Results 1-3of 3 Reviews
London, United Kingdom
June 3, 2010
Edgewater Park, New Jersey
July 19, 2005
There are blisters on blisters and my legs are ready to cave backwards, broken like a veal calf, when we stumble down the rue Daunou and into Harry’s New York Bar. Like Rick’s American Cafe in Casablanca, this place is the sort of watering hole in the who’s who of American ex-pats. Hemmingway, the Fitzgerald’s, and that whole jazz-era crew used to congregate here, and it retains a strange, comforting old-new Ameri-Euro charm that the American Dream Diner two shops down seriously lacks.
The entire place screams classic old world, from the dark mahogany tables to the dark wood-panelled walls and red-leather booths. The bar itself is styled more on old ‘40s soda shops, and even the bartenders wear white apothecary coats.
Asthmatics and those with sensitive disposition beware: everyone smokes, and their brands of choice are always heavy French cigarettes that leave a coat of second-hand smoke in your lungs for weeks afterward. The drink menu is rather limited, but what it lacks in trendy cosmos and apple martinis, it makes up for in ambience, though the bartenders do mix a mean screwdriver and a fresh bowl of salted mixed nuts is complimentary with every round.
Harry’s is a tourist trap that isn’t, the typical uber-American tourists usually dissuaded when they walk in with their maps and travel guides, dressed in ruddy jeans and Hard Rock Café shirts. They cough at the thin, grey haze in the air, and if they make it past the smoke, they’re usually lost when it comes to order, staring at the mirrored wall behind the bar. Sorry, folks, no drink list here, just patches, pennants, and bottles of unfamiliar spirits as far as you can see.
I’m nursing my third rather pricey screwdriver of the evening, feeling the vodka work on my brain as I scribble hasty notes into my travel journal: writing is simpler intoxicated, as word-flow is easier, less inhibited. I take it all in: the nearly black-wood floor worn thin in heavily-trafficked areas, the green-and-white-stained glass door, and the framed old, worn, and faded pennants of American colleges and crests of English universities. On one wall is the American standard of signage alerting the reader that Harry’s is exactly 4,278 miles from Wall Drug, that strange slice of 1950s Americana in the middle of South Dakota.
I could live here in this booth, in this bar, never moving, always drinking. Omnipresent. No wonder Ernest and Scott drank and wrote here, with its Parisian bustle and film noir ambience.
Next to me, David is writing furiously, scribbling a prose I will simply never be allowed to read. In the booth ahead of us, a white-haired old man in a suit unwraps a matted sketch from its brown paper jacket, un cadeau, one of the few French words I know, along with merci, sil vous plait, and excusez-moi. They’re the only words you need at Harry’s, thankfully, so I order another round.
From journal How to Take Paris
April 6, 2001
From journal An American Dog in Paris