How to Find a State of Mind at Domaine Bar A Vins


Vernon Jackson Avenue Subway. One stop from Grand Central, yet a different state of mind.

It’s the Saturday after Christmas. You get off the subway at Vernon Jackson Avenue. The streets are empty. Everyone you know is away. 

You want a glass of wine before going home.

You see a neon sign. ‘Wine Bar’ above a black awning. You open the door. Ain’t no simple wine bar, babe. It’s Domaine Bar A Vins, but you won’t know that until you step inside.

wine bar front .jpg

Wine Bar to some. Domaine Bar A Vins to others. Steps from Vernon Jackson Subway Station.

Bordello like lighting with white Christmas lights running length of bar. Red lights above piano in back corner. Something like a strobe light twirls near a ceiling fan. Red, white and green light flashes bounce off the walls. Ten seats at a zinc bar. Seven tables along the walls. Wooden blinds on the front windows. 

Wine bar 4

 The music is crisp and loud. You ask whose playing. “Isaac Hayes,” replies the barkeep. French accent. Brown PorkPie Hat. Muscular arms. He brings over the wine menu and a candle. Bevy of topflight red wines. Excellent selection of white wines. Sparkling wines and Champagnes. Port and Sweet Wines. Imported beers and one beer on tap. A small menu that includes cheese, oysters, sliced meats and Pate de Campagna. 

But, you’re not in the mood for food.

Isaac Hayes gives way to young Stevie Wonder.

 Three people sit to your left. A guy with a woman on both sides of him. Stevie starts singing and everyone’s happy

You order a glass of Malbec. Domaine Basquet, 2015. ($11.00) Deep red color. First sip is lush. Sends you right to Stevie’s voice. You break down the wine. You think berries. It’s got a richness and a scent that’s almost like lavender, but some might argue otherwise.

Who cares?

Half way into the Malbec one of the women gets up to use the bathroom. The other woman doesn’t waste a moment. She puts her arms around the guy and pulls him close. Gold medal PDA. It grinds to a halt when the women comes out of the bathroom.

But here’s the funny thing:

The woman with her hands on the man’s shoulders turns to her friend and says: “I want to be able to send out a group text…We’re getting married in an hour. Anyone that wants to come can come.”

Nobody says a word.

Gilberto Gil takes over for Stevie Wonder. The barkeep pours a second glass of Malbec. 

It’s a farewell party, of sorts.

One of the women is splitting for St. Louis. The other is making wedding plans. The guy lifts his glass of Prosecco. He stares at the piano and that’s when the glass of Malbec at Domaine Bar A Vins becomes a memory burn.

You watch him walk over to the piano bench. He rolls up his sleeves and flexes his fingers. Just before his fingers hit the ivory his fiance shouts: “Please no Billy Joel. Please no Billy Joel.”

First note in you realize the guy’s got talent and shouldn’t have passed up Julliard to crunch numbers. By the time he hits his first chord you know exactly what’s on his mind.

And yes, you’re of the same state of mind.



Domaine Bar A Vins

50-04 Vernon Blvd.

Long Island City, NY 11101

Phone: 718-784-2350

Subway:    7 Train to Vernon Jackson

(One stop from Grand Central Station)




Giving It a Spin at The LETLOVE Inn, Astoria

Front 1

The LETLOVE Inn. A corner bar in Astoria that spins vinyl records and features live music on Monday and Tuesday nights.

The LETLOVE Inn bartender is in a mood.

“Think I’m going to play a vinyl,” Mike said.

The guy is screen ready, but you don’t say anything.Tall,slender with heart shaped tattoo on forearm. Spike runs through the heart. Mike’s got a voice that’s memorable. Years ago sang in a Baltimore choir. Somewhere between a soprano and baritone, he said.

Mike Tattoo.jpg

Every tattoo has got a story. Mike, the barkeep at The LETLOVE Inn displays his tattoo.

So, he walked to far end of the bar. Pulled out a vinyl and walked right passed you.

“Hey, what you going to spin?”

Not saying.

You sip your Caravan ($12) cocktail. One of The LETLOVE Inn’s six specialty cocktails. This one is composed of Date infused bourbon, Kas Spiced Honey Liquor, pomegranate, lemon, cardamon bitters on the rocks and garnished with a sprig of rosemary. Funny thing is it tasted like a hyped up Whiskey Sour.

But, nobody is listening.

