Wednesday, December 1, 2010

'Mystery' Galavant

Last night I took on 10, count 'em, ten, Mystery Shops for one of the firms that I work with. This time I was assigned a number of restaurants and bars to audit whether they carry more than four dozen various brands of liquor and wine. In addition to a $9.50 bounty per "shop," I was allowed $7 for a free drink—at each destination. Yowsah.

Nice try, but in Manhattan, these high-end haunts charge at least $9 for a beverage. Add on $1 tip, and I would be cutting into my income had I indulged, not to mention the fact that by the time I gulped down nearly a dozen drinks, I'd have been stumbling home by the end of the night. I prudently had one glass of wine at stop 1, then dismissed the idea of drunking my... uh, drinking my way through the city.

My journey began in Chelsea at a gay bar I know well (see red stars on map), followed by seven restaurants in the glorious Meatpacking district, all within a five-block span. Next, I hopped the subway and headed to the bottom of the island, for two joints in Battery Park.

All said, over the course of four hours, I pocketed a bounty of nearly $70 (some of the bars were closed for private events, thus no payoff), all the while having a fine time in the big city.The beautiful Standard hotel by night... almost spooky with the night-time contrast.Meatpacking District by the light of the moon... and damp streets...The surprisingly tacky Christmas window at high-end Meatpacking retailer Stella McCartney.Heading down to South Ferry—the last stop on the subway line—offered that rare glimpse of a completely empty car...Final stop... where one catches the Staten Island Ferry at the tip of Manhattan. What a fab sign to welcome the willing.