Midtown Happy Hour: Blue Ruin Makes a Fine Bellevue Replacement
If you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so I thought maybe it was time to introduce a happy hour column to the site. Every week, our Happy Hour Correspondent “Mamacita” will post about a different bar in Midtown that fits the Midtown Lunch mentality: unhealthy food, not lame (unless it’s lame in a cool way), and most importantly… cheap.
I always wanted to go to Bellevue Bar (on 9th btw. 39+40th), but sadly I waited too long and never got to try their $1 sandwiches and cheap beer. However, just like Siberia (its former neighbor) made a comeback as “Manhattans” in Brooklyn, Bellevue Bar has found new life. Kal Narvilas, the owner of Kabin bar on the LES has partnered with ace bartender Michelle Gascoine (from Kabin and Hogs and Heifers to name a few) to revive the old space as Blue Ruin (which is slang for gin.)
While Blue Ruin is a new bar, considerable effort has been made to give the appearance of having been there for ages. It has the requisite tin ceiling, a couple of antique cash registers, distressed floors salvaged from an old Pepsi-Cola factory in Queens, etc. What it doesn’t have (for better or for worse) is that mysterious sticky goo under the bar… or that smell of stale beer, urine, self-loathing and despair that often accompanies a decades old dive.
Happy hour is from 5 to 8pm and it’s 2 for 1 on any drink. On draft was Guinness, Coney Island Lager, Blue Moon and Bud, all $6 regular price. PBR in a can is $2 and Miller in a bottle is $3. Michelle was manning the bar like the veteran booze slinger she is, wearing her daisy dukes, cowboy boots and a tiny top.
The music was loud and the selection was hand picked by the staff. A little doo-wop action from Frankie Lymon, then Hendrix, Glen Miller, Little Richard and an assortment of Rock and Roll. The people at the bar tend to be construction workers, older neighborhood folk, and a few tattooed guys you’d expect to see ride away on a Harley. They all share a common thirst that could suck up the Hudson River and their characters are just as big. The guy on the left of me was feeling the grove of the music and seemed to carry a whole conversation with himself for about 2 hours. The guy on my other side was putting back High Life at an impressive clip and eventually became a bit belligerent (to the point his friend had to keep him from starting a bar brawl.)
The rain started to fall and from the open front windows we saw some young hipsters trying to jaywalk. One, in an incredible act of stupidity, crossed the rainy street in his skateboard to only crash into the sidewalk and create a round of heckling from Michelle and the whole bar. The kids came in, barely legal, and played a round of pool in the back and some decided to “dance” to the jukebox (or at least I think that’s what it was). The jeers from the regulars continued and Michelle poured us a few free shots to go along with the laughs. She has a mouth like a sailor and she cursed out at a few tourists who only stuck their head in, but didn’t want any part of the scene. Blue Ruin might be new, but it has the fine-looking curves of a good ol’ trusty watering hole. One that will soon make it’s own mark on the NYC drinking scene.
But if you want to come in- don’t dilly dally by the doors. Just man-up to the bar and order a drink like you’re one of the regulars.
The + (what someone who likes this place will say)
- I love a rough dive bar and a hot bartender
- I’m a working class Joe and like a bar with no suits
- I like a little abuse from my bartender
- Great jukebox and I like my Rock n’ Roll loud!
- 2 for 1 on all drinks, plus the likelihood of a buyback
The – (what someone who dislikes this place will say)
- It’s mostly blue collar guys in there and they tend to be the hard drinking kind, if this isn’t your scene don’t peak your head in
- The bartender will curse and you’d better take it and like it
- Hipsters and touristy types will more then likely get heckled
- Music is really loud, not a place for a polite conversation
Blue Ruin, 538 Ninth Ave. (btw. 39+40th), Don’t bother calling, they don’t answer the phone
Photos and post by “Mamacita”