The after work crowd chilled. Women sat together showing photos off their phones. A couple of guys sat by themselves and decompressed from their subway ride.

The LETLOVE Inn is a comfortable corner bar. Low on decor. Spacious floor. Long enough to swing somebody around on a Monday or Tuesday night when The Platt Forms and Subtonic Three perform.

Low level lighting. Candles on bar. Think a Humphrey Bogart movie. Except instead of some guy in a trench coat you’ve got Hipsters and locals. Heads down. Eyes fixed on their phones.

So it goes.

The mahogany bar is long enough with enough seats so nobody’s complaining. A couple of tables along the walls and a Christmas tree in the corner near the front door.

Need anything more from a corner bar?

Possibly not, but here it comes:

Mike drops the toner arm on the vinyl record and the song’s first beat gives you a good memory.

Yo Mike, you want to say. Didn’t see that pick coming.

“Love Me Do,” by The Beatles.

Two minutes later, Beatles get to the final chorus and your Caravan cocktail is finished.

Still time left on the clock.

Mike came through again.

He poured a PNW Mahogany Ale from Single Cut Beersmiths. Guinness like color. Less of a head. A product from Astoria’s first microbrewery, if you must know. Single Cut Beersmiths is located on 37th street with an address prefix of 19-33. Ring a bell? Nineteen thirty – three just so happens to be the year Prohibition ended.

Forget trivia, bud.

This is what you need to know about Single Cut Beersmiths Mahogany Ale:  One taste in and you go “wow.” Memorable. A blend of flavors that goes together like John, Paul, Ringo and John.

Yeah,  yeah, yeah.




How to Properly Clink Glasses at Mosaic, a Very Proper Neighborhood Beer and Wine Bar .

Mosiac front

Mosaic in Astoria. Where the vibe is good and the selection of beers and wines even better.

She sat at a table nearest to the entrance of Mosaic She looked out the window at the Christmas lights along 24th Avenue in Astoria and tapped her manicured nails on the round table.

The bar keep carried a Belgian Ale to her table. He put the Ale in front of her. She wore a green woolen blazer, a collared shirt and a grey knit scarf. You heard the bar keep tell her about the Ale. A hundred seventy varieties of beers, porters, ale’s and stouts. You sensed she appreciated his words.

Brett, the bar keep, has a way with words, too. He recently returned from eight months in Las Vegas where he performed in the musical ‘Rock of Ages.’ He has worked at Mosaic for three and a half years, which is one year shy of how long it’s been open. You hope he cracks The Big Time, because here’s a man who will know how to spend his money on decent wine.

Don’t know what to try?

Ask Brett for a suggestion.

This time around, Brett poured a glass of a 2013 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Crest. So bold that you smelled the scent of black cherries and blackberries. A complex first sip that almost made you want to say you tasted a spice. But, that would be misleading. You tasted the flavor of vanilla, currants and a hint of cocoa.

And what an ideal spot to chill out with a glass of wine.

Mosaic in Astoria redefines the notion of what it means to feel comfortable. Two sips in and  you think you’re inside someone’s home.Bronze gilded ceiling panels. Rustic Victorian furniture. Maroon red walls.

Finished reupholstering all of our couches 🙂 What do you think?! Come this weekend and check it out! #beer #comfort

A photo posted by Craft Beer & Wine Bar (@mosaicastoria) on


But, you’re not at someone’s home. You’re at a lounge. Decorative round tables. Antique sofas. A chandelier in the center of the room. Subtle music on the sound system. Young professionals in swank garb with iphones not far from their drinks. Their voices jovial and a few octaves louder than a whisper. The vibe is good. Mosaic is an excellent choice if you need a spot to meet a friend or if you’re up to the second or third date.

Bar shot mosiac

A rustic Victorian decor that’s memorable and comfortable.

So, here’s the dipout on that table near the entrance:

Tall guy in dark collared shirt and new Levi’s 522 Slim-Fit Tapered Leg Jeans arrived. Slender with a been to the gym physique. Dark frame glasses and a nice smile.

The woman waited on her Belgian Ale. She got up from her seat and gave him one of those second date kisses and hugs. Brett, the bar keep, walked over with a bottle of the Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon. He poured the man a glass and you smelled the fragrance of the wine from your seat at the bar.

Brett returned to the bar and the couple bantered before they clinked glasses.

She looked him in the eyes. He looked around the room.

You wanted to say ‘Cut. Do a retake.’

