Texting From Mar’s. Oh Yeah, Astoria.

“So, it’s a guy?”

She is in front of  Kaufman Studios. She points to a corner restaurant. Black mesh tables and wooden folding chairs on a raised deck outside the restaurant. The building’s walls painted battleship grey. “You’ve been to Mar’s?”

Use Outside Mars

Ready for warmer weather ? Outside tables are at Mar’s along 34th Avenue in Astoria

Light turns green. She crosses the street. Strolls into Mars.

Marble top bar in center of room. Low concrete ceiling. Wooden floor. Candles on tables. Low lighting. Four large – framed color photographs against one wall. Hostess works the room. Waiters in white shirts attend to customers at tables. Low level rhythmic music. Bearded bartender comes over with drink menu. Puts down a list of oysters. Eight choices ($2.75-$2.95) along with special of the day.

Flips to list of Mar’s Classics . Reads three of the eleven specialty cocktails out loud.

Blood Moon. ($11) “Tequila, Cassis, lemon juice, ginger beer, bitters.”

French Western. ($12) “Bourbon, Kas Krunpnikas, Salers, lemon juice, bitters.”

Mar’s Manhattan. ($15) “Knob Creek Bourbon, Cynar, Busnel Calvados, Brooklyn Hemispherocal Black Mission Fig Bitters.”

Bartender returns. She looks up and down the menu. “French Western,” she says.

“And for you?” asks the bartender.

“Glass of Joel Bonnet, Muscadet, 2013.” ($10/$39).

 

Wine at Mars

“I like on the table, when we’re speaking, the light of a bottle of intelligent wine,” wrote Pablo Neruda.

Door swings open. Eleven of thirteen seats at bar taken.  Bartender knows most customers by name. “Hey, Mike, How you doing?”

His voice is polished. He asks about the drinks. Then greets another customer.

“So, what’s the problem?”

“We work together,” she whispers. Her voice sounds sad. “And, he smokes cigarettes.”

She lifts her French Western. Her fingers tap against the marble bar top. Gets up to use the bathroom.

A couple arrive. They take the last available seats at the bar.

She returns.  Sits and lifts the French Western. “We were texting.”

She looks left. A man is with a woman. He is drinking the beer. “You know him? she whispers. She doesn’t wait for a reply. “Tim Cornish,” she says. “Plays bass and sings vocals for The Gantry.”

The Gantry?”

“Astoria band…My guy’s a big fan.”

“So, he’s still your guy?”

Bartender draws the check. She goes outside. Sticks her hands in her pocket. Pulls out her cell phone. “Guess who I saw drinking a beer at Mar’s?” she texts.

Key Information:

Mar’s

Address: 34-21 34th Avenue, Astoria, New York 11106

Phone: 718-685-2480

Kitchen: 5pm-11pm

Raw Bar: 5pm-1am

Bar: 5pm-3:30am

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 5pm-7pm

Website: http://lifeatmars.com

Bathroom: Clean and well decorated

Best Subway Line: “N”, “R”

Bus: Q 101

Dutch Kills Bar-Find it. See it. Hear it.

Bitch of a wind blows on Jackson Avenue. Desolate sidewalk. Metal gates pulled over most store fronts except one. That store? Vacant stationary store. Dusty windows. Sign above entrance. “Jules. Serving You Since 1933.”

Can’t do this one straight, so follow:

Zoom in on a white neon sign flashing above a black Triumph motorcycle parked on sidewalk. Single word on neon sign blinks: “Bar.”  Now zoom in on a red brick building. Plywood covers a window. You’re not sure if you’ve got the address right. Your heart pumps.

Dutch Kills Front

You got it right. Dutch Kills Bar entrance along Jackson Avenue in Long Island City.

Suddenly, a cop car spins out from a dead end street. You’re so freaked you pull the bar’s door open and hope you’re somewhere good.

You are.

Dutch Kills Bar.

Railroad flat shaped room. Dark wooden walls. Dim lighting. Booths with red curtains. Couples chat. They look at you. You look at them. Everyone looks away on cue. Notable sound system. Music’s got a good beat. You walk in a straight line because that’s all you’ve got.

Bar area at far end of the room.

Dutch Kills Inside 1

View from inside of Dutch Kills Bar. Long and narrow and  like something from a Martin Scorsese movie set.

 

Think secret hideaway. Mismatched chandeliers hang above varnished bar counter top. Bartenders in long sleeve striped shirts and vests. When customers leave money a bartender rings a copper bell. Against bar above a juke box an antique American Flag.

The atmosphere is something you’d expect from a Martin Scorsese movie, but it’s real.

Very real, too.

All seats filled except one. You navigate length of bar. Tight squeeze. Maybe eighteen inches between bar seats and wall. You pass Friday nighters.

“Hey, how you doing?”

She ain’t talking and who really cares anyway.

So, you look at the photographs on the wall until the bartender notices you. Photos showing refrigeration and blocks of ice. You don’t get it, but know there’s a reason for it.

Bartender’s got you in his scope. Tall thin with a deep voice He pours you a glass of water with cucumber in a pewter shot glass. His voice is drop dead duplicate for Bela Lugosi. Absolute baritone like nothing you’ve ever heard. You compliment him on his voice. “I got born lucky,” he replies. Call the man with the magical voice Jamie. He dreams about being a baseball announcer. Meanwhile, everyone knows him as Jamie and he dreams about sitting in the radio’s announcer’s booth at Citifield. “I want to be the next Howie Rose,” says Jamie.

He presents the Dutch Kills Bar menu. Heavy plastic with a blue border. Greek diner motif for those who care.

Eight house cocktails ($13) with names that make you smile.

Bleecker Street Tonic. Cavendish Kiss. Cock N’ Bull Special. Diamondback. Manzana Malvada. Old Vermont. St. Charles Swizzle. The Voorhees.

You pick Old Vermont. Maple syrup on ‘roids. A mixture of gin, maple syrup, fresh juices of lemon and orange. Shaken and served straight up.

Dutch Kills drink

Old Vermont Cocktail served at Dutch Kills Bar. Think Maple Syrup on ‘roids. Goes well after a work week.

 

Your drinks finished. Edge comes off work week. You drop money on the bar. The bell rings. You push the drink menu forward and that’s when you see it:

Bottom of last page of drink menu:

“*Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”

Can’t make this stuff up. Pure Scorsese.

Info: Dutch Kills Bar

Address: 27-24 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City

Phone:718-383-2724

Website: www.dutchkillsbar.com

Email: dutchkillsbar@gmail.com

Hours: 5 pm ‘ till 2 am (or later)

Bathrooms: Spacious.

Nearest Subway Stations:

E-M-R at Queens Plaza

E-M-G at Court Square

N-Q-& at Queensboro Plaza

Parking: After 7 p.m. it’s all yours along Jackson Avenue 

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.