I never would have found the door to Attaboy alone. Labeled “AB134” in chalk lettering, it looks like nothing special. Lizzie rings the buzzer. We wait for long enough to wonder if they are open. From the door emerges a very friendly and plainly dressed gentleman. This is not the speakeasy of suits and ties. Attaboy is proletariat.
“We are stuffed at the moment. It will be about 5 minutes,” he says. Lizzie and I look at each other. Five minutes is not a bad wait – the perks of drinking on a Sunday night. Within 2 minutes we are in the door, shuffled around with such friendliness. The bartender greets us, assures us we will have a seat momentarily and promptly offers us water. It is cozy. Lights are dim, a hanging row of miniature edison bulbs above the bar.
Attaboy has no menu. The bartender will later say to a party of 5, “We don’t have a menu. We just have a conversation.” Lizzie orders something bitter, and I something in the vein of a boulevardier without a specified spirit. A few minutes later, our bartender explains his first round creations: a tequila gloria (anejo, vermouth, cointreau, campari) and a drink called the right hand (essentially a boulevardier with Ron Zacapa). He nails it.
Sipping with delight, we talk about dating because that is in the New York City ether. It is what you talk about at bars. Will dating apps create a culture of ghosting, ultimately making dating cease to exist, we wonder. Our conversation ebbs and flows between work and leisure, life philosophies, men, the drinks themselves.
The bartender introduces himself, joins in on our conversations between making rounds of drinks. He offers us a shot of fernet and we do not decline. It reminds me of the cocktail idea Lizzie had found earlier called the Bernie Sanders – a can of Lone Star and a shot of fernet, the bartender takes the shot.
Our second round is lost to memory. My only notes reflect on the interaction and engagement of sitting at the Attaboy bar. I find myself enjoying the experience so much that I do not look at my phone, I do not take notes on what I am drinking, I savor every single moment of it. Its a very rare capacity to capture the human attention span for such an extended period of time. A return visit will verify the capability of cultivating an immersive event is not a one-time thing. Attaboy is always interactive. I will meet a bartender from the American bar at the Savoy in London who is visiting his former co-worker and barhopping, I will be introduced to each of their friends as they enter. We will swap stories of ridiculous moments behind the bar. And he will call Attaboy, “one of the best bars in the world.”
Our final round arrives and we take tips, trade sips.
Without a beat I say, “Want to switch?”
“Yes,” she replies, we laugh, our moods elevated from the spirits and the experience.
Attaboy is a place for more than the cocktail, though if the end goal is the cocktail no disappointment is found. The only spirit not found on the poorly lit backbar is vodka – this is not a bar for spiking drinks with an odorless tasteless burst of alcohol.
In the days after the two visits I find myself a more enthusiastic and accommodating bartender. Their energy is contagious and I want my patrons to have as interactive a time as did I at Attaboy. Drinking can indeed make a better person.