Adobe Blues: A Taste of a Great Good Place
Adobe Blues is the kind of place that will surprise the hell out of you.
[The following is a snippet from the “Adobe Blues” chapter of my upcoming book Great Good Places of New York, to be published by Rizzoli in 2018]
Adobe Blues is the best kind of bar you’ll ever visit: a regulars bar. People have chosen to make it their place, and your time there will be richer because of it. At a regulars bar, you’re not just having a drink. You’re experiencing a community of goodwill, a place people love. It’s like an extension of their home. And if they like you, the regulars at Adobe might even break your balls a little. That’s Staten Island for “hello.”
“It’s just a great neighborhood place. A place people like to go. It’s like… it’s like fuckin’ Cheers.” That’s how regular Doug Kenny described Adobe Blues one Sunday evening as I sat at the bar, enjoying my Mexican Firing Squad, a well-made cocktail classic documented by the world traveler and bon vivant Charles H. Baker. Regulars love their place so much that an online #SaveAdobe campaign helped scuttle a 2015 deal to sell the place, according to general manager Jack Dabdoub.
Adobe has an old-timey saloon bar up front and a dining room in back. The place smells wholesomely of Tex-Mex food with spicy overtones of good beer and tequila. The saloon can get loud, but not with music. Fun-loud with conversation — more like a series of big-voice DECLARATIONS! — by the regulars. A visiting Brooklynite (complete with my nerd glasses), I felt a little overwhelmed at first, like the history prof at a hockey game, but hey — everyone was having a fine time, myself included. It felt like being at the tail end of a rowdy family holiday party.
Adobe is a thoroughly great, beloved neighborhood bar. I haven’t seen many places of its caliber in that regard, and I’ve been looking. It’s a locals place, with lots of ribbing and shouting and jokes and backslapping, but it’s open to visitors, too. Do yourself a favor and seek these places out. Maybe you won’t become a regular because they’re too far away. Maybe you’ll only hit them once a year, or once ever, but spots like Adobe Blues are good for the soul and showcase the best of what a great, good neighborhood bar is — a place of human connection, society and, in a way, home.
Adobe Blues is also a hell of a craft beer bar and they’ve been one of New York’s best since opening in 1994, well before most other beer geek bars made the New York scene. They have a huge selection of bottles and cans, five taps, and host an annual brewery appreciation day (the next one is November 13, 2016) when craft breweries from all over set up shop, offer samples and answer your questions. What Adobe Blues ISN’T is pretentious or stuffy, like some beer snob bars can be. It’s not “douchey,” according to bartender Hannah Spisto. Hear, hear.
Buy Adobe Blues and other Great Good Art in My Shop
Adobe Blues is one of 50 bars I’ll be drawing and writing up for the book Great Good Places of New York: 50 Favorite Joints from the Five Boroughs (Rizzoli, 2018). You can buy all the art here, including the original inking of Adobe. Check it out!