Many bars and restaurants are open every day of the week, but how many are open every single day of the year? McManus was founded in 1911 and moved to this location in 1936, and four generations of the family have operated this warm and welcoming Irish tavern since. Today it is Peter McManus’s grandson and great-grandson who stand side by side serving beer. The bar has a real neighborhood feel, with regulars stopping in at all hours to watch sports on one of the several TVs, listen to music on the jukebox, or play video games. A room with shiny vinyl booths and red and white checked table cloths is available for anyone who would like to grab a bite from McManus’ simple American menu. We were taken with the original features of the building, especially the Tiffany stained glass windows and the two classic wooden telephone booths.
“I’ve always been a fan of music,” Paul Devitt told me as I sat down at the bar surrounding the piano in the back room of Sid Gold’s. He co-owns this amazing concept alongside Joe McGinty, a composer, arranger, and pianist, also known for having started the Loser’s Lounge, a group of talented performers who breathe new life into pop classics. Despite the fact that Joe is the more musical of the two, it was Paul’s idea to open Sid Gold’s Request Room, which is fittingly named after a Broadway talent agent.Paul is a lover of themed bars. He started in Philadelphia and opened his first bar, Silk City, in a vintage diner car where names such as the Roots and Diplo performed. Upon his move to New York, he opened Beauty Bar, which combines a classic bar with a retro salon. He has since opened Beauty Bars in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, Denver, and Dallas. “I’ve never had the drive to open ‘just a bar,’” Paul emphasized. There is something to delight and astonish in every bar that he imagines. For example, when he ran Coral Room in Chelsea, there was a ten thousand liter fish tank, complete with “mermaids” swimming behind the glass. Paul smiled and said, “I always want to do something interesting.”Paul met Joe a few times through a karaoke night that Joe hosted. When he came up with the idea to open a piano bar centering around pop songs, he knew that Joe was the man to ask. When I visited in August of 2015, just four months after they first opened, it was clear that his latest brainchild was already a hit. As Paul explained, “The reaction Beauty Bar got twenty years ago is what Sid Gold’s has now – so I know it is a success.” Sid Gold’s classy karaoke-esque request hour begins at 9pm every night, and even “Monday nights are mobbed,” he explained, both shell-shocked and pleased. The bar already has amassed a faithful crew of regulars. Paul partially credits the location with Sid Gold’s success, since the Request Room is a unique gem among a row of sports bars. He also pointed out that Sid Gold’s is different from similar establishments because of the lack of Broadway songs being sung. “Joe doesn’t know a lot of show tunes. Occasionally people come in wanting them, and he’ll play a couple, but it’s not his thing.” I asked Paul what his own go-to song was. He laughed and responded, “Righteous Brothers, Loving Feeling. It’s always good to do a sing-a-long, here.”Joe is at the piano most nights, but when I visited, it was his night off and a young man named Julian was impressively mastering the keys. Some members of the Manhattan Sideways team stayed to witness the singing and to request their own tunes. The highlight of the night, however, was when Paul himself took the mic and started crooning.
The Crompton Ale House is the perfect example of a bar that has embraced its surroundings. Right in the middle of the fashion district, the bar is named for Samuel Crompton, the man who invented the sewing machine. The spacious bar is decorated with bobbins and gears to make it seem like visitors are socializing inside a giant sewing machine. Jimmy, one of the owners of the bar, explained that he and his partners brought in a designer to create the unique atmosphere. “We even had threads up on the spools,” he said, pointing at the wall ornaments, “But they were gathering dust – perhaps we’ll put them back up for Halloween.”I was speaking with him only a short time after the bar had opened in 2015. Jimmy, who also owns the bars O’Donoghue’s and Genesis, was not quite sure what the bar would become, but he was already excited by the crowds that had arrived. He sees the area as an up-and-coming neighborhood, and has been delighted to meet a lot of locals, which is a change from the tourist-heavy crowds that he experiences in Times Square. With a happy hour from 4pm-7pm on weekdays, the bar draws in a solid after-work crowd.It is not surprising that people are gravitating to the Ale House, with people like Jimmy at the helm. Like many other Irishmen, Jimmy grew up working in a bar. He had his first job filling pints at the age of seventeen. He went on to reminisce how “There were no cocktails – just pints," but then stated, "It’s changing all the time.” He told me how at Crompton he is serving local and seasonal beers, in order to keep up with what people are drinking. He was especially proud of the special beer of the house, Crompton Ale, an IPA from upstate New York. According to Jimmy, however, the real reason for the bar’s early success is “the standard of service and the quality of food.”
