153 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10009, United States
The New York city streets are paved with ice and piss. I’m walking around, face blistering from the cold, wishing I was back in my cosy London flat. Shivvering, I see the neon glow of a dive bar up ahead and decide to seek shelter and a whiskey hug. Inside, a girl instantly smiles at me from behind the bar and beckons me over. “Welcome to Coyote Ugly” she says.
I had seen the movie from the year 2000 and I had heard the catchy-as-the-plague song by Leanne Rhymes and they both suck. But I’m still curious to know if the bar itself is any good. Of course, at one in the afternoon there is hardly a soul inside. I park my arse at the bar and order a whiskey on the rocks. The bartender/coyote tells me that their most popular drink is JD & Coke. How cliché, I think. But I spot the offer of a body shot scribbled on the bar for $20 of which I had never seen in a bar in the UK. Would that even be legal?
So I sit, drink and completely fall in love with this coyote. We chat for hours about New York, vintage cowboy boots and The Doors. Even though dancing is not my forte, I get on the bar with her and show her what a slut drop is. But besides my awkward moves, I enjoy the fact that she has a microphone in her hand, commanding the whole bar to be involved in the conversation. This, is a feature I would love to see in England. She commands the bar like a savant vivacious temptress, and everyone is loving it. I feel so comfortable that I forget about the weather outside and make this tiny stool my home for the afternoon.
Time flows and it’s suddenly happy hour with BOGOF offers. One more reason to stay inside in the warmth. More and more people are flocking in and I was surprised to see that they were mainly regulars. I get talking with one guy who came from Brooklyn. He loves this bar and that is apparent by the amount of money he throws in the till. The coyotes know him on first name basis and even have an unspoken mutual agreement of letting him drift in and out of sleep at the bar.
More coyotes and friendly regulars pile in as one kind gentleman offers to venture out in the now-forming blizzard to get me cigarettes. He comes back swiftly with my change and a fresh packet of smokes. God bless America.
I feel things turn up a notch as I engage in some shots. I feel like I am now swallowed into the regular’s gang and the Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey is their most treasured tradition. “Everyone drinks it,” one of them tells me.
A tall Scottish man hits the bar and tells me he came here last night and loved it so much, he had to come back. I can see why. By this point, the bar is packed and everyone is singing, cheering and owning the night.
I grab an American cider of which name escapes my memory. It tastes like apple juice, and I begin to think everything enjoyed in this country is best served sweet and made to rot your insides. I crave potatoes and roast dinners. But, before I begin thinking more about food, I’m pulled up onto the bar again to dance with all the coyotes. They begin a dance routine to Kid Rock and I notice noone cares that they’re not taking their drink orders. Everyone’s watching, but not in a creepy way… in awe.
When one guy suggests we take the party back to his, I realise how long I’ve been inside this bar. I’ve had over eight hours drinking with about three hours of those wiped from my memory. So I hitch a cab, and pledge to come back during my stay as it is by far the best 8 hours to spend in New York. Definetely better than the film but I guess if you’re gonna make a movie about a bar, it would have to be this one.
Photo taken from the Coyote Facebook