What it is: Skinny Dennis is a self-described honkey-tonk, a country bar with a warm divey vibe. The brick and wood panel walls are covered in Western memorabilia and there’s free live country music every night.
Why we love it: Skinny Dennis really commits to its country atmosphere. You’ll spot a mounted boar’s head, a 1984 F-100 pickup truck seat, a 100-CD jukebox, and, behind the bar, a haunting portrait of Willie Nelson. They offer 18 draft lines of mostly American craft beers, in addition to a selection of whiskeys. Skinny Dennis is most famous for its free nightly live country music, so come prepared to dance.
Who to bring: Bring your homesick friend from Omaha, bring a crowd that’s ready to two step, bring your roommate who would be an Olympian if the Olympic Committee would just finally recognize shuffleboard bowling.
What to order: If 18 drafts aren’t enough, Skinny Dennis’s most popular drink is Willie’s Frozen Coffee, made with bourbon and coffee from Oslo Coffee up the block. There’s also Bourbon Sweet Tea, served in a 24 oz mason jar, naturally.
Fun fact: The bar is named for Skinny Dennis Sanchez, a country singer from the Los Angeles area who stood at 6’11″ and weighed 135 pounds.—Camille Lawhead
What it is: The spot for the locals of lower Gowanus, and anyone staying at La Quinta around the corner.
Why we love it: This low-key bar has one of the best backyards in Brooklyn and an awesome old time music jam every Monday night that brings folks in from all over New York, plus Thursday night trivia. The drinks are cheap, the bartenders are friendly and they’ve got a Checkers that’s open till 3am across the street. What else could you ask for?
Who to bring: Definitely a place to unwind with friends, or catch some sports.
What to order: Lowlands has 12-taps featuring a rotating selection of craft brews as well as old standbys like Guinness and Miller Lite. Cheap cans and bottles too. Hungry? They have pressed sandwiches!
Fun fact: The name comes from its position at the bottom of Park Slope’s….slope.—Rachel Eve Stein
What it is: The Belgian-themed brew spot is primarily a speciality beer retail shop that hop heads gather at for small events, tap takeovers and brewery visits, but it also allows for a sit down experience with the latest local and imported beers on tap.
Why we love it: Its air of authenticity is apparent, but not overwhelming, and the staff is (as expected) knowledgeable about the craft but not in a snobby or show offy way. Awesome breweries from New York and beyond regularly stop in to share tastes and talk about their latest concoctions.
Who to bring: Hop heads, barley barons, your buddy who cares more about the beer they drinks than the people they drink it with.
What to get: There are 19 fresh beers on tap, one cask and more than 250 bottles to choose from, so come ready for a brewed awakening. Whatever you discover, be it that Hill Farmstead you’ve been waiting for all winter or a palate-pelting IPA from one of the new breweries in town like Other Half (Red Hook) or Finback Brewery (Glendale, Queens).
Fun fact: Brouwerij Lane hosts regular events that go beyond brewer visits: it hosted a cookie party in December!—Cat Wolinski
What it is: Hamilton’s is one of the best reasons you can think of for heading over to Windsor Terrace. A cozy wine bar with great craft beers, as well as an all-star kitchen, it’s a great neighborhood spot to check out for dinner, or just some tasty wings and beer.
Why we love it: Everything Hamilton’s does seems to be top-notch. In winter it’ll serve mulled drinks, it’s got a fantastic menu that will keep you coming back to try all the other dishes, and on top of all that, it’s a relaxed yet vibrant bar in a neighborhood that doesn’t often get a lot of traffic from outside the neighborhood. You wouldn’t guess it from inside Hamilton’s, which feels like stumbling onto a scene that you feel kind of dumb for not knowing about before.
Who to bring: This is an excellent date spot, straight up. Sure, you can get some excellent wings, but with it’s small, well-crafted dishes and great wines, this is the kind of place to go and have a nice cozy few drinks.
What to order: If it’s winter, check out their mulled wine. As for food, I fully enjoyed the mac and cheese with bacon and the grilled squid, which was tender as anything.
