NEW YORK – While visiting here, I found myself on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village looking for a bar. After surveying my surroundings, I determined that avoiding a touristy college bar was not an option, so I admitted defeat. But then something caught my eye.
It was a large white rabbit painted onto a solid black door set below street level, accessible by a rather dangerous-looking staircase with steep, narrow steps.
In small letters that looked like something plastered on a mailbox were the words “Rabbit Club Craft Beer Bar.” Off to the side, it said, “6 PM.” It was after 6 p.m., and I was intrigued. The lack of windows triggered an instinct to pull out my phone and hunt around the Internet to see what was behind that ominous black door. But then the explorer in me perked up and said, “Just open the door.” So I did.
My fellow travelers and I entered a narrow, dark room that was only slightly longer than the bar within. The beer list was impressive, to say the least. It was clear that whoever ran this place knew beer. Enter Drew Bushong, owner of 124 Rabbit Club (124 MacDougal St., 212-254-0575) and former manager of the CBGB bar.
Turns out he had just returned from Belgium and has such a well-curated bottle list ($6-$24) that you could close your eyes, point your finger to a random spot and undoubtedly be very pleased with your selection. Rabbit Club’s menu is categorized by country with a focus on Belgian beers. Gaverhopke / Tired Hands Bittersweet Symphony, De Ranke XX Bitter, Rodenbach Grand Cru and Ichtegem’s Grand Cru were just a few of the beers we sampled.
After a few moderately strong Belgian beers, we began chatting with the bar’s regulars, who all asked one question when they found out we were from Chicago. “How the heck did you find this place?”
Well, things were looking down, then suddenly ...