But, you said nothing except what you told yourself: “Hey, Dude…You got to look them in their eyes when you toast.”

So it goes.

You finished your glass of wine and walked out onto 24th Avenue in Astoria. The evening sky dark. The Christmas lights blinking.



(718) 728-0708

25-19 24th Avenue

Astoria, N.Y.


Food? Yes. Interesting array of small tasting plates.

Bathroom:   Just one. Though well decorated.

Parking:  Good if you’re lucky.

Nearest Subway:  Mosaic is known as a neighborhood spot, which should answer that question.


Whoomp! There it is…How to slow down in Long Island City

Whoomp! There it is.

You rush up the subway stairs. You’ve been running all day. Now it’s time to wonder why.

So, a blackboard stand waits for you atop the Vernon-Jackson Avenue subway station. It’s as though someone placed the board near the corner just to tell you it’s time to slow.

“Happy Hour. 6-7 p.m. Station LIC  The Kitchen is Open!”

Station LIC Subway.jpg

Pays to advertise. Blackboard directs subway riders at Vernon-Jackson Avenue to Station LIC, an eatery and bar.

You walk left. You open a tall thick wooden door.

Whoomp! There it is.

A twelve seat bar with room for 55 seated diners. A train station motif. High ceilings. Exposed wood beams. Brick wall behind the bar.

The barkeep floats over. She asks if you’re eating or just drinking. You’re not listening. Dylan whispers in your ear: “Something’s happening here and you don’t know what it is.”

The joint is more than wine, beer, top shelf hard liquor and ten house specialty cocktails ($12). It’s even more than a menu with selections ranging from the crudo Tuna-Hamachi ($14) to the Charred Octopus with Jalapeno Pesto ($18) to the Pork Duo with Parsnip and Bacon ($15).

Station LIC is brain food if you dig  design and decor. It’s what Steve Jobs meant when he said: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

And the one who made Station LIC work?

How about a Ukrainian with a Bachelors of Architecture Degree from Pratt Institute, and a Master of Science Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. He’s Gregory Okshteyn with a talktomebaby resume.  But, nobody gets this good alone. Station LIC ‘s operation runs under the command of an operating partner named Michael. He resembles the young Sidney Pointier and dresses like a man who knows Madison Avenue.

But, that’s neither here nor there.

Here’s your reason to punch Station LIC into your Waze app:

A floor to ceiling window looks out onto Jackson Avenue. The window is from another era. Your eyes go to the window. A movie unfolds for you. A couple kisses on the street corner. Green taxis, yellow taxis and a bicyclist whiz along the avenue. You wonder if the ghost of Fellini stands near.

Station LIC Window Photo 1.jpg

Maybe the most notable floor to ceiling window along Jackson Avenue in Long Island City.

But, there’s more, kiddo.

James Moody and Hank Jones play on the bar’s sound system. The sound of classic jazz slows everything for you before your first sip. James Moody’s saxophone gives you your moment to reflect and that’s when you notice a hazed 100 year old glass window in the corner of the 2400 square foot room.

The window’s glare goes red when the street light goes red. Then green when the light goes green. But, the most memorable moment is when a silhouette climbs the stairs. You watch the silhouette ascend the stairs and you wonder if you just saw the ghost of Charlie Chaplain  in Long Island City.

And just when you think you’ve seen enough for one night, there is something more to see at Station LIC.

A large black and white painting hangs against the wall near the hazed corner window. It’s a painting of an antique fan so realistic you mistakenly labeled it a photograph.

Station LIC Fan photo.jpg

‘The Fan,’ an original artwork by Shimon Okshyetyn displayed at Station LIC.

And then you hear the story behind the painting.

The painting is Gregory’s wedding gift from his father Shimon Okshyetyn , a Ukrainian artist who lives and works in Brooklyn. His works graced museums in Prague, St. Petersburg, Russia, Rochester, N.Y. and the Whitney Museum’s permanent collection in Manhattan.

Yet, there is one final fact to share about Station LIC:

On December 17, Station LIC will celebrate its one year anniversary.

Whoomp! There it is.



Station LIC

10-37 Jackson Avenue

Long Island City, N.Y. 11101

Telephone: (347) 832-0056

Restaurant Hours:

Monday thru Sunday: 5 p.m.-2 a.m.



Bathrooms: Absolutely must see to believe. (Just that amazing).


Vernon/Jackson Avenue 7 Line

Parking: Depends on day and hour.