Google Map the corner of Canal and Mott streets in New York City and it certainly doesn’t look like the place where you would find Irish ruffians hanging out, circa late 1800s, as depicted on Brennan’s Bowery Bar placemats.
The Transit Road version features a great wooden bar that looks old, but in a good way, like most people in their 40s (pushing 50). It’s how long the local tavern has been around.
The roughed up wood bar is a testament to the many days (and more likely nights) patrons have enjoyed good food and drinks.
Like many iconic bars, there are sundry items added to the decor throughout the years. A deer head and giant longhorn watch over patrons while a bearskin draped on a cabinet watches over the waitress station. Its head looks ready to pounce on any unruly customers who decide to encroach on their sacred space.
A door marked Mott Street leads to nowhere, however new employees are often given keys and told to go find the “bacon stretcher” behind it.
Of course, there are Irish objet d’art behind the bar A giant corned beef and cabbage pot (used only in March?), a golden Notre Dame helmet and a leprechaun staring off as if perpetually seeking a rainbow for his pot of gold.
The pièce de résistance is a giant Guinness clock that sits across from pièce de résistance part 2 — a countdown clock noting the day, minute and seconds to St. Patrick’s Day.
In true Irish tradition, the bartenders are friendly and on their game.
Brennan’s craft beer selections are plenty, with 20 taps changing as seasons move and a good choice of local beers. A large selection of craft cans and bottles, hard cider, ginger and hard root beers are available. For the less adventurous, Brennan’s stocks “The Familiars” like Labatt.
Wine drinkers will find a decent selection.
Cocktailers, we point you to the best bargain on the menu — Moscow Mules for $7-$8 each. For only $12, keep the traditional copper mug and refills are only $5. Bartenders can’t keep them in stock. (One confided he thinks folks are buying them to make sets at home.)
The Mule concoctions include a Kentucky Mule that combines ginger beer with Jack Daniels and lime juice and a Bombay Mule that uses Bombay Sapphire gin. But when in Rome (or an Irish facsimile) have the Irish Mule with Jameson Irish Whiskey.
Eating at the bar is encouraged. An extensive food menu includes lots of good choices, like wings and burgers. Irish entrees with a twist are available too, like the Irish Cheddar Mac & Cheese. But we like something handheld (the new buzzword). For us, it’s the Bowery’s Banana Pepper Sandwich. Stuffed peppers are topped with ooey gooey melted provolone and served on toasted garlic bread. Add chicken or steak for a little extra.
And while it may be a little early for St. Patrick’s Day, there is no reason to wait to partake in all that Brennan’s Bowery Bar has to offer any time of the year.
Where: Clarence Mall, 4401 Transit Road; (633-9630)
Hours: Open at 11 a.m. daily, except noon on Sunday.
Happy Hour: 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday with $1 off all drinks at the bar only. Munchies on the bar Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Half-off appetizers throughout the restaurant Monday and Wednesday.
Yum: Bowery Banana Pepper Sandwich