What it is: Red Hook dive bar supreme with an in-house meat smoker, 60 plus beers from around the world, a classic jukebox, a bevy of board games to play in snazzy red vinyl booths, a backyard in which to drink the day away and friendly bartenders and regulars to welcome you in every day of the year, holidays included.
Why we love it: We’ve got proof of our love: the Ice House has been a Beer Book participant for five years strong, harkening back to our 2010 debut with Beer Book 1.0! It’s the kind of place you don’t forget, where you’ll make the long haul out because you know it’s worth it.
What to order: One of the aforementioned sixty plus beers from around the world! Two pulled pork sandwiches for $5 and a side of onion rings.
Regular tip: Help yourself to Hershey’s kisses on the bar, because the Brooklyn Ice House loves you.
What it is: All-things-Florida-themed shuffleboard court with a full bar and rotating food trucks.
Why we love it: For those of us who spent grueling family “vacations” with our grandparents in retirement homes across Florida, the prospect of going to the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Court might sound like a major trigger. Fear not! Going to the spacious Royal Palms is like the real kind of Florida vacation, heretofore depicted in daydreams and vintage postcards: aqua colored everything, flamingo wall paper in the bathrooms, shuffleboard puns and cabanas. This venue is best enjoyed in small groups so you can take advantage of your hour of court time and still have a couple people on your team’s side to chill with. Note that the courts are long and you play next to an opposing team member. It’s a great way to have some flirty competition with a work crush, while literally being on the same team as your conveniently far away boss. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to play, as a staff member will give you a complementary tutorial. Weekly activities range from drag queen bingo to a new monthly Funk & Soul Dance Party (finally, South Brooklyn)! Check their Facebook and Twitter periodically for one-off parties that are usually free. Even if you don’t shuffle, it’s still a great place to bring a pal and escape the cramped and pretentious bars of NYC.
What to order: As you would expect, Royal Palms specializes in fun, fruity cocktails. However, they have several craft beers on tap for your Beer Book pleasure. One of the most unusual and delightful features of this space is that the nosh is provided by a different food truck every day. A member of their delightful waitstaff will serve you drinks, so you’ll never miss a second of the game.
Regular tip: League nights are Monday and Tuesday, so don’t expect to reserve a court! Also, the guy on the scooter is a co-owner, so no snickering.
What it is: A cozy, low-key pub in Park Slope with a rotating set of hard-to-find beers, an extensive cocktail menu, and excellent food.
Why we love it: Alchemy is the perfect place for a date, a casual meal, or enjoying a quiet drink and a book. Its die-hard set of regulars and bartenders who remember your name make it feel like a local pub. You’ll also find secluded tables and booths if you’re looking for a little privacy and a great outdoor patio if you’re looking to chill outside during the summer. Need WiFi? They’ve got that, too.
You won’t find greasy bar food here. Four different menus — breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner — have something for the vegan, the veggie, the foodie, or the guy who just wants a good burger. The chorizo eggs (brunch) is a great way to start a Sunday, while the wild mushroom barley risotto with truffle oil (dinner) is one of the many uncommon treats you can share with a date. And if you do have a hankering for some chicken wings, you can get those, too, during the way affordable weekday happy hour.
What to order: Alchemy’s beers rotate every couple of weeks, but you’ll always find a stout, an IPA, a pilsner, an ale, and special seasonal beers on tap. Pair one with the gooey shells and cheese or the Monday Mussels deal—a dozen mussels for six bucks!
Regular tip: The bar was named Alchemy because at the time the owner was reading up on the ancient art of chrysopoeia, thanks to the Da Vinci Code.
What is it: Park Slope’s original craft beer pioneer, now in their 19th year. Huge beer selection, specialty bottles, vintage ales.
Why we love it: When you first enter the Gate you wonder where the bartenders went – turns out you couldn’t see them behind the row of beer taps. Their selection is enormous and they have a beer for any craving you may have, whether hoppy, light, malty or stout. The bar is peopled by friendly locals. When the weather’s nice, the spacious outdoor deck is the place to be – if you can find a seat. Wide-open people watching and views of the historic Old Stone House where the Battle of Brooklyn raged 239 years ago.
