Blue RuinI keep reading sites that refer to this bar as a “dive.” Clearly these people have never been in an actual dive, as they generally don’t have beautiful exposed brick walls, vintage wood plank floors, pressed tin ceilings, a long ornate wooden bar, antique brass beer taps and enough period reproduction lighting fixtures from Rejuvenation to choke a horse. Perhaps there’s some snobbery a foot here. Just because the clientele occasionally wears hard hats, work boots and that rat tail your eighth grade cousin had in 1987 doesn’t automatically mean the joint is low class or shabby in some way. Granted, in NYC the dive has almost veered into theme bar territory. Just ask the owners of the many Lower East Side bars with the torn and duck taped banquets, many missing light bulbs, graffitied, metal front door and Wild Turkey stink what they were going for. The true dive is actually a dying institution, and Blue Ruin is certainly not adding to its numbers. It is, in fact, a pretty stylish place, comfortable in its classicness and friendly in a way few neighborhood bars seem to be these days. Granted, I was there on a cold weekday night, and no bar dancers or bra flingers were in site. In fact, I don’t really recall any undergarments or anything hanging from the chandeliers (as I’ve seen in some photos), and the bartender, while clad in a low cut halter of sorts, was neither breathing fire nor flirting with her cleavage. She was, in fact, an extremely personable individual who knew how to pour a beer, make small talk and keep the locals–all of whom happened to be male–sufficiently plied with their “usuals.” This was certainly an upgrade from the old Why Not Bar, overcoming the inferiority complex of being right next to the Port Authority. Though it is a comfortable place, it could do with a location move, as most folks don’t really feel like getting gutted under the PABT overpass after a nice night of Buds, low lighting and the American Spirit. [MF]

538 9th Ave. (bet. 39th & 40th St.)