P.J. Clarke’s: When You Don’t Want The Relatives To See Where You Really Drinke

If you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so it seems only natural to have a happy hour column on the site. Every Friday afternoon 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.

For the final Happy Hour installment of 2011 we shall not descend into a dingy, dirty, vermin infested dive. No! This week we shall visit one of the most respectable and venerable bastions of boozing to be found in Midtown: P.J. Clarke’s. “But why?” You may ask. The answer is simple ‘tis the season’ and in that vein we might find ourselves this holiday anxiously looking for a storied pub with character to divert out of towners with touristy intentions. The menu will cost ya, drinks specials are hardly that, but steering away Uncle Tommy from the bar at Applebees by saying “I know a place where Sinatra used to drink?” Priceless.

Revered by the press and historians, this 129 year old grand pub has been called the Vatican of saloons. Its cardinal brick walls nestle in unpretentiously below the gray streamlined towers that dare to reach towards the heavens.

Inside you’ll find all the accoutrements that accompany a time honored NY institution from original stained glass windows, mahogany crown molding, Decco details, to autographed portraits of pugilists and the Big Apple elite from bygone days.

It’s always rush hour at the bar and if you are coming with a large crowd expect a wait to be seated in the dinning section. Don’t let that discourage you, though Clarke’s is known for their burgers (starting at $10 al la cart) the real deal here is located behind the brass rail. Skilled and attentive bartenders keep the good spirits flowing.

If it is just you and a friend taking in happy hour, I encourage you to lay claim to a bar stool and dig in for the afternoon while slurping bivalves from the adjacent oyster bar.

Sinatra, Buddy Holly, Nat King Cole, Peter O’Toole, Jackie O and Johnny Mercer have all wined and dined in these hallowed walls and your guests will also enjoy making it “one for my baby, and one for the road.”

The Original P.J. Clarke’s, 915 Third Avenue (@ 55th St.,)  212.317.1616

1 Comment

  • An outstanding bar with a capital hamburger. Another top-quality institution in the same vein is the bar down the stret at Wollensky’s Grill (around the corner from Smith & Wollensky) which is presided over by one Paddy Ford, one of the best bartenders you will ever see in action. Mama, I am available to point out more high-end midtown drinking minutia to you… get Zach’s Amex Black Card and give me a call.

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