Gut Instinct: Josh on Rye

“What happened to you?” my girlfriend asks, equal parts question and indignation.

“I had a few drinkshes,” I mumble, keeping myself as bipedal as a dog dancing on hind legs.

“Uh, I can see that.” She examines me, all Jell-O limbs and sweet booze stink, like I’m a feral creature mistakenly introduced into polite society. “But how many drinks did you have?”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too, but it’s 9 p.m. On a Tuesday.”

“I was thirsty.”


Because it’s Tuesday. For five years of Mondays, I’ve toiled as a late-shift copy editor at a glossy periodical covering celebs and reality-TV tartlets as substantial as cotton candy. My inner stickler enjoys wrangling commas and semicolons, proving others wrong and myself, as always, so right. Know Catherine Zeta-Jones needs a hyphen? I do.

This is a point of pride and grief—great gobs of gray matter contain senseless facts, like Amy Winehouse’s skuzzy skin condition is called impetigo. I have zero need for pop culture’s flotsam and jetsam, so come Tuesdays, I give myself a liquid lobotomy.

Tonight’s ill-advised procedure occurred at South Williamsburg’s Trophy Bar (351 Broadway betw. Keap & Rodney Sts., B’klyn, 347-227-8515). It’s a recent newcomer to a stretch of beneath-the-train Broadway thick with taquerias like Taco Santana (301 Keap Street betw. S. 5th and Broadway, B’klyn; 718-388-8761), where quesadillas are crispy and cecina cemitas are slicked with chipotle salsa. The sign-free bar offers picnic-table-strewn backyard and arty, ironic touches—subway tiles, a chandelier’s concocted from gramophones, vintage trophies line mantles and the jukebox spins 45s from classic artists like the Doobie Brothers and Salt-N-Pepa.

“Stop. Push it. Push it real good,” I sing to myself, as I suck my thick and hoppy Sixpoint Righteous Rye ($4 until 8 p.m.; $6 otherwise).

“What was that?” asks the skinny bartender. He’s tending to blondes drinking sweaty margaritas. Fresh fruits and herbs create many of Trophy’s painstakingly prepared cocktails.

“Nothing, nothing,” I say, filling my mouth with crunchy, complimentary corn nuts. Note to self: inside voices.

“Mmhmm. You alright?”

“Yeah, just a little sleepy.”

“Mmhmm. Well, let me know if you need anything.”

“Will do,” I reply, drinking my anesthetizing beverage.

In certain cases, alone-time inebriation signals a serious problem. Freshman year in college, my dorm neighbor was a lanky country boy nicknamed Cowboy Craig. He liked visiting my room to drink beer and bring gifts, oftentimes his mother’s chocolate-chip cookies.

“Too sweet,” he’d drawl, tossing me a Zip-Loc bag filled with maternal love.

One night, I knocked on Cowboy Craig’s door to borrow a pen. He emerged from the pitch-black room, wearing tightie-whities and a creased cowboy hat, clutching a smudged glass of tan whiskey.

“Are you…OK?” I asked.

“Never better,” he smirked, handing me a pen. He shut the door. His bedroom lights never flicked on. His nocturnal intoxication continued until freshman year’s end.

In the right situation, solo drinking is socially acceptable. My first year in New York City, I wandering gum-covered sidewalks and popped into downtown dives, such as

Holiday Cocktail Lounge, Lakeside Lounge and Blue and Gold, for a gin-and-tonic pick-me-up. Bar drinking allowed me to compile my thoughts, perhaps jot in my journal and observe like an amateur sociologist.

“Can I tell you something?” says one blonde to another at Trophy Bar tonight, swallowing salty margarita.

“Of course,” her friend replies.

“I don’t love him.”

“About time you figured that out.”

Make sure my girlfriend loves me. Do not become someone’s barstool confession, I scribble in crumpled notebook, adding with underlined emphasis, Sad!

“Another drink?” the bartender asks. He points at my empty vessel.

Enable me, please. He pours a spicy, wheaty Hennepin ($4 until 8 p.m.; $6 afterward), followed by another Righteous Rye. Feeling magnanimous, I leave a $2 tip on each pint.

“This one’s on me,” the bartender rewards me, refilling my pint—my fourth, my limit, my point of no return. A deep, jagged crevice separates cheery tippling from drooling intoxication. I loosen my throat, swallow my freebie and nose-dive into the drunken mire.

“I’m done for,” I tell the bartender, dropping another dollar tip and venturing home via wobbly feet and speedy bus, my brain as blank as unlined notebook paper, my notebook filled with the evening’s most vital thought.