Last night I had plans to meet a friend in Brooklyn. It was a simple plan. LIRR into Manhattan, two blocks to Herald Square to catch the F train to Park Slope. Just one hitch. The F wasn't running that far. So I hopped out at 14th St to call my friend and let him know he needed to meet me in Manhattan. Cue the pouring rain and the most ill conceived idea born. He agreed to meet me in Manhattan, but requested we go to a bar on St. Mark's and 3rd Ave. For those of you not familiar with the city, that's somewhere between 10 and 15 blocks. Factor in the torrential rain and my inability to find a cab and you have an equation for me being very cranky and very wet.
Despite the draw backs of the plan, I arrived at St. Mark's Ale House looking a bit like a drowned rat and wanting nothing more than an Irish coffee. So we headed into the bar and found a seat. The waitress came by and we ordered our drinks. Did I get my Irish coffee? Nope, because bars in New York City have an inability to make coffee. By inability, I mean they just don't serve the stuff. Now call me crazy, but if you're going to stock a bar, and serve tavern food, then coffee is something you might want to have around. To be sure I'm not the only person to every order coffe and whiskey in the same drink. But no, somehow that's asking too much. Fine. I settled for a scotch and soda and a bowl of chilli. The food was mediocre at best, the drink watered down, and the bar was so loud that I had to scream to be heard. I won't be returning. It's an uninspired place with bad service. There's a wealth of fantastic bars in the city, so why waste the money on one like this place?
From there we went around the corner to a place called Burp Castle. I know what you're thinking, "This sounds so much worse than St. Mark's Ale House." Oh no, my friends. Burp Castle is a monestary themed beer bar. "Beer bar?" you ask, "Don't you have celiac? Isn't beer a no-no?" Yes, yes, and yes. However, they also serve wine, hard cider, and on occassion, mead. Now, the interesting thing about Burp Castle though, is not its impressive, rotating tap list, but it's gimmick. Loud talking is not permitted there. If the noise level gets too high, the barmonk (or barmaid in our case) shushes you. Annoying? It can be. Pretentious? A bit. But, you can have a conversation, enjoy a variety of interesting beer, and just relax a bit. I mentioned that I couldn't sample the beer and the barmaid immediately poured a glass of cider for me. It was a cider called Blackthorn and was a dry, crisp cider with not too much fruit flavor. Just enough. And while I was sipping that, she pulled out a bottle of juniper mead that was reserved only for the staff and allowed me to sample it. I'm a huge mead fan to begin with, but this was heaven. When I'm not sipping something fermented, I'm normally a gin kind of girl, so this was a marriage made in heaven. The mead was light and a bit sweet, but the sweetness was balanced really nicely by the woody quality of the juniper. For those of you who are interested, it's by a company called Redstone Meadery based in Colorado and can be purchased online. While Burp Castle doesn't compare to Death and Company, it's cute and fun, and worth going back to.
So the night was of mixed success. I managed to get a cab back to Penn Station, although the rain had let up by then. And I came home to a space heater to dry me off and warm me up. For parts of the night, I had a great time, so I'm calling this a win. Just remind me to bring my umbrella next time.