Little Green Shoots

... of Johnny Walker Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently said he saw “little green shoots” of new life appearing amid the economic wreckage—the Dow Jones is creeping up to old highs, Wall Street seems confident.

But as these are the people many blame for this mess in the first place, I headed down to the Manhattan's East Village and Lower East Side—the latter dubbed the “bargain district” - to see if Bernanke is right.

A number of bartenders told me business couldn’t be better. “When times are good, people drink," one bar manager informed me. "When times are bad, people drink.”

One self-defined “dive bar” on Avenue A proudly advertised a happy “hour” lasting from 12-8pm. Nearby, Double Down Saloon was offering a beer and a shot for just $6 (pretty much every bar said the most popular shot was whiskey).

Another told me they decided to try an experiment. Mojitos aren’t on the happy hour menu at this establishment on Houston Street, and, the bartender said, usually they do just fine with it, serving up 15 per night. Recently, however, the $9 mojitos were offered as a $4.50 happy hour special, and the bar started selling 30 to 40 in three hours. Why? It’s not just the price, says the bartender, “everyone loves a mojito, and it’s the most alcohol for the least price.”

There are also two new types of regulars these days—a bartender at a 24-hour establishment in the East Village called them “the 2pm-er: businessmen who have just been laid off, have yet to inform their families” and “the 4pm-er: people who have spent their whole day handing out resumes.”

Evidently, there are "little green shoots" a-plenty—that is, if those "shoots" are "shots" and the color is Jameson’s.

“The most common thing I hear is ‘what's the cheapest thing in here?’” said a young blonde bartender as she poured ice into a vat. “I usually tell them, ‘You’.”

- Oli Foster

The hot commodity at New York bars
The hot commodity at New York bars