What to order: The beer selection rotates often and seasonally, but if you’re looking for something special, try the vintage ales in their legendary stock cellar.
Regular tip: The Gate is definitively a “local” inspired by the owners love of the pubs in Ireland’s Slieve Anieran mountains where the “eternal peat fire” burns.
What it is: A welcome addition to the growing Windsor Terrace bar and restaurant roster from the guys behind Abilene and Lowlands.
Why we love it: Aside from the fact that it literally could not be closer to the G and F trains at Fort Hamilton (proximity to Prospect Park makes for convenient Saturday afternoon refueling), this nod to one of our favorite mountain ranges is down-to-earth, homey and date-friendly, even if your date is of the parents’ night out variety.
Achieving much more than looking woodsy and serving good drinks (though that would be enough for us), the Adirondack is dedicated to serving hard-to-find New York brews from Saratoga to Port Jefferson, some recent selections ranging from the Hudson Valley’s Newburgh Brewing Hoptron Smoked Gose to Holbrook, Long Island’s Spider Bite Boris the Spider. On top of supporting the Empire State’s resurgent craft brewing community, the bar is also adamant about not running out of Genny Cream Ale in cans or Labatt Blue, “an honorary beer of upstate New York,” according to owner Paul Hamill.
What to order: With twelve rotating taps and an all-New York draft list, you’d be remiss not to try a well selected winter warmer like Port Jeff’s Coffee Porter Nitro, or a contract brewer’s latest hop achievement like Rushing Duck’s War Elephant Double IPA. The bar also serves hot soft pretzels from Pelzer’s of Crown Heights and sandwiches from HBH in Carroll Gardens—keep it classic with a Classic Pretzel and Classic Grilled Cheese.
Don’t overlook their cocktail menu of classics including a margarita with St Germaine for a refreshing, herbal twist, and signature drinks with nods to upstate NY, like grown-up creamsicle the “Fort Orange Julius” of Stoli Vanilla, fresh grapefruit and Saranac Orange Cream Soda. Order “The Adirondack Life,” an Old-Fashioned made with Rittenhouse Rye and sweetened with Alaskan birch syrup, and you’ll really feel like you’re living it.
Regular tip: There happens to be a vintage Pac Man machine in the back, so if you’re waiting on a date or socializing isn’t your thing, go reacquaint yourself with Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.
What is it: A Brooklyn staple nestled in the South Slope, boasting both cult celebrity and a history stretching back to Prohibition. Freddy’s, with its trademark comfortable and casual flavour is friendly and endlessly interesting.
Why we love it: Whether you’re there for the acid-tavern experience (TVs run award-winning video montages 24/7) or to see a free music, comedy, or art show show in the back room, Freddy’s always has something to revive a sleepy night. This neighborhood favorite hosts a welcome mix of locals and far-flung visitors, thanks to its beautiful other worldly decor, bustling vibes and charming staff. Just a few reasons why it was voted one of the best bars in the country by the likes of Esquire and others.
What to order: Aside from the whiskey and craft beers, Freddy’s offers a solid menu of what it calls “Pan-Brooklyn.” This includes burgers, fish tacos, local Polish kielbasa (meaning that they’re actually made across the street by two great Polish butchers), a curious twist on a BLT sandwich, and much more. All tasty and cheap as hell.
Regular tip: The intoxicating video collages you’ll see all over the bar are actually edited/created by co-owner Donald O’Finn.
What it is: A European-style watering halle and restaurant with a rotating seasonal food menu and a reliable tap list.
Why we love it: No. 7 is that place you’ll go to because you know what you like but are itching to try new things. Combining old favorites on a drink menu with new eats on the food menu, it’s easily the most reliable date spot in Fort Greene. Somehow combines affordability with a chic atmosphere, and still leaves pretension at the door. If you’re going there stag, you won’t be alone: during the early evening hours, the bar’s just quietly buzzing with pre-show attendees and neighborhood folks. It’s right off the trains, too! Get buzzed and skip-step over to Atlantic Terminal for the night’s activities, or just take any number of the nearby bus lines home for an early night.
