Not the most interesting ghost sign, but the Holiday Cocktail Lounge, located at 75 St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan, was a dive bar with a storied past, reputedly once the hangout of W.H Auden, Allen Ginsberg and Madonna, and more recently my group of [relatively undistinguished] friends.
You can already imagine the story. Stefan Lutak, a Ukrainian immigrant, bought the place in 1965 and seemingly tended bar every single night until he passed away in 2009.
The New York Times once called Holiday “a bad-smelling little bar” that was “threadbare and downscale.” It was one of a dying breed of NYC establishments that didn’t have a theme or high concept, just a low ceiling, capacious bar, decent jukebox, not very comfortable booths, and an old man holding court.
Supposedly Madonna wrote Holiday about this place. I’ll let you be the judge; this innocuous pop confection could be about anything:
The building was sold in 2012 to the founder of snack brand Pirate’s Booty. Plans seem to be in the works for a new restaurant in this space, which will retain some of the Holiday’s decor as well as recently unearthed details from its earlier days as the Ali Baba Lounge.
Every time I go home, I make it a point to walk past this place to see what’s up, but it was still closed on my last visit.
Love me a good, neighborhood dive bar. Filled with celebrities.
That place was filled with ghosts. “They don’t make ’em like they used to.”