Drinks, shopping, and a bag to go-go Aug10

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Drinks, shopping, and a bag to go-go

 

SoHo, TriBeCa, the Brandy Library and the Palmer Trading Company

This trip was my first stay in Soho and my first chance to explore the area.  We were on Varick St. which is what 7th Ave turns into below Houston (remember SoHo stands for South of Houston).  Just to the south is the TriBeCa neighborhood (another amalgam for Triangle Below Canal St – apologies to those to whom I sound a pedant) which I also ventured into to for a first time.  (See map)

Brandy Library

After business meetings on Monday thru Wednesday, my wife Rhonda joined me on Thursday and we made plans to see a couple of Broadway shows – Rock of Ages and Anything Goes (my thoughts on each show later).  But getting dressed and going straight to the show would be a little like going to a baseball game and not taking in batting practice.  One might want an apéritif of sorts and the place to get that done could definitely be The Brandy Library (www.brandylibrary.com/).

The Brandy Library is located on Moore Street in TriBeCa (accessed by the Franklin St (1,2) or Canal St (A,C,E) subway stations) just below Juan Pablo Duarte Square near the entrance of the Holland Tunnel.  Moore Street looks sort of recently enlivened and there appeared to be several cool restaurants and bars in the area (we tried a few coincidentally named: The Bubble Lounge and Bubby’s – see reviews).  The Brandy Library is the one we stumbled on first, actually discovered it with Foursquare.  We had eaten in Chinatown on Mott St (another insane experience that I may not even write about here), but on our way back we were looking for a drink and found the Brandy Library.  The outside and the sign look a little like a train depot but the inside is very inviting.  5 or 6 comfortable seating areas for small groups are available and the menu is thick with cocktails, whiskey, rum, cognac, just about any sort of brown liquor.  Since the selection is so great, behind the bar simply isn’t enough for storing all the specialties. So to solve the dilemma, the entire room has backlit shelves with bottle after bottle of brown liquor – hence the library aspect of the name.  One almost needs a card catalog to discover all that’s there.

So the lights were low, the jazz was of the old Ella Fitzgerald variety and if you walked back to the bathroom, you actually got the faint whiff of non-liquid delights available to go with your drinks – appetizers only.  But the headliner is the brown.  I had a Brooklyn (a take off of a Manhattan – except with Scotch instead of Bourbon) and a Seelbach which included a little Champagne among the ingredients.  Both were rather exquisite – not too harsh but certainly not too weak, perfectly mixed and garnished.  One should hope that a place like this knows how to mix them up just right and from my experience, they do.  Nothing worse than a poorly mixed drink.  Knowledgable staff too, to help you narrow your choice down from your final selections.

Reservations are handy if you have more than a person or two, to make sure you get one of the better seating areas.  Otherwise, they can usually accommodate two or three as long as seats are available.

Palmer Trading Company

Walking east of Varick towards W Broadway is SoHo.  This is a delightful area to explore, but I found that the outskirts rather than the central area of Spring and Wooster to be more appealing.  The central shopping area becomes ordinary once you see big national chains like J Crew and Burberry and the Apple Store – don’t get me wrong, good stores, but not what I came to see in NYC.

Around Sullivan Street was several shops and restaurants worth looking at and among them the Palmer Trading Company (www.palmertrading.com).  This is a men’s store owned by a couple of guys who are specializing in original products of original design that are produced in the U.S. (from what I could tell mainly up in New England) with choice materials approved by the owners.  The style was dark and leather, slightly preppy and outdoorsy, yet rugged and cool.  I read online it described as the kind of place Don Draper would shop for clothes for his weekend cabin.  Each item in the store seemed to have a story behind the materials and where it was produced – shoes, shirts, belts, and something that caught my eye… bags.

I had been in the market for a nice upscale, but unpretentious weekender bag to compliment my Red Oxx Air Boss multipurpose travel bag (see www.redoxx.com).  Palmer Trading Co had several terrific looking canvas and leather bags of various sizes.  The canvas was great quality and the leather was like horse bridle leather straps that held the bag together, and created the shoulder strap, etc.  It was really a Robert Redford kind of bag and that was just what I was looking for.  I struggled with choosing a size, even returning my original purchase and going with the smaller bag over the larger.  Prices were from $200-$400 depending on the size.  I really was looking for a compliment to my Air Boss bag, not a replacement, therefore I think I’m happy with my final decision.  (see photos).

In any case, great place.  I could have bought shirts, shoes, and bags at that place.  Oh, and they do have vintage pieces on sale as well, such as drink ware and watches.  Worth a visit.