The bar crawl began at Jerome’s at Rivington F+B. Neon Modelo lights in the front window, shitty graffiti’d doors, and a semi-artistic chalkboard “Happy Hour till 10p” sign were the clear proof that this was a total dive. I’m not judging negatively here. I was ecstatic about the locale. Dive bars are where legendary nights can begin (& end); especially in the Lower East Side.
Our gameplan was simple: We meet at Jeromes.. Then hit the Delancey for fancier mixology… Waddle into Rizzo’s Pizza for the first taste of late night grub… Keep the drinking going in a pretend-secret speakeasy for novelty purposes… And then, end it all off at the famed Katz’s Deli. … But, this did not happen … Mainly because we ran into a serious roadblock at Jeromes…
…the $6 shot & beer happy hour special!
One of the key components to any great bar is a solid drink special. While Manhattan has a penchant for bourgeois drinking establishments that will overhype basic alcohol concoctions and sell them at a rate that will automatically limit you to a 2-drink maximum, there are many dive bars to provide a balance to these overpriced pocket killing libation-centers. These dive bars know and understand the struggle of the frugal minded thus inspiring simple 1-2 punches such as the $6 shot & beer.
My goal for the night was debauchery so I immediately ordered my combo: Genesee beer w/ a shitty low level whiskey to accompany it. DeRM went with the tequila.
To remain gentlemanly, I elected to sip on my shot and chase it off with the beer. No need to rush. This was a long night and I had an empty stomach.
Jerome’s was an interesting spot. When DeRM & I set up shop at the bar, we immediately noticed a couple of things. First, there was a TV set behind the bar playing blaxploitation films. It was a cheesy look but a great distraction/conversation piece. There was also a NSFW calendar with a bare-breasted woman in lingerie circa 1986. I’ll be honest here: her breasts still hold up in the Kardashian era. She should be proud.
As our team assembled, everyone took advantage of that drink special and time was moving really fast. Before we knew it, it was already too late for us to hit up Rizzo’s pizza. We tried getting into the Delancey but it was already too packed so we elected to bail on the speakeasy idea and head over to the Donnybrook.
The Donnybrook is a solid spot for hijinx. The decor is a lot more ‘clean’ than Jerome’s. If you’re a single guy, this place would be a good destination because there was a great female-to-male ratio (assuming that the women are heterosexual). The only gripe I have about this spot is the music. Specifically, the segues were poor. You can’t go from hip-hop to Backstreet Boys. It’s just not right. Then they sprinkled in some Nickelback to make me question why I didn’t just stay at Jerome’s listening to Panda.
Audibly, it was rough… but the booze selection was great. I kept it basic with a Stella. Looking back on it now, I regret not trying their signature cocktail: the Donnybrook Brown Derby, which is a blend of Jim Beam, fresh grapefruit juice, & honey. But I can’t blame myself too much. I was already pretty far down the path of alcoholism enjoying the antics of our crew as we spent most of our time making jokes at the expense of the crowd. Word to the wise, please never passionately dance to Brittney Spears and expect to be respected. 🙂
The stream of 90s pop hits was a clear message from the playlist gods that it was time for us to focus on what this night was all about: a booze-fueled indulgence of one of the most famed spots in New York City, Katz’s Deli.
We walked over to Katz’s and could see the sign in the distance like it was the North Star. It was perfect timing. It was just late enough for the general public not to pack the spot and just early enough for partyers to still be partying. In a textbook divide and conquer maneuver, I secured seating for the team (we had more than 10 people with us) while DeRM secured the grub.
I wanted what everyone always talks about: The Pastrami Sandwich. It’s so simple. A mound of pastrami on rye bread plus mustard. You would think that a concoction like this would become boring after all this time. Luckily for me, I’d never went to Katz’s before so it was a brand new incredible experience.
Before this meetup, I watched videos that discussed the process of making the artisanal pastrami. I used to be extremely skeptical when chefs would describe the arduous process of creating their eats. My assumption was that they were promoting their product so it made sense that they would exaggerate the circumstances of the cooking process. But, in the pastrami at Katz’s Deli, you can taste the effort.
The first bite was smooth. I know that’s a word generally reserved for beers but what I mean is that there’s no resistance of the pastrami when you’re chewing into it. Adding mustard to the sandwich provides a nice kick and I topped it off with the pickles that came on the side. The sandwich is cut in half and is massive. Most of our crew only cleared out one half and saved the rest for later. I, on the other hand, went full gluttony mode and devoured my sandwich in one sitting. After I was done, it was clear to me why this sandwich has been highly regarded for so long. It’s a stunningly tasty combo in a sizable portion that is perfect for those who want to feast. Katz’s Deli lived up to the hype.