06/06/16 9:29am
Photos: Two Yutes

Photos: Two Yutes

When Michael Bruno opened Michael & Ping’s Modern Chinese Take-Out in Gowanus six years ago, the restaurant may have seemed a bit random. Bruno, who grew up in an Italian-American family in Bensonhurst, didn’t actually know that much about cooking Chinese food (and there’s no actual Ping, the second name’s just for effect), but he’d eaten loads of takeout growing up in New York, and saw an opening for an eatery focused on American-style Chinese classics like Kung Pao chicken and beef and broccoli, but made with high-quality local ingredients. Industrial Third Avenue was nowhere near the foodie destination it is today, but it was the perfect location for a delivery-focused spot, given the proximity to Park Slope, Cobble Hill and other booming neighborhoods.

Fast forward six years later: Michael & Ping’s is thriving, while the neighborhood long mocked as a fetid Superfund site is filled with shiny condos, farm-to-table restaurants, and lots of new businesses. For his second enterprise, housed within Michael & Ping’s, Bruno opted for something a little closer to home. 2 Yutes, billed as “a Brooklyn panini pop-up” is “a little more in my wheelhouse,” says Bruno. “It’s all what I grew up eating in Bensonhurst–at places like John’s Deli and Lioni’s. There’s no great sandwich shop in this neighborhood, so I decided to give it a try.” (more…)

02/26/15 9:00am
A quartet plays one of Groupmuse's signature house parties in Crown Heights. Photo: Thomas Grenier

A quartet plays one of Groupmuse’s signature house parties in Crown Heights. Photo: Thomas Grenier

It’s probably not a stretch to say that the very mention of classical music is enough to conjure images of grey-haired couples filing into a concert hall. For those not exposed to this music at home or in school, or for us cheapskates who can’t imagine spending wads of cash on tickets at Carnegie Hall, it’s easy to feel that this world is just not made for us. But what if you could hear the works of Shubert or Beethoven played in your friend’s apartment, or the home of a stranger, for a small donation? And by played, I mean live, by a real musician, not just on someone’s shabby chic record player.

If this sounds a little far-fetched, you probably haven’t heard about Groupmuse yet. Founded in 2013 by Sam Bodkin as a way to “sneak classical music back into the diets of young culture seekers,” the site connects classical music fans, and those curious about the genre, to professional musicians and apartment dwellers with the space to host chamber music concerts that anyone can attend. There are so many Groupmuses happening in New York right now, that on any given night you can find a free concert house party to crash. Gatherings last long after the evening’s music has finished, and each event is BYOB.

“Music has an inherent social quality: You are obliged to engage with the scene, if you are listening to live music,” says Bodkin. And classical music, he says, has a similar social scene. “It’s just antithetical to youth values. People often have an associative problem with it.”


10/30/14 1:40pm


We started Indie Media Camp last year as a way to bring independent media makers together to network with and learn from one another. It was such a hit that we’ve decided to make it an annual event, and IMC 2014 returns to Gowanus on Wednesday, Nov. 19 from 10am-6pm at 501 Union. (more…)

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10/20/14 10:00am
© Clay Williams / http://claywilliamsphoto.com

These bottles lining the back bar of the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club contain barrel-aged Barr Hill Gin, soon to debut in a cocktail called The Bee’s Knees. Photo: Clay Williams

Bar: The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club
Bartender: Tim Judge
Favorite mixers of the moment: Falernum, coconut water
What he drinks when he’s not working: French wine

Before the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club opened in Gowanus, shuffleboard was an activity you associated with Florida retirement homes. Now Royal Palms is one of the hottest spots in South Brooklyn, best known for its sprawling shuffleboard courts, but it also has one of the borough’s most sophisticated cocktail programs. Designed by general manager Tim Judge, a longtime South Brooklyn resident who previously co-owned Sweetwolf’s in Park Slope, the cocktails are all “vacation-inspired,” but they are also heavy on craft, employing homemade syrups and small-batch spirits, some of which they’re barrel-aging themselves.

“When I first tasted [Vermont-based] Barr Hill Gin, which is essentially an old Tom gin that’s finished with the farm’s raw honey, I was curious what a heavy charred barrel would offer. So we gave it a try,” Tim said. “This gin is made from mostly juniper whose flavor tastes fantastic after some time in wood. It changes the color and complexity wonderfully.”

The gin, which Tim started barreling in February, will debut soon in a cocktail called The Bee’s Knees. He’s also using the same barrels to age mezcal, adding Luxardo marischino liqueur and Chartreuse for a drink called The Last Word. Using the same barrels for the gin and the mezcal means that you’ll be able to taste the background notes of juniper in the aged mezcal cocktail; the aging also downplays the sometimes-overwhelming smokiness of the mezcal.

Judge recently invited Brooklyn Based to a tasting and made our heads spin with selections from the Royal Palms’ curated cocktail list. We asked him to spill a few of his craft secrets. (more…)

10/06/14 9:37am


There’s just no such thing as 9-to-5 anymore. New York’s happy hour scene, however, hasn’t evolved to match the modern workday–most still start and end early. We’ve rounded up the best happy hours that stretch past 7pm, because nobody deserves a discounted drink more than someone who works a ten-hour day.

