The new beer bar on Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg (at #359, across from Black Betty and near the corner of Havemeyer) is called Spuyten Duyvil, and it’s a great new addition to the shortlist of New York’s finer beverage establishments. Not only do they have an unusual, delightful, and wacky and irreverent selection of beers, but you can also buy most of the furnishings and curios that deck the place, and do it in the company of fine cold cuts, cheeses, and patés. A vintage power drill in nostalgic clunky ’50s streamline nearly dislodged onto Pierre’s head last night in the midst of the festivities, and there was prosciutto crudo in the vicinity, so we know this is true.
Together with Pierre, and Bill and Warren of the Malted Barley Appreciation Society, I dispatched, lessee, a glass of Cantillon Iris (on tap) and big shared bottles of Achel Trappist, Drie Fonteinen, Jopen Koyt (small bottle pictured at right, unsuspecting courtesy of the Oxford Bottled Beer Database), and some Saison or another, before we finished up with a round of Kulmbacher Eisbok for all. Spuyten Duyvil is dog-friendly, if you swing that way, and Bill and Warren had brought along Ludwig and Mabel – dachshund and poodle – as a cunning way to meet girls. And dribble on them. Not us, the dogs. Dribble. You know. On the girls.
The jukebox at Spuyten Duyvil is one of those wonderful non-commercial propositions, packed with dusty old jazz tunes and crinkly obscure bluegrass and wilfully-obtuse avant rock. We sat at a tan Formica kitchen table ($180), and ex-smoker that I am I couldn’t help but flush over the collection of promotional ashtrays hung on a wall in the back (average price $8, my favorite was the Sanka one). We adjourned closer to 3 a.m. than I would have liked, and with the G train in some sort of shuttle-repair sublimation state (Lorimer to Bedford-Nostrand, Bedford-Nostrand to Hoyt-Schermerhorn, and I still wasn’t at Destination: Bergen Street) it ended up being a wee early bedtime.
Today was supposed to be the last boat trip of the season, since the Good Ship Ventura is bound for winter drydock next week. Rather, it was the last trip of the season, but I very much missed the boat. What with the cold late night before and the warm bundled up a.m., morning was just not happening today. Departure point was the 79th Street Boat Basin instead of the usual North Cove slip, which is just west of where the Towers used to be, and I left in what should have been just enough time to get uptown. But no; I got swoggled by the usual subway trouble, the time came and the time went, and I wasn’t even at 72nd Street yet. (“Alpha Team to Green Base, subject has entered the subway at Court Street, I repeat, subject has entered the subway at Court Street.” “Roger Alpha, we have your message. All trains, go backward immediately.”)
Instead I saw Mystic River. This was not very cheerful, but it was satisfying, and I love the Loews Lincoln Square theatre. The movie was playing in Auditorium 1, which is one of the big ones with curtain and balcony. It’s worth ten bucks in there.
Some of the late-season Ventura trips go through the swing bridge and in along the old Spuyten Duyvil Creek, these days a.k.a. the Harlem River Ship Canal. “Spuyten Duyvil,” from the Dutch, means either “Devil’s whirlpool” or “to spite the Devil,” depending on how much you have in your mouth when you’re trying to say it. It’s the channel that runs from the Hudson to the Harlem River at the tip of Manhattan Island, separating New York County from the rest of America, and when it was industriously relocated to its current course in 1895 it marooned one small bit of Manhattan, a neighborhood named Marble Hill, on the far side of the waterway, in the Bronx. Marble Hill is still up there, the one toehold Manhattan has on the mainland. But the beer is better in Billyburg.