Muddled, blended, shaken, stirred. These are our favorite cocktail bars with sweet spaces for you to sip your drinks outside, where, somehow, hard alcohol just hits you harder.
Broken Land (Greenpoint, 105 Franklin St. between Greenpoint Ave. and Milton, 718-349-2901) Taking its name from the original Dutch christening of our little piece of Long Island, Broken Land (or Breukelen if you’re so inclined) blends Midwestern small town calm with a twist of NYC cool. From the second your eye catches the carefully crafted chalk board outside (which on this day happened to be an HR Giger tribute complete with an alien slurping down a frozen drink) to your walk up to the bar, the many plants, cozy barstools, lamps, couch and paintings make you feel right at home. Order a drink and head outside where you’re met with old vines crawling up and down the walls, tables, benches, some Christmas lights and an ideal outdoor sitch– the back patio outside splits like a black and white cookie, half drenched in the sunlight, the other half hidden in the shade under the floor of the apartments above. And now the reason you came: the cocktails. There’s “Ryan’s Mom’s Margarita” because every good mom knows how to drink, the “Old Bloke,” ‘cause every old man needs a classy cordial, and a new addition, the frozen piña colada – a delicious blend of fresh pineapple juice, top-notch rum and Coco Lopez hiding under a tiny pink umbrella to take you away to a tropical island.–Jay Honstetter
Huckleberry Bar (Williamsburg, 588 Grand Ave. between Lorimer and Leonard, 718-218-8555) Huckleberry Bar makes some of the most creative and delicious cocktails around, and while you could go ahead and mock their homemade bitters and syrups and seasonal cocktail menu, actually tasting their drinks will turn you into a believer in mixology (okay no, no one actually likes that word). They also have a menu that includes puff-pastry pigs in a blanket and bacon-wrapped dates. Sip on a carefully-made cocktail, or split a bottle of sparkling wine with friends in the lushly landscaped backyard–it really feels like you’re in a hidden garden away from the rest of Williamsburg back there. Local cats often prowl the rooftops and fences surrounding the yard, their eyes turned toward squirrels, birds and each other, completely uninterested in you or your delicious drink.–Annaliese Griffin
Lavender Lake (Gowanus, 383 Carroll St. at Bond St.; 347-799-2154) The huge, bi-level back patio here is not your run-of-the-mill patch of pavement adorned with a forlorn string of Christmas lights–it’s a truly impressive outdoor space that, if it were in Manhattan, would be crawling with so many people that you’d never want to deal with the hassle of going. Not that it doesn’t draw a decent crowd, but fortunately, the vibe is still appealing and laid back. Park it at a picnic table and order an expertly-mixed cocktail and some snacks or a full dinner from the menu (the addictive fried brussels sprouts are not to be missed).–Kate Hooker
Quarter (South Slope, 676 5th Ave. at 20th St., 718-788-0989) When it comes time to head out of doors to consume tasty beverages, non-smokers are often left to, well, have smoke blown in their faces. Not so at Quarter. Its grey stone tables and benches are clearly delineated into smoking or non-smoking sections, although occasionally an errant smoker may light up in the doorway. Quarter serves up a host of artisan cocktails, such as the Greenwood Cooler, a concoction of cucumber, lemon and mint leaves muddled with a touch of simple syrup and a dollop of grapefruit juice and then topped with vodka, or the Plantation, which consists of basil and demarera sugar muddled with gin, Cointreau, lime and grapefruit juices. If you’re feeling a bit peckish, tuck in to an Aussie-style meat pie, which Quarter sources from DUB Pies in Windsor Terrace; or bring in a slice or two from Luigi’s Pizza just up the street. Writers, take note that Quarter has free wi-fi to satisfy your story habit.–Anne Szustek