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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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…)

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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07/28/15 11:28am
The Cherry and Balsamic Shrub at James in Prospect Heights can be served with or without alcohol. Photo: James

The Cherry and Balsamic Shrub at James in Prospect Heights can be prepared with or without alcohol. Photo: James

A few years ago a friend and I were at a fancy bar where they encouraged you to give the bartender a vague description of what you wanted to drink, and presto-magic!–she would create a brand new cocktail on the spot. “I want something icy, fruity and fantastic,” said my date, and some minutes later he was sipping a drink that combined fresh blackberries, gin and a blackberry shrub over pebble ice. It was indeed icy, fruity and fantastic. Ever since I’ve ordered any drink on a cocktail menu listing a shrub as an ingredient.

Shrubs combine vinegar, fruit and sugar, as well as herbs, spices, vegetables and other enhancements to make a sweet-tart syrup. Combined with soda water or mixed into a cocktail they’re a refreshing punch of flavor that makes the most of seasonal produce. Don’t let the vinegar deter you, or the hisptery mixologist vibes for that matter, shrubs are easy to make and delicious to drink. (more…)

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01/27/15 9:48am
Ward off winter and its non-blizzards with a citrusy toddy. Photo: Planning for Paris

Ward off winter and its non-blizzards with a citrusy toddy. Photo: Planning for Paris

Snowmageddon didn’t bring us historic levels of snowfall and keep us trapped inside our apartments for days, but we definitely prepared ourselves for holing up with chili and hot drinks. If you stocked your bar in hopes of a snow day, put it to good use with some of our favorite bartenders’ winter-appropriate cocktails. The good news is, if you don’t have one of the ingredients on the list you won’t have to dig through a wall of snow to get to your liquor store. You could also see if your neighbor has some of the items below in their larder–you’ll be able to repay the favor with a delicious drink. (more…)

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05/20/14 3:01pm
Sun May 25, 2014

Photo via Sound Liberation Front

Rub-A-Grub returns this Sunday at Do or Dine. Photo: Sound Liberation Front


One of the best days I had last summer was at the Rub-A Grub party I went to in the backyard of Do or Dine. A balmy afternoon/evening spent relaxing outdoors with good friends, fried deviled eggs and amazing mid-’90s hip hop is pretty much my idea of heaven anyway, and there was a fun, electric quality to the crowd that simmered all day as everyone milled around until the sun went down, when the dance floor exploded in rhythm with the beat. This year, the Rub-A-Grub series is back for its third season, and will start things off this Sunday with sets from top-flight I Love Vinyl DJs like Amir Abdullah, Scribe, Ge-ology and John Oliver and three rounds of food and drinks from the talented and irreverent Do or Dine chefs. The fun starts at 2pm and will run until late night, so plan accordingly and pick up a ticket here–entry is $15 but a $30 VIP ticket also includes two food items and two drinks. Trust me, you want the food at Do or Dine. If you can’t make it this weekend, Rub-A-Grub will be back for Fourth of July and Labor Day. –KH

12/03/13 10:00am
Fri December 6, 2013

From hot toddies to egg nog and the occasional swig of peppermint schnapps, there are plenty of seasonal spirits to imbibe during the holiday season. Punch remains a popular drink to toast with this time of year–quite a feat for a drink that’s first recorded recipes started showing up in the 17th century. In honor of its ongoing, alcoholic appeal, City Reliquary is throwing the first punch party of the season this Friday night. Part competition, part party, the event will pit local booze makers New York Distilling Company, The Noble Experiment and Kings County Distilling in a head-to-head holiday punch-off competition. Your $25 ticket gets you one cup of the punch of your choice (and all additional drinks are by donation), as well as caroling and a Swedish drum and voice chorus performance. If punch isn’t your particular drink of choice, warm mugs of mulled Swedish glögg (wine), with or without the added vodka, will also be available. Kids get in free, proceeds go to the museum and a good time will be had by all–seriously, how could it not?

12/02/13 7:00am

Brooklyn’s fastest growing restaurant scene has got to be Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, where dozens of new eateries have opened over the past few years and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The past few months have seen several great new places debut along the booming corridor–from brisket to boar, here’s what to eat on Franklin this winter.

fez

It was worth the wait for Fez Hummus Bar to finally open on Franklin Avenue, bringing traditional Middle Eastern cuisine to Crown Heights. Photo: Fez Hummus Bar

1. Fez Hummus Bar
This long-awaited addition to the southern end of Franklin Avenue finally opened its doors a few weeks ago. The stylish eatery, anchored by an array of colorful Moroccan-style hanging lanterns, is a nice, low-key date spot or easy place to grab a snack alone at the bar–a much-needed option in the neighborhood. The menu is focused on Middle Eastern small plates, including several varieties of excellent, hearty hummus, along with a few larger options. I particularly like the inclusion of the Israeli breakfast staple shakshuka–over easy eggs stewed in tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic–to the dinner menu. Fez serves beer and wine and plans to add lunch and brunch service soon.
798A Franklin Ave. (between Eastern Parkway and Lincoln Pl.), 917-893-8770 (more…)

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