I’ve never tried the Manhattan Special Espresso Coffee Soda, yet it’s iconic 1920’s lovers, embraced, sandwiched between the NYC skyline and a giant cup of coffee, is burned on to my brain. How is this possible—that I’ve never sipped a Manhattan Special? I’ve lived in Manhattan (and Brooklyn, and Queens), I love espresso, I’m keen on soda, and I love classic New York. When I passed the Manhattan Special headquarters, located right here in Williamsburg, for the umpteenth time the other day, I finally told myself the time is now.
If I was a real reporter I would have gone and banged right on the front door of 342 Manhattan Avenue and gotten the full factory tour, but I had one kid in tow and one to pick up, so I made a b-line to the nearest deli (who clearly had a very good relationship with their neighbors) and plucked a fresh bottle of Manhattan Special off the strategically placed, eye-level middle shelf—Coke below, organic soda above—spread love it’s the Brooklyn way. Somehow I was suddenly feeling very cool and connected to an old Brooklyn tradition.
I stashed the culty soda in my purse and grabbed the kid. I had a feeling that this drink was reserved for construction workers, upper west siders, and frazzled accountants, but i was game. I wanted to fully enjoy (or perhaps detest) the taste of Manhattan Special in my own home where I could comfortably sip and understand the complexity of such a concoction.
With the children comfortably tucked into bed I set aside my third glass of wine and decided to try out the Manhattan Special Original. I was tired, but caffinee has been know to lull this mother to sleep at 10 pm, so the coffee soda did not impose any imminent threat. I poped the top, admiring the lovely label and took my very first sip of Manhattan Special. I tasted it again, and again, trying to get my palate to accept the strange brew. It’s a bit odd, the flavor. It’s a multi layered sipping experience. First you taste coffee grounds, then a whip of seltzer lashes your tongue, and finally you are left with an authentic espresso flavor. It’s weird, in a good way.
Well, this “odd flavor” has been around since 1895. So, this shit is old school, and clearly has it’s foothold in the classic soda market. Besides the original espresso flavor, Manhattan Special makes several other, more palatable selections ranging from Vanilla Cream Soda to Iced Mocha Coffee.
Here are five facts about the nostalgic brooklyn soda brand:
1. The unique soda is not named after Manhattan the island, but Manhattan the Avenue, that it’s bottling plant is located on here in Brooklyn.
2. The espresso soda is indigenous to the Italians of New York.
3. Through a close Italian blood line, Alberto Passaro took over the company in 1970, and was murdered in an assumed robbery in 1983 in upstate New York. The case is still unsolved.
4. One small bottle of Manhattan Special Espresso Coffee Soda has 160 calories and 40g of carbs.
5. The caffeinated soda clearly has the foundation for an excellent alcoholic beverage. Here’s a recipe on Saveur.
Soul Cycle—you either love it, you hate it, or you’ve never tried it. Which category do you fall into? Well, be happy or be miffed, the iconic yellow wheel is moving into the hood, bringing with them a gang of ridiculously excited spin instructors and endless hours of calorie burning mayhem.
The only way to describe Soul Cycle is—spin class on super crack. It’s the workout of the gods. While the technique and price per workout ($35 bucks) is not for the faint of heart, Soul Cycle does deliver. In just one session expect to feel an extreem endorphin buzz, have that “hurts so good” sensation, have a celebrity sighting, and possibly develop an addiction to this psyco fitness craze.
Not sure when the studio is slated to open, but one would imagine with signs already up on 196 Kent Ave. (corner of North 3rd) it looks like they’ll have their doors open by spring. So,there you have it, the Kent Ave. corridor continues to grow like a young doctors bank account. Break out your wallet and get ready to sweat your balls off…here comes Soul Cycle.
Here are a few shots of the new location:
NY1 ran this piece on the new plans for the Domino Sugar Factory. The plans include “affordable” housing, shops, waterfront park and a school. What kind of school, they did not say, but it sounds like good news for neighborhood parents. While the Domino Sugar factory is an iconic Williamsburg landmark, it’s also a prime piece of the waterfront that no one has access to. A new building means an expanded waterfront park and a larger shopping corridor. What are your feelings about the plan for the building?
