02/26/17 7:20pm
Photo: Velo

The No. 3 combines whiskey, tomato and basil. Photo: Bar Velo

Sometimes you’re in the mood for a cocktail, but you’re not in the mood for a bar. It happens to the best of us, especially when you’ve been living in Brooklyn for a few years and the thrill of elbowing your way past a crowd of post-collegiate revelers with no fear of hangovers for a beer-and-shot-special has faded.

Fortunately for people like us, there is no shortage of grown-up restaurants that can easily double as watering holes. Bar Velo in Williamsburg is the perfect example of such an oasis. In the former Moto space under the elevated JMZ track, Bar Velo offers well-crafted cocktails in an aesthetically pleasing setting that hasn’t changed much at all since Moto closed in the fall of 2016.

Photo: Bar Velo

It’s an inviting bar. Photo: Bar Velo

The spirit of Moto lives on at Bar Velo because it’s under the same ownership, and really, it’s more of an update than a wholesale transformation. Owner John McCormick wanted to re-open the restaurant with a fully vegetarian menu, but the space itself is nearly indistinguishable, save some new cycling-themed design touches. The striking oblong bar that serves as the space’s centerpiece remains intact, and that’s where we recommend you settle in for some adult beverages in the company of adults. As a bonus, the round-edged bar means you can get away with a party of more than two and still include everyone in the conversation. (more…)

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12/12/16 2:54pm
A Hinterlands tee might help you look local. Photo: Hinterlands

A Hinterlands tee might help you look local. Photo: Hinterlands

Unless you live on the south side of Prospect Park there’s a good chance you’ve never explored Kensington, Windsor Terrace or Ditmas Park. These perfectly lovely residential neighborhoods are not quite a destination for Brooklynites who fear long haul subway rides with transfers. There’s also not a heck of a lot going on nightlife-wise in this neck of the woods, a big reason why Hinterlands, which opened this summer on Church Avenue, was greeted with cheers and wide open arms by locals salivating for a watering hole to call their own.

The name indicates self-awareness of Hinterlands’ geographical niche, and the owners, Matt Kuhn, Sharlene Wellington, and Stuart Wellington, co-host of The Flop House comedy podcast, and staff are as happy to see you as the neighborhood was to see them.

Self-described as a dive bar, Hinterlands would be easy to overlook in, say, the East Village or Williamsburg with its modestly kitschy decor, surplus of cheap beer, and a decidedly non-exotic rotating cocktail list that stretches the boundaries of what could be considered “seasonal” (there were *two* ginger beer drinks on the rocks in early December, which felt more boat drink-y than holiday festive). The lights and music are kept low, the better for having an actual conversation with your date or chatting up your barstool neighbor. There’s wifi and outlets at the L-shaped bar and the narrow counter seating on the opposite walls, bar-speak for “laptops are welcome, within reason.” A small table-and-chair seating area in the next room leads to a garden, which stays open in the colder months for those seeking fresh air or nicotine.

That combination–wifi, mellow volume, backyard, should be enough convincing for a certain drinkers to make this their new favorite place. For the rest of us there’s also the mostly well executed cocktail list, cheap beers and friendly patrons. Plus sandwiches.

(more…)

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11/01/16 12:31pm
You can drink this mead on its own, or it makes an amazing cocktail base. Photo: Enlightenment Wines

You can drink this mead on its own, or it makes an amazing cocktail base. Photo: Enlightenment Wines

Just when you thought Bushwick had everything, a new meadery opens its doors. Now all the neighborhood needs is a blacksmith and good roast mutton joint.

Englightment Wines owners Raphel Lyon and Arley Marks teamed up to open Honey’s, a meadery, tasting room and event space dedicated to the ancient libation. Mead has traditionally been known as a sweet, even cloying honey wine, but Lyon has created a menu of bone-dry wines using raw honey, as well as locally-sourced black currants, cherries and maple. They’re delicious on their own and even better when used as a base for Marks’ cocktails.

Arley Marks and Raphael Lyon make mead and mead cocktails in Bushwick. Photo: Enlightenment Wines

Arley Marks and Raphael Lyon make mead and mead cocktails in Bushwick. Photo: Enlightenment Wines

Honey’s is located in an industrial area of Bushwick–not far from where the new Glasslands venue called Elsewhere will soon arrive. They have a license to serve drinks and to sell bottles of mead, designed by Lyon, with the help of friends, to the converted, which range from $25 to $30. (more…)

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09/26/16 12:50pm
Photo: Seth Piracci

Photo: Seth Piracci

Typically when you read about a new bar, the review lingers over the carefully crafted cocktail list, the house-made bitters, the collection of rare mezcals the owner traveled to Oaxaca to get. There’s no shortage of exotic concoctions lit by Edison bulbs in Brooklyn. But the neighborhood bar, the place you go to run into people you know, with solid drinks, a good happy hour, and a comfortable vibe, those we could use a few more of around these parts. Welcome to The Starliner.

Opened in January of 2016 in a former tae kwon do studio a short walk from the Myrtle-Wykoff train station in Bushwick, the well-appointed space is roomy enough to comfortably accommodate big crowds on weekends, but warm enough that you’ll feel just as comfortable settling in for a quiet early evening cocktail. The Starliner’s interior design could be described as fifties diner-meets-Brooklyn-hipster, with oversized red leather booths–including one built into the bar–against tiled walls and clean hardwood floors and matching ceilings. The spacious backyard area has ample seating in the open area as well as a converted garage boasting a giant American flag wall mural which signals Starliner’s work-hard, play-hard ethos. (more…)

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09/19/16 11:14am

lellasign

There is no shortage of red sauce Italian cuisine in the Graham Avenue section of Williamsburg. Lella Alimentari though, may be the only Italian spot in the neighborhood that makes you forget you’re in Brooklyn. The bustling grocery-café-piadineria is run by the delightfully, aggressively Italian husband-and-wife team of Massimiliano Nanni and Paola Citterio, who treat it as second home.

Italian staples like dried pasta, olive oil and canned tomatoes line the walls, while customers shout their orders over the sound of the espresso machine and a tall counter filled with baked goods and deli staples. Lella Alimentari is busiest in the mornings, when locals come in for strong coffee and maybe a sit-down breakfast of granola with fruit and yogurt or a frittata of the day (a bargain at $5 for a hefty slice). Lella is open all day to serve their specialty–piadine, an Italian flatbread, thin but dense with a doughy center and crisp outer layer. (more…)

08/01/16 12:04pm
You really cannot beat the view at Brooklyn Barge in Greenpoint. Photo: Ellen Killoran

You really cannot beat the view at Brooklyn Barge in Greenpoint. Photo: Ellen Killoran

If you’re not among that privileged group of New Yorkers who head out of town for the month of August, not to worry: The Brooklyn Barge in Greenpoint is here to serve all your staycation needs. You may have heard that this bar-on-a-boat is prohibitively packed during the evening hours, and indeed, earlier in the summer the crowds were overwhelming. But on two recent visits in late July, the barge was perfectly pleasant, a relaxing riverside spot for slightly overpriced cocktails and a truly spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline. (more…)

06/20/16 11:47am
Nowadays is more like a park where booze is allowed than your typical bar. Photo: Nicholas Rinaldi

Nowadays is more like a park where booze is allowed than your typical bar. Photo: Nicholas Rinaldi

Not quite a beer garden, Nowadays is probably best described as a park where drinking is encouraged. Any discussion of Nowadays should also mention upfront that this place is pretty out of the way, but it’s more than manageable from the L train–the hard-to-spot entrance is about a five minute walk from the Halsey stop, in a neighborhood you probably wouldn’t have visited five years ago. (And for anyone wondering, the area feels as safe as Morgantown.)

On an average evening at Nowadays groups of friends cluster at picnic or cafe tables, beers and hot dogs in hand. On busier nights, you may have to wait in line for a bit at the bar, which is separate from the food truck selling a surprisingly sophisticated menu of upscale street food. The beer menu is a rotating offering of regional brews, like Narraganset and Lagunitas, that run $6 or $7 a pop. Wine, red and (sometimes) white sangria, and prosecco on tap are available for $8, with bottles also available (but strangely, pitchers of beer are not). This is the kind of place you might worry would be cash only, but cards are accepted–which is a good idea, as the nearest ATM machine is blocks away. It’s a solid, reasonably priced selection, but we wish they had a full liquor license for cocktails. (more…)

05/23/16 11:48am
Falcon Laundry is courting locals for rooftop cocktails. Photo: Kelsey Smith

Falcon Laundry is courting locals for rooftop cocktails. Photo: Kelsey Smith

Williamsburg has a new waterfront watering hole. Falcon Laundry has cast itself as a new neighborhood staple, a place for in-the-know locals more than a go-to spot for tourists spilling over from Smorgasburg. Built inside a–you guessed it–former laundry, which also took a turn as a steel fabrication mill, Falcon Laundry is a two-level bar and restaurant with rooftop patio drinking just in time for summer.

Take a seat at the long bar if you’re a party of one or two, or settle in to one of the comfortable green leather booths tucked against alternating walls of brick and wood paneling, for unrushed table service with a bigger group. You’ll likely also notice that the prices are surprisingly gentle for this part of Brooklyn. There are several choices on the wine list that are less than $10 a glass; the rosé from Wolffer Estate in the North Fork is an especially great deal at $8. Happy hour runs until 8pm with a rotating cast of wines for $6 and beers for as low as $5, with many locally-sourced choices in the mix. (more…)

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05/10/16 11:43am
Seeing Brooklyn by boat offers a whole new perspective on the borough Photo: Circle Line

Seeing Brooklyn by boat offers a whole new perspective on the borough Photo: Circle Line

You probably think of the Circle Line, the floating equivalent of double-decker tour buses, as the sole domain of tourists or newbies. Not anymore. The sightseeing cruise line recently launched a Hello Brooklyn cruise, which is a surprisingly relaxing and information-packed river ride that shows you a side of our borough you likely haven’t seen before.

The two-hour cruise boards every afternoon at 2pm from Pier 83, on the West Side, motoring down the Hudson to the East River and returning at 4:30pm. While Brooklyn is the intended highlight, there’s plenty to see on the other side of Manhattan, including Lady Liberty, where the cruise pauses long enough to get a good photo. The two-decker boat then bends on its way to the East River, hugging the waterfront along South Brooklyn neighborhoods you usually only view from land: Gowanus, Red Hook, Sunset Park and Bay Ridge.

(more…)

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03/17/16 12:13pm
How about a refreshing Lawnmower Man cocktail to go with a double feature? Photo: Kenneth Vanhooser

How about a refreshing Lawnmower Man cocktail to go with a double feature? Photo: Kenneth Vanhooser

Now that Bushwick has Syndicated, its very own restaurant-slash-movie-theater, there’s no reason to ever leave Bogart Street.

Right across from Roberta’s Pizza and steps from the Morgan stop on the L train, Syndicated has taken its cue from Williamsburg’s beloved Nitehawk theater (which was inspired, no doubt, by the Alamo Drafthouse theater, which is due to arrive in Brooklyn later this spring), and gone a bit flashier in attempts to keep you there for dinner AND a movie AND cocktails. First conceived of by former location scout Tim Chung, Syndicated resides in a massive converted warehouse space that boasts a dining room and bar area with 20-foot ceilings, recently packed wall-to-wall on Oscar night for a viewing party that was Bushwick’s answer to the Vanity Fair afterparty (ok, maybe not *quite*).

Chef Bret Marcis of Campanile and Rose Water has created a menu of upscale American comfort food, from greasy favorites like beer-battered mushrooms ($8) and loaded tater tots ($11) to proper meals like braised short ribs with horseradish creme ($26). Cinema-inspired cocktails like the Red Rum, with aperol and Peychaud’s bitters and The Lawnmower Man, vodka, green juice, carrot juice and chili syrup, are $13 apiece. (more…)

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