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Nov 26, 2014

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Greenwich Village pub crawl

By Gregg Smith

The criteria for a successful pub crawl are simple. The stops should offer good brews, a cozy warmth, character, and a chance to enjoy a night out with friends. Nowadays it's also best to conduct the tour on foot or appoint a designated driver. With this in mind the walking plan that follows is designed to yield a minimum of confusion and a maximum of fun.

Start near the corner of 2nd Avenue and 7th street and walk west on the north side of seventh. After about forty yards you will come to one of the village's newer beer bars, Burp Castle. Don't be deceived by the name, this bar concentrates on world class Belgium beers and offers a wide selection at good prices. The murals on the walls depict scenes out of the renaissance which are complemented by the bar staff's monk habits. Overall the bar has the feel of being in the neighborhood for a considerable time, perhaps because the owner also runs the well known Brewski's next door.

Continuing west on seventh you will next pass McSorely's Old Ale House. Though the beer selection is limited (you can have light or dark ale) this is the oldest bar in New York "We were here before you were born" Until the seventies McSorely's was one of the last bastions of the males only bar; John McSorely's slogan was "Good ale, raw onions, and no ladies". Even when the law required them to admit women their response was less than whole hearted. In fact they tried to make do with only one rest room. But today all that is changed. You can still get raw onions and ale but the crowd is a mixed bag of old timers and students. Look for the crusty turkey wishbones hanging on the gas lamp fixtures and be mindful of the coal stove lit in the cold months. If you must use the rest room its straight back (ladies room on the left).

Leaving McSorely's door make a right and walk further west on Seventh until you pass Cooper Union, then turn right. Walk uptown until eleventh street and once again turn west (left). At University Place cross the street and make a right which will put you at the door of the Cedar Tavern at 82 University Place. This stop is for both beer and atmosphere because the Cedar Tavern has what may be the prettiest back bar in the city. The carved wooden gargoyles have a dark glow to them and the bar's slate floor and tin ceiling round out the effect. The beers include Guiness products on tap and Pete's Wicked Ale in 22 oz bottles.

Finish your beer and turn right out the door, then an immediate right back onto eleventh. Heading west your next destination is the White Horse Tavern on the Southwest corner of 11th and Hudson. This place can boast an authentic saloon smell, and character with a capital C, probably because the building dates to 1828. The bar is larger than it may first seem, since many rooms shoot off in back. In the bar be sure to take a look at the 6 foot tall wall clock on your left as you enter. The clientele are a varied castof characters served by taps of Double Diamond, Guiness, New Amsterdam, Foster's; and, the White Horse in- house brew made by the folks at F.X. Matt. You also get side walk picnic tables on warm days and nights, along with fairly good onion rings.

Back outside take a right on Hudson and head south. As you hit the northwest corner of Hudson and 10th you will find the Cowgirl Hall of Fame which includes displays of famous rodeo stars in the back. At the bar there's Dos Equis, New Amsterdam, Guiness, and several Texican Techno Brews. The surroundings offer old cowgirl pin-up art and weird collections of western objects d'art? The stop is worthwhile for the sake of contrast and wonder.

Now's it's time for the tricky part. Travel further south on Hudson until Barrow and make a left. Follow Barrow closely and position yourself on the northeast corner of Barrow and Bedford and face east. Walk one pace past the first tree (or eleven paces total) and look for a small arched doorway that appears to be the entrance to a hall and courtyard. Walk to the back of the courtyard and you're at Chumley's. This one is hard to find because it was a speak easy back during prohibition. You got some nostalgia here, the bar has been the hang-out of over forty Pulitzer prize winning writers. Today the cellar is getting a new 100 barrel cooler which will offer over 24 different taps. Upstairs the addition of all that beer will result in an increased floor space of 150%. Those familiar with Chumley's may be up in arms over the threat to the traditional ambiance but don't despair, the expansion is being done in a manner that will be scarcely noticeable.

Leaving Chumley's you make a left and again travel east until you hit Seventh Avenue. Cross the street and turn left (north) and within a block you will find the next stop, Jekyll and Hyde. The home of more than 250 beers makes this a perfect place for exploration. Beer is also available from taps that feature Murphy's Stout, Newcastle Brown Ale, Old Foghorn, and McEwans IPA which can be purchased in traditional yards. The trip to the rest rooms here is through Dr. Jeckyll's library so don't be surprised if you don't find it at first attempt. Although the atmosphere may be slightly forced the beer selection forgives all.

Depart Jeckyll and Hyde by taking a right, north again, until Bleeker then make a right and continue on past the famous intersection with McDougal. On the left side just before LaGuardia Place is the well known Peculiar Pub. This is the location for what some refer to as the Brickskeller of the north. If after this stop you still have not found a beer you can enjoy then you simply must not like beer. The new Peculiar Pub offers a lot more space than its old location down the street and it's needed; there are over 300 beers available. The bar is down a half level so watch your step in and out.

Pub crawls are a great way to entertain friends. When organizing your own pub crawl remember to plan ahead for walking distances, public transportation or designated drivers. Other than that stick together and have a good time.

Gregg Smith

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