The New York Times‘ Jesse McKinley gives us a nostalgic tour of all his favorite cheap East Village drinking haunts circa 1988, which are pretty much identical to the places I used to hit when I moved to NYC in ’95. What is suprising is that for all the bars that have since closed (International Bar) many are still alive and kicking: Blue and Gold, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, 2A, and Sophie’s.
I’ve long since stopped making these pub stops on a regular basis, instead preferring to avoid the EV weekend clusterfuck of frat guys and apparent bachelorette parties for the way more happening bar scene (to me, anyway) in my own backyard: those of Smith Street and Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn. Commonwealth, Great Lakes, Buttermilk, and Boat fill in perfectly well for that necessary trio of pleasures that makes a good bar fix: cheap drinks, a well stocked jukebox, and enticing people watching (read: hot, fellow creatives you wouldn’t mind cozying up to for a pint or 5.)
[Boat on Smith Street. If you stop by on Tuesday’s or Saturday’s say hello to Suzie, the best bartender in NYC (and tip her well.) Photo credit: Alice Ayers]
It’s no suprise that the Ghost of East Village Past now resides in a bar scene in Brooklyn that didn’t exist 10 years ago. With 2 bedrooms priced well over $2000 a month and the horrendous Astor Place: Sculpture for Living going up across from the Cube, the only options for the current wave of middleclass artistic/creative newcomers seeking $1600 and under 2 bedrooms are neighborhoods like Sunset Park, the rough around the edges hood south of Park Slope that I’m seeing more and more twentyish hipsters moving to, causing the area to feel feel oddly like Avenue A or B in 1995.
Which brings me to wonder, how long can this continue before you read a New York Times article lamenting how Sunset Park is too expensive as the new wave of creatives pony up for cheap drinks on Avenue O or just, god forbid, forgoe NYC all together for places more artist friendly like Philadephia (which I hear is looking pretty good these days.)