25 March 2008

Life Stands Still at Farrell's


At some longstanding taverns in New York City, there is such an adherence to tradition and an abhorrence to changing anything physically about the place, that it can seem as if time has stood still. Except at Farrell's Bar & Grill in Windsor Terrace. At Farrell's, time has actually stood still.

A recent afternoon scene at the circa-1933 watering hole needed no airbrushing or updated to have taken place in 1966. Tough-talking Irishmen swore a blue streak. The stoic young bartender blinked at nothing he saw and spoke with a undiluted Brooklyn accent. There was a ballgame on the television, but no music whatsoever; no jukebox. A man gawked at a long-haired guy across the street and joked he couldn't tell if it was a guy or a girl. Patrons characterized people they knew by their ethnicity. And no women were on the premises.

Many old bars show their credentials by posting framed newspaper articles and old photographs on the walls. Farrell's is not interested in boasting, or, very likely, what anybody thinks about the bar. Its walls are all but bare. The few things that are on the wall are there only to remind patrons that Farrell's supports our troops overseas. The joint is remarkably streamlined. Tables, chairs, a bar, mirrors, a men's room, a women's room (for show), a wooden phone booth and no kitchen (never mind the "grill" part of the sign). There are stools at the bar, but I am told they are recent additions. In the past, real men—like Pete Hamill's father, who used to frequent the saloon—stood on their own two feet as they got hammered.

There is no fancy drinking here. Heineken is as exotic as it gets, beer-wise. In this vodka-made age, Farrell's carries only two brands. I find it difficult to believe cocktails are ordered here. Beer and straight liquor is the game.

There was some sentiment on evidence. One man marveled that they were actually going to tear down Yankee Stadium. "I'm not Yankees fan," he said, "But that's like tearing down the Vatican."

3 comments:

Tim Masterson said...

That neon sign outside the place is a thing of beauty. Thanks.

Sally Tomato said...

For a moment my heart stopped -- I thought you were going to tell us Farrell's is making way for a bank branch. Whew.

I love that place. And the Budweiser on tap - I don't know what they do to that stuff, but it is really really good. And I usually hate Bud.

Brenda from Flatbush said...

Another cool thing about Farrell's: The guy in charge is a big supporter of the Catholic school (Holy Name) down the street.