Feb 22, 2010

Our Favorite Bartender.

Stefan Lutak was the oldest fucking bartender I ever did see. He owned and operated the Holiday Cocktail Lounge, the wonderfully dirty dive bar on St. Mark's Place in East Village. I only met the man once, and he poured me the wrong drink after a near-eternity of waiting for him to haul his old ass back behind the bar.

But he became the thing of legend for a few friends and me.  The wrong drink he poured for us has become the standard beverage for us on our nights out.  Well, for some of us.  The 15-minute wait for our drinks has become over an hour in the many re-tellings of the story of our visit to the Holiday.  The smelliest men's room ever has since become even smellier.  I don't know how that is possible.

Oddly, over the past year or so we've come to love this old man even though we've only seen him that one time.  He was that legendary to us.  And we promised ourselves that we would to back.  You know...when we had some free time to wait forever for the wrong drink.

Well, as you can probably tell by my use of the past tense in the above sentences, Stefan has passed away.  But what I didn't know is that it happened over a year ago!  I mean, he was still alive the night he served us.  I think.  But he took ill and died very shortly after our one and only visit to his bar.  Reading his obituary, however, has made us want to know the man even more.  He was a professional soccer player.  He fought with the Russians before deserting the army after the Battle of Stalingrad.  He served some famous patrons along the way including W.H. Auden, Allen Ginsberg and a certain material girl named Madonna.

Now I wish that I had found that dirty dive bar earlier.  Just to sit at the bar and watch this old man sling drinks.  Like I said, I only met him once, but I'm gonna miss him. 


photo by Joe Margolis, The Villager
___________________________________________________

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Raising a Jameson and Coke to his memory.

16 comments:

Water Logged Canine said...

Great post.

*single tear*

RW said...

yeah I heard of this guy. In the fashion of other famous NY characters... soup nazis and all...

I think I saw something about him online a few years back.

B.E. Earl said...

Doggie - I know you'll miss him.

RW - A great NY character indeed. There's a bunch out there. Ever heard of Kenny Shopsin? Owner and chef (with his family) of Shopsin's Restaurant. Their menu has around 1,000 items on it and they make everything fresh. Hard to believe, but true. And he is an amazing character. Check out the documentary "I Like Killing Flies" to see him in action.

Slyde said...

didnt that dude used to be the Bandleader on Saturday Night Live?

B.E. Earl said...

Slyde - yeah, he looks a bit like that guitarist who was in the band for a while. Played with Hall and Oates too, but I forget his name.

B.E. Earl said...

Slyde - G.E. Smith is the guy's name. But Stefan was old enough to be his grandfather.

hello haha narf said...

dammit, i hated reading that he died and you didn't have the chance to go back. while your one and only meeting was legendary, i bet another encounter would have been even more incredible.

rest in peace, good sir.

B.E. Earl said...

Becky - yeah, when we found out about his passing last week we were not-so-oddly affected by the news. He was a unique dude.

Heff said...

Sorry to hear that. Let's have a drink over it on 02/24/2010 at Heff's Bar And Grill.

B.E. Earl said...

Heff - Aha! The grand re-opening, eh? Looking forward to it.

Slyde said...

yeah, i knew it was g.e. smith, but i figured if i called him that no one would have gotten the reference...

B.E. Earl said...

Slyde - I had a feeling...

Poppy said...

Bittersweet.

Sorry, Earl. But at least you got to know a great man. :)

sybil law said...

G.E Smith! I totally know that guy. Helluva player!
Anyway, that's a cool story. My friend and I want to go back to this little hole we used to go to for the same reason - to see the bartender. We went there about 2 years ago, and it had been 12 years since our last visit, and the guy completely remembered me - AND my drink (Cape Cod). Good ol' George.

B.E. Earl said...

Poppy - we hardly knew him.

Sybil - Nice! And what the hell is a Cape Cod? Gonna have to look that up!

sybil law said...

Cape Cod - Vodka and Cranberry juice. Simple. :) George makes them strong for me.