Last month, Alaska Bar caught fire. It was a little electrical issue, but to be safe, the fire department chopped at the walls and the ceiling. We were standing by the entrance with the owner and the bartenders, kicking around a singed wall hunk. Debris was spilling out across the sidewalk in heaps. A group of eight walked up: “So, like, are you guys open?”
Yes. This Saturday, Alaska will be open again. You can come back now, everybody.
If you work long, sporadic hours you know the meaning of “a neighborhood bar.” Alaska just celebrated its one year anniversary. Founder/co-owner Skyler Insler just took the entire staff for a celebratory weekend in Atlantic City. And then, fire. Fuck fire.
ALASKA, WE MISSED YOU SO MUCH!!!
All the Brooklyn sites echoed the frustration. On July 4th, hundreds of people showed up at Skyler’s rooftop party. It was a hell of a reunion. Bands. More bands. Donations for Alaska bartenders. Recently having broken his leg, Skyler was limping around on crutches, but we were all smiling. A couple of us showed up to clean up the bar and get ready for the roof repair guys. That floor is so fucking clean, you guys.
I asked Skyler how the bartenders felt.
“They seem pretty excited,” he wrote. “I think we realized we have a bunch of friends that we don’t end up seeing much unless it’s at Alaska, so it’ll be nice to see everyone again. Also, surprised that we’re able to get back up so quickly. Also, probably relieved to get their jobs back!”
For the last few weeks, displaced regulars roamed Brooklyn unsatisfied. I dreamt about red wallpaper with a golden stagg motif and taxidermied fox head in bunny ears, about having a place to go to where they had your drink ready before you reached the bar, where your friends were already waiting for you, where the music was incapable of sucking and that T-Rex song over a very meta Cheers episode projection would make everything better.
The DJs were good. The people were good. Everything was good. You know how that is, right? Shut up. You know.
“I don’t like shitty parties,” Skyler says. “Even just a house party that’s awkward or too bright or not playing the right music… It bothers me, wasting all the good people there on a bad party. So I’ve always tried to create a good time for people. I’ve been throwing big DIY shows/parties for the past five years that I’ve been in NY. A couple of years ago, there were no good bars in the neighborhood that had the kind of atmosphere that I and mostly everyone I know was looking for, and so we decided to take it upon ourselves to build it.”
You feel it when you’re there.
So look at all this ruins porn from the inside of the bar. Make yourself feel sad. Then, come back tomorrow night for drinks specials all night, BBQ burgers and hot dogs, flaming shots and “an INORDINATE AMOUNT of open flame candles!!! FIRE JUGGLERS*!!! * Just kidding(?)”
Now excuse me. I have some feelings to take care off. See you tomorrow.
(Photos: Marina Galperina/ANIMALNewYork, Skyler Insler/Alaska Bar)