Let your brain cover the tab: BK’s best trivia

Deep in thought at The Charleston. Photos by Timothy Krause.

It’s no secret that trivia nights are a fun way to break up the drinking week, but for those of you out there who have jettisoned high school French from compartments of your brain to make way for useful knowledge like Pee-Wee Herman’s real name, they can also be pretty lucrative. Not only do you get to drink and show off how smart you are (without the ridicule), but you can work off your beer/food tab (or get straight up cash) in the process!  We’ve rounded up some of our favorite and most profitable nights (and rundown their prize bounties), so embrace your inner Poindexter (Buster Poindexter’s real name, anyone?).

All quizzes are graded loosely on a scale of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader (easiest) to Cash Cab to Jeopardy (hurts your brain). Times for trivia nights are approximate, as these things almost never start on time, unless specifically noted.

SUNDAYS

Pacific Standard, 82 Fourth Ave., Park Slope

Time: 8pm
Price: Free
Team Maximum: 6 people
Difficulty Level: Cash Cab-Jeopardy

Breakdown: The Quizmaster has a projector to display all of his questions, which might be the only incidence of that during the nights listed here. This could be a positive or negative, depending on how much your team enjoys the banter involved when a host needs to explain or repeat a question to a shouting mob of competitors. You’ll have to stretch your brain for some of the questions: One round on a recent night called “Portmanteau” involved combining two answers into one (a Russian president and a popular party snack? “Medvedeviled eggs”). While the booty here doesn’t seem worth the effort, each place prize also comes with points used in recurring playoffs. The playoff champion wins a party at the bar with food, which could more than makes up for the lack of prizes up front.

Prizes
3rd: $1 off of a round of drinks
2nd: $2 off of a round of drinks
1st: Free round of drinks.

MONDAYS

Last Exit, 136 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn Heights, (718) 222-9198 (NOTE: Held on 1st and 3rd Mondays every month)

Time: 9pm “sharp” (unverified)
Price: $5 per person
Team Maximum: 4 people
Difficulty Level: Jeopardy

Breakdown: Cash Cab has been known to come around looking for contestants at times at this long-running trivia night (oh and by the way, Cash Cab isn’t a real cab). The questions are not easy and the competition is harder. Other fun elements include the “Last Exit Theater” where the hosts read a script and contestants must guess which movie it’s from. Subscribers to the email list (LastExitPubQuiz@gmail.com) receive notices of the upcoming quizzes and a clue to one of the answers.

Prizes
3rd: Drink tickets
2nd: 20 percent of the pot
1st: 80 percent of the pot

Honorable Mentions: On Last Exit’s off-nights, check out Alligator Lounge (600 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg, where the same folks who run The Charleston’s quiz (covered below) preside, and get some free pizza with your drinks.

TUESDAYS

Brooklyn Tavern, 31 Third Avenue Ave., Boerum Hill, (718) 797-0677

Time: 9pm
Price: Free
Team Maximum: 5 people
Difficulty Level: Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

Breakdown: Five rounds with nine questions each and one song for which teams have to name the artist and title. There was a mix of hard and easy questions, but this place has a tendency to make some hard questions much easier with a few too many clues, which can be a bit frustrating for trivia enthusiasts. If you have five people on your team, third place may wind up worth more than 2nd, depending on what you’re drinking.

Prizes
3rd: Free round of drinks
2nd: $25 tab for your team (has to be used that night)
1st: $50 tab for your team (good for a month)

The Charleston, 174 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg, (718) 782-8717

Time: 9pm
Price: Free
Team Maximum: None discernible
Difficulty Level: Cash Cab

Breakdown: With four rounds of six questions, this trivia night seems like it would be short, but they manage to squeeze every moment they can, as the night can run over two hours.  You will definitely meet the super-friendly John if you start your trivia regimen (pictured at the bottom of the page). Between rounds are “shot rounds,” the only time where contestants are encouraged to shout out an answer for a free shot. First place teams can compete in championships at a later date, for which the grand prize is a fixie (did I mention this bar was in Williamsburg?).

Prizes
3rd: A pull from the “Mystery Bag.” Your guess is as good as mine.  Just hope it’s not a mullet.
2nd: $25 tab for your team
1st: $40 tab for your team

Hard thinkin' at The Charelston

Honorable Mentions: Tuesday night must be the unofficial trivia night for our borough. Check out Bar Great Harry (280 Smith St., Cobble Hill,) Ceol (191 Smith St., Cobble Hill,) Rope! (415 Myrtle Ave., Clinton Hill, $2 entry fee), The Sackett (661 Sackett Pl., Park Slope).