Hometown pride is central to every city, whether the population is 84 or 8 million — and that is exactly the message that owner and artist Dave Ortiz strives to communicate through Our/New York Vodka. Our/Vodka is a global brand that has micro-distilleries in eight cities around the world: The “sister cities” include Berlin, Seattle, London, Detroit, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Miami, and, of course, New York. As Ortiz says, “you could sell vodka anywhere” — but the Our/Vodka project goes beyond this to build on the unique sense of community and pride in each of its locations, and New York is no exception. With Ortiz at the helm, Our/New York Vodka screams, “This is our city. I believe in that.” Ortiz told the Manhattan Sideways team that it “could be vodka or women’s shoes — it’s a New York product that I’m standing behind. I’m not faking the funk.”This isn’t Ortiz’s first New York-centered endeavor. He is a self-professed ‘true blue New Yorker,’ born and raised in New York and schooled in Fine Arts at the Fashion Institute of Technology, right down the block from Our/New York Vodka in Chelsea. Zoo York, a skate brand centered on New York skate culture, was one of Ortiz’s first big projects as employee no. 1, followed by “Dave’s Quality Meat,” which was New York’s first ever concept store, and most recently a bike shop, all before Ortiz received the call from Our/Vodka asking him to get involved and be the local partner in Our/New York — which Ortiz has spent the last four and a half years building to perfection. When he received that phone call, Ortiz recalls, “At first I thought it was a joke because me and my friends always played practical jokes on each other. We worked with Ashton Kutcher when we owned Zoo York — so I was like, I think I'm getting punk’d. And then this person called me . . . my mind goes, ‘somebody wants me to design a box, I do a label, I throw a party, I get a few bottles of booze out of it, I call it a day’ . . . He asked me if I’d be interested in meeting the founders and I said ‘yeah sure, no problem’ and then I meet these three people and I’m still thinking it's a joke, and I'm like, ‘I can't believe that whoever is doing this joke hired three Swedish actors.’ And then they begin to tell me their idea about the Our/Vodka project — and it was quite fascinating. And for me, I fell in love with it immediately.”The project is dependent on the unique character of each city as well as the local ingredients. Each of the seven Our/Vodka distilleries works from a common recipe. All distilleries share one ingredient, a wheat distillate which is supplied from Sweden and which is then, in its last distillation process, distilled on site in each distillery, and the rest of the ingredients are sourced as locally as possible without compromising on quality, and of course local water, in this case, local NYC tap water. Ortiz dubbed this a “glocal” organization: one that is both global and local, though his focus remains on channeling the energy of New York and his experiences there into his business. In the Our/New York bar, he makes an effort to stock products from other small and local distilleries as much as possible. Ortiz explained to us, “We don’t carry the same spirits that you would find in a regular bar. 98% of our offer is from New York state. We carry many specialty small distillers that are like us.” And even this is part of the Our/New York Vodka mission to stand behind New York as a community, as a place with hometown pride. It makes history as the first distillery in Manhattan since prohibition, but, maybe most important, it represents a throwback to the history of diversity and community in the city.I’m all about community and friendships,” Ortiz tells us, “and that's the thing that New York is missing right now — Everybody’s to themselves, everybody’s segregated: The bankers hang out with the bankers, the guys with the popped-shirt collars, they hang out with the popped shirt collars . . . the meatheads all hang out with the meatheads over in the meatpacking. When I grew up in the late 80's early ‘90s, everybody was forced to hang out with everybody, you know? You go to a club and there’d be bankers and models, and there was Madonna, and, you know, Andy Warhol’s walking around. And everybody was forced to hang out with everybody because that’s the way New York was . . . I personally want to recreate the fun spot that I used to hang out — where every likeminded [person] hangs out: from skaters to ballet dancers to gay people, you know, Black, white, Chinese, designers, architects, all my friends who I know. All those are the types of people that come in here and just kind of say ‘what’s up.'Stop in and say what’s up: have a seat, try a cocktail, and have a conversation with whoever happens to sit next to you. Notice the hand-painted walls and one-of-a-kind silkscreen prints, both done by Ortiz, the rawness of the cement floors, the beautifully arranged liquors behind the bar; take a look through the glass window at the back of the space into the distilling room, the first of its kind in almost a hundred years. Within a few minutes, you’ll be feeling the hometown pride, too, no matter where you’re from.
