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.
FiDi: Two tall, fit young men in gray slacks and striped, button-down shirts walk up to the bar at Pearl Street bar Killarney Rose and order beers and shots. The bartender, executing the request like he’s done is a thousand times, draws the Buds while tucking the bottle of Jameson under one arm. He places the beers before the men—one of a “half-yard”-er served a tall thin vessel that wouldn’t be out of place in a laboratory. The men down the shots in a show of rough, silent, male camaraderie. The small, empty glasses clank heavily on the wooden bar. The friends then return to their too-fevered discussion, in which one makes a fervent, juiced-up case for some aspect of his professional or personal life.
This happens again and again at this 41-year-old, Financial District watering hole, which is favored by jockish Wall Street types, with a smattering of older blue-collar men sitting on the fringes. These young bucks haven’t heard of many different kinds of booze: Bud, Sam Adams, Jameson, Glenlivet. Every now and then, you get a rebel. “I’m a Patron guy!” yells a blond, bespectacled lush. “I’m just saying!” Sometimes they get confused in their beer-shot-beer-shot-beer drinking circuits, until they wind up with two of the same thing. “Why are you drinking two beers,” asked one Dude of his Main Man. The Main Man wasn’t sure. He just picked up the two beers and took them to his table.
The Killarney Rose has two entrances, one at 127 Pearl Street, under an enormous red-and-green neon sign, and one, at the other end of the long, skinny room, on tiny Hanover Square. There’s a second entrance on Hanover to something called “The Hideout.” This is the second-floor party room of the Killarney. It’s purported to be nice, but few people seem to have ever seen it open.
For all its four decades of business, the joint doesn’t feel very old. Everything’s pretty lacquered and shiny in the modern tavern style. There are the usual Irish pub touches—Gaelic phrases on the walls, Shepherd’s Pie on the menu—and some nods to the 21st century, such as free internet access. Unsurprisingly, the place takes a hit on weekends, when the FiDi empties out. It offers $4 pints all day Saturday and Sunday to get people in, as well as events like the “$50 Beer Bus” to the Aug. 15 Mets game. “It’s a bus to the game,” the bartender explained, “only there’s beer on it.”
The trickiest thing about Killarney Rose is figuring out when the weekday happy hour is. There a bell behind the bar engraved with the words “Happy Hour.” When they ring it, prices go down; when they ring it again, prices rise. It’s never the same time any day. “If it was always at 5,” said the bartender, “they’d always come at 5.”