Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hogs, heifers and much hilarity

I recently had the surprising pleasure of drinking at Hogs and Heifers Saloon.

Surprising because I have passed the doorway a hundred times and never felt the slightest inclination to go in. It's a bar in the Meatpacking District with an entrance that is completely obscured by Fire Department, NYPD and Harley Davidson stickers. As a Manhattan sipping champagne socialist (I never mix the two, mind you), I just didn't think it was my kind of bar.
Not terribly appealing, is it?
But when TLOML lines up an afternoon of burgers and divebars - all in the name of entertaining some highly sophisticated West Coasters - who am I to refuse? So, surprise! I entered the forbidding doors of Hogs and Heifers.

Surprise #2! I actually had a brilliant time. It could be the best dive bar in all of Manhattan.

Hogs and Heifers was concieved about twenty years ago as a good honest watering hole for hard working, hard drinking men. Over the years they became famous for their abrasive lady bartenders, who basically call the shots. If so inclined, they'll dance on the bar. But most of the time from what I saw they limit themselves to turning down the jukebox to yell insults at their customers.

(The jukebox, by the way, is pure magic: mainly country and western, with some classic rock and, joy! The Travelling Wilburys. Good times.)

Oh, and if the mood takes them, lady drinkers may also dance on the bar. If they do, they must leave their bra behind, on the wall of grubby old bras.

One of the lady bar tenders and that wall of bras
Sound familiar? Perhaps you're thinking of the critically panned box office hit Coyote Ugly. (I haven't seen it but 22% on Rotten Tomatoes is all I need to know.)

You'd be right. There's some controversy about whether this bar, or the Coyote Ugly Saloon were the true insipiration for the film. Both proudly stake the claim. From what I've seen online Coyote Ugly Saloon looks rather too clean and manufactured and the girls are way too fit. Hogs and Heifers is genuinely filthy and their bartenders sport little beer bellies as part of their signature look.

If you read the reviews online, you'll see phrases like 'disgusting, trashy bartenders', 'it just feels diiirrrrtttty and not in a good way', 'the bartender was unspeakably rude' and 'Can you please get your dirty shoes off the bar where you serve me?

It's true, the bartender is very rude.  But funny. The girl serving the afternoon we were in there was an absolute blast. I particularly enjoyed it when she yelled to a couple of Euro-looking tourists, 'Get your hand off your crotch and buy an effin' drink' as they stood in the doorway looking frightened. And 'Hey, brawny guy called, he wants his shirt back', to TLOML in his hipster plaid shirt. Ask for a water, and she'll flip you the bird (then serve the offending drink, to be fair). It's a refreshingly sincere approach to customer service.
TLOML playing air guitar in his brawny shirt, with bras in the background. Picture is fuzzed to protect the innocent (also 'cos if I used flash the bartender would shout at me)

I'm not sure it'd be as much fun on a Saturday night, when it's probably packed with a shouty B&T crowd. But on a chilly, quiet Wednesday afternoon, it's perfect. Aside from the bewildered toursts, who routinely turned on their heels and left, our drinking companions were 3 or 4 shifty looking men drinking solo, a couple of leathery faced old birds, and a couple who looked like they were skiving off work. I especially liked this pair when she got on the bar and danced - and yes, her bra was removed from under her clothes, by the dextrous bartender - with gay abandon in her dowdy office attire. Yeah! That's the Hogs and Heifers way!

So if I tire of fancy cocktail bars, and crave a mid afternoon drink with a bunch of blue collar dudes, and the fun of watching tourists be insulted and drunk Jersey girls take their bras off, I know just where I'll head.


  1. "Lady (?) Bar tenders?? Isn't that an oxymoron?

  2. Lady might be overstating it a bit...