If you follow this blog, you’ll recall that Tuesday I was inspired by a post about Sardi’s Bar and swizzle sticks at Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York to go seek out a glass swizzle stick. I went to Sir Harry’s, one of the cities pricier and upscale taverns in the Waldorf Astoria and was disappointed when I only got a shitty plastic one in my 41 dollar drink.
It got me thinking it would be fun to travel to the other end of the spectrum and order the same drink and compare experiences. I didn’t have to think too long to come up with the flip side of Sir Harry’s: Blarney Cove!
I had to work late again tonight, so we'll be traveling by taxi. Sweet overtime!
And here's a yellow chariot.
And we're off to the Blarney Cove.
A shot from a moving cab at 12:37 in the morning.
Okay, it's right down the street here.
And here we are at the Blarney Cove, one of the last true dive bars in the city.
Neon in the window advertises Budweiser American Ale.
Golly, what a shock.
Let's go in and see what's what in here and check out their version of a double gin and tonic.
I ordered the double gin and tonic from a lovely and friendly bobbed-haired Asian bartender. It was ten bucks, which I thought was a little pricey for the Blarney Cove, but it sure as shit beats 41 bucks.
Instead of a swizzle stick you get a discreetly covered plastic straw for a stirrer.
Here's a shot of one end of the bar.
And here's a shot of the other end of the bar. After I took this, the bartender said no pictures are allowed in the Blarney Cove. So I put my camera away and ordered another double gin and tonic. I got a buy back after just two drinks. That's the kind of place this is. Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark.
The Blarney Cove has quite a different crowd as the shift changes. It opens at 8am and that’s the time of day you should go to witness the true spirit of this East Village dive bar. Years ago I worked a job where I got off at seven in the morning and I used to go to the Blarney Cove now and again at the first opening bell to escape the sunshine and the harsh and cruel morning 9 to 5 crowd of coffee drinkers and glad handers hustling and bustling about in a manner that's never made me feel comfortable. Old timers would shuffle in and start the day with a draft and a shot. I remember one morning when a guy who looked like a walking corpse slowly hobbled his way inside the dark and dingy tavern and carefully made his way to a stool at the bar. His eyes were sunken and a curious combination of yellow and red. They kind of resembled egg yolks having a period. His skin was gray and the few white hairs jutting out of his bloated head looked like bleached white straw. Once he got situated he promptly passed right the fuck out on top of the sticky formica bar. The bartender on duty laughed, poured out a beer and a shot and shook the fellow awake. He got up, dutifully drank his breakfast and then—boom—out again. There was never a lot of chatter and the music played on the jukebox was mainly old soul with a ratpack song here and there. Two peanut machines in the back offered solid food, for those that could keep it down. Most of the regulars stuck to cheap drafts and shots at regular intervals. It might have been sunny outside, but inside the Blarney Cove it was always a nice permanent midnight on my morning visits there. I seem to remember cartoons playing on the TV, but that could just be a drunken memory. I do know one thing for sure though, I’m usually a nervous wreck, but I always felt nice and calm while drinking a beer at eight in the morning at the Blarney Cove. The rest of the world may be starting the working day, but mornings at the Blarney Cove are a magical drunken mess.
At night there’s still some of the regulars, but there’s also a smattering of hipsters and curiosity seekers. I also noticed that they have an internet juikebox now. The music blaring from it was bad pop music and some rap and hip hop. I hate the morning, but the Blarney Cove is the rare place where the am trumps the pm big time.
510 E. 14th St. (Near Ave. A)
Further reading: Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, EV Grieve, New York magazine and Time Out New York.