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If you go to The Bookstore in Bethlehem PA…tell’em Mod Betty sent ya. Or just to be on the safe side, make a reservation.

Please Wait For The Bookstore Clerk

But you’re not reserving a book, you’re saving your place to head back in time, to a jazz-era speakeasy. And it’s the cat’s meow, honeybunch!

Classic Cocktail

I heard about The Bookstore from Drew Nugent (of Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society) as we were chatting at John Scioli’s rockin’ retro barbershop. It sounded too cool to be true, a space hidden away in an old building that served artisanal cocktails and nibbles, with a live jazz combo.

So when we heard that Drew and his crew were playing there last weekend we met up with our hip Lehigh Valley pals to check it out.

Our friends had been there before, so they knew where the discreet entrance was, on the side of an old stone building. I wasn’t kidding about the reservation part (call or email is your best bet), as the place is small, but charmingly so, and they just might not have room for your party.

Luckily the vintage stars aligned for us and the darling hostess offered to cobble together 4 seats at the bar for us walkins. We were led behind the curtain to a low ceilinged space lit by oil lamps and candles, which was a cozy scene on a freezing cold night.
Pickled Eggs On The Bar The cocktails and hand picked draught beer selections are presented to you inside books and the barkeeps were happy to answer any questions we had about the menu. We had perfect seats to watch them craft our tasty cocktails behind the bar, while also keeping an eye and an ear on Drew and his band, playing music from the jazz era. Those cats were swingin’ and totally added to the back in time ambiance.

Drew Nugent & The Midnight Society

Now I know the speakeasy trend has been in the big cities for years, but with the cool jazz and handcrafted cocktails The Bookstore was the bee’s knees. A perfect way to step back in time when you’re stepping out on the town.

The Bookstore Speakeasy
336 Adams Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
(610) 867-1100

The Bookstore on Urbanspoon

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I’ve started my new year off right, and one of the best things I’ve done in these past 3 days is to FINALLY go to Sambo’s Tavern in Leipsic DE for crabs! Don’t let the fact that it’s a NASCAR fan frequented tavern scare you off, unless you have folks under 21 in your party, as it is an actual tavern (no kids allowed). Nor should the beer signage be something to dissuade you from entering this classic waterfront establishment.

Sambo's Tavern PBR & Bud

As once you get past that and step inside you can sit at a newspaper covered table and have a view like this:

Water View From Our Table

One of the few Delaware entries in the Jane and Michael Stern books, I’ve known about this place for years, but never stopped by until yesterday when we had to pick up the Retro RoadDog 1/2 way between the beach and home. (Leipsic is right next to Dover/Smyrna in the middle of the state). I was happily surprised to find that it was a Retro Roadmap worthy stop, but since I wasn’t prepared, these photos come courtesy of my cell phone (so modern!)

The tavern itself has been here for 55 years and when we walked in I was immediately smitten with the vintage chairs and clean linoleum floor.

Vintage Chairs and Linoleum

As well as the authentic bar stools and knotty pine bar decor.

Leipsic Tavern Bar

Now I know some people are a bit curious about the name of the tavern, so I thought I’d let you know it was founded by Samuel “Sambo” Burrows and still run by his family. I believe that’s him on the T-shirts available for sale.

Sambo's Tavern T-Shirts

And I thought it was nice to read the Delaware State Senate proclamation stating that he was “The Town of Leipsic Gentleman whose unique tavern is known the world over and has created a colourful segment of the history of our state”

“OK” you say, “so knotty pine and ocean views, vintage tables spread with newspaper are all well and good, but what about dinner?”

This is my reply:

Delaware Crab Feast - Happy Birthday Mod Betty!Real Delaware crabs – YUM!

Nothing says summer in the mid-Atlantic like hunkering down over a tray of crabs, mallet in hand, roll of paper towels by your side, and newspaper there to mop up all the goop. Crack them claws, search for the sweet meat and just beware of the “Devils Fingers” notes my Delaware born and raised honey!

I think this is why Sambo’s has friends and fans from all over the world:

Sambo's Fans Are From Everywhere!

Now a couple of random things you should know- they only serve steamed crabs in season, and they aren’t caked with Old Bay but rather coarse ground salt. Good thing for a tavern owner, as the pitchers of beer we ordered helped, but if a salt-a-holic like me is telling you to make sure you brush most of the salt off, then it’s a good idea to do so. Old Bay can be asked for on the side. Speaking of sides, they were nothing special, but we were there for the crabs, as were many other folks who came in after us.

Sambo's Dining Room

And one last bit of advice- leave yourself plenty of time to devour your crabs, and don’t try to rush through them like we did. A dozen is a lot, even for a couple of crab lovers like Retro Roadhusband and me, so keep that in mind too. RetroBrotherInLaw was pleased to find we had a number of crabs left over, and considered them a fine payment for taking care of RetroRoadDog for us!

(Update 10/1/10 – Sambo’s closes for the season on Sat Oct 30. From the Sambo’s Facebook Page update: Come in to visit us this month and enjoy your last taste of steamed crabs or any other menu favorites. We close for the season on October 30th and will re-open on April 1st, 2011. Make a note of it!)

Sambo’s Tavern
283 Front St
Dover, DE 19901
302-674-9724

(Credit cards accepted for orders over $25)

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From our New York bureau, ace reporter Suzanne Sullivan McGillicuddy has sent us a few of her NY faves. Thanks Suzanne!

This is my favorite dive bar in New York – located in Hell’s Kitchen.  It opened in 1933 – not long after Prohibition had ended.  Don’t let the “grill” in the title fool you…there’s no menu or grill, but they do always offer free hotdogs and cheap beer.

rudys-bar-and-grill-sign-new-york-city
Although some marketers are now trying to call the neighborhood “Clinton” – it will always be Hell’s Kitchen to me.  Picture the Sharks and the Jets dancing between the buildings – parts of the neighborhood haven’t changed at all despite the “Disneyfication” of Times Square which is close by.

If you’re coming to NYC to check out a Broadway show, venture over to 9th Avenue and look for the giant pig statue outside Rudy’s door – he’s currently sporting a mask to protect himself from the Swine Flu.

rudys-bar-and-grill-swine-new-york-city
Try to get a seat at one of the red vinyl booths that have more duct-tape on them than vinyl these days.  Otherwise belly up to the bar for a beer or whiskey.  You’ll be disappointed if you’re looking for a glass of wine or a Cosmo – they are not to be found here.  As with any good dive bar, you are taking your chances in the bathrooms, use at your own risk.  Until recently they had one of the best jukeboxes around, but it has been “upgraded” to one of those internet things – boooo!

Despite the new jukebox – this is definitelly worth a visit when in NYC.

Rudy’s Bar & Grill
627 9th Ave (Near 44th)
New York, NY 10036
(212) 974-9169

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