This Swedish Lutheran church is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2015. The church, organized by two missionaries, was named for Gustavus II Adolphus, who was King of Sweden from 1611-1632. Though the church opened in 1865, it was not until the early 1900s that English services began on a regular basis and electricity was installed in the building. The membership fluctuated over the years that followed, as the church introduced attractions such as the Sewing Club, Help Our Neighbors Eat Year-Round, and the Basement Coffeehouse Program for college students and young adults. In 1961, the church had the honor of hosting a memorial service for the Secretary General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld.In celebration of this milestone anniversary, Gustavus Adolphus is renovating its interior, and replacing the chandeliers and stained glass windows in preparation for a festival in the fall of 2015.
“We come together on the common ground of arts, letters, and women owning their own destinies,” stated Executive Director Dawn Delikat.For well over a century, Pen and Brush has been dedicated to supporting women in the visual arts and literature. The organization was founded by two sisters and painters, Janet and Mimi Lewis, who were frustrated with being barred from art societies solely on the basis of their gender. Knowing of so many talented women suffering a similar fate, the siblings decided to create Pen and Brush to “stop asking for permission and forge their own way in the city.”Though the group was nomadic for thirty years, it was able to purchase its first location in 1923. Decades later in the early 1960s, the ladies celebrated paying off their mortgage by dressing in their finest ballgowns and burning the contract in the fireplace. “Women persevering is as much of our understory as anything else.” The organization carries the torch passed down by these remarkable women, whose members include First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and a number of Nobel laureates.Today, Pen and Brush’s goal remains the same, albeit adapted to twenty-first-century circumstances. As such, it makes space for both women and non-binary voices — better reflecting our evolving conceptions of the gender spectrum — and works to bring in the diversity that has been kept out of the canon “not for lack of talent, but for lack of access.” To this end, Pen and Brush functions as an art gallery and a book publisher, where visual artists and writers from across the world can submit their work.The group evaluates submissions, seeking pieces “that need to be supported,” either for expressing something that has not been said before or for demonstrating an incredibly high skill level. This has meant giving career-making opportunities to veteran artists looking to break the glass ceiling of their field, gifted students just out of an MFA program, and self-taught artists who received no formal introduction to the art world.Achieving true equality in the arts and letters may seem a daunting task, but Pen and Brush is tireless in its mission to give a platform to brilliant women and non-binary creators. “We can’t give up on them. We have to build into the future so that we can keep passing that torch, so maybe someday, it won’t be needed.”
Living Fresh Men’s Spa was the first men-only spa in New York when it opened in the early 2000s. Here, men can relax and enjoy luxurious spa treatments in the privacy of this serene, dark wood and stone-paneled space. The store’s entrance is small, so most people are unaware of its existence. Once we walked inside, we were both enchanted and impressed by how extensive and comprehensive it is – a contemporary, warmly lit seating area leads back to a well-appointed bar, manicure and pedicure room, and a long hallway of private spa rooms dedicated separately to facial, body, and hair removal treatments and services. Living Fresh Men’s Spa also works with botox and filler treatments, laser hair removal, ReFirm skin tightening, and acne laser therapy. Each thoughtfully-appointed treatment room has its own sauna and shower. We found Living Fresh to be a luxurious setting for busy, stressed, or simply hygiene-obsessed men to take care of their bodies and release some of the tensions brought on by the daily cacophony of New York. From Tuesday through Saturday, after 6pm, men can enjoy 20% off single service massages.
We stumbled into BXL on a blisteringly hot day and were met by their refreshing air conditioning -- reason enough to stay. But even more, BXL is a splendid space, with warm wooden floors, banquette seating indoors and tables set up outside when the weather cooperates...and a very kind European owner. We spoke to Klaas about his restaurant and learned that having grown up in Belgium, and completing his training, he became the private chef for their ambassador. He was disarmingly charismatic and kind as he told us about BXL’s menu – he emphasized the "all you can eat" mussel pots that come with a cold Stella for $22.00 and the array of different sauces to choose from: white wine shallot broth, white wine and cream, endive and cream, wheat beer, cream with bacon and onions, coconut milk with lemon grass and curry. Mussels are not the only food choice. There are other great Belgian dishes, plus simple burgers, pasta and salads. Without a doubt, stopping by BXL for a cold beer and some friendly conversation was exactly what our team needed.