New York City – Night 1: The Collins Bar

NYC – Night 1 – Sunday, September 24th:

So, I’m down in NYC this week on business, taking an advanced course on Informatica, a suite of software that only database geeks know or care about. I could thrill you all with everything I’m learning about data loaders and transformations and such, but since the last word in the name of this blog is “Bites” and not “Bytes”, I’ll stick with the stuff you really care about.

I flew into town last night, and after an afternoon and evening of airport line-ups, a flight delay, and other travel annoyances, I definately needed a beer. Late last week, I found out that Matthias Trum, the owner and brewmaster of Bamberg, Germany’s Aecht Schlenkerla brewery would tapping a wooden cask of their renowned Marzen rauchbier at a place called The Collins Bar (735 8th Ave. at 46th) on the night of my arrival. Unfortunately, the tapping was to take place at 6 PM, and due to the flight delay it was around 9 PM by the time I checked into my hotel. So while I didn’t have high hopes of there being any of the cask left by the time I got there, it as a nice enough night that I decided to walk the mile or so over to The Collins in order to get some air and see some sights.

Located just a couple of blocks from Times Square, The Collins feels like a throwback to a time before the surrounding area had become cleaned-up and Disneyfied. The location has been operating as a bar since the late 19th century – including a stint as a speakeasy during Prohibition – and it exudes that unique combination of comfort, warmth and slight grottiness that you expect from a favourite neighbourhood watering hole. It also has friendly staff (if bartender Steve is any indication), a great jukebox, and free popcorn – not to mention a fantastic selection of beer, whisky, bourbon, tequila and other spirits.

I arrived around 9:45 to find a nearly empty bar and no sign of the Schlenkerla cask. I asked to confirm that it wasn’t hidden away somewhere, and found out that I wasn’t the only one to miss out that night – apparently when the cask was tapped, it was discovered the beer had gone sour, so it had to be dumped. I consoled myself with a glass of Brooklyn Blast, a fantastic limited release beer that the bar called a Strong IPA while RateBeer calls it an American Strong Ale. Whatever style it is, it was mighty good.

I considered either sticking around at The Collins for another pint, or walking the block or so to House Of Brews, but the day started catching up with me. So I thought better of it and headed back to the hotel, where I enjoyed my 32nd floor view which includes the Empire State Building just a couple of blocks away. That’s where I plan to be tonight to visit Heartland Brewing

(PS: I left my camera at home, so all photos this week will be borrowed/stolen from other sources. Which is probably a good thing, as I’m a crap photographer.)

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3 responses to “New York City – Night 1: The Collins Bar

  1. Greg – Collins bar looks awesome! Not that it matters at all, and I know nothing about New York except I really want to go there, but is there any sort of subtle Irish vibe, given the Collins name? Just curious. That looks like the definition of what would be my ideal local watering hole…

  2. It’s not obvious, but I do think the Collins has a bit of the Irish about it – although it’s more than New York Irish vibe that I think any old neighbourhood bar in NYC seems to have.

    If anyone wants to visit the Collins, they’d better do it soon, ’cause it’s not going to be there in a year or two. Apparently Disney has bought up the block and as leases expire over the next couple of years, everyone is being evicted to make way from a tourist-oriented family-friendly project of some sort.

  3. Pingback: Montreal: Mondial de la Bière 2009 « Beer, Beats & Bites

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