The Beer Future 

Bar Trends in the Year 2009

I get it, I get it, we’re in a Depression. But what better time to get hammered than right before you hop on the bread line? Spare the world your bathtub moonshine — bar owners are growing more sympathetic.

Not just for Gray’s Papaya anymore (incidentally, their famous deal went up a dollar this year).

Who Did It in 2008:
Perry Street is offering wine at $5 a glass and $20 a bottle when you order the prix-fixe lunch menu (a steal at $24).

Who Should Do It in 2009: My New York fantasy restaurant Le Cirque just revealed a new, three-course prix fixe menu for an uncharacteristically affordable $48. Of course, most selections from their wine list will quadruple the bill. A few bottles under $30 would bring in a lot of new patrons.

Is Great Depression-chic ironic or not?

Who Did It in 2008:
Trendy speakeasies like Death & Co. introduced New York to 1920s glamour a couple years ago, but new East Village lounge Ella does it better with live piano music and a rowdy crowd that appreciates a hard drink.

Who Should Do It in 2009: The Eldridge tried to replicate the speakeasy vibe but missed the mark with too much hype about its exclusivity, overpriced cocktails and the inexplicable combination of a Top 40 DJ and live saxophone music. Lose the turntables and let the man play.

Can’t afford to buy your staff’s drinks because of corporate cutbacks? Well, you couldn’t afford your house, either, but you still bought that.

Who Did It in 2008:
All three Merchants NY locations are offering a helluva deal: a two-hour open bar and appetizer spread for 20 people — and the host has up to a year to pay the $1,000 tab.

Who Should Do It in 2009: Little Branch would be booked solid: All-you-can-drink martinis and Branch’s live jazz band would taste and sound so much better without the cash-only policy and oppressive weekend crowds.

Hey, Patriot — stimulate your own economy by taking your booze red, white and blue.

Who Did It in 2008: New wine bar Sweet & Lowdown focuses on American wines, including offerings from New York. Chelsea Market restaurant The Green Table takes their locavore mission to the bar: spirits are from local manufacturers and infused with rustic flavors in-house.

Who Should Do It in 2009: Everyone! When restaurants and bars buy local wine, beer and liquor, it reduces your drink’s “food miles,” the distance traveled to get to your coaster. Barring any excessive markups, it’s good for your wallet too: fewer transportation costs equals lower-priced booze.


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