And check out this gallery on the Gothamist to see illicit photos from deep inside the abandoned factory.
My family and I were planning our trip to the Florida Keys, which included finding overnight care for our dog Zeus. Our regular dog sitter bailed on us, and had lately become less and less reliable. I was on a mission to find another option, and quick. It seems like even asking a friend to dog sit for six or seven days is quite the undertaking, so I thought I’d start checking out overnight doggy daycares.
By default—because they happen to be the closet to our house—I first checked out Your Spoiled Pets on Grand St. and Leonard. I’d passed Your Spoiled Pets dozens of times walking around the neighborhood, you can’t miss them because they have a ramp leading up to a window box in which the dogs love to hang out and people/pet watch. The store front is very sweet, the signage is hand painted and even from the outside you can sense that it is a loving environment.
The first obstacle I had to overcome to “get in” was a temperament test, but even before we could come in for that I needed to get an update on the kennel cough booster shot. I began to fret as the days started to tick down to vacation. So, my first stop was the clinic on Grand St. where we got him all up to date and then over the weekend, only a week before we were due to leave, I brought Zeus in for the temperament test.
How exciting is it that we have a movie theater! I can remember back in the day, before there were dozens of new restaurants, gobs of new shops, and a handful of new kids related businesses, everyone would say “the one thing we’re missing is a movie theater.” Okay, technically we did get a movie theater more than a year ago when the Nitehawk opened, and while it’s probably the coolest movie theater EVER, it’s generally not family friendly. Williamsburg Cinemas it a legit, real deal, mainstream theater, complete with kids trays at the concession stand and 3D movies. As if taking the L train into Union Square to see a flick wasn’t easy enough, now we have a real movie theater, right in our own backyard! We are getting totally spoiled. Questions: Have you been yet? What do you think?
My experience was this…over the weekend I took the kids to see Escape From Planet Earth. Both my 3 and 6 year olds sat through the movie with no complaints. Escape From Planet Earth was good considering I’m usually a little disappointed whenever I realize that I have to sit through a kids movie when, oh say, Silver Linings Playbook is showing in the next theater. But Escape From Planet Earth was good enough, I had a few laughs and was happy to see the kids enjoying the film.
Spoonbill & Sugartown is a wonderfully cruated little book shop located on Bedford Avenue in the heart of our culturally rich community. I can’t sing enough praises for this little book shop. I for some reason you live here and it’s one of those places you just overlook for some reason, stop doing that! Step inside to find an eclectic mix of independent publishing, classics, cult classics, soon to be cult classics, art books, contemporary fiction, literary journals, psychedelic lit, hipster lit, obscure out-of-print fare, tons of notebooks and journals, and loads of other amazing literary finds, new and used.
I probably visit the shop at least once a week and rarely leave empty handed. While I have a few dozen books from Spoonbill that I have yet to read, I feel that each and every one has made my library a rich source of fiction, fantasy, and fantastic flotsam. I really feel that some of the best, most intriguing, books ink my collection have been carried away from Spoonbill. So in honor of this highly influential haven of funky literature, I thought I’d share what I do take away from time to time. Here’s the latest. …
Bad Sex on Speed—Confession: I kinda love junky lit. And Jerry Stahl wrote one of the most gnarly memoirs about addiction ever—Permanent Midnight. I’ve also listened to him on The Moth telling a story about getting off heroin by switching to crack, funny stuff. So when I saw Bad Sex on Speed I knew I had to have it. I began to read right away because the name sounded really promising. At first it felt a little Palahniuk until it didn’t. The first story was good enough. Then chapter two entitled “American Girl” got really extra gnarly, strangely enough, too gnarly for me. I’d put it in the JT Leroy realm. The book is short, only 138 pages. I stopped at page 50 before “American Girl” was over. I may pick it up again one day. It sure has a cool cover.