190 W 4th St at Barrow St, West Village
The Place: A bustling tavern that is clearly the favorite joint of the preppy young professional set.
The Time: Wednesday May 8, 7pm. I’m seeing a play with my boyfriend tonight, and have some time to kill between the show and therapy, so I figured I’d stop in to a bar down the street from the theater. I’ve been doing this blog for 3+ years now, so my friends and family are no longer concerned when I tell them I’m going to drink alone after therapy.
The Vibe: The outside has that wooden, old-timey, gastropub aesthetic, meant for you to believe it’s been there forever. Inside though, I can’t see anything because it is so crowded. Truly packed to the brim with dudes in button down shirts and women in chic business-casual and everyone kind of looks like they belong on a boat somewhere in the Hamptons. Do they all work around here? Or live around here? Or both? Either way, if this bar was a dating app, its age range would be mid 20s-early 40s, its occupation would be “project manager,” and in its main photo, it would be holding a stupidly enormous fish. It’s a larger space than I expected; there’s a big horseshoe shaped bar in the middle, and I have to convince myself that there is indeed another side and it’s not just a mirror. Because this place is so busy, I have to work really hard to find a spot at the bar. I eventually snag a stool that a group of people are just standing in front of. They’re using the hooks under the bar, but not the stool. I’m simultaneously grateful and confused. Once I’m settled, I get a chance to look around. Everything is wooden; green lamps are everywhere and there’s a dilapidated brick ceiling. Was the Spaniard a ship, because it feels vaguely maritime-themed. There’s a large TV screen above the bar that is thankfully not on. The two guys next to me are drinking beers and “talking shop” about banking. I spend some time staring at a blonde woman across the bar because I think I recognize her, but I play the internal-crisis game of “do I know her or is she famous?” We’ll never know.
The Bartender: It appears there are three, one on each side of the bar and another in the middle at service. They’re all very busy, and not exactly talkative. In fact, I think my bartender doesn’t say anything to me at all. He just comes over, I order, he nods, he makes my drink. I hand him my card, he swipes it, he puts the check in front of me, and then he’s gone. What a mysterious man.
The Drank: It’s a whiskey bar. For some reason, my dumb brain thought it was a wine bar but I should’ve known better. They have a nice list of cocktails, half of which are whiskey-based. Since it’s only 7pm and my boyfriend and I planned to get dinner post-show, I’m initially thinking I’ll get something on the lighter side. But then I see the Rosemary Manhattan. I’m currently developing a rosemary cocktail at work so I have to get this just to see how they do it. It’s bourbon, sweet vermouth and rosemary bitters. I don’t get much rosemary flavor except for the aroma coming from the massive sprig as garnish, but I have a weird mental block with busy bars and am convinced that if the bar is busy, I’m less able to taste my drink. Anyone else have this problem? Anyway. It’s a decent Manhattan. They also have “elevated pub food” which I probably could use because this drink is strong but I paid already and I don’t really want to try to flag down this silent bartender again because everyone else is trying to do the same.
Was I Hit On?: I barely have room to bring my drink to my lips which means I can’t read in here because a book would take up too much space, so I attempt to do a crossword puzzle on my phone. I think that maybe one of the dress shirts next to me will make some crude joke about going across and down, but nobody talks to me at all. Though a lot of people yell to the bartender over me so the crown of my head gets a lot of action.
Should You Drink Here Alone?: Um yeah I’m gonna say pass. The Spaniard may be a fun place to unwind with your coworkers after a particularly tough PR meeting, or to debate your sorority sisters about whether to summer in East Hampton or Montauk this year. But if you want to enjoy a drink in a chill bar without being jostled, I’d suggest you board a different ship.