What it is: The bar and museum on the ground floor of Coney Island USA headquarters; gateway and social lubricant into the world of all things “freak” and sideshow.
Why we love it: Having a beer in the kitschy fun house serves as a disarming pre-game to the sites you’ll witness next door at the Circus Sideshow ($10). You’ll need a beer after the show, too.
What to order: A local microbrew on tap, from Brooklyn Brewery, Sixpoint or Coney Island Brewery. Bring friends visiting from out of town who want to experience a real legendary Brooklyn attraction; circus freaks you have known; your boardwalk companion who’s ready for some post-beach-and-rides action.
Regular tip: Check Coney Island USA so you can make a trip out in conjunction with a Circus Sideshow, burlesque performance, or other special event.
What it is: Classic cocktail bar and New American restaurant on Smith Street.
Why we love it: The cocktails are all named after famous hunters—Katniss Everdeen, Handsome Hound, Boba Fett—which shows that Hunter’s is a laid-back establishment with a tongue-in cheek bent. But that doesn’t mean they don’t take the quality of their food and libations very seriously. You can get a really excellent meal here of locally and sustainably sourced dishes inspired by Chef/owner Angelo Schifilliti’s Italian heritage.
What to order: Can’t wait for episode VII? Geek out with the “Boba Fett” made with Brooklyn Republic Vodka, pear nectar, Grand Marnier and star anise. Enjoy 2-for-1 cocktails from 4- 7 daily, or anytime with our Cocktail Book, and half-price wine bottles on Sundays. To eat, go for a house made pasta and one of their fresh, inventive salads, such as the farro and bacon. The mushroom pot pie and rolled stuffed pork chop are among the wholesome, delectable entrees. Sit at the bar and share the mussels and a cheese plate made up of selections from Stinky’s just down the street.
Regular tip: Host a private party or event at Hunter’s—pick from their pre-fixe packages “Arrival at the Lodge” “A Hunter’s Feast” or “Avant-Chasse Brunch.”
What it is: Summertime Rockaway Beach outpost of the popular Brooklyn and East Village arepa bar.
Why we love it: Delicious corn arepas are a highlight of our Rockaway beach snack repertoire! Though the season at Caracas is brief, from mid-May through September, it’s jam-packed with events, from movie nights to concerts to dance parties. Rockaway-based bands like the eclectic-acoustic group Big Squid and the rock ‘n roll outfit Solshyne get a good amount of playing time. Latin funk DJ’s spin for the popular Brochacho Beach Party. Bring a beach buddy who can keep her energy high even after swimming all day.
What to order: Frozen sangria ($12)! Beer-wise, go for the Rockaway Brewing Company selection (rotating) on draft. The food menu is reduced but still includes some of our favorite arepas, like “La de Pabellon,” ($8) with shredded beef, black beans, salty white cheese and sweet plantains, and sides like taro fries ($4) and green plantains ($6).
Regular tip: Follow their tumblr Inside Caracas so you don’t miss out on any happenings this summer.
What it is: Corner bar and eatery in the heart of Fort Greene.
Why we love it: The space is stunning, with exposed brick, wooden floors and a long zinc bar, elegant at night with candles and drooping white lights. It’s both an intimate spot for a date night—get cozy in one of the front window nooks and enjoy prime Dekalb Ave. people watching—and dancing with friends on regular DJ nites. In warmer months, lounge over bar snacks like “devils on horseback” and cocktails at the sidewalk tables.
What to order: The signature “Etta James” of barrel-aged gin, chamomile and lemon; or ask the bartender about the “daily cocktail.” Beer-wise, two of the six draft lines are constantly rotating, or a $4 can of Modelo always hits the spot. The food menu ranges from cheese and charcuterie plates to comfort food classics like Shepherd’s Pie; let your appetite be your guide.
