I have a confession to make to you. Each and every Sunday when my friends in Memphis are shuttling their kids to and from sporting events or are doing mountains of laundry Mrs. Trumpet and I are exploring a different section of Manhattan. You may be saying “big hairy deal CBT, what’s the fun in that”….well, I failed to mention that when we get into a new neighborhood we are in search of Manhattan’s better dive bars. To quote Bucket List;
“Let’s face it; dive bars are probably one of society’s accidentally-created best things ever. In reality, they’re simply neighborhood places that serve cheap drinks and have no-nonsense attitudes. These are the places that pretty much say, “don’t F*** with anyone here and everything’s fine.”
Their drinks are simple, you can be left alone to drink or talk in private, and d-bags aren’t welcome. But that’s not all there is to them. Dive bars have that something special that make you feel welcome as soon as you walk in.”
So far we have found some real gems in the West Village, East Village, Union Square, Upper East Side and in Murray Hill of all places. This past Sunday Mrs. Trumpet informed me that she wanted to ‘go west’ so we made a trip over to Hell’s Kitchen. Now to qualify a joint as a ‘dive bar’ it must meet certain criteria. You have heard me talk about Alex’s Tavern in the Crime-Free Evergreen District of Memphis and that my friends, is a classic dive bar. It meets checks all the boxes. For example;
- Beer, cheap and Lots of it! And not all that fancy microbrew stuff, we are talking the classics here. Bonus if the carry a cheap beer on tap.
- An excess of gaudy neon, preferably for brands of beer that are no longer available and Christmas lights are the main source of light.
- Pictures on the walls and the décor are dated and there is probably a stuffed animal head hanging somewhere.
- The toilet seat in the ladies room doesn’t fit the toilet and the men’s room has extra reinforcement on the stall walls. The bathrooms are graffiti covered and actually doesn’t smell of bleach and stale beer like one would think.
- Very simple menu or none at all. Lightbulb Pizza can count as one of the food groups.
- The ceiling either sags or is still stained brown from when smoking was legal.
- The jukebox has at least one of these classic musicians; Georgia Satellites, Bob Segar, Lynnard Skynnard, Molly Hatchet, Allman Brothers, Kid Rock, Hank Williams Jr., Nazareth, or Jimmy Buffet. Oh and there is fucking absolutely ZERO – Bieber on the jukebox too.
- An aging Rock and Roll or movie star must have hung out there at some period of time back in the day. (This is Sonny, Joe is ready to be picked up now!)
- There is a Pay Phone.
- Happy Hour starts at 9 AM.
- Cash only or they will accept a check. The cash register is something out of a 1950’s movie. If you write a bad check you go on the ‘shit list’ that is behind the bar for all to see.
This past Sunday momma and I made it over to 9th Avenue between 44th and 45th. Until otherwise proved wrong I think that we may have found our unicorn of Manhattan. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Rudy’s Bar & Grill on 9th Avenue.
Rudy’s Bar and Grill, according to its website, was originally a speakeasy opening on or around 1919. It was one of New York’s first liquor license recipients when prohibition ended in 1933. The guest list of famous people who have frequented the bar reads like a who’s who of Hollywood. The bar has red vinyl banquettes along one wall and had more red duct tape on them than vinyl. On the opposite wall the bar runs the length of joint and is done up in deep dark mahogany. You order a beer from Judy, and she happily informs you that “sweetie, you can leave your money on the bar and I will let you know when I need more” as compared to keeping a tab. The music on the jukebox, there is no way to describe it. I actually heard “Rocky Top” being played at one time and even heard some Frank Sinatra 5 minutes later. Like I said, this place hasn’t changed one bit. You seriously think you stepped into a time machine when you walk in this joint. Oh and I failed to mention the best part as I am putting it on the LVD short list of bars; wait for it……they serve free hotdogs!
Back of the Bar – Oh and notice how tight it is behind the bar. That is what we call a ‘One Ass’ bar. No way you can get two bartenders behind that sucker.
Notice how the pitcher of Rudy’s Blonde is the same as two Bud Lights. Even I have scruples.
I guess the cost of Red Duct Tape is cheaper than Red Vinyl
Mrs. Trumpet asked for a hot dog with Mustard and Ketchup and they brought her two hot dogs, one with Mustard and the other with Ketchup. At least they are free!
Shout out to the TQ for coming to New York for my Birthday! All I got from Nova was a Facebook post about a chicken!!!!!!
I end with a quote by the late Wanda Wilson the former owner of another great Dive Bar in Memphis – “This isn’t a bar sweetie. It’s an orphanage for the misunderstood.”