There are more than 6,000 bars in New York City. About 200 of them get regular press. This column is about the other ones. Robert Simonson, a journalist and blogger of the drinking life, takes a peek inside Gotham’s more anonymous watering holes, one by one.
If you never looked out the window at the Blue Room, you might swear that it was on some grey corner in an outlying Chicago neighborhood, so unpretentious and unstudied is the vibe in the Upper East Side tavern. Laughs come easy and loud. T-shirts and sweatshirts hold in beer bellies. Jagermeister shots are lined up on the bar. Cell phones are pocketed and forgotten. Nobody looks like they make more than $40,000 year—or knows anybody who does.
But New York is full of curious juxtapositions. Step outside the bar, which holds down the northeast of 60th and Second Avenue, and the backdrop is unmistakably New York. A few yards away lie the beginnings of the Queensboro Bridge; above float the trams en route to Roosevelt Island. The bar’s positioning is positively cinematic.
No one’s waxing that romantic about views inside, however. The here and now is good enough, because here and now you’ve got pool in the back; you’ve got Buffalo wings from the Atomic Wings that’s found a home inside the bar; you’ve got karaoke on Tuesdays; guest bartenders on Wednesdays and Saturdays. And you’ve got Linda behind the bar, who, on one recent night, may have been partially responsible for the quasi-Midwestern atmosphere. Linda’s a dancer, and a recent transplant from the Windy City. She wore an unaffected smile and a form-fitting, cut-off “I Love New York” t-shirt—both without irony. A bottle opener was held in place on her forearm with a rubber band.
One might think from the odd assemblage of framed posters on the wall—“Blue Velvet,” “The Blue Lagoon,” “Big Blue” and Madonna’s “True Blue” album—that the bar dates from the 1980s. But the place in only five years old, and those pictures are part of the joint’s somewhat simplistic theme—the color blue. The felt on the pool table is blue. The curtains, the ceiling over the bar, all blue. Even the owner, Bob, wore denim head to foot. Me, I ordered a Blue Point.