Regular tip: The bar is named after the migrant ship Georgiana of 1852 that traveled from co-owner Chris Connor’s native Glasgow, Scotland to co-owner Dominic Tracy’s hometown of Geelong, Australia, ending in a mutiny!
What it is: Rockaway beach boardwalk destination from the folks behind Roberta’s and the Meat Hook.
Why we love it: Beach party headquarters! Your one stop (seaside) shop for beers, bites, dancing and live music. Site of Tiki Disco dance parties and attractive people in bathing suits. Bring your danciest beach associate; your single friend who wants to mingle; a friend-with-potential whom you just met on the shore.
What to order: Here is where beach and brunch converge. Start off your day with a chorizo breakfast burrito ($6) and a fresh Green juice ($6). Later on, grab a burger ($5.50) and a craft draft or michelada for much-needed sustenance after a long swimming session. For the adventurous, try the fish torta ($10) of flaky Dogfish miniature shark with black beans, slaw, and hot sauce on a Martin’s roll.
Regular Tip: Rippers emerged back in 2011 when the Rockaway Taco proprietors approached the Parks Department about taking over a few boardwalk stands. They realized it was a good opportunity to form a partnership with businesses they admired, so they reached out to their friends at Meat Hook and Roberta’s, and Rippers was born.
What it is: Retro drinkerie and neighborhood hangout on the border of Crown Heights and PLG, from the folks behind Hanson Dry.
Why we love it: It’s a locals bar that combines throwback decor—the owner and his wife’s WWII era family photos on the wall, an antique cash register behind the bar—with playful diversions such as pinball, a photo booth and a gigantic backyard that is just begging to be filled with drinkers. A place where you can be a sophisticated adult and a rowdy teen at the same time: cocktail in one hand, the other pulling the pinball plunger.
What to order: The mantra that guides their cocktail menu is classic simplicity, with drinks that boast no more than three main ingredients each. Order the signature “Branch Ofc” of Jameson, lime and bitters. Beer in frosted mugs—choose from IPA, Pilsner or Stout—also sound pretty damn good to us. They serve pressed sandwiches with Utz chips and Tate’s cookies, the perfect done-up bag lunch.
Regular tip: $4 cans of Schaefer are in stock as a nod to the Brooklyn Dodgers—and the nearby site of the old Ebbets Field—because Schaefer was the official beer sponsor of the team while they were still in BK.
What it is: Brick oven pizza joint and craft can oasis right next door to the Playland Motel.
Why we love it: Chef and owner Whitney Aycock, reputed Rockaway Beach Pizza Nazi, is as serious about pizza as he is playfully surly with customers, though his attitude is more rooted in a punk rock chef aesthetic and his affection for a well-placed F-bomb than misanthropy. We feel mostly at home in the casual one room space with a couch and just a few bar stools; seems more like a friend’s living room than a bar/restaurant, if your friend’s living room had a groovy brick pizza oven that keeps popping out delicious pies. Bring pizza snobs and your beach companions who are starving after a long day in the surf.
What to order: One of the ten constantly rotating craft cans—touted “stuff we like to drink”—which on a recent visit included Sixpoint Bengali Tiger and Abita Purple Haze ($6). Any of the 12 pies, from The Margherita ($9), to the Cavolini ($14) with brussels sprouts and pancetta.
Regular tip: Check out the priceless “Some of our many faults” section on the menu, rife with “fuck”-laden disclaimers.
What it is: Fort Greene’s neighborhood speakeasy housed in a garage bar is a darkly-lit den of delicious libations.
Why we love it: It feels hidden and cozy, an ideal spot to take a date before or after dinner, or just to duck out of the sun at the end of the day. Down-to-earth bartenders are dedicated to crafting inventive, fresh cocktails, but without any tired mixologist pretense, making you feel at home and well-sated. They play vinyl on Tuesdays.
