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« Wednesday, July 21st, 2010—Bar 192 | Main | Monday, July 19th, 2010—Bar 190 »

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010—Bar 191

Day 191—Monday, July 19th, 2010
Holiday Cocktail Lounge

Okay, tonight we’re going to check out another legendary dive bar, the Holiday Cocktail Lounge in the East Village. The original owner, Stefan Lutak was actually more of a legend than the bar itself. He opened this place in 1965 and from what I’ve read online he was a real character and more often than not, a lot more trashed than some of the customers. Sadly he won’t be there tonight, he died in February of 2009 (he was 89-years old) and the bar closed for a while. But from what I can see from online searches and a phone call, it’s back up and running, so let’s go check it out.

I like the look of this place.

Cocktail waitress Karen has just put the finishing touches on the outside sign.

It's a basement bar and it's a dark one with a horseshoe bar upfront and booths and tables in the back. Perfect.

The people at the bar are friendly and supportive of the 365 bar crawl idea and the bartender David is friendly and hospitable. Let the crawl begin!

Another David was seated next to me at the bar. Cheers.

The lovely Karen has made her way inside.

Here's the spacious back room, with leather booths and tables.

The jukebox is one of the best in town. Some of the artists to listen to here include: Blind Faith, John Prine, The Faces, The Shirelles and Janis Joplin.

And here my camera went out. I forgot to recharge the battery. But I've planned for this and I travel with a spare camera. Unfortunately I took two pictures that didn't turn out and said the memory card was full. I couldn't figure out how to delete them in the bar (yeah, I had had a few drinks by then) and got frustrated and put the cameras away. I didn't get all the shots I wanted to and will return within a week and get more and update this post. I'll let you know when more photos go up here, they will be within a week, I promise. Goodnight everybody.

UPDATE: I went back yesterday (August 1st, 2010) and got these photos. Enjoy!

Okay, here we are again, it's like I never left!

And yes, Shannon, I'm really here.

Jeff is one of the owners nad he poses here with bartender David.

Here's Karen in her same worn out jeans. I think it's the only pair she has, maybe we should take up a collection for her.

You have to love a bar that still has a phone booth.

Here's the back room with tables and chairs.

Craig lives nearby and is a regular at the bar.

And here's the jukebox where my camera crapped out on me the last time. They have a great choice of tunes here including: Gram Parsons, Amy Winehouse, The Faces, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Nick Cave.

A painting of the front bar hangs in the back room.

Vintage photos hang on the wood-paneled wall.

Here's a magazine article featuring the original owner and legendary barkeep, Stefan Lutak.

And here's an essay about the bar written by Stefan Lutak. It's worth the trip here just to read this.

Check out the old school cash register behind the bar.

And a look out of the window as I get ready to leave. Goodnight again, everybody!

The Holiday Lounge has been a fixture on the Lower East Side since 1965, when Stefan Lutak first opened the doors with his wife Jeri. It was a haven and hangout for writers and poets at one time. Allen Ginsburg and W.H. Auden were regulars back in the day. Check out this post for a nice tribute to Lutak and the Holiday lounge here at Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York. And here’s a great article on the Holiday and Lutak from the NY Press back in 2004.

Stefan Lutak (Photo by Mike Marvin)

The Holiday Lounge is a basement bar, that’s dark with candles, boots and tables in the back and Christmas lights strewn around the upper exterior. Lit up miniature booze bottles hang from the wooden horseshoe bar up front and pictures and photos from the past cover the walls. There’s a brief history of the place typewritten by original owner Stefan Lutak hanging on the wall that every New Yorker should read. A real testament to days gone by and the story of an immigrant coming to New York and setting up a bar that has gone on to become a real slice of history on the Lower East Side. There’s a full bar here, but don’t come in requesting fancy drinks. Four words sum up this joint, which is still family-owned: “Beer and a shot.”

More pictures are on the way and this post will be updated within the week. Sorry about the camera mishap, but it’s all part of the live, unscripted  bar crawl. To quote Mr. C., “Accidents will happen.”

