MANHATTAN, NEW YORK
From its humble Houston digs in 1985, the original Texas-based GINGER MAN was considered the first multi-tap bar in America. Quite a huge statement considering the Lone Star state’s more conservative liquor laws. More than a decade hence, GINGER MAN’s prime midtown Manhattan franchise instantly gained a sterling reputation from beer geeks and snobs far and wide upon opening in ’96.
An Olde World-styled Irish-spirited pub with Gothic lamps hanging above a cozily cavernous wood-leathered interior, this charmingly classicist Herald Square beer haven serves some of New York’s greatest tapped selections alongside excellent single malt Scotches and worthy pub fare. Two bronze-backed serving stations at the 25-stool right bar offer 66 draughts listed on a crowded cardboard menu (alongside 160-plus bottled selections). A back lounge with couches and tables serves as an easygoing alcove retreat.
Sitting at one of the crimson suede-designed left side pews, my two colleagues dig into cask conditioned versions of Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA while I sample six previously untried brews on this dank Monday afternoon. For lunch, the Cobb Salad is crisp and fresh while the Shepherd’s Pie is undeniably rich. For dessert, we get amazing cinnamon-sugared soft pretzels with honey mustard.
While Dortmunder-styled Riegele Commerzienrat Privat stayed mildly creamed and delicately grassy hopped, dry-bodied old ale Greenport Harbor Anti-Freeze brought soft-toned dewy peat to dark-spiced dry fig and molasses breading. Brooklyn Oishi Belgian Session Ale layered lemony curacao orange above plastique lemongrass tones.
Those easygoing starters were blown away by winningly peculiar Founders Mango Magnifico Con Calor, a tropical mango-juiced fruit ale with throat-clearing habanero burn. Smooth oak-aged Element ESO (English strong ale) tasted just like dry Scotch and Abita Macchiato Stout featured a monstrously peppery espresso-like coffee roast. Full reviews in Beer Index.
Based on a classic post-war novel by American playwright JP Donleavy, each Ginger Man franchise does the legacy proud with uncommon bohemian ambiance meeting elegantly upscale vintage decor.