Pub crawl in Big Apple
WITH the Aussie dollar at record highs against the greenback in recent times, many tourists from Down Under have had their sights set on the United States.
And New York City is the "big apple" of their eye. NYC welcomed 40 million short-stay visitors last year.
And any self-respecting Aussie among them no doubt headed to the nearest bar for a coldie on their arrival. Research points to New York City having up to 2000 bars plus another 18,000 licensed restaurants, so it would take a decade or more to comfortably visit them all.
During our stay, we did our bit to visit as many bars as possible, starting with one bearing the iconic Aussie moniker, Eight Mile Creek, which is located at 240 Mulberry Street in Manhattan.
Former Sydneysider Andrew Jordan started the bar 11 years ago with two mates from South Australia.
He still runs it and most days gets asked the same question: "Why did you name it that?"
"We got the name from a small watercourse near Whyalla where two of the partners in the enterprise came from," he said.
New York City has its fair share of Irish bars and one that stands out is P D O'Hurley's Bar at Pier 84 on the Hudson River, just down the road from Times Square. The bar boasts comfortable stools, cold beer and snacks.
To make the most of a visit to Central Park, secure a prior reservation for lunch at the renowned Boathouse bar and restaurant.
Central Park is the great, green oasis covering 518 ha of prime real estate and is often gratefully referred to as the lungs of Manhattan. The island bar has beer on tap and an extensive range of mixed drinks and is hard to leave when the wait staff call you to your table. This venue in NYC is also a favourite movie location, as seen in 27 Dresses and The Wedding Planner.
If you would like a great steak to go with your beer or wine, head for Smith and Wollensky bar and dining on 3rd Ave and 49th Street in Midtown East.
The atmospheric bar with its dark-stained timber walls and bare floorboards even boasts its own special beer: Wollensky Red.
The New York Times reviewed with the following: "The landmark S&W creates an outstanding steakhouse fare featuring prime steaks, dry aged and hand-butchered on the premises. Opened in 1977, S & W sets the standard by which all other NYC steakhouses are judged."
With so much to see and do, it makes sense to choose an apartment as the ideal base from which to explore.
It offers much of the same comforts of home and the flexibility to dine in as well as dine out.
There's less hustle and bustle on the Upper West Side, yet it is only a few stations on the subway from Times Square.
On the corner of 75th Street and Broadway is the Beacon Hotel which has chic one and two-bedroom apartments and a range of superior style twin and double rooms.
Thomas Travers has been in the top job at the Beacon for the past 21 years and usually visits Australia each year.
"More people in Australia know the Beacon Hotel than New Yorkers," he said proudly.
"Australia is now our largest international market, overtaking the UK about three years ago."
So take the time to explore NYC.
And to all the bars we missed on this visit, "Here's cheers" 'til next time we are in NYC.