On 8 September 2014 I walked to the Best Buy in my neighborhood and purchased the Canon SX700HS point-and-shoot that I had been researching for the previous few weeks. Then I walked on a few blocks to my favorite neighborhood bar, Room 11, for a celebratory drink to accompany opening the camera, fondling it and reading through the manual. This is the first picture I took with the camera. Shawn was my favorite bartender there. I never took this picture off the card, so if I scrolled forward through my pictures one arrow-press too far, I landed back at the beginning, on this one. I have looked at this picture probably thousands of times (I retired the point-and-shoot in 2019 after purchasing my fist DSLR).
Yesterday Room 11 posted on their Facebook page that they were selling the remains of their booze collection, glass and silverware, and closing indefinitely, owing to the pandemic.
In my former life, that I was a barfly was a huge part of my identity. As a boozehound, I have gone through so many phases that broadened and deepened my booze knowledge. My parents, a college duo, The Pearl, Flowers, The Monkey, the Tabard Inn, House of Foong Lin. Room 11 was one of the best bars I’ve ever known. It was intimate, dark, full of beguiling bottles shimmering in the low light. It was less a restaurant, more like a theater of bar tending, its bar a stage, it’s wall of bottles a set, it’s beautiful barware props. When I started going there, the Tabard Inn had taught me to love vermouth and Campari. Room 11 was a masterclass in Amari.
After each bar has passed out of my life, it has been hard to imagine it ever being equaled. And sometimes it has taken years. But there has eventually been some new gem. But I don’t know. I’m older now. I don’t drink so much anymore. I have a kid now. There is no time for lollygagging. And there is little spare money. Maybe Room 11 was the capstone of a drinking career that is past now. Still, it is terrible to see Room 11 as another casualty of COVID-19.