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Royal Palms
514 Union Street, (Third Avenue and Nevins Street), Gowanus,
(347) 223-4410

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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.

Threes Brewing

Threes Brewing

Threes Brewing,
333 Douglass Street, Gowanus
(718) 522-2110

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What it is: A new brewery, bar and event space with an eclectic entertainment lineup of music, poetry, food and beer talks and a Grateful Dead DJ night.

Why we love it: This joint is a looker — it has all of the good parts of what passes for Brooklyn design these days without succumbing to the clichés. If there’s an industrial vibe about the place, it’s because there’s an actual functioning brewery behind the scenes. Threes Brewing serves 10 house-made beers on tap, along with a bunch of favorites from “friends and heroes.” Four wine taps feature hard-to-find varietals.

What to order: You can’t go wrong with any of the house beers, but their newest Imperial Pale Ale, called Superf*ckingyawn, is probably the most fun to order. Threes features a rotating crew of food partners including Rucola, the Meat Hook and Dover / Battersby.

Regular tip: Ninth Street Espresso’s first Brooklyn location at Threes Brewing serves craft coffee every morning.

Lowlands' epic backyard.

Lowlands’ epic backyard.

Lowlands
543 3rd Ave. (Between 13th and 14th), Gowanus
347-463-9458

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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.

Get 2-for-1 drinks from Lowlands with a Brooklyn Cocktail Book.

Pickle Shack. Minus the pickles.

Pickle Shack. Minus the pickles.

Pickle Shack
256 4th Avenue (between President and Carroll), Gowanus
347-763-2127

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What it is: This vegetable-focused bistro and beer bar is a bright spot amid the blight, an oasis in the Fourth Avenue desert or any other cliché you can think of that translates to “really surprising and special food and beer in an unexpected location.”

Why we love it: We love burgers as much as the next guy but just because we’re drankin’ doesn’t mean the food needs to be a meat-and-grease feast. Pickle Shack keeps it classy and light with smoked tofu, kale salad, artichoke dips and other stuff that feels like an indulgence but not an arterial train wreck. There are dozens of beers to choose from and the taps run heavy on the Dogfish.

What to order: Try the transformative fried hop pickles ($6)smoked tofu bahn mi ($12, topped with a house-fermented kimchee of local greens, avocado, aioli, quick pickled carrots), the veggie burger ($14) and the hot smoked Carolina BBQ pulled oyster mushrooms ($14), as deliciously whack as they sound.

Regular tip: If you like the pickles, get ’em to go at the Brooklyn Brine store, around the corner at 574 President (between 3rd and 4th aves).

The Halyards.

Halyards.

Halyards
406 3rd Avenue (between 6th Street and 7th Street)
Gowanus
(718) 532-8787

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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.

Halyards is a featured bar in our 2015 Cocktail Book, on sale now!