If you were to walk by Sketch, Jesse Morreale's new wine bar with an old name (the address is technically 101 Broadway, but the entrance is on First Avenue), and see all the candles and wine bottles inside, you might think it was the kind of place where you'd hear a jazz duo or something. The kind of place you'd find in SoHo or the North Beach section of San Francisco.
So when I walked in to Sketch and heard Soul Coughing's "Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago," with its pulsating, repeating acoustic bass line and snappy funk groove, it seemed at first to clash with the surroundings. Then I noticed the PBR alongside the microbrews and foreign beers at the bar and watched two tatted-down couples order a round from a funny, T-shirt-wearing bartender. Another group was choosing wines from Rutherglen and Infinite Monkey Theorem, a winery that's right over on West Fifth Avenue, and ordering high-end salami and cheese from the bar menu. (It also lists Amarena cherries and chocolate — a combo that's a real panty-dropper.)
Sketch may be a wine bar, but in some ways, it feels like the anti-wine bar: beautiful surroundings without the attitude.
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For attitude, you can always cross the street to Barry's on Broadway (58 Broadway), which took over the former home of the Skylark. This joint gets its fair share of hard-core drinkers — and few of them order wine. When I stopped in a while back, Peter Murphy's "Cut You Up" was playing on the jukebox. The guy next to me in the leather biker jacket was convinced it was Iggy Pop, so much so that he wanted to bet me 50 cents. I took the bet but let him keep the two quarters after he found out I was right. He scowled, finished his beer and left.
Club scout: As part of its fifth-anniversary celebrations, the Penthouse Club (4451 East Virginia Avenue) has a bunch of sexy stuff lined up, like Pole Olympix on Thursday, April 2; an amateur search hosted by KBPI's Uncle Nasty on Friday, April 3; and Viva Las Vegas on Saturday, April 4. And if that's not enough, every guest receives a free one-year subscription to Penthouse.
On April 2, The Church (1160 Lincoln Street) brings in electronic wiz Daedelus and the Gaslamp Killer. Beta (1909 Blake Street) has Jeremy Dawson of the electro-rock group Shiny Toy Guns coming in for a DJ set Friday, April 3, and on Saturday, April 4, the club hosts Better Than Sex, an event complete with sex sounds, stripper poles, beds, lights, lasers, sensual dancers and performers, with Nevin, the Crooked Faces, Seth Orin and JonTron at the decks.
Jet Hotel (1612 Wazee Street) recently launched Fishbowl Fridays: Buy a bottle in the lobby lounge on Friday, and your name goes into a drawing to win a locker (a $2,000 value) at Twenty, Jet's exclusive members-only club in the basement of the hotel. And Sugar House (1395 West Alameda Avenue) will be hosting karaoke with a live band on Fridays this month, starting April 3.