Fun fact: Hamilton’s is owned by the same people who run Alchemy, so if you’re a fan of that Park Slope fixture, you can get a sense of what to expect here!—Eric Silver
What it is: A cozy joint with floral prints, retro-weird art, snug coaches and a dimly lit grandma’s living room aesthetic.
Why we love it: The shabby chic charm that feels like stepping back into the 70s is hard to resist, and so is the drink menu, which pours retro cocktails like the old fashioned and snacks like tater tots and a waldorf salad. You’ll find old-school pinball in the back and DJ sets on the weekends.
Who to bring: Sklyark is along a busy strip of Fifth Avenue bars, but it screams date night, with lot of couches to snuggle up on and the board game or weird art on the walls provide plenty to talk about.
What to order: The 14 drafts include five that rotate from choice kegs, local and rare beers, while the rest feature standards like Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold, Six Point Sweet Action and Allagash White. The kitchen that’s open until midnight on the weekends serves up 70s themed grub like swaddled hogs (cocktail weenies in flaky dough) and cheesy tots.
Fun fact: The bar keeps the 70s theme going for its beer and shot specials: a Cheech and Chong is a Tecate and Espolon tequila; a Dirk Diggler is a Coors tall boy and a shot of Dickel rye.—Tim Donnelly
What is it: A charming ragtime parlor bar with a patchwork punk vibe and killer tap selection.
Why we love it: As an early inhabitant of the soon-to-be, maybe-already-is bustling section of Bed-Stuy, this spot has earned its keep among the neighborhood and was voted Best New Bar by the Village Voice in 2012. Despite the status upgrades, we love them because they’ve kept their raucous roots intact and continue to be a destination for quiet drink seekers and late night revelers alike.
Who to bring: Your old crew from art school or a Pac Man fanatic. There’s an old school machine that doubles as a table up front, if you can snag it while it’s open.
What to order: The house’s mulled cider from local Wilklow Orchards spiked with brandy and bourbon is a winter favorite, while spring brings sangria and summer packs some punch. 2-for-1 happy hour beers go well with a seat in the huge back patio, open year-round. Order from one of the more than 30 domestic and international bottles and drafts, including local and gluten free options. The bar is proud of its other cocktails, currently include bacon-infused bourbon and apple concoction they call the “Sir Francis,” and a “White Oaxacan,” a vegan white Russian with Guajillo chile chocolate.
Fun fact: The Parlor’s summertime BBQ showdowns are known borough-wide and have brought in some of the most serious smokers this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. If you’re burned out on BBQ, you can always go for the green fairy, with the old-school absinthe fountain.—Tim Donnelly
What it is: A restaurant and bar that somehow makes the combination cozier than most. The coastal Red Hook spot is filled with maritime decor, maritime friendliness and maritime comfort food.
Why we love it: Hope & Anchor somehow pulls off being cool, too. Two awesome ladies run the bar, there’s drag queen karaoke Friday and Saturday night and if you’re feeling a little classier, Wednesday evening Jazz Jams pull in talent.
Who to bring: Hope & Anchor is a place for the nostalgic, the easy going, the queer friendly and the generally decent human beings of Brooklyn who either live near or are enthusiastic enough to travel to this fun-loving apple of Red Hook’s eye.
What to order: Take your pick of eggs any style, shrimp po’ boys, hoagies, good ol’ grilled cheese (an actual menu item) or international touches like tortilla soup and falafel, or peruse the neverending burger menu that even has a list of six of non-beef options, two of which are vegetarian and one of which is vegan!
The beer list includes 15 tasty bottles, mostly American crafts, which even have handy craft-beer-for-dummies descriptions to help you figure out what’s what.
Fun fact: Feel like a party? You can rent out the whole bar for as little as $20 a person and have veggie apps, hummus platters and cheese plates passing around like it’s nothin.—Cat Wolinski
What it is: Sycamore has been called the “coziest bar in Brooklyn,” and while we aren’t ready to throw Brokelyn’s editorial might behind that assertion, we’ll put it squarely in the running, with its bricky, whiskeyed, wool-sweatery feel, friendly bartenders and one’s tendency to get sucked in and never leave.
