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.)