It’s feeling like spring, so we no longer mind the trek from the Lexington line to Avenue C. We’re walking and Nita keeps asking where we’re headed. Apparently the joke still kills the 34th time around. I reply real fast, “LAVA GINA” (116 Avenue C, 477-9319). LavaGina. LaVaGina. LAVAGINA. Yup, still funny. So thank god we’re here ’cause I’m getting real self-conscious saying this over and over, and yes, let’s sit at the V-shaped bar. José thinks he’s in the Bahamas thanks to all the island music, and Nita swears she spies Daryl Hall’s private eyes watching her, so boy it’s gonna be a night with these two. We try each other’s drinks: The Lava Gina ($10) is as flamboyant and flat as the Oscars, and the Belle-Vue Framboise ($12) is, well, raspberry beer. But the slow burn of the spicy Lavapolitan ($9) radiates the heat of a Sisqó video. We inquire about the Giant Gina ($65), and the bartender points to a 48-ounce martini glass you could swim in. We fight off our impulses with thoughts of stomach pumping. Maybe some other loveless night.
Back on the avenue, we drift toward LOUIS (649 East 9th Street, 673-1190), where José says all the fancy Condé Nasties hang. There we swill strong Belgian beers like Chimay ($7) and Saint Feuillin ($7), which we pour into tiny glasses. It’s a nook of a place, and Nita wants to come back here one lazy afternoon to read Fitzgerald and sip Beaujolais ($5). Maybe ask the cute bartender to look up plash in the dictionary propped against the cash register. Then we notice the photos of Satchmo and hear all the ’20s trumpet ditties, so naturally this is a shrine to Armstrong, and it’s not pronounced Louiss but Louee. But when he sings “Hello Dolly” he says this is Louiss, Dolly, so now we’re really confused, and all the junior Travelers are probably clucking their tongues this very instant.
I say screw Condé Nast and finding new bars with hard-to-pronounce names on Avenue C for this column, let’s just go where we feel like. So we fight the crowd and score one bar stool between the three of us at BARAZA (133 Avenue C, 539-0811). We order mango and guava margaritas ($5) from the harried bartender and pretend we’re on Real World Hawaii and all these jaded hipsters are just our annoying roommates. That gets tiresome, but we manage to nab another precious bar stool and the drinks are candy. We send Nita out armed with all our ATM cards and secret codes because the two of us have to stay and guard the two stools and we’re eyeing a third until she comes back empty-handed. The machines on C have no more cash. We go outside and watch bulldozers chase ghosts hiding in the weedy lots. “What comes after D?” asks José. The Edge of the FDR? The East River all oily and iridescent?