Why we love it: Sycamore is like a Catskills bar because it’s mostly locals during the week but Saturday nights it gets packed—and we mean that—with weekenders from parts unknown, ie, not Ditmas Park. In warm weather, the backyard is made for letting lost afternoons spill over into the wee hours. Plus, there’s a sweet flower shop named Stems in the front of the house—what other bar has that?
Who to bring: Whiskey and craft beer lovers and everyone else. Hard to find anyone who doesn’t like this place.
What to order: Flatbush Food Court is a weekly pop-up food series featuring a different local vendor every Sunday from 12 to 6pm. Beer-wise, choose from eight rotating draft lines and 20 cans and bottles, from $3 Genesee up to a 25oz bottle of Bruery White Oak for $28. Daily Specials, in addition to a lengthy happy hour, include Bloody Mary pitchers on Saturdays and Sundays.
Sycamore fun fact: One afternoon in May, The National popped by and played an unannounced set because they live in the neighborhood and what else does The National do on Tuesday afternoons?—Faye Penn
What it is: The Emerson transports you the moment you walk in to what they accurately describe as a glittering deco wonderland. Prepare to be confused about why you’ve never been there before.
Why we love it: This bar can accommodate any mood you are in, from a cheap beer and pool night to wine and an art show.
Who to bring: While you could always pop in on your own or with a friend, The Emerson is a spacious bar that allows you to bring in a large group.
What to order: Choose from any one of its 12 draft beers, we are partial to the currently listed Ithaca Flower Power IPA. You could also stop in for their Monday through Friday happy hour from 4-7pm and order one of their drafts or well drinks for $2 off.
Fun Fact: The bar hosts rotating nights for things like trivia, DJs, sports games, art openings, comedy, bingo and more.—Emily Berninger
What it is: Overwhelmingly more beer bar than beer store, the upscale spot is both in the middle of and far enough away from the hustle of Williamsburg’s trendier spots and bustle of Greenpoint’s city-like avenues. The venue focuses on (and succeeds at) bringing unique ales, lagers, lambics and everything in between from around the world into one friendly but smart neighborhood spot.
Why we love it: Where to begin? The beer selection is wider than you’d imagine, with a tap list of 16 drafts ranging from casual to connoisseur favorites with a few talked-about seasonals sprinkled in, a draft line of kombucha (which is, in fact alcoholic at a whopping 1.3 percent) and a bottle list so deep you won’t know where to begin (an 82 bottle mix of domestics and imports ranging from 12 oz to large format bottles).
Who to bring: Brunch goers who would be pleased with an unlimited beer brunch for $18 (every Sunday until 4); anyone who loves beer; anyone who likes cocktails; anyone willing to try the bartender’s inventive beer cocktails or one-of-a-kind Bloody Mary’s.
What to order: If you’re hungry, the soft pretzels are melt-in-your-mouth and can be paired with a variety of choice dipping sauces (the chipotle mayo is a winner). The pulled pork sandwich is big, moist and hard not to devour like a monster and the grilled cheese is pretty good, too. But the main goal should be to try a few of the 16 drafts and 82 bottles ranging from local and state-side favorites to selects you’ve never heard of from around the world. There is a beer and shot deal, but the bar keeps it quiet to keep from disturbing the loyal locals there to try some good beer.
Fun fact: One Stop has a card club, called the Beer Society, that rewards you for your loyal patronage and beer guzzling tendencies. If you’re really into the beer scene, get a card (free) and try to get through the select list of 40 bottles – you’ll get your name on a plaque on the wall, and if you’re really ambitious, you can continue on to phase two, which challenges you with a list of 20 large-format bottles. For that, the managing partner will take your prize down of the wall to the plaque making station in the basement and add gold bottle cap with a “II” insignia that he hand paints himself.—Cat Wolinski