A Corner of New York with Alex Delany
If ever there was an ideal job (apart from working at Drake’s, of course), then it might belong to Alex Delany. He’s a writer, he’s a food and beverage consultant, he’s a DJ with a thing for Italo disco and rare vinyl who has turned New York’s no-nonsense slice shops, old-fashioned delis, white table cloth red sauce joints, 10th wave coffee shops, grand steak houses, natural wine bars, and Chinatown dining rooms into his own sort of roving, epicurean beat.
As someone whose profession is largely based on knowing where to go and what to do in a city with an overwhelming amount of places to go and things to do, we asked Alex to show us a small corner of his New York –– mostly around the East Village. A proper pint, the best record store in the city, a great art and photography book shop, and a late night table at Raoul’s.
Swift Hibernian Lounge
34 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003
For all of its obvious appeal, New York can be a tough place to find an actual pint. You know, 16 fluid ounces, sloping floorboards, regulars as old as the peculiar art on the walls, somewhere that is spacious and intimate simultaneously where you can while away half an hour or a whole afternoon. We love the Ear Inn, but Swift might just have the edge. Afternoon light seeping in through steamed windows, the barman navigates the various copper pumps and gentle patter of conversation with practiced ease.
“It feels like all of the proper pubs get taken over by tourists,” says Alex, who used to live just around the corner. “This has gone quietly along, except for locals and the Irish. In the fall it’s the place to be for people watching… and you’ve tried the Guinness.”
A-1 Record Shop
439 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009
“In my eyes, this is the best record store in the city,” says Alex, leafing through boxes of fastidiously arranged vinyl. Something vaguely Brazilian-sounding plays softly from expensive-looking vintage JBL speakers as we work our way through the aisles.
“I was just in here yesterday and bought two records, a really great live Cannonball Adderley record that has his best track Mercy, Mercy, Mercy on it that I’ve been looking for for a while and hadn’t been able to find, and a random album from a group called the East Harlem Voices who were an amazing disco collective from the late 70s with soul vocals.”
“I rarely go into a place knowing what I’m going to buy, almost never, which makes A-1 so special and their selection changes so much. Anything you want… you can find here.”
125 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003
A few low wooden stalls jammed together, couples shoulder-to-shoulder against the counter top of the bar and some dishes scribbled on a board. "A date spot. A friend spot. A whatever you want kind of spot." We order some charcuterie from Hudson Valley and an easy Rioja.
Squint, and you could be in Barcelona.
136 E 3rd St, New York, NY 10009
“I have a problem with collecting, I spend far too much money on art books,” says Alex. We’re in Karma Bookstore, formerly the home of East Village institution, St. Marks Bookshop, where Allen Ginsberg first met Philip Glass and where William S. Burroughs shopped for science fiction. Now it’s a beautiful, new-ish sort of book store, with rare photography and affordable prints.
“I like the way they combine weird stuff, new books that aren’t here just because they’re new, there’s an intention, and really rare older books. They host exhibitions that you don’t find anywhere else in New York. We need more independent businesses like this.”
Astor Wines & Spirits
399 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10003
“Oh… it’s closed!” says Alex as well stop to stare up at the burgundy awning of what is, supposedly, New York’s biggest wine shop. “This is a classic, though, so I’d definitely recommend it… when it’s open.”
Sake Bar Satsko
Between Avenue B and C, 202 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009
There’s a conspiratorial feel to this cubbyhole of a sake bar deep in Alphabet City. Doused in red light, the barman, who we soon learn is still recovering from a long few days in Miami, pours us Sake and Asahi, and blares Rihanna out of the speakers. It’s late on a Sunday evening, a place like this would have been long shut for the night in London, but that’s all part of the fun. “You’re getting one of my favourite recommendations here!” says Alex, before heading to the bar for more sake, us following closely behind.
180 Prince St, New York, NY 10012
“Let me guess,” says the waiter, confident and in control in that New York way that suggests he know how to work a table and a tip. “You guys want six steak au poivre, medium-rare, and you want six martinis, gin, dry, with a twist?” That is… exactly what we want. Are we that obvious? He gives us a wink and disappears into the swell of Sunday night. This is the sort of old school hangout that has been a place to see, be seen (and be read by the waiter) since it opened in 1975. “There’s just something magic about.”