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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Englishman Drinking In New York


If you're on Manhattan, head towards The Ginger Man, Rattle 'n' Hum, Blind Tiger or The Pony Bar. Brooklyn: Barcade, Spuyten Duyvil (above) or the brewery.

New Yorkers will happily drink pint measures of a beer that's too strong to be drunk in pint measures. If you ask though, most places will sell you a half pour for half price.

Very strong beer will often come in a short measure. 10oz, 8oz, something like that. Ask for one by name and you'll be given the smaller serving automatically.

Always take ID with you. I might be lucky(?) enough to avoid age checks in England, but I was asked 3 or 4 times in NY for ID. Easier just to have it with you at all times.

New Yorkers don't know where the date of birth section is on a UK driving licence.

Look out for the option of a flight on the bar menu. Often a selection of around 5 taster pours of your choosing, it's a good way to try a few beers without getting hammered too quickly.


Drinkers in New York tip very well. The result of this is that barmen will expect you to tip well also. If you're paying by cash, the standard is to leave a dollar per drink on the bar after you've paid for your round. The first time you do this you'll wonder if you've made a mistake, they will eventually pick the notes up though. Honest. If you start a tab or ask to pay by card, there's a handy space on the receipt slip for adding a tip amount.

Practice your signature, chip and pin doesn't appear to have arrived in New York yet.

For some unknown reason, when you pay for a round by cash, you always seem to get dollar notes in the change ...

The plus side to all this tipping business is that the barmen of New York are some of the friendliest, most knowledgeable people you'll ever encounter.

In Opposite Land (also known as the USA), cask is the new keg. Whilst everything I personally tried was great, I was warned over and over that cellarmanship is still some way behind the enthusiasm for cask beer. Take caution.

In Opposite Land, people eat with their feet and walk on their hands.*

Don't fall for the IPA fries at Rattle 'n' Hum. They're just fries. Good fries, granted, but just fries all the same.

If you've ever wished you could buy a shirt or glass emblazoned with the logo of your favourite bar, you're in luck. NYC is merch-crazy.

If you are planning a trip to The Big Apple soon, keep it yourself, I'll just get jealous.


* Note: This might be a lie.

15 comments:

ben said...

nice! glad my country was good to you. 2 quick points.

1) You always get singles as change to facilitate tipping. While I find the american tipping system a bit ridiculous (perhaps a sign I've been in europe for a a while), they definitely have the details sorted.

2) This whole post, with the exception of the venue specific things, is basically true for good beer spots across the US. eg. The concept of a legal measure doesn't exist, so bars are free to do tasters or flights or 10oz pours or whatever and better places tend to but higher abv stuff in smaller portions. Also the bar tipping is basically as described across the US.

BryanB said...

We enjoyed the Brickyard on 9th the other week - a good list of draught locals plus some interesting bottles, and jolly decent food too. Oh, and Guinness and Stella for those who know no better!

Mark said...

Ben: Was being a bit sarcastic with that comment about the 1 dollar notes in change. Couldn't help but think it just a little cheeky and presumptuous of the barmen to always give you 1s. Being the clueless Brit that I am, I made sure I always saved one dollar notes before going into a bar. It wasnt until about 4 days in with about 20 of them in my pocket that I realised why I had so many!

I agree it's a bit on the ridiculous side. Why not add $1 to the cost of every beer and pay your staff a better wage?

I didn't realise that the tipping thing spanned the whole states though. I thought it was more of an NYC tradition, so that's interesting to know.

I'm a big fan of flights. I wish we saw more of them in England.

Bryan: I bet there's loads of places I missed out on. If I went back for another week, there still wouldn't be time to cover them all.

The Beer Nut said...

Ehhh, I think you'll find you're the one from Opposite Land when it comes to keg and cask. For most of us outside Britain, cask ale is a new and exciting development in the craft beer movement. And yes, we do need to brush up on our collective cellarmanship.

Mark said...

TBN: You're right. Opposite Land relative to where I am.

Out of interest, do you go to the shoe shop for your gloves and the glove shop for your shoes, or is that just a rumour that isn't true?

The Beer Nut said...

You'll have to come over and find out. Beware, though: round here the pints drink people o_O

Sid Boggle said...

Cask in NYC is mostly the fault (kidding) of ex-pat Alex Hall who now lives there. I think I'm right in saying he's personally responsible for getting beer engines in pretty much all the good bars in the 5 Boroughs, and getting brewers to cask some of their beer. Some UK stuff is also imported, but I can't see the point of that.

Bartenders can do OK with the system as it is, but some places (like SF) now have a minimum wage rule for bartenders so they get paid vacation and healthcare. And if you're drinking in one place long enough, you'll usually get a buy-back from your bartender. As already said, a buck a beer is pretty standard.

Glad you had a good time.

Ghost Drinker said...

Had many a similar experience myself. I do chuckle when they look at your driving liscence and say it has to be photo ID and you have to tell them to look at the other side...

Tandleman said...

I did notice in DBA where the service by the bar staff was atrocious, that the dollar tips stopped flowing. We spotted this, nabbed a waitress and she was charm itself, kept the beer coming and gotand deserved her tips.

Funny system to our mindset, but when you get used to it you cope.

I can't wait to go back and throw some more money away.

Mark said...

Cheers Sid. I read about the buy back thing before heading out there. Didn't really stay in place long enough for it to apply. A minimum salary and healthcare etc sounds like the least bar staff should get ... why was it ever considered any different to other jobs? Odd.

GD: After a few days, I'd hand over the liscence AND point to the date at the same time. Everyone out there looked at it like it was written in an alien language or something! :P

Tandy: You planning on going to NYC soon? I must admit that there were occasions when we didn't tip. When you run into a bar, battle through a crow to get served and quickly have one drink without any interaction with the staff, what have they really done to warrant it? Other times it was just a part of being over there and on holiday, no big deal.

Leigh said...

hahah, nice round-up! no chip and pin? whaaaaa?!?!

Mark said...

I know, mad. Maybe it's because we were using UK cards? Not sure. Don't remember ever seeing anyone enter a pin though.

Thomas said...

In opposite land they take guns instead of walking sticks! Great piece mate, glad you enjoyed it. I didn't know chip and pin didn't exist in NYC. Good knowledge!

BeerCast Rich said...

Definitely going to bookmark this for when I make it over to NY next year - sounds like you had a great time...next November can't come round soon enough...

Mark said...

Rich: That's a long way off, but you'll have a brilliant time. I've got a post coming about Fette Sau, you HAVE to go there!