What it is: Lowlands is a prime refueling station for the locals of lower Gowanus, and anyone staying at La Quinta around the corner.
Why we love it: The low-key Lowlands 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? 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. Cocktails lean toward classics: negronis, old-fashioned, greyounds and margaritas made with freshly squeezed juice. Hungry? Grab a pressed sandwich from HBH or a pretzel from Pelzer’s.
Regular tip: The name comes from its position at the bottom of Park Slope’s….slope.
What it is: A popular and inviting 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.
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. Try a signature cocktail with a sassy name like the “Salty Studebaker” of basil-infused vodka, fresh grapefruit and a salted rim. 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.
Regular tip: 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. Check out country and delta blues music nights on Wednesdays and vinyl Saturday afternoon too.
What it is: Fort Defiance is a locally-sourced breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch bar and restaurant with a strong New Orleans bent (owner St. John Frizell lived and worked there for many years). It’s a welcoming neighborhood hangout that plenty of non Red Hook locals will make the trek for again and again.
Why we love it: In addition to serving up delicious food and drink every day of the week, the Fort offers nightly specials: Monday-Friday is oyster happy hour from 3-7; Monday is burger night; and Thursdays is all Tiki with “The Sunken Harbor Club,” featuring creative tropical drink specials (Samoan Fog Cutter anyone?) and a Polynesian-inspired food menu. It’s an establishment that equally favors New Orleans and Brooklyn, making it a safe-haven for NOLA expats and Brooklyn diehards alike.
What to order: Choose from a mix of local craft beers, like Sixpoint and Other Half, and New Orleans favorites Abita and Bayou Teche, on tap. Creole red beans on toast is a NOLA-inspired brunch favorite—pair it with perfect brunch cocktails Ramos Gin Fizz or a Bourbon Milk punch. At lunch or dinner, definitely try the lauded chicken liver pate with a Sazerac. And don’t forget the aforementioned Thursday night Sunken Harbor Club, where you can order tiki drinks such as the “Gunga Din,” a g ‘n t with cardamom and a twist.
Regular tip: Fort Defiance is named for Red Hook’s Revolutionary War stronghold where General Washington and his troops shot down British boats in the harbor during the Battle of Brooklyn.
What is it: Halyards is a low-key spot with a nautical feel, located surreptitiously in industrial Gowanus.
Why we love it: Its relaxed atmosphere, affable bartenders and reliably clean surfaces. There are a wide variety of beers on tap, and a seasonal cocktail menu. Bring anyone you’re trying to impress — like a date or friend you haven’t seen in many years. The pool table, dart board, and bowls of Jenga blocks break up the awkwardness, and the music is never loud enough to be intrusive.
What to order: The Root & Ginger Beer for $10. A great choice for those of us who are indecisive about our soft drinks–and wish that root beer was actually alcoholic. Alcohol-wise, pick from a selection of rotating drafts or order one of the old-school cocktails, such as their super citrusy, super refreshing version of a Pimm’s Cup, with Pimm’s No. 1, lime, lemon, orange, cucumber, mint and lemonade.
Regular tip: The owner is British, so it definitely feels more like a pub than a bar.
Why we love it: It’s a great spot to stop in on any day or night of the week, but theykeep it fresh and fun with weekly activities, like trivia on Tuesdays, the new cocktail series “Wednesdays” and BYOV Thursdays. A projector screen comes in handy for the occasional movie night.
What to order: Pick from 8 rotating craft draft lines and a food menu of snacks and sandwiches, like a Dogfish Head pickle plate with mustard, or their take on the BLT, the “SALT” (speck, avocado, lettuce and tomato). Stay late and take the “Last Train Home,” their signature cocktail made with bourbon, bitters, Aperol and Baska snaps (Swedish bitters made from botanicals).
Regular tip: Grab a seat by the window for some prime Crown Heights people watching.