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« Wednesday, January 5th, 2010—Bar 360 | Main | Monday, January 3rd, 2011—Bar 358 »

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011—Bar 359

Day 359—Monday, January 3rd, 2010
Formerly Bill's Gay Nineties

Okay, first things first, a live donation has been made by my friend and co-worker, Dorothy Niemczyk! Dorothy contributed a generous twenty dollars for the last night of the bar crawl and here she is presenting it to me below:
Thanks, so much, Dorothy, that’s very nice of you. And in a work-related message: Your proof is done and on the table in the ink jet room.

Alright, on to the crawl! If memory serves me correctly (and it often does not), Bill’s Gay Nineties Piano Bar was one of my co-pilot Al Rizo’s earlier suggestions. I filed it away and people keep mentioning it to me and I was originally going to meet Paul Scanlon, who we met yesterday at Bill’s, but that didn’t work out so we met at Mumble’s. Well, I’m just about out of days here, so I better get there while the bar crawl is still crawling. Ready, set...crawl!

Here we are, Bill's Gay Nineties, let's go check it out.

Here's Rita, the lovely coat-check woman and hostess. She pointed me to the direction of the bar.

Which is right throught the swinging saloon doors.

It's Monday, so there's plenty of seats at the bar, let's settle in.

And here's beer number one, served up by the friendly and hospitable bartender, Marc.

A shot of the festive bar.

Bob and Tony were holding down the end of the bar and posed for the 365 camera. Cheers, guys!

Vintage photos line the walls in here.

Many of them are old-time sports photos, like these two baseball players.

Here's a wall of antique boxing photos.

And a photo of a horse, of course, of course! Even if that horse isn't the famous Mr. Ed.

A long shot of the dark wooden bar.

The lone chandelier that illuminates and hangs over the bar.

There's tables for dining opposite the bar.

Which is where I found this party enjoying drinks and the ambiance at Bill's. From left: Molly, Carrie, Tony and Ashely.

There's a piano player on duty every night at Bill's, let's go check him out.

It's Elliot Paul and he's quite the entertaining Piano Man. Billy Joel would be proud of this guy!

Here's Elliot in full swing.

And now he's got some of the crowd up on there feet dancing.

It looks more like Friday night than Monday in here.

But, alas it is Monday and I have to hit the road to get my beauty sleep for the last few nights. Here's a parting shot with everyone from the bar. Goodnight, everybody!

In 1924, Bill Hardy opened up Bill's Gay Nineties as a speakeasy and it became a roaring success, housing three floors of rotating entertainment. After prohibition ended, the shutters came off the window and you know longer needed to know the secret word to get in the door. And today the bar pretty much remains the same, which is nice in this era of cookie cutter sports bars that get thrown up and then go out of business just as soon. The bar is classic old school New York from the well worn bar itself to the blue-checked table-clothed tables and chairs opposite and in front. The walls are lined with vintage photos from the past and you could spend the evening perusing them and not see every thing in one night. It’s a true classic New York bar in here.

They have a full bar at Bill’s with friendly and expert bartenders who can handle any drink selection you throw at them. Bill’s has a lunch and dinner menu and the kitchen is open till 11:30pm. All entrees are served with a potato and vegetable and here’s a few selections from the menu: Pan Seared Maryland Crab Cakes; Broiled Filet of North Atlantic Salmon; Shrimp Scampi sautéed with Garlic and White Wine and Bill’s New York Strip Steak.

Bill’s is one of the last original piano bars in town and there’s three pianists on duty Monday through Saturday. The piano gets fired up around eight o’clock at night. Feel free to request a tune, and while you would think that “Free Bird” isn’t in their repertoire, request away, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Bill's Gay Nineties
57 E. 54th St (Near Madison Ave.)

Mucho Thanks as always to my Co-Pilot, Al Rizo for suggesting this place months ago!

Bonus Photos From Clacky’s Bunt Custer's Bar!
Our friend and commentator Tim “Clacky” Clack in Australia has opened his own bar in his backyard and sent in some photos from the opening party. Here’s part one of the photos from the celebrations from his bar, fondly known as “Bunt Custer’s.” Take it away Clacky!

Opening day at Bunt Custer's, Maryville, Newcastle.

The Cliff Richard "Wired for Sound" memorial corner...Is Cliff even dead?

Party ready to go!

Shan does first drinks. Margarita time!

This happy chap is Dr. Nay Field. Doctor, beer drinker and co-builder of the Bunt Custer's Bar.

Things got lively when Gerant rocked up in a dress and Nay put on a Mexican wrestling mask.

Hey it's a 365 salute all the way from Australia! (keep in mind Shots of tequila had begun buy this point.)

Thanks for the photos Clacky, stay tuned for Part II, tomorrow!

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Reader Comments (27)

Looks like a festive Monday night at Bill's! Love the vintage photos and the fact that it's a piano bar. You don't see too many of those anymore and Elliot looks like a pro! Nice bonus photos of Clacky's Bunt Custer's bar down under! Is that going to be bar 365?

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarfly

Oh my God...a real honest to God piano bar...I'd forgotten there even were bars like that! In Minneapolis, we had a bar on Hennepin Avenue downtown called the Gay Nineties, and for decades it was Minneapolis's premier gay bar. And Clacky...I see there is nothing lost in translation with the 365 salute down under...HA!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

@Barfly: I wish Bunt Custer's could be the 365th bar, but hopefully I will visit Clacky's joint sometime in my future!

