Edgewater Park, New Jersey
May 2, 2005
I was a bit apprehensive, to be honest, about drinking in a place previous experience told me was expensive and not a good idea for a girl with a freshly cashed paycheque tucked neatly in her pocket. My friend Quentin had suggested Barracuda for a post-work drink only the Friday before, and I left with an unhealthy dose of sticker shock and quite sober when my first (and only) drink came to a hefty £4.55, which is quite a price to pay for a Jager and Red Bull, especially when the swanky Sports Café down the street will mix me a Cosmopolitan for £3.95.
Considering the price tag and my anticipated arrival at a My Chemical Romance concert looming in the back of my mind, I decided to just have quick nip of wine with the work gang before popping over to The Academy for the concert. Being something of a wine novice, I decided to just have Alice order me the same thing she was having. To our mutual surprise, the bartender placed the entire bottle on the counter, explaining that, on Friday nights, when you buy two glasses of the same bottle, you get the rest of the bottle for free. At £3.55 a glass, that was a deal I could hardly pass up.
Two hours later, Alice and I left the bar happy, hammered, and with less than a tenner spent out of our hard-earned paycheques.
And see, that’s the thing about Barracuda bar: it’s just so unassuming that you forget how much money you’re actually parting with. Formerly The Springbok, Barracuda has benefited from a good facelift, though the old logos are still visible on the floor-to-ceiling front windows. Decked out in its new jungle theme, complete with fake animal-head trophies and bamboo poles, it’s a pastiche of every image the word "exotic" conjures, from jungle to safari to tropical resort, an identity crisis only compounded by the lacklustre staff. These full-time lushes who seem to only work in the bar for the free drinks and chatting up that go with the gig are only too happy to repeat the same hackneyed quip to every hot young thing that walks up to the bar, making it a not-so-comfortable place for the single guy or gal just out for a post-work nip. And then there’s the dank, dim lighting of a bar that’s trying to reinvent itself and failing, like when your father hits forty and goes out for that hot, red convertible to prove he can pick up chicks: the decor may be cool, but, all together, it’s not a pretty picture.
From journal Six Months Living in Manchester