Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Five Borough Bar Crawl: Drunkards Take Manhattan (and Brooklyn, Staten Island, etc....)

There wasn't any real reason to do it.  If you think about it for more than, like, a second, it actually doesn't sound all that fun.  But you know what else no one would have any reason to do and doesn't actually sound like any fun?  Riding every ride at Disney World in one day, but they made a whole Step by Step episode about that (also weird that the kid they had running around doing that in the episode wasn't a regular character.  Why wouldn't Cody be the one do that?).  I had bandied about the idea of doing a bunch of mini-challenges in the context of my over arching challenge of drinking 1000 beers.  Drinking a beer in every state (too expensive).  Drinking a beer from every state (still on the table, but it sounds like more time and effort than I actually have).  Drinking a beer from every country (scrapped on account of I don't want to alienate any readers that hail from countries that don't recognize other countries as existing, that is, much like LeBron James, I'm concerned about alienating the Chinese).  Drinking a beer in every borough in New York City in one day.  Now this is a pointless challenge I can knock out with minimal planning/effort.  Also, I didn't google "five borough bar crawl" before undertaking this, so I assumed that I was the only one ever to think about doing this.  After some post-borough-bar-crawl research, I found out that I was apparently the only person in New York City that hadn't done a five borough bar crawl and wrote about it on the internet.  Welp, now the circuit is closed.  Not to spoil anything, but I did it.  I mean of course I did it.  Also, not to spoil anything, but I'm about to write about it on the internet.

The adventure started in Staten Island.  Or rather, the adventure started in Manhattan, waiting for the Staten Island Ferry terminal.  We got on the ferry at around 12:30.  As you can see from the picture below, a league of followers joined me on the boat, ready to start our five borough crawl.

I don't know what happened, but when I got to the bar I noticed that everyone on the boat except Greg and Liz didn't make it to the bar.  I assumed they all got lost, but I didn't have time to wait around for 200 people to show.  The first bar on the adventure was Jimmy Steiny's Pub in Staten Island.

We got to to Steiny's around 1.  Steiny's was chosen for the sole property of being close to the Staten Island Ferry terminal.  It was one block away and we could walk there.  Also, they had beer.  I mean not a lot, or anything good, but they had Yuengling and were open when we needed them to be.  Steiny's was fine, but we had bigger fish to fry.  We drank our Yuenglings and took off at 1:30.

The question I've been asked the most since accomplishing this feat is, "So you must have been so wasted."*  No, no I wasn't (I mean not until my victory laps).  Here's why.  If you'll remember from four sentences ago, we left Steiny's at 1:30.  After waiting for the 2:00 ferry back to Manhattan and then taking the 4 train all the way up to the Bronx, we didn't arrive at the next bar till 3:25.  That's two hours between beers, which, if my calculations are correct, is a long time between beers.  I'll be giving you the time stamps as we go along here so you can read this post in real time like that show 24 if you want.

The Bronx was the only borough we didn't have entirely planned.  The Yankees were playing a home play off game that night, so we thought it would be cool to drink a beer up by Yankees Stadium.  Turns out the game didn't start till 8:30 and we got to the Bronx around 3:15 and I guess Yankees fans are a bunch of wusses and don't want to pre-game for over 5 hours.  We ended up in Yankees Tavern, one block away from the stadium, at around 3:15.

This place was pretty cool.  As you can imagine it had a bunch of Yankees memorabilia up on the walls, but unlike every other bar out there at that time, it wasn't completely empty.  Also pretty amazing: the tap selection.  Unlike Steiny's, I actually had to think about which of the many beers they had on tap I wanted.  I ended up drinking a Victory Donny Brook Stout, which I felt was appropriate for reasons that are beyond me.  You may not know this about me, but I'm a task-master.**  I'm also a fast drinker.  This problem first arose in the Bronx when I finished my beer and had to anxiously nudge my co-conspiritors (wait for it) to chug-a-lug and get moving.  We had a schedule.  To avoid being at lagerheads (we're getting there) for the rest of the day,  Liz and Greg didn't sass me and, much like the Dude, aimbibed (and there we go) my instructions.

We took the 4 train back down to Manhattan.  Liz developed a mini-challenge within our mini-challenge (insert picture of snake eating itself here.  That's not a missed prompt to myself.  I'm actually telling you to go do it, just go ahead, tape it right on your computer screen/smart phone) of taking as many forms of transportation as possible in the day.  So far we had ferry and train down.  She wanted to ride a bus.  So instead of walking the few blocks from the train station to the bar, we took a bus.  We got off the bus, had a quick sandwich, and then made it to our third bar, the BXL Cafe in Manhattan at 5:05.

Also part of this trek was only going to bars that I had never been to.***  Researching Manhattan beer bars, I'd found that I had been to all of the noted ones except for this one.  Fortunately for me, it was also on the right side of Manhattan, so it was a win-win-win.  Also of note, at this juncture, our group grew from three to four, as my near and dear friend Eric joined us.  Cafe BXL is a fancy Belgian cafe/beer bar that only has belgian ales on tap.  Suffice it to say, it's pretty pricey.  I had their house ale, the BXL Cuvee, in part because it was cool that they had a house ale and in part because it was the only beer under 10 dollars.  It was ok!  Prior to beginning this trip I thought that if I wasn't on a time crunch, I would start doubling down the beers once we got to Manhattan.  While we weren't quite on a time crunch, I was anxious to get to the next bar in Queens and also to get out of there without a $50 bar tab, so we finished our one round and then took off at 6:05.