January 4, 2011 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

Hey, really nice bar. Down here in Brazil it's very hard to find this kind of joint, and when you find, are very expensive!!
Nice bar Clacky. Congratulations. Hope you serve "Caipirinha" in there!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGuilherme

WOW! Bill's is awesome! I love all those vintage pictures and the lighting makes everything seem warm in there. I dig the piano bars and they are so, so few and far between these days. Sounds like they have some decent vittles, to boot. I'm for sure penciling in Bill's on my itinerary. Marty, I know I'm lucky enough to snag you as a personal guide every time I come to town, but this blog must be invaluable to folks who meander through the Big Apple on their own. So many great ideas that we wouldn't have any clue to if it weren't for you and the Crawl. Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting us in on the secrets of the City (and beyond)!

As for you, Clacky (and Shannon), I LOVE your Bunt Custer's Bar! Some day I'm going to make my way to Oz, and when I do, I'm going to pass out on your patio, just like the dog. Cheers, mates! And GO BROWNS!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

I love Bill's! A classic. We were nearly force-ably ejected on New Year's Eve-ternoon, so I might have to wear a false beard next time, but I'll be back.

Tim Clack puts on a great looking spread in the land of Aus! Wish Grade "A" Fancy could have been there.

Counting down the days and the crawl just gets better. Keep 'em coming, Marty!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNed Sparks

@Guilherme: Let's see if Clacky can live up to your challenge and make a Caipirinha at old Bunt's!


@Ned Sparks: I can't wait to hear the Bill's story! I'll trade the Stevie Nicks one for that.

January 4, 2011 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

An old fashioned piano bar with vintage saloon doors, and the back bar with all those bottles and glassware, really elegant. @TimClack: great pictures,,,glad Cliff Richard was mentioned here, he is the biggest pop/rock star ever in England. Top ten songs in every decade since the fifties. Sir Cliff is still performing and has surpassed the Beatles, Stones, etc in sales in Europe. Not well known here in USA. (Music history lesson for the day).

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAl

Looks like a fun place ! It's now on the BBC's list of places to go in NYC !!!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

@Al: Another great suggestion, O co-pilot of mine!

@GENE: We'll hit this place for sure next time you're in town!

January 4, 2011 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

Too bad you didn't have a hat and boots on to complete the saloon experience. Never been to a piano bar, looks fun. Nice place you got there Clacky!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkari

@Al: I've got the "Devil Woman/Love On Shine On" 45 at home!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

@Biff: Great, now I've got "Devil Woman" stuck in my head. Thanks for that! Somebody get me an antidote!

January 4, 2011 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

I've never been inside a Piano Bar. Bill's looks like such a fun place - especially on a Monday!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermeleah rebeccah

Piano bars rule. I should get a piano for Bunt's. Another good piano bar is the Knickerbocker bar and grill on University street in Greenwich Village....where you can get a T Bone steak the size of my head.

It was an awesome party. Only one person got hurt (not physically) as you'll see in tomorrow's post. Self induced of course.
I actually worked the bar and was too much fun being responsible for getting every body juiced up.

@365: May I suggest "Lady Evil" by Black Sabbath.

@Biff: You can have the hammock. There won't be any dog hair in it. She hates the hammock.

@Guilheme: I'll get to work on the caipirinha on the weekend. The bar crawl will probably be over by time I get around to it.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTim Clack. Australia.

@Clacky: Good suggestion!

January 4, 2011 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

@Marty: Howsabout Mr. Sandman? You're welcome.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

@Clacky: Hammock sounds good but I'm going to need a person-sized shoehorn to get out of it! Or diapers. One or the other.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

I like Piano bar! but if Clacky put a piano at the Bunt Custer's bar, I would LOVE the Clacky's Bunt Custer's piano bar! and let's play some Jerry Lee Lewis ;)
Shit! already 11:45pm here!!!!!!! and I've got to go to fucking bed (but wanted to comment here before!) because tomorrow I've to pick 2 kids up from school at noon and babysit them all looooong day while I've got to give an english lesson to a 15 years old girl ! I'm already tired thinking about tomorrow! drink beers for me Marty! ! .... But I'm not a boring teacher! we're working on the link between the album Resistance by Muse and the book 1984 by Orwell ;) All teenager in France are fan of Muse!! but do they fucking understand the fucking lyrics?) It's time to make them understand what do fucking mean RESISTANCE! haahhaahahahahahah

Clacky I'm fan of your bar!!!!!!!! If I find a french advert of RICARD, I send it to you and it will be PERFECT :D (Ricard the french touch = http://img.over-blog.com/500x375/0/58/75/57/humour/distributeur-de-ricard.jpg ) ha!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZioum Zioum The Chainsaw

@Biff: NOOOOOOO!!!

@Zioum Zioum: I'll have more than one beer for you! Good luck with the kids!

January 4, 2011 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

just 7 more ?

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJHwang Love's ZioumZioum

i think this is one of the only bars where you have pictures of people dancing! another first right up to the end LOL! nice bar clacky, always nice to see the down under crew! i just realized this is all going to be over at this time next week, what are we all supposed to do then? LOL!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrita r.

komment killer chedkin' in...before i get way off track nice little place that bunt custer's appears to be...thanks clacky for sharing...lookin' forward to tomorrows installment...bill's what a classic...place and atmosphere appear awesome...another winner from al...the following really struck me..."If you really want to go back in time, try Bill's Gay Nineties. Though it doesn't actively hide its location, it is still, in a way, a latter-day speakeasy, not listed in some of the major dining and nightlife guides (not Zagat, not Time Out, not Shecky's)."...nice suggestion al nice stop 365...KOC


January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterraginrr

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