What it is: This groovy, Marrakech-inflected bar in Clinton Hill by Andy McDowell of Pete’s Candy Shop features food and beer with an Eastern vibe. It holds events almost every night that truly run the gamut. Go in and relax with a beer or play some of the provided games with friends.
Why we love it: The detail that went in to the bar, which is modeled after a vintage airstream camper, is hugely impressive. It provides a beautiful space to enjoy the nightly free music including their Friday night all-female DJ line up. Get some friends together to have some beers or cocktails while watching CAMPISTA featuring members of Antibalas and Fela Kuti every Tuesday night.
What to order: The Hitachino with a mushroom bao is totally on point. They also have a great happy hour until 7pm Monday through Saturday and happy hour specials all day on Sunday that rock with $3 wells, $4 drafts/bottles and $4 baos.
Regular tip: The name of the bar comes from a term for a VW van with a split front windshield.
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: 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: 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.
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. 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. Their cocktail list changes seasonally, using fresh ingredients such as mint and peaches from the backyard! But just like Ralph Waldo’s bust in the back room isn’t going anywhere, you’ll find signature “The Emerson” on the menu all year round: a refreshing concoction of gin, fresh ginger and mint, sour mix, topped off with prosecco.
Regular tip: The bar hosts rotating nights for things like trivia, DJs, sports games, art openings, comedy, bingo and more.
What it is: Clinton Hill craft beer stronghold, in the top 12 of Zagat’s 2014 list “Hottest New Beer Bars in the USA.”
Why we love it: At Hops Hill, beer is the main affair. There’s nothing to distract you from the mission of drinking good beer, plenty of it. Serious foam-heads will feel like they’ve finally arrived. Host to regular tap takeovers and themed drinking events like ‘Imperial Stout night.’
What to order: Pick from 12 constantly rotating taps, 53 bottles and 11 cans. Expect to see local NYC breweries like Single Cut and Barrier Brewing represented among American crafts like Evil Twin and Thirsty Dog along with an assortment of international selections. Whiskey-wise, the Hill boasts 80 different high end and small batch bourbons, ryes and single malts. Charcuterie and cheese plates will help you soak it all in.
Regular tip: Try one of the beer cocktails!—like the Nightcall, made with bourbon, imperial Stout, honey syrup and mole bitters—to mix it up.
What it is: The newly expanded coffee shop from the folks behind the Greene Grape is a vast, airy space, with ample room for laptop workers during the day, or a great bar anytime.
Why we love it: The fine folks at Greene Grape continued to grow their empire by opening this corner mecca of good coffee, baked goods and good times. The design is like a landlocked cruise ship, with big communal tables and window-side cushiony lounges that allow for great conversation spaces.
What to order: The coffee bar serves Blue Bottle and Oslo coffee, house-made pastries. The bar has a rotating selection of 10 craft (but not snobby) beers. Pop by in the morning for one of its signature breakfast sandwiches, and check back for its new night menu.
Regular tip: The bar is starting to partner with its across-the-street neighbor Greenlight Books to host literary readings (Sarah Vowell appeared there already) in addition to other cider, cheese and more events.