The Mark Bar
1025 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint
1041 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint
180 West Street, Greenpoint
All week—all week!—I’d been on time for everything. This might sound unremarkable to most people, but it was something that I—and everyone I was meeting—couldn’t help but remark upon: “You’re on time!”
“I’m on time!”
This was not a usual thing. I felt reborn; I felt good. I should have known it couldn’t last. Well, I did know it wouldn’t last, but I didn’t think much about how it would end.
All day long people had been asking me, “What’s the last bar review going to be again?”
“The Mark Bar,” I said. “It opened in 2003, just like The L. Do you know how hard it is to find a bar that opened in 2003? Hard.”
All day long, people replied, “Oh, I’ve never been there, but I walk by it all the time.”
One person said, “It kind of seems like a hipster bar to me; or, at least, it did when I went there a while back. I haven’t been since.”
As I was leaving work to go meet my friend at the Mark, I paused to check the address again. That’s weird, I thought. It said it was open on Yelp, but Google Maps said it was closed. I searched around a bit more and could find almost nothing written online of the Mark’s demise. Was it still open? The last Yelp review was in March. But the bar’s website was down; the domain name was now available for a price. Is it really closed if I don’t try and visit it, though? Is this some weird sort of bar review-version of Schrodinger’s Cat? I was wasting time. I was going to be late. I texted my friend: “I think the bar might be closed? But if it is, we can just go to Tommy’s Tavern down the street. It opened in 2004, so it’s kind of the same thing.”
I rushed to the G. But the G took forever to come—because of course it did; some things never change—and so when I got out at Greenpoint Avenue, I was 20 minutes late. My friend stood on the street corner, looking at her phone.
“I’m so sorry,” I said.
“Your streak,” she said. “It’s over.”
And so was the Mark Bar. The chalkboard outside was still up, as was the Dept. of Health’s A rating, but the gates were down and there was a Dept. of Buildings work permit affixed to the front door.
“I guess we’re going to Tommy’s Tavern.”
But that was closed too. Not, I don’t think, permanently closed—but definitely closed. And it was only six o’clock, which made it really strange; because it was, like, lights out, gate down, super-quiet closed.
We decided to walk to the water.
“We can go to Achilles Heel,” I said. “I like it there. I reviewed it once, a couple of years ago for The L… ‘Ours Is Mourning Drinking’ the review was called. Or, ‘morning drinking,’ I guess, we titled it.”
But as we approached the corner bar, we started to get worried.
“Is that closed too? Or is the door just shut to keep the heat out?”
“The lights are on. I think it’s open.”
It was, though it was almost empty. And yet that was ok. It was quiet, but we were greeted with smiles and we sat at the beautiful wooden bar, and ordered cocktails that were just right for cooling off—a Red Haze for me, with the round bitterness of grapefruit mellowed by the sweetness of rum and hibiscus; and a Milano Mule for her, citrus and gin spiked with ginger. I lingered over my drink, feeling not a little like I was in a dream, not a little like if I walked out the door and down the block, by the time I turned around again, the bar would be gone. But in the end I had to go meet someone else, and my friend was off to a showing of Magic Mike XXL, and so we left and as I walked away, I forced myself to turn around, and see for myself that the bar was still there. It was. I will just have to remember to return again.