It’s no secret that trivia nights are a fun way to break up the drinking week, but for those of you out there who have jettisoned high school French from compartments of your brain to make way for useful knowledge like Pee-Wee Herman’s real name, they can also be pretty lucrative. Not only do you get to drink and show off how smart you are (without the ridicule), but you can work off your beer/food tab (or get straight up cash) in the process! We’ve rounded up some of our favorite and most profitable nights (and rundown their prize bounties), so embrace your inner Poindexter (Buster Poindexter’s real name, anyone?).
All quizzes are graded loosely on a scale of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader (easiest) to Cash Cab to Jeopardy (hurts your brain). Times for trivia nights are approximate, as these things almost never start on time, unless specifically noted.
Pacific Standard, 82 Fourth Ave., Park Slope
Team Maximum: 6 people
Difficulty Level: Cash Cab-Jeopardy
Breakdown: The Quizmaster has a projector to display all of his questions, which might be the only incidence of that during the nights listed here. This could be a positive or negative, depending on how much your team enjoys the banter involved when a host needs to explain or repeat a question to a shouting mob of competitors. You’ll have to stretch your brain for some of the questions: One round on a recent night called “Portmanteau” involved combining two answers into one (a Russian president and a popular party snack? “Medvedeviled eggs”). While the booty here doesn’t seem worth the effort, each place prize also comes with points used in recurring playoffs. The playoff champion wins a party at the bar with food, which could more than makes up for the lack of prizes up front.
3rd: $1 off of a round of drinks
2nd: $2 off of a round of drinks
1st: Free round of drinks.
Last Exit, 136 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn Heights, (718) 222-9198 (NOTE: Held on 1st and 3rd Mondays every month)
Time: 9pm “sharp” (unverified)
Price: $5 per person
Team Maximum: 4 people
Difficulty Level: Jeopardy
Breakdown: Cash Cab has been known to come around looking for contestants at times at this long-running trivia night (oh and by the way, Cash Cab isn’t a real cab). The questions are not easy and the competition is harder. Other fun elements include the “Last Exit Theater” where the hosts read a script and contestants must guess which movie it’s from. Subscribers to the email list ([email protected]) receive notices of the upcoming quizzes and a clue to one of the answers.
3rd: Drink tickets
2nd: 20 percent of the pot
1st: 80 percent of the pot
Honorable Mentions: On Last Exit’s off-nights, check out Alligator Lounge (600 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg, where the same folks who run The Charleston’s quiz (covered below) preside, and get some free pizza with your drinks.
Brooklyn Tavern, 31 Third Avenue Ave., Boerum Hill, (718) 797-0677
Team Maximum: 5 people
Difficulty Level: Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
Breakdown: Five rounds with nine questions each and one song for which teams have to name the artist and title. There was a mix of hard and easy questions, but this place has a tendency to make some hard questions much easier with a few too many clues, which can be a bit frustrating for trivia enthusiasts. If you have five people on your team, third place may wind up worth more than 2nd, depending on what you’re drinking.
3rd: Free round of drinks
2nd: $25 tab for your team (has to be used that night)
1st: $50 tab for your team (good for a month)
The Charleston, 174 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg, (718) 782-8717
Team Maximum: None discernible
Difficulty Level: Cash Cab
Breakdown: With four rounds of six questions, this trivia night seems like it would be short, but they manage to squeeze every moment they can, as the night can run over two hours. You will definitely meet the super-friendly John if you start your trivia regimen (pictured at the bottom of the page). Between rounds are “shot rounds,” the only time where contestants are encouraged to shout out an answer for a free shot. First place teams can compete in championships at a later date, for which the grand prize is a fixie (did I mention this bar was in Williamsburg?).
3rd: A pull from the “Mystery Bag.” Your guess is as good as mine. Just hope it’s not a mullet.
2nd: $25 tab for your team
1st: $40 tab for your team
Honorable Mentions: Tuesday night must be the unofficial trivia night for our borough. Check out Bar Great Harry (280 Smith St., Cobble Hill,) Ceol (191 Smith St., Cobble Hill,) Rope! (415 Myrtle Ave., Clinton Hill, $2 entry fee), The Sackett (661 Sackett Pl., Park Slope).
Pete’s Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, (718) 302-3770
Time: 7:30 pm sharp!
Team Maximum: None
Difficulty Level: Jeopardy!
Breakdown: When I say the difficulty of this trivia night is Jeopardy caliber, I’m not just making an easy comparison. Many attendees to this rarefied trivia night boast one or multiple Jeopardy! appearances (sort of like how every actor has a Law & Order appearance in their credits on Broadway playbills). Quizmaster duties rotate among a set of regular teams, who get paid to run their night, so not only do the questions and esoterica vary, but if you find a way into this magic club, you can turn this into a pseudo-profession! Cash Cab also scouts here. All quizzes come with one audio, one visual round and one “special” round. An example of the level of difficulty, from a recent music round: “Name the person in the group that performed this song who died last year.” Yeah, wow. Quiz masters are given incentives to finish on time, so you can count on this night to be sweet and to the point. People take their trivia seriously here.
3rd: A “Tasty Sandwich”. Sandwiches are $7-$8, and they are indeed quite tasty
2nd: $15 bar tab for your team
1st: $25 bar tab for your team
Honorable Mentions: The Habitat (988 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint), Cherry Tree (65 4th Ave., Park Slope), PJ Hanley’s (449 Court St., Carroll Gardens), and Franklin Park (618 St. John’s Pl., Prospect Heights)
Toby’s Public House, 686 6th Ave., Greenwood, (718) 788-1186 (NOTE: Held on 2nd and 4th Thursdays every month)
Team Maximum: 6 people
Difficulty Level: Cash Cab
Breakdown: Quizmaster Matt Marks takes over as DJ and host, and there is considerably more banter with the crowd than at most of the other nights covered here. Often there will be the impromptu vote of Clue/No Clue (hint: “Clue” almost always wins) for particularly hard questions. This quiz is six rounds, including a visual round, a themed audio round and a bonus round, which is usually a top ten question (example: “Name the most popular street names”). On top of that, this is the only night I have attended where the host will come around and score each team’s answer sheet right in front of them for full transparency and arguments (always encouraged). There’s some strategerie involved: Teams can “double down” on any round before the final to get twice their score for that round.
2nd: Free round
1st: $20 tab for each member of your team
Caveat: They’ve been fickle with the prizes from time to time, but they are usually pretty lucrative. Add to it the fact that Toby’s has a brick oven and some excellent pizzas (all valid for the tab), and you and your team can win yourself a full dinner there one night.
Honorable Mentions: On the off-nights, check out Rocky Sullivan’s (34 Van Dyke St., Red Hook)
FRIDAY & SATURDAY
Dude, give it a rest. The bars certainly have. If you need to prove how smart you are so badly, play some Cranium at home. I’m beginning to think you have a problem.
Are there any places we missed? Let us know and give your own evaluation of how difficult it is! View more photos of Brooklyn’s best trivia nights in our Brokelyn Flickr pool.
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