The Rookery turns two on Saturday, while kickass DJ Emily O’Brien spins until midnight. That’s when the Masters of the Tri-City Area pick up her dropped mic to pour soul fire on it then light it up with 160-proof rock and roll. There’s a secret DJ situation happening late night and I won’t speculate here as to who. There’s free chicken wings from 9 pm until they run out and there’s a Happy Hour ALL night. Espolon Tequila and Langleys Gin are sponsoring so bring your pocket change and buy nine drinks.
All the regulars, all the some-timers, the people who’ve gotten engaged and don’t go out much anymore (ahem), the former bartenders, the ex-girlfriends, the forgotten numbers, the familiar faces – they’ll all be there. But I want to tell you why they’ll all be here.
There seems to be a new watering hole opening every four minutes in this neighborhood, and as difficult it is for the cynic inside me to write, they’re usually pretty dope. We’ve a culture that gets entertainment right most of the time and we’ve got the universal remote with endless channels.
The issue for the bars however, is becoming a place where more than a handful of people want to visit several times a week, a place where a few people can be counted on showing up for at least one beer at least once a day (usually it’s a dude that lives across the street), a place where even the weekend warriors that join the fray after their usual bedtimes feel like minor cast members in a Cheers revival. The trick is having them want to do that forever. How do you become everyone’s FAVORITE bar?
Answer? You become a pub.
Isn’t that just the way you pronounce “bar” when you’re doing your John Lennon impression? No, it’s not. As I was interviewing Jamie Schmitz, owner and frequent ‘client’ of the pub, we got into talking about what makes a pub different from a bar and why that distinction is important for them specifically. According to Jamie, the look of the place, modeled in part after the Café Royal in Edinborough – Victorian, opulent wallpapering, with a stuffed peacock and an oil painting of a kilted dandy hanging above the horseshoe-shaped wooden bar astride a fenced-in garden patio – doesn’t scream Boobs of Bushwick party, slurring World Cup chants, karaoke bar dancing, experimental noise thrash bands, the rowdy Burns Day beerlariousness, and yet those are exactly the things that go down here.
Being a pub is about being available to anyone willing to have a good time – regardless of age, persuasion, style (or lack thereof), and volume. Jamie describes the pubs he grew up going to in England (drinking age is 16!) when visiting from his home in Vermont.
“There was a vibe for every nook of the place – grandmas having tea at one table, their husbands discussing bawdy things at the next and a group of punk rock kids getting smashed in the corner.”
He describes a place where you bring your party with you and the longer you stay the more likely one of the punk kids will be singing some song off-key with the adjacent grandpa while grandpa’s wife dances with the punk’s best friend. I can attest to this myself as I think of the characters that go this place. I’ve met state Senators, lawyers, pornographers and famous comedians here, not to mention the dozens and dozens of fresh-faced twenty-somethings looking, as always, to find themselves – or at least the self that enjoys a pint and a shot at getting laid tonight.
What he describes is a magical place full of wonder and blunder, laughs and determined conversations behind odd potted plants in corners of the dimly lit porch. It’s a beautiful space that will wear its tweed suit well until the suede elbows shine and the lapels fray. Like a whiskey barrel, it’ll age and become better – cure, refine and fall apart at the same time.
Jamie has delivered on his goal to give Bushwick the best of his cherished memories in England and Scotland and to help create many of our own. The Rookery turns two years old this weekend and there’s a party. There’s always a party. I’m for absolutely damn sure going. I would love to drunkenly meet you and screw up trying to save your number through laugh tears. Come hang.