Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Under the Volcano

e. 36th bet. 5th & Madison
(212) 213-0093

"NYC Diver," your usual reviewer, is sick or in prison or something, and I'm taking the opportunity to review a place that's clearly below (above, I guess) his standards for a true "dive" but still deserves your attention.

Under the Volcano is named after the novel by Malcolm Lowry, by far the best book about drinking ever written (with the minor caveat that it will make you give up on life completely). They are not the first people to have this idea, but they've done a great job with it. There's a great selection of tequilas and of mescal, both of which figure heavily in the book, and the overall atmosphere is pleasant, social and low-key. There's a long bar and a dark alcove on either side with tables and chairs.

decor: 4/5 ...not divey but not trendy or high-end either

drinks: 5/5 ...prices were reasonable, good selection of beers, but the tequila and the five or six kinds of mescal are what really stand out. The one i had was very smoky and i recommend it, but shockingly i cannot remember the brand. i think it was around the middle of the list.

crowd: 4/5 ...not really a pickup-type place, but lots of interesting people, and no music or crowds so it's easy to have a real conversation.

can't remember the other categories, so

overall: 4/5 ...again, NOT a dive, but it's not the W or the Joshua Tree either, so you can still feel cooler than your co-workers. It's also right across the street from the Ginger Man, which is one of the better after-work crowd midtown places.

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