Gene's Bar Exams—A Dozen Bars in New York City In One Day!


Ninty-nine percent of the posts here are going to be about things going on and memories of Peoria and towns nearby, but the one percent void is going to be filled by contributor Gene Rubbico (scroll down for his picture and bio). Long time readers of my blogs will be familiar with Gene and his wife Smoopy and his friend Terry, or collectively as I call them, The BBC (Baltimore Bar Crawlers.) These people are experienced bar crawlers, when they blow into a town, it’s nothing for them to hit 978 bars in two days and consume 18,973 drinks between the three of them. I never even tried to keep up with them on their New York visits. Gene is also a photographer, so once a month, he’s going to be the designated MBIP Bar Crawler and will serve up a photo-essay with captions of his booze-filled journeys to bars. The title for this ongoing contributor’s post is called, Gene’s Bar Exams.

For the maiden voyage of Gene’s Bar Exams, Gene and the BBC traveled to New York and crawled around the Big Apple. They spent two days there, so we decided to divide it into two parts. And here’s part one, take it away, Gene!


1:48pm: We are a mere 14 minutes away now!  I just woke up from a nap and I'm wondering where are we going when we get there? We never have a plan, we get there and wing it the whole time. It's supposed to be a nice weather weekend, so walking around will be nice! And a lot more fun than waiting for subway trains.


2:25pm: I can't resist taking this picture when standing in this spot. Could the sky be any more clear and blue? I could use a drink now!


2:26pm: This seemed to be a good place to stop first—it’s not quite check-in time yet—and our hotel is just around the corner and I'm thirsty!


2:37pm: The party has started! I always try to make a trip up around Christmas, pub crawling is more fun during the holidays and I like seeing a lot of the places decorated for the season. Legends has more going on than this shot shows, but Marty doesn't want a post with 240 photos in it! Anyhow, a cool pint of Bass has started this weekend off! Cheers!


3:09pm: It's after 3:00pm now, time to check-in, and get rid of our bags! Our hotel is on the left—Nyma—which was a pleasant stay, I recommend it, especially if you can get the $104 rate we paid.


4:18pm: Here we are at Shorty's on Madison Avenue. I'm really thirsty & hungry now. I've eaten at their other location on 9th Ave., and figured one of their subs was a good idea today. I got a buffalo chicken cheese steak that was delicious! I washed that down with a Woodchuck Winter Cider and then a potent tall Tito's vodka & tonic. The bartender suggested the Tito's, he says it's as good as any vodka and it's cheaper than Absolute! Sounds good to me!


5:24pm: Still at Shorty's. We were staying until halftime of the Texans/Bengals playoff game. This is not the cheapest place to drink (bartenders are nice though!) but look at all of those tv's! (Sorry Marty and Al!)


5:29pm: Shorty's isn’t decorated much for the holidays (I wonder if they already took down their stuff?) But they do have a nice a nice whiskey section that I couldn't stop staring at ! (too bad I don't do whiskey, except for the occasional shot.)


6:21pm: The Globe—one of my favorites from some blog called "A Guy Walks into 365 Bars." A real drinkers guide to NYC, not something lame like Zagat or Shecky's!


6:24pm: The Globe doesn't have holiday decorations either, UFB! but it’s a cool NYC hangout, so I don't care. I had a great pint of Guinness, and we watched the 3rd quarter of the Texans/Bengals here. I only had one drink here because I figured I want to hit a few places that are nearby and I don't want to be done before 9:00pm!


7:01pm: Pizza Pub—I didn't get any pizza, but a cold bottle of Allagash White was all I needed. By now the Texans/Bengals game is in the 4th quarter, and it's a foregone conclusion that the boring Texans are going to win. Yam is not working tonight, and I'm basically thinking I should be somewhere else.


7:07pm: Pizza Pub is not decorated for the holidays either, but it's a nice place inside, good combo of tin ceiling, brick and lighting.  Smells good too in here too, I'd have some pizza, but I'm still full from that earlier cheese steak.


