Blind Tiger Ale House, 281 Bleecker St. Rating: 4 L's
By now, the Tiger’s battle with the State Liquor Authority to regain its liquor license has become West Village legend. For months, the coffee flowed like, well, coffee, and this cozy bar sat in tragically sober silence. On March 15, 2007, however, the SLA ended their Siegfried and Roy taming act and unleashed the tiger to the beer-loving masses.
Well, even if the booze at Blind Tiger isn’t technically illegal any more, maybe it should be (at the very least to mitigate my hangovers). Upon entering this corner den, it’s immediately obvious what the chief draw is, per the 28 draught beers, two casks, and 30-plus bottles of new and vintage grog. The taps here focus on classic American brews, with a select few that will make even the most experienced connoisseur scratch his or her belly. Standouts at this Village oasis include, but are not limited to, Stone Arrogant Bastard, Sixpoint Bengali Tiger (get it in the cask), Dale’s Pale Ale (still better in the can), Ommegang Witte, and the now-obsolete Heavyweight Lunacy. What’s even more amazing is how much better the beer seems to taste during the $1-off happy hour (Monday-Friday, 5pm-7pm) and Wednesday night’s free Murray’s cheese tastings (6pm).
Surprising as it may seem, this little watering hole also offers a solid menu of highly-pairable small-plates ranging from homemade soups to artisanal cheeses to the always-questionable-but-never-deniable sliders. I took it upon myself to try the “Bloody Beast” (roast beef, sharp cheddar, red onion) with my Sly Fox Irish Stout and all I can say is that yes, it is all as deliciously unhealthy as it sounds.
Despite the fantastical amounts of micro-crafted nectar and rib-thickening snacks, there remains a general concern about the crowd. During my visit I found myself happily conversing with Village artists who’ve somehow turned day-drinking into a creative outlet. But I also found myself empathizing with the bartenders who have to listen to boisterous NYU students stress over earth-shattering TI-86 meltdowns. And on weekends, well, considering the location... I don’t think I need to elaborate.
Regardless, the Tiger is still a more than welcome (re)addition to the cheap beer and kitschy scenes that litter so much of the Village. It’s a simple bar with minimalist wood décor, homey locals, and enough glorious suds to ease even the worst Vegas tiger-mauling.