NEW YORK'S QUENTISENTIAL DIVE BAR
Milano’s Bar, 51 Houston, near Mott Street
Milano’s Bar, which opened in 1923, is the most successful of its predecessors. (Bars have been on the site since the 1880s.) Milano’s has been hailed—and no doubt, toasted—as being one of New York’s best old-school dive bars. Walking by the bar on the way home from a friend’s art opening one night, I spied this gentleman smoking a cigarette, looking classically old-school himself. Listening as I asked if I might take his picture, I handed him a small photo I happened to have on me showing a group of NYC police officers I had photographed a few months ago. He nodded, folded the photo twice, and put it in his pocket. Raymond grew up on Lower East Side. Having been drafted into the Vietnam War, he’s been a window washer ever since. He hates how rich people moved into the neighborhood, making all the rents skyrocket. Raymond was very forthright about an extremely uncomfortable situation with his mother-in-law. Suffice it to say that she is no longer his mother-in-law as he is no longer married. “Don’t get me wrong. She was a good-looking woman. But it was a no-win situation.” Apparently everyone always tells him he looks like Jerry Orbach, which drives him nuts. (Humorously, though, he was the one who brought it up to me.) Raymond said that Orbach was originally a song and dance man, that he played in “The Fantastiks” just down the road when he was starting out, and that he requested his eyes be donated when he died. Famous neighbors and happenings within a couple of city blocks of the bar): •Nikola Tesla’s first lab •Harry Connick Jr. • David Bowie (who, it sadly happened, died on the night that this photo was taken) •LL Cool J •Jean-Michel Basquiat •Pivotal baptism scene from “The Godfather” in Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, starring Al Pacino as Michael Corleone •"The Godfather III” scene featuring Joe Mantegna as Joey Zasa, a Cadillac, and the Virgin Mary Signs.
At BLUE and GOLD
BLUE and GOLD BAR ... 79 East 7th Street, East Village, NY NY
Everybody's favorite East Village dive pulls in a regular crowd of college kids, bikers, local senior citizens and random eccentrics—like the long-haired guy whose only sound is a high-pitched shriek. Mixed drinks run for as little as four dollars, but that means the pretty Ukrainian owner will have to head to the fridge in the back room for juice, and you might be out of luck with ice. Stay long enough to play pool on the ratty table and mine the juke's selection of hits from the '60s to the '80s. But if at all possible, use the bathroom elsewhere—don't say we didn't warn you.ExtraIn addition to black-and-white photographs documenting the bar's history, Blue & Gold's walls are decorated with fading pictures of European men blowing long Alphorns.
The POOL TABLE at BLUE and GOLD
BLUE and GOLD
"Hasn't lost any of its former Dive Bar Charm with the Name Change."
If this East Village mainstay looks like a film-worthy drown-your-sorrows dive, right down to the Miller Lite lamps illuminating the two pool tables, it might be because a few movies have been shot here. Their posters hang on the mahogany walls along with red fluorescent tube lights, round mirrors, porcelain knick knacks, and a Polish flag representing the eponymous owner's home country. Boufanted babushka Lucy has been working the bar ever since the late 70s when Lucy's was Blanche's was still on St. Mark's. Most nights she can still be found cuing up the jukebox and winking and grinning while she pours drinks heavy. The beer selection is larger than the cafeteria tables and the dropped panel ceilings would imply, and somehow the two well-worn pool tables in the back don't draw knuckleheads. (You can thank nearby Doc Holliday's for that.) Toward the end of the week, the place can get packed with weekend warriors drawn by the neon signs but the vibe remains amicable and the jukebox (of old new wave) is never too loud to prevent you from meeting a neighbor.
LUCY'S on Avenue A
The HORSESHOE BAR
Corner of East 7th Street and Avenue B in The EAST VILLAGE
"A CLASSIC EAST VILLAGE DIVE BAR, serving Cheap Drinks and $4 BEERS. It's refreshing in this day and age with ridiculously priced Cocktails at $16 $17 and up. In places like 7B , BLUE & GOLD BAR, and MILANO'S, you can still go and have 3 Beers with your friends and not have to spend a Small Fortune for the pleasure."
The Famous HORSESHOE BAR at 7B
Where You Can Still get a $4 BEER
THE BIG LEBOWSKI COOKBOOK