Posts tagged nyc
Posts tagged nyc
The response: shit real New Yorkers say (more in-jokes for native New York residents and visitors).
The majority of people have a fairly simple relationship with beer. If you’re a girl it’s probably a beverage you usually associate with hot days or being at the beach; if you’re a guy you probably associate beer mainly with sports or just getting rat-arsed with your buddies.
But if that’s not too far from how you feel about beer - it’s time you reconsidered your associations. Beer, and in particular American beer, has undergone a stunning renaissance over the last 25 years, and is right now enjoying a moment of creativity and quality that’s unrivaled in human history. Beer - surprisingly enough - has become sophisticated.
(Certain you can’t be convinced to try new beer? Well stop reading, slap yourself for your close-mindedness, and check out today’s exciting renaissance in cocktail culture).
Let’s wind the clock back a little to see just how we got to this frankly, glorious moment in time. It all starts way back in 1920 with the nakbar, or catastrophe that was Prohibition, (on which subject there’s an excellent Ken Burns Doco now screening on PBS - 1st episode: A Nation Of Drunkards below).
(See more Ken Burns here.)
The temperance movement had already succeeded in shutting down many breweries, and when the Constitution’s 18th amendment banned the production, sale & consumption of liquor, the last 1500 or so breweries closed their doors.
Nearly a decade and a half later America’s taps finally started pouring again, albeit slowly due to the still-strong temperance movement. But before the American beer industry could re-establish itself, WWII began, forcing grain rationing, which meant smaller brewers had to insert corn and rice as substitutes, inhibiting their growth. From 1941 til 1945 beer production exploded by 40%, but it was from an ever decreasing group of mega breweries like Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) and Coors that came to dominate the market for the next 50 years with their light, flavorless lagers and pilsners.
American beer became a joke around the world, nicely encapsulated by this riddle:
Q: What do American beer and sex in a canoe have in common?
A: They’re both fucking close to water.
If it wasn’t for Jimmy Carter, this sad and tragic state of affairs might still be the case today; but in 1978 Carter legalized home brewing. This sparked a resurgence of interest in beer from passionate people who began to create beers with flavor. At the time, many people who tried ‘craft’ beers shrugged them off as “too strong”. But after a while people’s palates began to adjust to beers with flavor, body and aroma, in contrast to the bland swill they’d historically been served.
Home brewers got good enough at what they did, that they started their own micro-breweries. This really was an unusual case of creating demand for something people didn’t know they wanted (because like an iPhone, it didn’t exist before), rather than the usual focus-group-tested and market-researched approach to product launches in the modern business world.
Today, while the overall beer market in America - and in most industrialized countries - is stagnant or declining, the pricier craft beer segment continues to grow anywhere between 5% and 10% annually. This is in the face of a worldwide economic collapse.
Why the surging popularity? It’s largely due to the consistently increasing quality and range of styles on offer. American brewers are now regarded as leading the world because of their innovative, take-no-prisoners approach to brewing. Even prestigious German and Belgian brewers, who arguably have made the best beer in the world for the longest, are today influenced by American brewers. And English consumers crave American brews (even if some of their journalists are a little fuzzy on the difference between a lager and an ale).
It’s also no doubt in part because people are increasingly realizing the range of beers on offer in most convenience stores in the US offers more and better options for matching with food than your local wine store ever can.
Yeah I said it - beer is better for matching with food than wine. (Cheese in particular). “Sacre bleu!” and “Bullshit!” I hear you cry. How can this be? It’s simple. While wine is made with one ingredient - grapes - beer is made with four ingredients: water, barley, yeast and hops; all of which reflect the terroir they come from. And it can be made with many more ingredients. Because of this, beer simply has a much wider variety of flavors and textures than wine, that can both complement and contrast with food.
Here’s a very useful chart for matching beer with food. Download it and go explore!
There are nearly 100 or so different styles of beer available and growing. Arguably the most famous new style is Cascadian Dark Ale, also known as a black IPA, and the innovation in the industry, notorious for beer names, beer blurbs, and increasingly insane quantities of alcohol - even extends to the packaging.
How’s that? Cans are becoming in vogue over bottles, much as screw-caps are displacing corks in wine bottles. Wait a minute. Wasn’t it the mass produced shitty beer that was in cans and the good stuff in bottles? Not any more. Light is the enemy of beer because it oxidizes it, making it stale (which is why beer isn’t produced in clear bottles). Cans also weigh less, don’t shatter into foot eating shards, and are much more convenient outdoors, or in cities that forbid bottles in public places like parks and beaches.
