[Photo via Flickr] After continually seeing this sign, I started to wonder the same thing. Part of the answer lies the parable of Kokie’s, which was a bar in the loosest sense of the word. It’s no secret that the best drinking establishments in the city often have a long, lurid history of illegal activity trailing behind it. What would a Wednesday night whiskey bender be without people stumbling out of the bathroom with a nosebleed and/or an inside-out shirt dangling from their neck? I’m not sure either. But if I was privy to such things, I’d say the passing of Kokie’s was cause for a stiff drink. Judging by the name’s thinly-veiled reference to powder-fueled recreation, you can imagine the level of debauchery that went down in Williamsburg’s pre-gentrification days. The choicest highlights of local New York nostalgia:
One man’s dive bar is another cokehead’s castle…“It was pretty decrepit. Just dark, dingy, walls and little yellow lightbulbs. It was all empty and weird on weeknights. I loved the shittiness of it.”
Isn’t this how casinos and prisons operate…“The windows were blacked out in the front and there were no windows at all in the back—you had no sense of time or reality.”
The brilliant ideas we have after 4 AM usually become tomorrow’s punchline…"Nothing good ever happened to me at Kokie’s. I’d only go there when I was already too drunk and it was 3:30 AM and someone would inevitably shout, 'I know! Let’s go to Kokie’s!' The next thing I knew I’d be back in that curtained booth doing the worst coke in the world until well past dawn.'"
On its inevitable demise…“Around this time, someone went on the internet and wrote, ‘Oh man, it’s like Amsterdam in Williamsburg! It’s awesome!’ And that was the beginning of the end.”
Next week: How many people christened the walls of CBGB’s with the remnants of too many whiskey sours? People will romanticize anything in hindsight.