Showing posts with label manhattan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label manhattan. Show all posts

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Book tour day three - New York City

I needed to be checked out and ready to roll by 9 AM. Dann and Martha were driving me down to New York and wanted a reasonably early start.

Originally, I hadn't planned travelling to New York until Monday. Then Dann had arranged an additional event in New York on the Sunday, at Jimmy's No. 43. Bang went one of my two rest days.

We picked up breakfast on the way down. I dodged breaking my 27-year McDonalds fast by getting something from Boston Market instead. (February 1987 in New Orleans was the last time, in case you're wondering. Don't ask me why I even ate it then. It wasn't my choice.)

We all nodded off at some point during the journey. Except for Dann. Just as well, as he was driving. I find a conscious driver infinitely more reassuring than a slumbering one.

First we dropped off the beer at Jimmy's, before continuing on to our hotel in Brooklyn. I'd not been to Brooklyn for a long while. Since I lived in New York. Almost as long - spring 1987 - as since I last ate McDonalds. I didn't feel quite so guilty about easing over the East River as I would have felt about easing down a greasy burger.

We stayed in an interesting part of Brooklyn. 90% of the locals were Orthodox Jews and the streets around our hotel were filled with beards, long black coats, odd hats, prams and children. That extended to the hotel itself, except for the kids. My room was clean and tidy. Though the pillar in the middle of it was a bit odd.

I was excited to drink in Jimmy's. The East Village was one of my preferred piss-up locations during my NYC time. Jimmy's is right in the middle of where I lived out many of my most memorable drinking evenings. Not that I can remember any of them it great detail. It was all a very long time ago.

Jimmy is quite a character, ebullient and garrulous, flitting this way and that to greet and chat,  perpetually in motion. And always shaking hands. We must have shook a dozen times in the first hour. The perfect character for a publican.

Jimmy keeps beer and appetisers coming. There's also a constant flow of people come to chat with me and Dann, a few books are sold and more are signed. But it's quieter than at the Independent and I've more chance to knock back a few beers. I've a good excuse: I have to grab the chance to drink draught 1955 Double Brown while I can.

It's a lovely beer, but I'd expected nothing less. A Whitbread recipe and Dann's brewing skill were always going to hit the bullseye. It's bitterer than you might expect from and British Brown Ale, but that's backed up by plenty of malt. A great drinking beer. I think I did it justice.

We don't stay too late. There's still time for a barbecue dinner in a trendy, garage-like space back in Brooklyn (Fette Sau). Though my memories of the meal are almost as blurred as the photos I took.

We'll be meeting Jimmy again next time. When he interviews me and Dann in the middle of hipster Brooklyn.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer

Jimmy's No. 43   
43 E. 7th St.,
New York, NY 10003.

Pointe Plaza Hotel
2 Franklin Ave,
Brooklyn, NY 11249.
Phone:+1 718-782-7000

Fette Sau
354 Metropolitan Ave,
Brooklyn, New York 11211.
Tel: +1 718-963-3404

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Going to America

It was 22 years ago today. (Or thereabouts. My visa is dated October 23rd 1985.)

The papers for my visa application arrived while I was in Brno. (The most important four weeks of my life were spent on a summer school learning Czech in Brno. I improved my Czech enough to be able to read Kundera, had more money than I could spend, met lifelong friends and found my wife.) J1 visa, I think. Some fiddle it was, thought up by the dodgy agency I worked through. A work experience visa it was supposed to be. We were just plain old ordinary wage slaves. I hope they don't decide to come after me. The agents, I mean. The mafia are pussycats compared to contract agencies.

October 28th 1985. I've just inspected my old passport more closely. That was the exact date I arrived in America for the first time. In Newark. How aposite.

My first beer in America - I can remember it crap - was an Amstel Light, in some soulless midtown bar. A beer that was totally immemorable yet I still recall what it was.

In the 1980's, the British were the IT job tourists. BONY bought in a gaggle of us.

I lived on Staten. In a neighbourhood as dull as dull can be. Where the buses do run, but the streets have no pavements. The looks I got, walking home with my shopping. The Recovery Room was one of my local bars. We played darts there. Me and some of my British workmates. The beer was crap. I drank bottled Heineken.

Darts. British blokes. Beer. Manhattan. In the mid-1980's this spelled "Manhattan Brewery" . Not literally. Obviously.

Our office was downtown. If I hadn't spent the last 30 years boozing every day, I could tell you the exact address. Washington Street, possibly. We could walk to the Manhattan Brewery. Which is exactly what we did. At least once a week. Playing darts was the general excuse. I was glad to have the chance to drink something handpulled.

One night, after the darts, I got to talk to the brewer. I was impressed. He was knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I wonder what happened to him?

This was my first going to America. More happened.