I received this book in the mail last week from Turner Publishing and I think it makes a good addition to the beer library. In a nutshell, it is a coffee table book with black and white photos of thirty great bars in the Big Apple. Some are historic places like McSorley's Old Ale House, with those famous dusty chicken wishbones over the bar left by those regulars who joined up but couldn't return from WWI to claim them, to the Bridge Cafe which has pretty much been selling beer since 1794. Other places are famous speakeasies of the prohibition like Chumley's or former dives that are now filled with celebrities hunting for and hunted as shabby chic like the Parkside Lounge. For each place, you get a few serious black and white photos and a couple of pages of back story and anecdotes. Not a huge about of text but that's is not the point.
You can check out some of these places on the Old Bars pages of the ever excellent Forgotten New York...including an excellent shot of those dusty wishbones at McSorley's. It is difficult sometimes, especially in light of websites like Forgotten New York to consider the place of the coffee table book - that big hardcover that sort of lays around there for you when you are also sort of laying around. But you really can't slob out on a sofa with the laptop like you can with book like this and that is what a book like this is for. So who do you buy it for? Some relative you have to visit from time to time to park over there so you have something to flip through. You, if you have a cottage, or the person whose cottage you hit a couple of times a summer so you flip through it there. Maybe for your sofa. Wrap it up nice.