A mecca for Belgian beer enthusiasts the world over-
Kulminator is special.
The owners have been collecting beer for 30 years and counting, and this place is truly a labor of love.
The menu is a three-ring Binder. Any bar-hardened beer lover has seen many an extensive beer list, some obscenely long- but it’s rare to see one quite so abundant and intricate as this one. In a country filled with thousands of brews and millions of dedicated followers, this is home base.
Some bars might stop there, but not so with Kulminator. Its atmosphere is as welcoming as its drink- dark and cozy, comfortably cramped, and cluttered with decades of memories. The owners preside over people playing chess or cards, chatting with family, fussing over the cute little house-cat, and lounging in a spirit of gentle conviviality… Every half-hour, an ancient coo-coo clock comes alive, momentarily giving pause to the room with its rare but somehow familiar sound.
There is more. Including a few magical secrets, which will not be divulged here….
If you’re more than a cursory fan of beer and anywhere near Antwerp, this is a must.
Along 9th Ave., in the decidedly un-hip shadow of the PA Bus Terminal on Manhattan’s West Side, lies Rudy’s, a dive of dives in the great tradition of Subway Inn, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, St. Jerome’s et al..
Rudy’s has all the elements of a great dive bar- a dark interior that hasn’t been washed in half a century, sticky duct-taped booths, that familiar but indescribable stale smell, fading snapshots taped to the wall behind the cash register, the same pushing-old-age women daily tending bar…
This place, though, kicks it up a notch.
For 7 dollars you can get a pitcher of “Rudy’s Blond”- a suspect, watery swill that one can imagine is drippings gathered from the beer-tap drain. For 3 dollars more, you can shoot some vodka to disinfect the stomach. For 0 dollars, you can soak it all up with delicious scum-water hotdogs. There’s an element of “grown-up day-care”, the same men day after day getting their drink on from noon to night- guys with union t-shirts and tool boxes and their retired counterparts who seem as if they’ve never left the place- including a couple of emaciated octogenarians. At the same time, it is a mixed crowd- unpretentious artists, writers, Broadway musicians, and the odd tourist.
The thing about dives is that most everyone is ready for conversation- and talk is in no short supply at Rudy’s. It’s the sort of place where you invite strangers to your booth and chat away the evening.
Sadly, bars like these are a dying breed in New York- lurking in the shadows of hyper development, waiting to be bought up and replaced. Hopefully though they can hold on just a little longer.