7:40pm—Bull's Head Tavern, I had to visit to see if Marty's bartender from hell was still here, but she wasn't, which is probably good. I ordered up a Boddingtons draft, and as soon as it was getting poured, I noticed they had Widmer Hefeweizen. Oh well, I can't do two drinks here anyway, we have to keep this party moving!


7:43pm—The inside of Bull's Head is nice, their happy hour is decent (used to be $3 for any pint.) It's a good bar, as long as the crowd is manageable.


8:05pm: Molly's! One of my favorite bars in the city ! Always a good time, and it's always done up big time for holiday decorations!


8:10pm: A shot of Molly's from the rear, looking towards the street entrance.


8:10pm: A shot of the back of Molly's.


8:14pm: Obligatory writing of something in the Molly's sawdust, in front of the fireplace!


8:30pm: Joanne (who remembered us from our MAD visit here, almost 2 years ago), took this picture. Molly's has always been a staple of my NYC pub crawling. We also got a good picture from this spot on me and Smoopy's honeymoon 3 years ago. Memories, Molly's, and the best pint of Murphy's Irish Stout in the city made me a happy camper right about now ! Also, the Packers/Viking playoff has started now, let's hope it's a little better than the first game today!


8:57pm: Rolf's—This place is world famous for their incredible, over the top holiday decorations!


9:08pm: I didn't mean to do this (really, but somehow I got an obligatory mirror shot of me and Smoopy in the middle of the wreath! I got a spiced eggnog here, and it was good! Not sure if I ever had eggnog before, but it seemed like a good drink to get at Rolf's, plus somebody nearby was having one and it looked tasty. Rolf's is incredible to look at—one could take a hundred pictures in here documenting everything!


 9:19pm: A festive shot on the other side of Rolf's. The Packers/Vikings game is in the 2nd quarter, and the Pack has stormed out to a 17-3 lead. Looks like another shitty game. Thank God for booze!


9:43pm: After a little walk, we arrive at the legendary New York dive bar, the Blarney Cove! I'm not sure how long it is going to be around in the future, I'm just glad it is still here today.


9:50pm: Not a lot of holiday decorations, but it is tasteful. I had a VO and Coke, and then a Heineken Light bottle. I usually get Bass here, the best Bass in the city, but they are out of it right now. Packers/Vikings is in the 3rd quarter—and it's 24-3 Pack, I give up! I was rooting for the Bengals and Vikings today. Zero for two today.


10:39pm: Vazac's Horseshoe Bar— think they film a movie here every other week and it's also a cool bar. It can get a little crowded, but we'll wedge in anyway, because they have Firefly Vodka, and Smoopy always wants one here. I won't argue! I'll have one also!


10:43pm: It's Saturday, it's after 10:00pm, so that means big crowds now. We got our Firefly's then retreated to the back, and found some elbow room. I've stopped paying attention to the Packers/Vikings. Minnesota is playing worse than the Jets, and this has been an ugly game. There are two more games tomorrow. Please give me something good to watch! If there are any football fans out there in MBIP Land, you might find this funny (they post a new one every week!)


10:55pm: I like this window outside of the Horseshoe!


11:12pm: Coal Yard—I'm running out of pictures now, so I can only include the last 3 bars in shots from outside. Coal Yard was a good stop, my eyes were hurting from holiday decorations now, and I just want a few more drinks before calling it a night. We hung out here at one end of the bar, I had a tasty Captain Morgan and Coke. Then it was on to their nearby sister bar, before heading back to our hotel neighborhood.


11:35pm: International Bar—dark, quiet, and a nice cold Magners Cider to drink. If I had to chose only one bar between the Coal Yard and the International Bar, I'd take the International. Both are great spots, but inexplicably, I like this one a little better.


12:24am: Slattery's—We're two and a half blocks from our hotel now, we're gonna have one more Magners, then rest up for the second day of this bar crawl tomorrow. After 10 hours and 12 bars, I could use a good snooze. Good night everybody! We had a good day! (Stay tuned for part II of this adventure in February!)

Further Reading: 365 Bars, MAD and TWM.