Son of Speak-Easy
[New York Times, 25 May 2008]
By RICHARD MORGAN
After 400 years, the tides were due to turn. Here on New York’s harbor, roughnecked stevedores once toiled on grimy docks; then came piers-turned-parks, piers-turned-galleries and piers-turned-bowling alleys. Now, anchoring a trinity of luxury waterfront condo towers near West 11th Street designed by Richard Meier, is a seemingly out-of-place dive bar, the Rusty Knot.
There are 99-cent Busch beers, a 50-cent pool table and a (temporarily) free jukebox. Patrons guzzle cans of Tecate and chomp snacks fit for a county fair (Coca-Cola ribs and pretzel dogs). Many of the cocktails, gussied up with paper umbrellas, are served in tiki statues or coconuts.
“We’re a down-and-dirty, simple neighborhood bar,” said Taavo Somer, 34, an owner and the designer of the Rusty Knot. “We’re the good kind of quiet.” Mr. Somer filled both the jukebox and the aquarium himself (the wall-mounted king salmon and barracuda are a friend’s), and lined the walls with ’70s-era faux-wood paneling (“porno paneling,” Mr. Somer called it).
“I feel like I’m on vacation and I’m still in the city,” said Jason Levine, 38, a portfolio manager from the Upper East Side.
Melissa Mattioli of Riverdale was celebrating her 38th birthday. “Instead of a chi-chi place, it’s nice to have a beach-house option,” she said. “And I love these Dark and Stormys. Reminds me of Bermuda.”
Ms. Mattioli’s friend Angela Helwig, 37, who lives nearby on 14th Street, smiled. “It’s nice to go out without having to get dressed to the nines,” she said. “Dressed to the sevens is a nice change of pace, you know?”
The pool table had been commandeered by Chris Hansen, 35, and his brother, Peter, 38, investment bankers from a few blocks away. “It feels so chill,” Peter said, “like we’re sneaking drinks and playing pool in our friend’s basement den while his parents are out of town.”
Chris swigged an Anchor Steam and wiped his hands on his plaid shirt. “There are 1,000 predictable bars in this city,” he said. The beach-blond brothers took a shot of tequila before Chris continued: “But guess what? Sometimes bars are for more than getting trashed, hooking up or showing off.”
The Rusty Knot
425 West Street (at 11th Street),
New York; (212) 645-5668.
GETTING IN No cover, no door policy, no reservations. At capacity, it’s “one out, one in.”
MUSIC PICKS The jukebox tilts in favor of rock balladeers: Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Journey.
SIGNATURE DRINK The Rusty Knot, $7, a frozen Trinidadian mint daiquiri (aged rum, fresh sour mix, homemade mint syrup, Angostura bitters).
back to home page