If you live within two subway stops of Tom’s Diner, you may have gotten into a long, whiskey-breathed argument about where Prospect Heights actually is. At the very least, you’ve likely cringed at the phrase “ProCro.” Smartphone lookups only blur the boundaries—Google Maps includes the Barclay’s Center in the postage stamp-sized area, and an old NY Magazine article suggests that that a block-wide sliver on Prospect Park west is part of the neighborhood. I object vehemently to both assertions, and I’m not even drunk right now. One thing’s for certain: there are some really solid happy hours in the region arguably known as Prospect Heights. Here’s a list of places where you can get tipsy and then try to figure out where the hell you are.
Laying the foundations
There are two types of drinkers: people who think you should eat a decent meal before downing seven beers, and people who think that doing so is a waste of money (these types can also get into high altitude weddings and post-blood donation binging). I pass no judgment, and neither does Soda Bar, which offers a $6 hamburger/Rolling Rock combo along with plain old $2 Rolling Rock. They’re not fooling around with the burger, by the way. It’s modestly sized, but there’s a high-quality bun, a heap of baby greens, and enough culinary commitment to ask you how you’d like it cooked. Pull up a stool, lounge on one of Soda Bar’s comfy couches, or lie on the floor, pound several Rolling Rocks, and go Hasselhoff on your burger. Like I said, I’m not here to judge.
Soda Bar, 629 Vanderbilt Ave., 718-230-8393
Noon-7pm Mon-Fri, $2 Rolling Rock, $6 Rolling Rock/hamburger combo
Getting time travel tipsy
The Way Station is one of Prospect Heights’ more carefully-decorated bars. Studded leather booths and ornate wallpaper line the south wall, a bathroom masquerades as a phone booth at the end of the bar, and wall-mounted ray guns point mercifully towards the back. A fellow drinker described the steampunky bar’s clientele as “socially functional nerds,” and, yes, there’s a geek streak to the bar that offers a “choose your own adventure” cocktail (this priceless $8 experience, in which the bartender mixes a drink based on your answers to a few questions, is a total ripoff, by the way). Assuming you bring a few friends, though, the crowd could just as easily be described as “people who like cheap drinks.”
The Way Station, 683 Washington Ave, 347-627-4949
4pm-8pm, $2 PBR, $4 shot-and-a-beer, $4 drafts, $8 ‘choose your own adventure,’ $1 off everything else.
Despite the low prices and lengthy happy hour, Washington Commons is a swell place. Their friendly bartenders will answer questions about barley for you, and they take the trouble to pour pilsners into pilsner glasses, etc. The gargantuan beer list can sometimes daunt, but with what they’re charging, you can taste your way through the bar’s microbrew selection in a matter of (drunk) days. During warmer times, Washington Commons’ back yard is a great place to spend several hours. Bonus: there are sometimes dogs at this bar.
Washington Commons, 748 Washington Ave., 718-230-3666
3-8pm Mon-Fri; $2 off everything; most beer is $3-6 after discount. Also, $4 bloody Marys from 1-4pm Sat-Sun.
Two plausible arguments that Prospect Heights now extends to Franklin Avenue
The gentrifying hordes are pushing eastward from Washington Avenue at an alarming pace (a street often cited as Prospect Heights’ edge), but the way that people talk about the Franklin Avenue stop in Crown Heights, you don’t expect a place like The Crown Inn. It’s downright posh: there’s a wood-trimmed marble bar, craft liquors, house cocktails, and the kind of wine that doesn’t involve a plastic spigot. At one point, the bartender replaced my gross, saturated napkin with a crisp new one. Like I said—posh. The sophistication announces itself in your tab, but my fancy-pants cocktail was delicious enough to make me want to be rich.
The Crown Inn, 724 Franklin Avenue, no phone
5pm-8pm Mon-Thurs,2pm-8pm Fri; $4 drafts, $6 selected cocktails, $7 wine on tap
Franklin Park—the bar best known for its outdoor seating, excellent weekend DJ sets, and being the place where you lost your coat on Friday—also has a beat the clock happy hour. Drink as many $3 drafts as you can from 4-5pm, because they’re $4 from 5-7. On Mondays, the drafts stay put at $4 all night, and on Tuesdays, you can get two-fers on well drinks and beer until close. If you can’t take the pressure of escalating prices (or if you become disoriented for some reason), remember that $3 cans of Bud are available every day of the week at any hour.
Franklin Park, 618 Saint Johns Place, 718-975-0196
$3 drafts and $4 wells from 4-5pm, $4 drafts and $5 wells from 5-7pm. $4 drafts all night on Monday; two-for-one wells and beers until close on Tuesday. Cash only.
Other places to drink cheap
Bar Sepia, 234 Underhill, 718-399-6680—4-8pm Mon-Fri, $1 off drafts and wells. $3 Bud during happy hour, better beers will run you about $5 after the discount.
Plan B, 626 Vanderbilt Ave., 347-240-2171 —4-7pm, Mon-Fri, $3 drafts, $4 wells and wine. Guinness is $4. Lots of TVs playing sports.
Branded Saloon, 603 Vanderbilt Ave., 718-484-8704—4pm-7pm, Mon-Fri, $2 Rolling Rock, $3 PBR, $4 drafts, wells, and wine, $6 cosmos, bloody marys, and margaritas. This place has a pool table and arcade games.
Sharlene’s, 353 Flatbush Ave., 347-350-8225—1pm-7pm, EVERY DAY, $3 drafts, $1 off everything else. THESE PEOPLE ARE SAINTS.