If there's one piece of advice I feel I must impart, it's that one should never, ever, ever piss off a bartender in New York City. Of course, one should never piss off anyone who is handling their comestibles, but it's even more of an imperative in New York City. EVERY NEW YORK CITY BARTENDER KNOWS EVERY OTHER NEW YORK CITY BARTENDER!! It's axiomatic, folks, they all know each other. Of course, this works to one's benefit when one is well-versed in bar etiquette, which basically boils down to "don't be an asshole and don't be stingy with the tips.
After last night's fundraiser for NY Aquarium staff whose homes had been damaged by the storm (including one individual I have met, and think highly of), I decided to hang out in the bar for a bit. The bartender, Brian, was a Galway native who had lived in various neighborhoods in the outer boroughs. After a couple of beers, he comped me a shot of Jameson's. We soon got to talking about (what else?) bars, and the conversation went a little like this:
Hey, you know **REDACTED**, who works at **REDACTED**?
Of course, I know the whole family, how about **REDACTED**?
Yeah, a few years back, he worked at **REDACTED**, I went there at eight in the morning to watch the Ireland/Netherlands cup match, and the place was packed with Ozzies and Kiwis watching the tail end of the rugby championships. Stumbled out of the bar drunk as a lord's bastard around two P.M.
Well, **REDACTED** now owns **REDACTED**.
That's across the street from **REDACTED**, you know, one of members of the family who owns it was killed in the Trade Center. Damn shame, he was a hell of a guy.
It's funny how small aa town New York City, with its millions of inhabitants, can be... at least as far as pub talk goes. Most of the bartenders have worked in various places, and a lot of them help each other with referrals. Of course, I live in a pretty solidly Irish neighborhood, so a couple of the bars are "bar staff bars", the places where Manhattan bartenders grab a drink on their day off. Other places are known for their music, while some are known for their physical plant (Brian told me that he covets the unusually beautiful antique bar at The Punch Bowl, which is an "old man bar" in The Bronx- oddly enough, the spectacularly talented Mary Courtney plays ballads there for the topers).
The bartenders are sort of like a secret society, a brotherhood of beer-slingers. I like to think of them as the Murphia.