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Talking with Rosie Schaap, it becomes increasingly evident that any good bar would want her as a regular. She’s easy going, funny, smart and genuinely interested in other people, and for the most part, she orders whiskey on the rocks—a no-fuss drink. In fact, Schaap, the Drinks Columnist for the New York Times Magazine, has become a regular at several bars around the world in her day, something that she writes about in her phenomenal new memoir, Drinking with Men.
Schaap is an expert storyteller. She takes readers from her days following the Grateful Dead through love affairs to working as a minister after the September 11 tragedy, with the bars she frequents and the friends she’s made in them playing a pivotal role in her daily life. For a book that’s purportedly about drinking, it’s intriguing how little of it touches on actual drinks. It’s the neighborhood bars Schaap inhabits that become their own little worlds–like Grogan’s pub in Dublin where everyone knows the words to the same bar tunes, or The Man of Kent in Hoosick Falls, NY, loved by many a biker on Route 7 or the (now closed) Liquor Store in Manhattan’s Tribeca.
Schaap misses Liquor Store most. “I just loved the mix of people there,” she tells F&W. “You just felt that everyone was happy to see each other and perfectly relaxed. It was a very simple unadorned place but it was a beautiful corner bar and the light was really special in late afternoon just before it turned into evening. That was really the most beautiful time there.”
While Schaap mostly chronicles her time as a patron, on Tuesdays she can usually be found bartending at South in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. “There is a lot more responsibility behind the bar, but I still feel as curious about people when I’m serving them as I do when I’m just sitting on the civilian side talking,” she says.
She won't be there tonight. Schaap is doing a reading at 2A in the East Village at 8 p.m.–and then will be off to Chicago, San Francisco and Boston over the next couple weeks on a book tour.