This is a bar. Which may seem obvious. But I’ve been in plenty of joints that claim claim to be bars, but are something way less straight-forward. You know, they serve “small plates” or have karaoke on Tuesdays. Or employ a fucking mixologist. Nope, 12th Street — despite calling itself an ale house, whatever that is — is just your classic jukebox and beer menu bar straight across the board.
There is nothing fancy going on here. It’s a corner box-of-a-joint, nondescript in that East Village bar kind of way. You know, any shine or glitz or even a hint of pride makes your place incredibly uncool. Low-key and understated, that’s the plan and the execution. It’s your typical mix of high tables for two, low tables for four and a bunch of stools lining the well-worn bar with its brass accents. There’s some brick and more wood and some old panels on the ceiling that may or may not be hiding water stains. I can’t say for sure there was a dartboard, but it definitely feels like there should be one. There is a juke, which is always cool. My buddy and I didn’t feed it any nickels or anything, but I don’t recall any douchey music assaulting our ears.
I suppose an ale house means the place serves beer? Well, that was definitely part of the appeal. They have a decent list of smaller brewery suds from which to choose. Not all lights and lites like some other classic bars. I think the point of these places and their seemingly random neon signs is to create a space that can be filled with whatever you enjoy. So, if you’re, say, a middle-aged dude who just wants to chill with a friend, drink a couple tasty brews and listen to somebody’s idea of what should go on a jukebox, you get exactly that experience. If you’re a small group of millennial white guys (and maybe one girl) who want to enjoy your micro-dose of whatever nonsense millennials micro-dose, while talking about how you really need to practice better self-care and proving that you can vibe to Brooklyn’s 2012 version of shoegaze, this can also be your experience. Nobody will deny you that. Nobody will care.
Is this going to be the night of your life? Probably not. Can it be a pleasant stop on the journey? For sure. But, honestly, it’s places like this that create a respite for those sick of artifice. Those seeking what once was. It’s not that deep, people. It’s a bar that could have existed at any point in time. We’re just happy it exists in this, the time of our beer lord 2024.