From the BXL Cafe, we jumped on the E train (which was running on the M track) and went on to the beer garden in Queens.  No, not that one. The other one.  We arrived at Studio Square at 6:45.

Studio Square is awesome.  I mean really awesome.  It has a ton of beers on tap, a ton of outdoor space, a ton of indoor space, and really cheap and really good cheese fries.  Also, I think why I liked it so much was that it was a "German" beer garden that didn't try to be kitchy or anything.  It was like someone decided they wanted to open up a nice, modern bar, but then came into a ton of retail space and then just decided to tastefully fill it with actual seats and extremely reasonably priced beer.  Gone was the "hey let's pretend we're in Germany" vibe and present was the "hey, let's be an actual awesome bar, just a really, really huge awesome bar."  I first order a liter of Hofbrauhaus Octoberfest.  Here's a picture of Liz's hand next to my second beer, a half-liter, because I thought the size of the whole liter needed perspective.  Also there's Eric in the background repping Free Energy.  Also, I forgot to take any more pictures after this.

After we get our beers, a fifth party, Sam, joins us.  Given that this place is super awesome, and that it's still relatively early, I get a second round, this time a half liter of Shipyard Pumpkin Ale, which has the distinction of being the wateriest pumpkin ale I have ever had.  It was still spicy and drinkable, but if you hated the previously mentioned Blue Point Pumpkin Ale, well, you're going to really hate this.  It's at this point that I am finally starting to feel the effects of drinking beer, which I guess can be directly attributable to drink 1 1/2 liters of beer in a marginally short time.  We finish up and depart Studio Square at 9:20.  From there, we jump on the N, and arrive at our last location, Mission Delores, in Brooklyn at 10:10

Mission Delores is a super awesome beer bar out in what I would call Park Slope but what neighborhood purists might call something else.  I don't know.  I don't play those games.  It's something like 2/3 indoors and 1/3 outdoors, but its set up like a railroad apartment with the outdoor third sandwiched in the middle of the indoor thirds.  It's pretty cool.  Also cool and somewhat unexpected?  Being psyched that I was about to drink a beer in every borough!  As dumb as this sounds, I was sort of just looking at this as a way to kill time with some friends, but I genuinely felt accomplished when I ordered that Brooklyn beer.  It made me anxious for the 1000th beer, because if I was genuinely excited to finish my mini-challenge, well I can't imagine what it will be like to finish my actual challenge.

I ordered a Mikkeller Centennial IPA as my first fifth borough beer.  It was awesome.  I'd never had Mikkeller before, but I had heard of their, let's say, commitment to hops and the IPA did not disappoint.  Also of note, another friend, a different Eric, joined us here, bringing our total up to six.  Up next was a Saison du Buff, a sweet collaboration from Dogfish Head, Victory, and Stone.  Also amazing.  I finished off the evening with a Six Point Crisp Lager, which apparently is a fancy lager, but at this point in time, well, I'd be hard pressed to give any tasting notes.

So that's the story of my epic five borough bar crawl.  From what I can tell, while I may not be the first write about such a journey, I am the most long-winded in so doing.  Here's a little cheat sheet for the evening.  Sorry I didn't post this at the beginning, but what with giving you and incentive to read and all:

Staten Island - Jimmy Steiny's Pub - Yuengling Lager - Me, Liz, Greg
Bronx - Yankee Tavern - Victory Donny Brook Stout - Me, Liz, Greg
Manhattan - BXL Cafe - BXL Cuvee - Me, Liz, Greg, Eric
Queens - Studio Square - HB Oktoberfest, Shipyard Pumpkin Ale - Me, Liz, Greg, Eric, Sam
Brooklyn - Mission Delores - Mikkeller IPA, Saison Du Buff, Six Point Lager - Me, Liz, Greg, Eric, Sam, Eric

I look forward to the inevitable Life According to Jim episode based on my experience (I'm unsure they actually make that show anymore, or any sitcom really).  Maybe Dan Aykroyd will play the non-series regular that makes the journey.  That would be fun.

Total Beers: 806****
Where I Should Be: 780.821*****

*Not a question, geniuses.
**That's not true in the slightest.  You probably did know that about me.  Double joke in a footnote!  Score one for resurrecting an admittedly annoying thing I did a lot when this blog first started. [ed. note, meaning still me, when Liz first read this, she said, "You're right.  That is annoying."]
***Note to the editors/ghost writers of my future book: fix this sentence.
****Sunday I planned go dry out, but the Cardinals were within striking distance of the Saints at half time, so I high tailed it over to a local sports bar where I had one Kelso Ale while watching the second half.  Worth it.  I've been beer free since then though.
*****Also of note, while it seems like I've upped my beer intake, which I mean I guess I have, my lead has actually dipped a bit.  I would attribute this to my 3 day beer absence, as well as the epic kickball night where only two counted.

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