You can get a drink in any bar, but there are very few that will produce the kind of stories your kids will tell when asked about Mom and Dad. Plant an elbow on those legendary bars and evoke the ghosts of those who occupied that space before you then went on to great adventure. Hitchcock, Gable, Hemingway, Parker…all haunted bars that still thrive and are crowded with hanging images of the unforgettable drinkers. So, join me to put a foot on the rail in this second installment of storied watering holes. – Jay Lloyd
234 W. 44th Street
New York, NY
Younger readers know Sardi’s from that classic scene in “The Producers” when Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick realize they are about to crash and burn. This bar has seen the greats and near greats of the theatrical world. The walls are covered in caricatures of stars, directors and the “money people” that keep Broadway ablaze. It’s the place to stop for a before-theater drink, another at intermission and then a cognac after the curtain falls. My first sip here was on the house in 1952, when I was just shy of the legal drinking age. When the bartender asked for ID, I showed him my orders to report for military duty the following day. He absolutely knew I wasn’t 18, but slid a beer across the bar and pushed away my dollar, too. Drinks are more expensive now, but the ghosts remain and memories are still being made.
THE JINGLIN’ GEORDIE
22 Fleshmarket Close
The real life Jinglin’ Geordie, jeweler and loan shark to royalty, has been gone nearly 400 years. But his memory is preserved on a prominently located “close” in the heart of Edinburgh (a close is an alley built on ancient stairs). At the top is the Royal Mile, which leads to the castle and the apartment once occupied by Mary Queen of Scots. At the bottom, you’ll find the modern shops and streets of present-day Edinburgh. Geordie’s is a good size barroom and it isn’t unusual to find heads firmly planted on the wood. My favorite character here lifted his dome at the mention of beer. He had a sip and proceeded to spell out the entire history of brewing in Edinburgh, where its most famous son, Sir Sean Connery, once drove a beer truck for a living. Go for the drink, come away with memories of the characters!
7 Philmore Place, North Street
St. Andrews, Scotland
As long as we’re in the neighborhood, how about a nice drive alongside the Firth of Forth to the legendary home of golf, St. Andrews? And if you wondered where golfing greats find their “19th Hole,” follow me to Dunvegan’s. This busy corner pub within two blocks of the 15th century “Old Course” is a traditional gathering place for players and fans. When the British Open tees off at St. Andrews, you’ll have a tough time parking your rump on a stool. A lot of Belhaven’s pints are hoisted, and the eyes can’t keep up with the stars. But during more quiet weeks, you can sip and scan the walls for action shots of your grandfather’s favorite players, complete with knickers. Food’s pretty good, too.
Coral Bay, St. John
U.S. Virgin Islands
Sometimes it’s all about attitude. That’s when the bar is a reflection of the surroundings. Moor your chartered boat in the harbor of Coral Bay, take your dinghy ashore, and you’ll find smiling, adventurous souls who broke free of the office cubicle. They wear shorts, t-shirts and flip flops year round and live on boats or in small cottages. They drink at Skinny Legs, an all purpose bar and pub-grub eatery that welcomes locals and bewildered visitors alike. We sailed in to see a former KYW colleague who had broken loose from the 9 to 5 routine and took up beachcombing and bartending at “Legs.” They make a great burger, and the local rum is well poured. It’s the kind of place that makes you wonder if you’ll ever leave. Some don’t.
THE WILLY T.
Norman Island, British Virgin Islands
Norman Island is believed to be the setting for Robert Louis Stevenson’ s Treasure Island. His bones would rattle if he could see the old Baltic steamer firmly moored in the spot where he had approached the densely wooded island. The William Thornton, fondly know as the “Willy T.” is a floating bar like none you’ve ever seen. The only way to get here is by private boat into the harbor (bight). Then swim or take your dinghy alongside. But be warned: This bar is not for the timid or faint of heart. Sport here is diving or jumping off the stern, naked. That earns you a Willy T. t-shirt (and it’s amazing how many people want a free tee-shirt!). Belly shots are common on the bar, which is often cleared just for the purpose, and random dancing breaks out all over the vessel. On one visit here, Kenny Chesney’s boat joined the party. No Kenny, just his boat and crew. The food? I don’t know, but why do you even ask?
These are some of my memories; now it’s time to record some of your own in a world of memorable, timeless bars.