Nearly everything about Johnny’s defies pigeonholing: Call its patrons beer swillers, then watch them ask the bartender for the martini menu; call its jukebox Motown, then Jane’s Addiction starts blaring; call it a straight bar and the fags come out of the woodwork. Even its location doesn’t quite jibe: to one side, swanky Cafe de Bruxelles; across Greenwich Avenue, sporty Equinox; and in the middle, Johnny’s, the dive with the neon-red “BAR” sign and the walk-up window. Inside, drinkers and drunks are mixing like the tequila and amaretto of the Black Cow shot ($3.25), smoothly yet a little strangely. Conversations heat up as social barriers melt away over glasses of Guinness ($5) and Anchor Steam ($4.50). The punk, the computer programmer, and the stand-up comedian are cooing about how everyone seems so welcome here—but what’s that sign on the cash register say, “BUMS 645-3220”? Maybe some are more welcome than others. A happy hour speaks volumes about a place, and Johnny’s has seven of them, starting at noon with two-for-ones and switching to $3.25 well drinks from 3 to 7 p.m. At these prices, you can afford to buy a total stranger a beer and see to what absurd heights the conversation leads.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 21, 2004