The Rotgut is part bar, part living art-installation and experiment, that artist and friend Duke Riley opened up a year ago in Greenpoint with friends Annie Evelyn and Sully in his former tattoo parlor, East River Tattoo. For one year, the secret social club has been open to the public on weekends, hosting karaoke nights, board game nights, and recently, late night baseball (that one, I can’t really explain). The Rotgut represents a lot of the things that I love about my community in New York – creative people who do creative things for no other reason than the creative act itself. The Rotgut really feels like more than just a bar; maybe that’s because you have to know where it is (it’s unmarked and unlisted), you have knock on the window to get in, and when you are there you feel like you are getting away with something; I’m kind of amazed it was able to last even a whole year without falling prey to the authorities. It closes forever this weekend, poetically, after one year of existence and I spent some time photographing the partners and bartenders who helped make it happen.
So here’s to making our own culture in New York!
Like Mickey Rourke’s character in Barfly said (which I had the opportunity to view at the Rotgut a few weeks ago in a special screening hosted by Benh Zeitlin) “…and one for all my friends!”