Big Apple blogger raises the bar on hitting the bars

A MAN WALKS into a bar – we all know how that story begins. But how about: A Man Walks Into 365 Bars?

That’s the name of Marty Wombacher’s offbeat photo blog, launched in January to chronicle a year’s worth of barhopping in New York City. His praiseworthy goal: To visit a different bar every day for an entire year.

He must spend at least one hour in each and down a three-drink minimum. If he misses a day, he’ll start over.

I caught up to him in a phone call on the morning after his 62nd bar, and he didn’t sound worse for the wear.

“The mornings aren’t all that bad,” Wombacher, 51, told me. “It’s nights that get difficult sometimes. . . .

Some nights I probably would rather stay home. “

So, why did he set such a difficult challenge?

“I kind of thought it would be fun,” he said. “And besides, I’ve always liked beer. “

Wombacher, who is unmarried and has no children, earns a living working for a graphic-arts company. He’s a prolific writer of journals and blogs. A few years ago, he wrote a book called “99 Beers Off the Wall: A Crazed Guide and Twisted Travelogue of One Man’s Journey to 99 Bars in New York City in 7 Days. “

As any barfly could tell you, though, it’s not just about drinking.

“The one thing I learned, which I never thought about, is that a bar is a bar,” Wombacher said. “They all have different themes, or no theme at all, but that doesn’t matter because it’s mostly about the people inside who define a bar for me.

“Some bars are friendly. It’s like a party inside. Other places, no one wants to talk to you. They’re just in there to drink and they want to be left alone. “

He continued: “I try to mix it up. If I go to a dive bar one night, I go to a lounge the next, then maybe an Irish bar.”

The names alone suggest both the excitement and banality of barhopping:

Otto’s Shrunken Head . . .

Johnny Utah’s . . . Bongo . . .

Mama’s. Do they host poetry slams at the Limerick House? Might you run into Elizabeth Taylor at Butterfield 8? Do you have to wear a beret at the Art Bar?

I’ve visited a few of the places: the Ginger Man, which boasts about 70 taps of outstanding ales and lagers; the White Horse, where poet Dylan Thomas drank himself to death; McSorley’s Old Ale House, the oldest tavern in the city.

But, after reading Wombacher’s blog, I’ve found some new destinations, including:

_ No Idea, in the Flatiron District, which claims that both the book “Last of the Mohicans” and Chastity Bono were conceived in its rooms.

_ Winnie’s, a dive in Chinatown where the bartender offered Wombacher a token of his friendship: a deep-fried pork chop.

_ The kitschy Trailer Park Lounge & Grill, where a glass showcase proudly displays the bar’s copy of the infamous Tonya Harding wedding-night video.

Wombacher describes himself as “mostly a Budweiser man,” but he’ll try anything: a Troubadour Blonde at Markt, a Guinness at the Hairy Monk, a bucket of Rolling Rock nips at the Wharf Bar & Grill, a Duvel at Vol de Nuit.

And he discovered what happens when you stray from the usual. At the King Cole Bar, at the St. Regis Hotel, he ordered the signature Bloody Mary.

“I put down a $20 bill,” he laughed, “and the waiter brought back 2 bucks.”

He switched back to Bud, but even that cost him $10.

Wombacher’s blog is at www.AGuyWalksInto365Bars.com.

-30-

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *