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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12/04/16 10:14am
Cardiff Giant serves New York State-made beer, wine and liquor. Photo:

Cardiff Giant serves New York State-made beer, wine and liquor. Photo:

There’s a fernet that is distilled in Brooklyn, and you can drink it at Cardiff Giant in Clinton Hill. The bitter, minty, Italian-style digestif, just two months old, launched at this unassuming bar on Myrtle Avenue in a partnership with Industry City Distillery in Sunset Park.

This close relationship between a small business and a craft producer exemplifies the mission at Cardiff Giant. The bar opened last year with an intensely local premise: all the alcohol they stock–from beer to cider to wine to liquor–is made in New York state. And since the majority of craft producers only make small batches, the bar’s inventory is constantly changing giving products like Arcane Fernet a distinct home.

Owner Steven Baird, who is also a managing partner at Owl Farm in Park Slope, said that he saw the growth of New York-produced alcohol and beer as a big opportunity, an expansion that has made Cardiff Giant a viable business.

“This would not have been possible five years ago,” said Baird. (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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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…)

05/31/16 11:07am
A row of hammocks at the ready at Rooftop Reds, for their "Hammock Happy Hour". Photo: Nicole Davis

A row of hammocks at the ready for happy hour at Rooftop Reds. Photo: Nicole Davis

The Brooklyn Navy Yard has been getting a lot of attention lately, with Fly by Night, the recent announcement that Brooklyn Brewery will open a new facility there in 2018 and a whole summer’s worth of events (including sunset yoga and dinners) underway at the Brooklyn Grange.

What may have flown under your radar are two new Navy Yard spots for outdoor drinking, Rooftop Reds and the new tasting room at Kings County Distillery, The Gatehouses. The latter has been open for cocktails on Friday and Saturday nights for several weeks now, and, as of yesterday, will be serving whiskey pours ($8-16), flights ($16 for three whiskeys, $30 for five), and cocktails ($8-14, and if you think that whiskey is too heavy for summer, remember the mint julep, $12) Monday to Saturday all summer long. Snacks from Vinegar Hill House and Crown Finish Caves and whiskey popsicles made in collaboration with People’s Pops round out the menu.

The real clincher on Kings County is the location. The tasting room is in the gatehouse at the Sands Street entrance to the Navy Yard (where Flushing meets Navy–glamorously close to the NYPD vehicle impound lot). Basically, it looks like a castle. This is the type of weird old building that is just such a pleasure to gawk at, amidst all the murderously boring glass and steel towers rising around the city right now. Also, you will definitely know that you are in the right place when you arrive, which is a slightly more challenging proposition when it comes to King’s County’s neighbor, Rooftop Reds. (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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03/07/16 12:49pm
There is an actual shipwreck in the Shipwreck Lounge. Photo: Shipwreck Lounge

There is an actual shipwreck in the Shipwreck Lounge. Photo: Shipwreck Lounge/Bryan Sargent

The Shipwreck Lounge is not the only tiki bar in Brooklyn. Nor is it the only late night speakeasy. But it just might be the only watering hole that plunges you so deeply into its carefully constructed world that your reality shifts before you even take a sip of drink.

Tucked behind an unremarkable set of tagged-up gray steel doors on an industrial section of Troutman Street in Bushwick, the Shipwreck Lounge doubles as part of the set for The Grand Paradise, the new immersive theater and dance experience by Third Rail Projects, the masterminds behind Then She Fell. Neil Patrick Harris and Jon Hamm have both been out to Bushwick to experience it, and the show has garnered attention from NPR and The New York Times. (more…)

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01/18/16 2:10pm
At Yours Sincerely the cocktails come out of the tap and into a beaker. Photo: Yours Sincerely

At Yours Sincerely the cocktails come out of the tap and into a beaker. Photo: Yours Sincerely

The newest chapter in New York’s continuing obsession with all things boozy is the draft cocktail. They’re pre-mixed and then poured, either straight up or over ice, from a tap system, quickly delivering a fancy cocktail that has also had ample time for its flavors to mingle. Yours Sincerely, a booze-forward venue that opened next door to its sister bar/restaurant Dear Bushwick on New Year’s Eve, has cornered the market on this prep-intensive style of bartending, and while the conceit may seem a wee bit precious, the prices are definitely not.

Your Sincerely offers a mind-boggling array of high-octane cocktails on tap–close to two dozen–along with cocktail shots and build-your-own concoctions, all for $8 or less. The Morgantown speakeasy isn’t the first Brooklyn bar to feature draft cocktails, you can find them at Loosie Rouge, Donna and King’s County Imperial, among others, but it is the first to showcase pre-mixed poison as its main draw. Though a ton of work goes on behind the scenes to make this happen, draft cocktails mean a short turnaround time between order and first sip. But it can also mean a hangover if you’re not careful. (more…)

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