What to order: Pick your poison of cocktails made with a range of spirits from spicy pisco to lavender vodka (both house-infused). They switch up the drinks seasonally, so check for new selections made with fresh juices and house-made syrups every few months or so. Cool off this spring with the “Steve McQueen,” a gin and elderflower refresher finished with a dash of cayenne, or go hard with majority-alcohol “Fort Greene” that combines rye, rum, chartreuse, and sweet vermouth. Two $5 beers grace the menu with their presence, but they are solid choices—Tiger Lager from Singapore and Shiner Bock, a favorite of Texas-born manager Issac Flores—and a small selection of $10 wines.
Regular tip: Legend has it the tiny space once served as a horse stable way back when.
Outdoor drinking season is here! Just in time for summer, we’re introducing our first-ever Brooklyn Cocktail Book, your ticket to keeping cool and well-lubricated at some of the best bars from Bed-Stuy to Red Hook. For just $20, you get a pocket-sized collection of 2-for-1 drink tickets at 20 of our borough’s best places to booze.
Our Cocktail Book is the perfect partner for warm weather. Grab your squad and while away a summer night in Lowlands’ epic backyard, head over to Fort Defiance for a Mai Tai on Thursday Tiki night, or duck into Dick & Jane’s after a day in the sun and cool off with “The Steve McQueen,” a gin-and-elderflower refresher. Grab a Kentucky lemonade at Abilene on Court Street, a whiskey cocktail at Lea in Ditmas Park or a Paradise Lost at Project Parlor Bed-Stuy… the second one is always on the house. Do you L-O-V-E craft cocktails? Find out what all the fuss is about at Erv’s on Beekman, which has whipped up three exclusive offerings for Cocktail Bookers.
The Cocktail Book is not not only a pocket full of good times, it’s a great investment — it pays for itself in just two bar visits, then you’re practically making money exploring great bars with your crew. Not a bad summer job at all! Here’s the full lineup of fine Cocktail Book boozeries:
Abilene • The Adirondack • Branch Ofc. • The Castello Plan • Dick & Jane’s Bar • The Emerson • Ervs on Beekman • Fort Defiance • The Great Georgiana • Halyard’s • Hunter’s • J’eatjet? • Lea • Lowlands Bar • One Last Shag • Project Parlor • quarter Bar • The Saint Catherine • Sea Witch Tavern • Skylark
Need further enticement? Here’s a snapshot of your summer to come:
Drink up, Brooklyn! Branch Ofc. boasts a bangin’ outdoor space, via FB.
Enjoy a Red White & Bluegroni in the garden at quarter Bar, via FB.
It could be us on the patio at Sea Witch, but you playin’. Via FB.
Party at Project Parlor, one of our favorite backyard hotspots. Via FB.
The backyard at j’eatjet, your new summer hideaway.
Buy your Cocktail Book today — and pick up a spare or three for friends. Cheers, Brooklyn!
What it is: Surf shack stronghold and neighborhood cultural center of Rockaway, where folks stop in for a time out from the elements, or to top off a great beach day with a night of partying.
Why we love it: From the surf boards on the ceiling, to the hanging sculptures of puffer fish, to Endless Summer playing on the TV behind the bar, to the crowd of actual surfers—or at least those embodying the surf aesthetic—we are in beach bar heaven. It’s the perfect place to replenish your thirst after a day in the sun, or to rally for a live band or DJ at night. Art exhibitions and film series will stimulate your wave-wracked brain. Stop in for post-surf beers with your ocean partner. If you want to really get into character, take a lesson before hand at Locals Surf School; then, maybe you’ll feel like less of a groupie (probably not).
What to order: Fish tacos and a watermelon juice from Tacoaway Beach, Rockaway Taco’s new home in RBSC’s backyard. At the bar, order a Bloody Mary or one of the rotating drafts.
Regular tip: In the wake of Sandy, the Surf Club was one of the largest grass roots relief centers in Rockaway, mobilizing over 5,000 volunteers to distribute supplies and clear debris.