Holiday Cocktail Lounge
75 St. Marks Pl. (near First Ave.)

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Reader Comments (30)

TO : Stefan Lutak

(I don't want to go to work either, see you there and help me out with my spare camera.)

July 20, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

Holiday was one of my favorite bars when I last went to NY. Stefan was cool and I think he free poured so you got a really strong drink back then. Of Auden he would say that he didn't know how he could write as he was either drunk or drunker. I have read that Madonna wrote "Holiday" after a visit to this bar, another great dive, thanks Marty and now,,,,to STEFAN

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAl

The Holiday. Great choice. Great bar. The real thing still sitting there on St. Mark's with all the nonsense that has popped up (and disappeared) around it.


July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFat Al

@Fat Al and everybody: There will be more photos from this joint by next Monday. I feel bad the camera blew out on such a memorable bar. Stay tuned.

July 20, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

the header for this bar reads : "Friday July 19th". Is this a test to see if I am drunk??

A beer, a shot and a lot of history....my kind of bar. @ let's do the time warp again; "It's just a jump to the left...and then a step to your riyiyiyiiiight."

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

@Time Warp: It was indeed a test. You passed with flying colors. Now get back to work and quit surfing the internet on company time!

July 20, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

Dang. Foiled again.

will bar # 200 be the skinny? http://theskinnybarlounge.com/ I got 5 saying yes!

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternick beal

What a wonderful bar the Holiday Cocktail Lounge is and i LOVE the name.

The smiling friendly faces of the beautiful people enjoying themselves there and the lovely bartender adds to the wonderful vibe the place appears to exude.

Wonderful job Marty.

Cheers Stefan and Cheers Marty!

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiki Bar Susie

That sucks about your camera, but you still got some good shots. If you go back and get more you'll be my hero!

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarfly

The Holiday Happy Meal! Love that. Great horseshoe bar and hanging lights, and the front awning is classic. I'm glad that Stefan's family saw fit to keep this place running. Looking forward to the bonus pics later this week.

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

Once again......Late to the bar! I may visit this place in a few weeks after Karen's pants fall apart after a few more washing's! McLovin The Happy meal! I stole that line from some fucker on Facebook that's really into Pimento LoAf! Cheers and spend some of your riches on a decent camera! To Zioum.........Ever done it in a 72 Pinto?

@Professor Dungpie: Where the fuck have you been? And I've seen that motherfucking pimento clown on facebook, one of the reasons I got out of there!

July 20, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

@Al When I posted this this morning on facecrack I wrote "if we took a holiday"
quoting Madonna.
I did not know the coincidence between her and the bar.
The song just got stuck in my head.

I love to old school bars.
To Stefan!

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

@Gidget and Al: I'm going to ask about the Madonna connection when I go back.

To Stefan!

July 20, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

Looks and sounds like Stefan had a good life!

Really glad you posted that BLANK picture - I would have never guessed your were THAT organized. spare camera!!! WOW.......

diggin' the fringe on the front bar (?) everyone and thing looks better with FRINGE

SCREEETCH............wait one minute..........

no pictures of YOU at the Holiday bar!!!!!!!!!!!

I'M VERY SUSPICIOUS!!! (I am, after all, a detective by trade - no lie, true story)

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShannon E.

@Shannon E: Call and ask David the bartender or Karen the cocktail waitress, they'll verify my appearance last night (for well over an hour.) There's no flim-flams on this bar crawl! My camera went out before I could get a shot of me. Plus there's dated files on my computer for proof!

July 20, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

@365 Beers: Dated files, huh? I may have to make you show me that while I confiscate the beers from your fridge.

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDetective Biff

@Detective Biff: Mr. Mustard drank the beer last night.

July 20, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

Mr. Mustard, huh? Right. We'll be watching you, Wombacher. Every move you make, everything you post. Ever pick your feet in poughkeepsiey Wombacher, huh...HUH?!?!

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Laughing Policeman

@The Laughing Policeman: No, but I have picked my nose in Peoria!

July 20, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

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