Best Bar in America?
I don't know about this one. I mean - I like Brewers - I do. I always have. I remember the first time I went there back in 2000 with Mike Oliver. It was a Friday night and not many people were there. You could sit at the bar. They were playing a mix of the Sex Pistols, Old School Hip Hop, Death Metal, and Sinatra. I remember saying to Mike, "This is the kind of place I would always want to hang out."
The separation of power in the restaurant from classy/semi fine dining upstairs mixed with Nietzsche cave downstairs lends itself to all walks of life. However, best bar? I don't know if I would define it as such. Then again... my definition of a bar is what I like about bars and not what every hipster with a forearm tattoo, gay bear gathering, divorce' lonely heart club, and semi-in-the-know professionals like about bars.
Don't get me wrong. There isn't much I don't like about Brewers, save for the all-too-trendy current status and the overpriced Delwhinney they keep blowing dust off every time I order it. The food has slipped miles in the last 5 years and the service has never been less than uber-antisocial but it obviously has it's unparallel charm and location. From the basemen downstairs to the wine lounge upstairs it is WHAT a great bar SHOULD look like. However, there is something empty and semi-soulless about it's new NYC motif and all too friendly sport coat and t-shirt crowd. There is something - 10 years too late about the way it currently operates. It's not comfortable, and it certainly isn't a pub - - - which is probably why it's Esquire's #1 bar in America. It's more of a bus station for those who aren't comfortable with themselves - or those who think that Brewer's Art will make them cool again... but then again - they do have amazing beers and a great seating area downstairs... so it's not all bullshit.
I have this dream of one day owning a bar - as I believe all men of the drink and conversation are wantonly dreaming about on their smoke breaks. I would honestly name it Ham on Rye and it would only be open to the "public" Thurs - Sunday. Mon - Wed it would be membership only and or "you would have to know someone to get in." It would only serve 5 things on the menu and the jukebox would be a vinyl Wurlitzer that only plays singles - and nothing on it past 1974. There would be a large multi-tiered long area with a bar that stretched the length of the place. No pool tables, or video games, it would have one TV buried in the back for LIVE GAMES only - no ESPN or CNBC. It could be used for news in case of an ACTUAL emergency. The wait staff would be all women in high heels and they would wear casino cocktail waitress outfits. Shots of Whiskey and Gin would always be 2$. Ice is an extra 2$. lol - The whole point of the bar would be a place I would want to hang out every day. It would have the option of letting sun IN or keeping it OUT. You would have to take stairs either up or down to enter it and there would always be a doorman. There would be a small stage with a piano and a place for a small bands. There would be pictures of my favorite authors on the wall and the drinks and menu would all have metaphors that elude to their accomplishments. Blah blah blah.
I've thought about it more than that - but - when I think of what my favorite bar would be - it wouldn't be Brewers Art. It would however have a few of it's charms.