35-15 Broadway between 35th and 36th Sts, Astoria
By Kaitlyn Alkass, Guest Writer
The Place: A typical hole in the wall dive bar with a freak show/circus/boardwalk vibe.
The Time: Wednesday January 16, 11pm. I’m back in Astoria after performing comedy at an open mic at the Inkwell in Bed-Stuy and I’m in desperate need of a drink. I love the comedy grind, but waiting close to 4 hours to perform for 5 minutes can drive anyone to actively seek out hard liquor. I pop into Madam Marie’s, a sideshow themed bar that I’ve passed hundreds of times while walking the law-abiding dogs of Queens. It’s quirky, close to my apartment on Steinway, and I’m so cold my nipples could get a job as a professional ear-piercer at Claire’s.
The Vibe: When I walk in, I’m a little disappointed. It’s not much different from the plethora of other dives off Broadway and 30th, even though it advertises itself as “a piece of the boardwalk right here in Astoria.” It’s like a smaller Judy & Punch, a bar that I’ve frequented once or twice while en route to a more sparkly venue. The place is small, with a pinball machine in the back and a few interesting canvases featuring Madam Marie herself, esteemed fortune teller of Asbury Park. The crowd is younger, probably not even two years out of college. Everyone inside appears to belong to one of three major groups: coworkers, a birthday party, or a work party. I make my way through the crowd to sit at the bar next to this badass chick in beat up Doc Martens. She has headphones in and slightly nods her head while sipping a glass of Merlot. I can’t help but peek at her phone and see that she’s solving the day’s NYT crossword. I’m jealous she’s solving a Wednesday with such ease - I’ve only ever made it to Tuesday without help. There’s a reddish-brown poodle holding court with a few of the drunk birthday party gals. The poodle doesn’t appear to be a service dog; I think she just knows the right people. Celebrations or not, I find the place a scoche depressing.
The Bartender: Nice enough guy although I’m not able to catch his name. Good with patrons, otherwise all over the place - constantly rearranging the various liquors on the bar shelves and the cans of Diet Pepsi in the mini fridge. He helps with the lighting for the pic of my drank and has cool tattoos which makes him alright in my book.
The Drank: There are plenty of specialty cocktails that feature just about any kind of hard liquor your heart may desire. As a former skinny bitch, I usually stuck with vodka waters and a sliver of lime, so it’s kind of fun to look at all the drinks that would usually make this recovering sorority girl shudder. I choose the “Hot n’ Spicy” because anytime I see the word “muddled” in a drink description, I have to get it. (I’m the same way with things that are rose gold, organic, and/or have anything to do with succulents.) The “Hot n’ Spicy” features Hornitos tequila, triple sec, with a dash of fresh lime and pineapple juice. The extra sexy ingredients that win me over are the muddled jalapeño (see?) and the peppery sugar rim. It’s decent, although not any kind of cocktail I’d write home about. The sweetness of the pineapple balances out the kick from the jalapeño. The bartender is liberal with the tequila which I greatly appreciate but it’s not the drink I was expecting; I’m kind of missing the frozen Coronitas you can get at nearly any Mexican chain restaurant around.
Was I Hit On?: Lol, no. The one person who talks to me is the bartender when he gives me free Diet Pepsi. The only forward displays of attention I receive are from the aforementioned poodle who loves ear scratches and belly rubs. The environment is chill and safe, everyone is minding their own business.
Should You Drink Here Alone?: If you happen to walk by Madam Marie’s and are in danger of your nipples being confused for record player needles, sure.
Kaitlyn Alkass is a stand-up comedian, writer, explorer and feminist from Orlando. She recently moved to New York City where she lives with her boyfriend in Astoria. She has a Bachelors in English Literature from a liberal arts college, and a minor (major) obsession with Pembroke Welsh Corgis. She lived in Bulgaria for a year teaching English to aggressive teenagers with a penchant for insults and while backpacking through Southeast Asia, she accidentally taught an entire class of Thai children the word “fuck.” Rabies-free since 2017.