WEDNESDAYS

Pete’s Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, (718) 302-3770

Time: 7:30 pm sharp!
Price: Free
Team Maximum: None
Difficulty Level: Jeopardy!

Breakdown: When I say the difficulty of this trivia night is Jeopardy caliber, I’m not just making an easy comparison. Many attendees to this rarefied trivia night boast one or multiple Jeopardy! appearances (sort of like how every actor has a Law & Order appearance in their credits on Broadway playbills). Quizmaster duties rotate among a set of regular teams, who get paid to run their night, so not only do the questions and esoterica vary, but if you find a way into this magic club, you can turn this into a pseudo-profession! Cash Cab also scouts here. All quizzes come with one audio, one visual round and one “special” round. An example of the level of difficulty, from a recent music round: “Name the person in the group that performed this song who died last year.” Yeah, wow. Quiz masters are given incentives to finish on time, so you can count on this night to be sweet and to the point. People take their trivia seriously here.

Deep concern at Pete's Candy Store

Prizes
3rd: A “Tasty Sandwich”. Sandwiches are $7-$8, and they are indeed quite tasty
2nd: $15 bar tab for your team
1st: $25 bar tab for your team

Honorable Mentions: The Habitat (988 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint), Cherry Tree (65 4th Ave., Park Slope), PJ Hanley’s (449 Court St., Carroll Gardens), and Franklin Park (618 St. John’s Pl., Prospect Heights)

THURSDAYS

Toby’s Public House, 686 6th Ave., Greenwood, (718) 788-1186 (NOTE: Held on 2nd and 4th Thursdays every month)

Time: 10pm
Price: Free
Team Maximum: 6 people
Difficulty Level: Cash Cab

Breakdown: Quizmaster Matt Marks takes over as DJ and host, and there is considerably more banter with the crowd than at most of the other nights covered here. Often there will be the impromptu vote of Clue/No Clue (hint: “Clue” almost always wins) for particularly hard questions. This quiz is six rounds, including a visual round, a themed audio round and a bonus round, which is usually a top ten question (example: “Name the most popular street names”). On top of that, this is the only night I have attended where the host will come around and score each team’s answer sheet right in front of them for full transparency and arguments (always encouraged). There’s some strategerie involved: Teams can “double down” on any round before the final to get twice their score for that round.

Prizes
2nd: Free round
1st: $20 tab for each member of your team
Caveat: They’ve been fickle with the prizes from time to time, but they are usually pretty lucrative. Add to it the fact that Toby’s has a brick oven and some excellent pizzas (all valid for the tab), and you and your team can win yourself a full dinner there one night.

Honorable Mentions: On the off-nights, check out Rocky Sullivan’s (34 Van Dyke St., Red Hook)

FRIDAY & SATURDAY

John. If you see this man, there's trivia afoot.

Dude, give it a rest. The bars certainly have. If you need to prove how smart you are so badly, play some Cranium at home. I’m beginning to think you have a problem.

Are there any places we missed? Let us know and give your own evaluation of how difficult it is! View more photos of Brooklyn’s best trivia nights in our Brokelyn Flickr pool.

29 Comment

  • Johansen! David Johansen! (my dad was an unironic huge fan). I win I win!

  • I did trivia night at Bar Great Harry and tied with someone else for a bonus question. After winning the chug off, I got a race car track set, a roll of toilet paper, a 2 liter of soda, and a graphic novel. Best night ever.

  • Other piece of trivia: David Johannsen was also the lead singer of the New York Dolls.

  • Prizes aside, which ones do people think are the most FUN? Who gets the most awesome crowd?

  • the one I’ve gone to the most is Franklin Park, but the prizes are a little lacking: just a round of drinks for the winning team. We went to Pete’s once and it was awesome: it felt like the superbowl of pub quiz. And we got third place! Team name: Something Wiki This Way Comes.

  • Building on Bond in Boerum Hill has a good bi-monthly trivia night. Every other Wed at 8:30 (next one is 2/16).