Anyway, before I get carried away talking about how the main difference in flavor between Belgian beers and American beers is that the Belgians focus more on the yeast, while the Americans focus more on the hops, I think I should just leave it here for now. Below is my gift to you, a map I constructed of the best places for craft beer in New York. It’s by no means complete - works in progress are like that - but it should come in handy for anyone looking for a good brew in New York.
(View New York’s Greatest Craft Beer Joints in a larger map)
If New York’s a bit far away from you, I recommend perusing the Beer Mapping Project for a comprehensive list of US cities, as well as 12 other countries around the world.
New York Dripping Out Your Arts, a set on Flickr.
Street stencils, painting, sculpture, architecture, graffiti and more.
NYC Snowpocalypse 2010
A little bit of Autumn, but more Winter around NYC.
Now in easy to read PDF format with nice big pictures.
Out and about in New York City…
“Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy” - Frank Sinatra
Humans have been getting drunk, falling over, fighting, having sex, and mostly waking up to regret it for many millenia now. If you want to get drunk, Manhattan south of Central Park is one of the best places on the planet to do it - if not the best. It’s the home of the cocktail and probably leads the world in terms of the sheer number of brew pubs and cocktail lounges per square foot. If not in alcoholics.
Manhattan is also extremely compact and flat, which means it’s easy to waltz from one liver skirmish to the next. This by-no-means comprehensive list of establishments is confined to those serving the most delicious cocktails on the face of the earth.
Top ten + 1 cocktail bars
Sasha Petraske helped to spawn the current ‘Speakeasy’ cocktail renaissance in NYC with his flagship lounge Milk & Honey. Such bars often have little or no street signage. To get in here you need to be a member or make a phone reservation (the number changes semi-regularly). 134 Eldridge St, Lower East Side (Between Delancey & Broome). No walk-ins.
Please Don’t Tell. Photo: Vidiot
Please Don’t Tell relies somewhat on a gimmick for its notoriety, but it’s a fucking great gimmick. Not only is there no signage - the entrance is actually via a hot dog diner called Crif Dogs, through a telephone booth on the back wall. It’s a cool space, and makes drinks that deserve a Nobel prize in awesomeness. 113 Saint Marks Place (Between 1st Ave & Ave A). 212 614 0386
Another outpost in the Petraske empire is the jazz and blues infused Little Branch. 22 7th Ave (Between Carmine St & Leroy St). 212 929 4360
If you’re busy being fabulous in Chelsea, you’ll want to taste the sumptuous 20’s vibe of Raines Law Room. 48 West 17th St (Between 5th & Avenue of the Americas), then float up the two blocks to the Art Deco splendor of Flatiron Lounge, 37 West 19th St (Between 5th & Avenue of the Americas). 212 727 7741
My favorite cocktail bar that feels like a regular neighborhood bar: real down-to-earth with no pretentions, is Louis 649. Very cool jazz from traditional to avant garde (and often live), very friendly service, and a phenomenal drinks list. 649 East 9th St (Between Ave B & C). 212 673 1190
The Prohibition referencing Death & Co. accepts no reservations, and is first come first served. Strangely, it closes at 12am so best to get there early. Say 6pm when it opens. 433 East 6th St (Between 1st Ave & Avenue A). 212 388 0882
When you’re in Tribeca and live jazz is your ideal cocktail accompaniment the title of B Flat should be a dead giveaway. Performances every Monday & Wednesday from 10pm-1am. 277 Church St, Basement (Between Avenue of the Americas & Franklin St). 212 219 2970
The entrance to Angel’s Share - a reference to the alcohol that evaporates over time while being aged in barrels - is via a Japanese restaurant called Village Yokocho. It only accepts groups of 4 or fewer. Once you’re in if you get a seat by the large window you can survey all in the street below. 8 Stuyvesant St (Between 2nd & 3rd). 212 777 5415
If you want to go somewhere with a little more energy than your standard relaxing cocktail lounge, Employees Only in the East Village fairly crackles with it while still maintaining excellent drink standards. 510 Hudson St (Between 10th & Christopher St). 212 242 3021
And if like most humans that, after leaving the schooling system have sworn off tequila for good, Mayahuel and its 100 different agave tequilas and mezcals is the place you’ll realize that good tequila is as subtle and sophisticated as the finest pinot noir or single malt. 304 East 6th St (Between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave) 212 253 5888
Next up: A guide to the finest craft beer bars in New York City.