Serendipity: an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident; good luck or fortune. Such was the theme for my recent trip to New York City, a city I used to call home, a city where I feel at peace and frenzied at the same time. This trip had a purpose — it wasn’t Fifth Avenue shopping nor prancing around in Times Square. It was a trip to reconnect with a friend I hadn’t seen in twenty years, and to enjoy the company of my best friend of 19 years. While two days weren’t quite enough time to make these connections, nor is it ever enough time to be in the city, I made the most of it.
Chinatown. So crowded on a Saturday afternoon I was forced to walk with the traffic, away from the vendors on the sidewalk. The streets beg you to buy a fake iPhone or Coach purse, but I resisted. I was holding out for something better — a great meal and conversation in a random restaurant on Mott Street. I was going to have a beer later on, but the lure of the Tsingtao was beckoning me. What a great light beer with the spicy chicken in curry sauce, so good I had to have two! Caught up in the stories of adventures past, our beer ran out and the food was gone. It was time to move on.
After wandering aimlessly in SoHo looking for a good old brewpub, none could be found on the surface. I was told there was a good bar somewhere, but it reminded me too much of South Beach pretentiousness. I already lived that phase in my life, now all I wanted was a good pub to kick some back with my long lost Brit friend and reminisce about those younger years when we climbed the pyramids, thought ourselves invincible, and tried a most vile concoction known as pulque. Cold and thirsty, I could have drank a can of beer from a convenience store at that point. In the midst of my parched frustration, in the distance I saw a place by the name of The Cupping Room, which looked inviting. As we entered, my friend thought the place to be too dark and wanted to exit before even entering. I suggested that we stay just for one cold one, and then make our way to the Village.
Once in the bar, I was feeling like an IPA. The bartender suggested a brew by Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Company– Hoptical Illusion. With a name like that, how could we say no? What could have been seen as an inconvenience turned out to be a blessing in disguise — the bottles were not properly chilled and we had the choice to decline. Most good beer anyway should not be consumed in a frosty glass nor at the climate zone of the frozen tundra, so I was more than happy to try a cool but not cold Blue Point. The first sip was pretty good, the second one even better! As the conversation flowed, our friendly bartender put more of these babies on ice just for us. As more friends arrived, more hoppy pleasure ensued. As we sat around the bar and enjoyed each other’s company –old friends, new friends, the great bar staff and management who treated us like gold — we realized that we must have emptied out The Cupping Room’s inventory of my new found top notch IPA’s.
What started out as just having one, turned out to be more. It was time again to move on, to grab something to eat in our IPA haze, and to search for more bubbly goodness. We never made it to the Village. By midnight, our eyes were bloodshot, my speech was slurred and my belly was full of joy. Joy to be surrounded by loved ones whom I don’t get to see often enough; but in that moment, time had stopped. Was this a hoptical illusion? No. It was serendipity.