    Run by Mistress Maeve, English professor by day, there are three rounds of 13 questions…including a cocktail question in the second round where every team is given a sample concoction and has to guess the ingredients. The questions vary in difficulty – but include gems such as “In the Peanuts, who is Linus and Lucy van Pelt’s young brother?” It’s Rerun…who knew.

    Prizes are $10 gift card/tab discount for each round, and $20 for the team who scores the best total points.

    It’s a cool space, good food, and a fun crowd.

  • Toby’s is fun (and great pizza), but I’m starting to get a little suspicious that the team Six Saltines keeps winning.

  • Brooklyn Winery in Williamsburg has also started doing trivia. It’s every other Tuesday at 8pm (tonight!!) and they have a round of wine trivia questions. They also do a Guess That Wine question where they pass out small tastes of a particular wine, and you have to figure out the type of wine and the vintage and stuff. But they also do more typical trivia questions like general knowledge and a music round.

    It’s a lot of fun, and the winning team gets a $40 bar tab! And if you don’t know the answer to a question but your answer makes the quiz master laugh, he may give you credit for it. :)

  • Pine Box Rock Shop in East Williamsburg has a great trivia night on Wednesdays!

  • Come out next Thursday and make a run at us, Herb!

    Dan
    Co-Captain
    Six Saltines, Trivia Powerhouse

  • Sarah’s comment breakdown of Brooklyn Winery reminded me that I forgot to note that Pacific Standard also has a final beer tasting round, where teams get a sample and have to figure out which of the 15 beers on tap it is. Finally, a bone is thrown out to the lushes out there!

    Also, if you check out the Flickr pool link, you’ll see “John” appears at two different trivia nights. Anyone out there know of other “Trivia Rounders” working the circuit? (chances are that means you’re one, too)

  • Another trivia night is for DUMBO on Wednesdays @ 8pm: Dumbo General Store, 111 Front Street. 4 rounds, including themed audio round. Come check it out.

  • other piece of trivia:

    The New York Dolls is a Rock and Roll band which is a type of music popular with the young people

  • On Tuesdays, Black Rabbit (a beer book site from 2010) has great trivia. Unsure of prizes, but it’s a good mix of Cash-Cab level of questions and a good crowd.

    I used to go to Franklin Park’s a lot since it’s nearby. But I felt like the questions were simply questions about the guy asking the questions. Example; “This was my favorite book in college?” I wish it was more serious and actually had categories that made sense. But they have a question between rounds that whoever gets it first gets a free beer — so that’s always good.

  • Dude, I thought I was gonna get a shoutout, a pic, or every a vague reference in this article. I am the most widely played trivia night dude in bk

  • Brooklyn trivia devotees will notice that Jonathan, indeed a well-recognized figure on the borough’s trivia scene, is now pictured in the above post. Unless, of course, he loses to Watson on Jeopardy, at which point we will reconsider.

  • Shout-out delivered. Give this man the real name of any celebrity and ask for their stage name. I dare you! He will get it 16 times out of 20 (yeah, I was keeping score)

  • I’ll second that shout-out. Jonathan is not only incredibly learned in all the arcane arts of trivia, he makes winning look good. Incredibly good. Gleefully, joyfully, ecstatically good. (Check the photos if you’re still in doubt.) Watson will learn fear from Jonathan.

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  • Brooklyn Winery’s trivia night is definitely my favorite! It’s every other Tuesday, with multiple categories. The Music and Wine rounds are especially fun – BK Winery even hands out free samples of their “mystery wine”, the one that they use in their tasting round.

    Prizes: A free glass of wine for the winner of the quick-fire “6-Degrees” round, and a $40 bar tab for the overall winning team.

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  • This trivia night is smug, snobby, obsure, and smarmy. Thumbs down.

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  • I didn’t see Bar Sepia’s Tuesday Night Trivia Listed… We set the standard and raised the bar with Sandy and Matt knocking them out with the best trivia in the borough… And there’s either $2 Taco’s or free wings…

  • There is trivia night every Monday at 7:30 at People’s Republic of Brooklyn. First prize is a $50 bar tab, second prize is a round of beers, and third prize is an order of wings. It’s a variety of questions and difficulty levels – nothing too easy or obscure. I think it’s super fun, and others agree.

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  • Johnny Mack’s (1114 8th avenue)has a great trivia night Tuesdays @8. Free to get in, questions are legit pretty hard and a free shot at the end can’t hurt! winner gets a $25 bar tab. Was there one night and catagories were The Simpsons and The Roman Empire