capable of it).
When I see the Instagrams of girls in their early twenties getting dressed up to eventually be blacking out in the early hours of the next morning, I think, “Oh, it was fun, for sure,” when I didn’t know any better, but I’m glad as f*ck that it’s not my life anymore.
Last week I met up with my best friend, Jess, and her sister, Dina, for an early dinner. Jess was craving beer and ample amounts, so when I discovered that Fred’s wasn’t opened until 5pm, we walked a few blocks to George Keeley’s.
I’d only been to George Keeley’s once before and it was on a Friday night, so food wasn’t really the main event. I remembered that they did one thing well: wings.
I convinced the girls to get wings and they were happy I did because they were very, very good. I wish I could say the same for my quesadilla but I cannot. It was gross, and the portion size was disgustingly big. I didn’t try any of my friend’s dishes, but they didn’t look too appetizing either.
In conclusion: If you’re looking for good (or decent) bar food, George Keeley’s is not the spot. I’d recommend going up to what I’ve lovingly dubbed Dochebag Row (both Brother Jimmy’s and Jake’s Dilemma are on that block) and pop in to grab a bite at The Dead Poet, where the food is much tastier and though the crowd does get a little ridiculous and kind-of douchebaggy, it’s a much nicer atmosphere than most of the bars you’ll find in that area.
As you can tell, I spend a lot of time in Midtown West. Although it’s not the “cool” part of the city and it’s incredibly touristy, it’s where I often venture out for pre- or post-show libations with friends. Here are a couple of my favorites.
Latitude Bar & Grille: I have a history of coming here for parties and fundraisers. I love the roof deck as well. The lower levels can be fun too, but they often get alarmingly crowded and on the roof there’s breathing room. It’s especially beautiful to be up there at sunset. At night you can almost see the lights of Times Square from Eighth Avenue. The prices are incredibly reasonable for midtown too. 8th Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets
Glasshouse Tavern: I stumbled upon this gem of a bar while killing time before a performance of Spring Awakening in 2007 and returned a few times in 2010, a couple of months ago with my friend Brian before he caught a performance of Next to Normal. I think it’s really moderately priced ($8-$10 for a glass of wine) and laid back. You can sit at the bar and not be crowded or be rushed out. I’ve yet to try the food, but I’ve heard it’s quite good. 49th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue.
Celtic Pub: I started frequenting this bar in 2005 with my friend Matt back when it was just Playwrights Tavern, and as of late, I find myself frequenting this spot again (still with Matt). Known as an after-show hang out for stage hands and the like, this is your standard Irish pub with cheap drinks (averaging around $8/drink or so) and mediocre and tasty (but cheap) bar food. Sports are always on the LCDs and it’s often packed at the bar and the tables, but if you wait around for ten minutes or so, you’ll be able to snag a seat and you won’t be banished to their upstairs seating area. 8th Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets.
Bar 41: Located in the back of the ground floor of Hotel 41, this is a spot that is always crowded after work. However, my fondest memories are pulled from the weekend of September 7th-8th, 2008 - closing weekend of the ground-breaking musical, Rent. My best friend John decided on the 7th that we were, in fact, going to get a room at Hotel 41 and party it up and party it up we did. The bartender after the show on the 7th was amazingly kind and let us sit at the bar as long as we wanted while we noshed and boozed. I’ve been back to this bar a dozen times since and it never disappoints - though it has been crowded. They have happy hour prices from 4-7pm and drinks range from $7-$13. West 41st Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.
Blockheads: I had to include this bar because many great college memories were had here. Tortilla chips are served to each table and margaritas are $3 and over-flowing with tequila (albeit cheap tequila, but that’s all you can really expect when you’re in college!). Located in the middle of World Wide Plaza on a beautiful night with an exceptional breeze, this is the perfect summer spot. I probably love it more in the fall though, when it’s a bit cooler. The food isn’t bad either. 8th Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets.
Sardis: After discovering how shockingly cheap a glass of Sauvignon Blanc was ($9) at Sardis and how classy I felt sipping wine up there, the upstairs bar at Sardis became an instant favorite of mine. The bartenders are also incredibly sweet, and did I mention the bar food? Not the food you can order from the menu (although Sardis is a famous restaurant, I’ve never much been impressed by the food there), but the complimentary food that’s placed on the bar for their Happy Hour clientele. They put out cheese and crackers, nuts, and pretzels, this plus my $9 wine… well, you can’t beat that. And you never know who you might run into here before or after a show!