What to order: Chelsea Brewing’s Checkered Cab Kolsch with a side of double decker broccoli tacos, which are $4 at happy hour 5pm-7:30pm. Might seem steep for a taco, but they’re mammoth-sized—not to mention a feat of “New American” fusion cuisine. One is just enough, and two’ll fill you right up.
Regular tip: The bar is closed on Mondays. As tempting as it may be to kick off your week with a taco date, don’t get caught suggesting it as a meeting venue; you’ll show up only to find the windows shuttered. (It’s happened to me too many times not to throw the caveat out there.)
What it is: Mary’s Bar stands out as a fan favorite in South Slope. A tavern-style bar with late-night jazz, a pool table and darts, Mary’s Bar is that charming local bar you go to for a fun mix of Brooklyn natives and the neighborhood’s more recent inhabitants.
Why we love it: Mary’s is a great space that encapsulates everything a tavern should be, with a relaxed atmosphere, fun and friendly crowd, and no short amount of music nights. On Fridays and Saturdays it has rotating DJs, Wednesdays they do an 80s night, and every night from 3am to last call is the Frank and Dean Jazz Hour. How could you not love a bar that sends you home like that?
Who to bring: Mary’s Bar has a great low-key vibe that makes for a good weeknight out with friends or a nightcap with that someone you convinced to hang out for just one more drink.
What to order: Check out any of their 12 domestic craft beers on tap, or just go for the simple pleasures, like PBR and Dale’s Pale Ale in the can. Be aware: Happy Hour is $2 off drafts and spirits applies to all spirits, including top shelf.
Fun fact: Mary’s has joined the flea market brigade, and hosts a shopping space in their backyard called the Bar ‘n Yard Flea every weekend in the summer.
What it is: A Brooklyn beer hall from the founders of Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, with food from Asia Dog, Mighty Quinn’s BBQ, Pizza Moto and Ramen Burger. Featuring draft beers from Other Half, Barrier, Peekskill, along with cool bottles and cans from all over the world; Parlor Coffee, Dough donuts and a springy outdoor courtyard.
Why we love it: Sometimes you want to eat popcorn at your cozy little bar on the corner and sometimes you want to inhale the collective energy of a Brooklyn moment. At Berg’n, the borough’s real estate and industrial ambitions collide with its ramenburger culture to produce a post-modern food-and-drink court where you can hatch your own get-rich conquests. Or just drink beer and play Metallica pinball.
What to order: You can’t really go wrong with all the chow here, but Asia Dogs ($4.50 to $5.50) are a personal favorite. The Luke overfloweth with beef chili topped by Thai basil and pickled onions, and the Vinh is a mashup between a hotdog and a Banh Mi.
Regular tip: In a Village Voice interview last year with the founders, Eric Demby says that Smorgasburg vendors are subject to his partner Jonathan Butler’s curious food whims: “Jonathan’s a picky eater — he doesn’t like pickles, tomatoes, mushrooms — so those people never get in,” Demby says.
What it is: A beer lovers’ haven for the latest local brews, domestic favorites and international imports, named for the patron saint of beer himself.
Why we love it: Whether you’re searching for something unusual or a tried-and-true craft favorite, St. Gambrinus is ready to serve you the beer you were looking for, or the one you didn’t know you wanted. The bar and bottle shop supports local New York area self distributing breweries like Other Half, Barrier, Finback, Singlecut and Transmitter, available fresh from 16 taps, as well as from an extensive collection of bottles to go.
Exercising their Brooklyn street cred, the shop hosts periodical detox-and-retox yoga and beer tasting events on some Saturday afternoons (check the Facebook page to find out when the next one might be), along with a series of regular tastings highlighting different brewreies and beer styles.
What to order: We recommend trying a flight of your bartender’s current favorites, mostly because they serve them in cupcake trays, and also because they are always gracious and knowledgeable about beer questions here.
Regular tip: In the warmer months, St. Gambrinus is a heavenly kingdom for day drinking. Grab a couple of pints and enjoy them under a big tree in the secret garden-esque, gravel-and-grass backyard.