The Bearded Lady, 686A Washington Ave., Prospect Heights Here, happy hour isn’t over until the Bearded Lady sings. This stylish Prospect Park corner spot may not offer the cheapest drinks in town, but their cocktails are the real deal–no watered down well drinks here. Until 8pm on weekdays all cocktails are $8. Sidle up to the spacious bar or grab a table and sip an Old Fashioned or a Ginger Prince–a tasty take on the Dark and Stormy. The menu rotates, but expect a whimsically-named selection, heavy on rum or tequila-based concoctions. On weekend nights–including Sunday–The Bearded Lady hosts a $1 oyster happy hour after midnight, offering succulent locally-sourced slurpers.

Boxcar Lounge, 168 Avenue B (between 10th and 11th), East Village The East Village may have undergone a major transformation in the last several years, but the Boxcar Lounge is the same as it ever was. This unpretentious spot offers a happy hour every weeknight from 6-10pm. That’s right, until 10pm, all drinks are two-for-one. The same deal applies on Saturdays and Sundays from 6-8pm. So bring a friend and get a buzz on with what the bartender might claim is the best Manhattan in town. We’ll let you decide whether or not that’s true. On warmer nights, have a seat in the backyard garden. Otherwise, park yourself at a worn leather barstool and chat up some colorful, friendly locals. (more…)

09/30/14 8:57am
Practicing archery is actually surprisingly relaxing. Photo: Brooklyn Based

Practicing archery is actually surprisingly relaxing. Photo: Brooklyn Based

Welcome to Date Night, our new monthly series where we suggest a date that will shake up your night out routine. Whether or not it’s the kind of date that might end up between the sheets is entirely up to you–we’re just here to tell you about a good time that’s ready to be had somewhere in Brooklyn. 

The date: My new favorite night out with my husband is a trip to Gotham Archery in Gowanus, followed by dinner somewhere in the neighborhood (he favors Dinosaur BBQ, my vote is for Littleneck). If you really wanted to gild the lily, you could even follow dinner with a barrel-aged cocktail and a round of shuffleboard at The Royal Palms (or check their food truck schedule for dinner options there), and then a cone at Ample Hills. But let’s start simple.

If archery sounds like something that will make you feel frustrated and grumpy and un-datelike, take it from me, it won’t. I am the world’s worst sport at doing new things that I’m not good at, and I’m also competitive, and married to someone who is great at target shooting. I was sure the whole archery experiment would end in tears, or at the very least, bickering. Instead, it was mellow and fun and left me wanting to go back.  (more…)

08/15/14 10:48am
photo (13)

The pork char siu at 2 Duck Goose comes served with seasonal accompaniments. Photo: Kate Hooker

Many years ago, I spent a college summer living with my aunt and uncle and their two young kids in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Among the many things about this arrangement that benefitted me, I had access to the excellent homecooked Cantonese food prepared by my cousins’ babysitter, a neighbor and Chinese immigrant named Yuan Yuan.

I’m happy to report that the soy sauce chicken at 2 Duck Goose, a new Cantonese spot that just opened on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street, is just as good as the version I ate in my aunt and uncle’s kitchen so long ago.

In particular, I remember Yuan Yuan’s soy sauce chicken– drumsticks and wings marinated and simmered for the better part of a day in dark brewed soy sauce, ginger, and garlic until the meat and skin turned deep mahogany. It was a revelation, salty and tender and equally delicious when served hot or cold, which I discovered when I stumbled in one night after too many drinks and found leftovers in the fridge. I begged Yuan Yuan to teach me to make it and she graciously agreed, but it was one of those maddeningly vague lessons you get from an innately skilled chef, with instructions like “add some spices” and “cook until you feel like it’s done,” that was way over my head at the time. I think I tried once in vain to make it for my roommates when I got back to school and promptly gave up the dream. (more…)

05/21/14 9:00am
Tue May 27, 2014


The premise of Ask Roulette, a live show and podcast, is simple–you get to ask a stranger a question, any question, on stage in front of an audience. The catch? You have to answer a question first. Ask Roulette is coming to The Bell House for its first Brooklyn show, and bringing Chuck Klosterman, of Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs and The Ethicist fame, as well as Jay Smooth of WBAI and Ill Doctrine, along for the ride. We have a pair of tickets to give away. Email us with the subject line “Ask Roulette” and the question you would ask a stranger, and we’ll pick a winner at noon on Friday. Or, play it safe and get your tickets now.

01/23/14 12:39pm

Last night we got a sneak peek at the soon-to-open Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Gowanus. They don’t have a hard open date yet (expect to wait another week to 10 days), but we can report that even on an icy night it feels like a seaside resort inside. Boats drinks, comfy cabanas and shuffleboard lanes galore. See you on the court!

UPDATE: This just in–the Royal Palms is opening up slots in a Tuesday night shuffleboard league after their Monday night league sold out. Sign up now–this is sure to fill up quickly.