Radegast Hall & Biergarten
In Brooklyn the buyback is alive and well, there’s no VIP room upstairs, and “bottle service” means a prompt refill of your empty whiskey glass. This is egalitarian boozing.
Radegast Hall & Biergarten
Take a seat at one of the seemingly mile-long tables and in short order you’ll be served a football-sized mug of German brew by a barmaid. By the third round, you’ll be downing the in-house kraut-topped bratwurst and marveling at how sexy a dirndl can look.
Stop in around 7 p.m. and you’ll find locals quietly tucking into crisp fried chicken and spicy fish sandwiches in the booths that face the bar. Hours later, they’ll be dancing on the tables.
Sure, they serve Brazilian-style empanadas, and you can get Michter’s single-barrel rye in your Manhattan. But we’ll be the crew on the pool table, downing pints and getting loud.
Saint Vitus Bar
Saint Vitus is bringing back the New York metal bar, along with cheap beer, reclaimed-everything decor, and pulled pork. At the stage in back, you can catch the next Motörhead without catching a pool cue to the face.
What sounds like a British strip club is actually a bar built into an old gas station. Here laid-back cool kids drink beers on the picnic-table-strewn patio (when it’s warm out) or inside the cozy glazed-brick walls (when it’s not).
Pilgrims and locals gather here in homage to Sunny, whose great-grandfather established the place in 1890. Stop by on Saturday nights for the open bluegrass jam, where every other person is playing an instrument.
This is a dangerous little vortex populated by Brooklyn musicians and the girls who love them. You walk in for a Margaveza—a beer in a pint glass topped with a frozen margarita—and suddenly it’s 4 a.m.
Going balls-out at Brooklyn Bowl
This isn’t your teenage niece’s cosmic bowling. The Gutter showed up on a dingy block of Greenpoint in 2007 with a pre-worn barroom that looks like it’s thirty years old and eight bowling lanes that actually are thirty years old, having been imported wholesale from an alley in Iowa. This is where dudes in plaid shirts and thick-framed glasses honor their suburban forebears by hoisting a draft beer in one hand and an eleven-pound orb in the other. Just three blocks away sits the massive Brooklyn Bowl, less an outright alley and more a pleasure dome: To one side of the lanes sits a Blue Ribbon–run eatery with pitch-perfect comfort food, while in back is a stage that’s hosted everyone from M.I.A. to Surfer Blood. It’s the bowling alley for people who don’t really bowl.
The Criterium at Fort Defiance is a sharp, citrusy smack to the face.
Brooklyn is the epicenter of the classic-cocktail movement that has spread quickly across this great and thirsty land. Not because it’s helmed by guys with waxed mustaches and suspenders (stop calling them “braces,” buddy) but because these retro bros push the limits of mixology. Going to a cocktail joint in Brooklyn holds the same thrill as going to your favorite restaurant: You trust the place enough to try something unexpected, knowing it will blow your mind—starting with these four drinks.
The Carondelet at Maison Premiere
Sip this alloy of gin, honey, sea salt, and lime while you down a dozen oysters at the gorgeous white marble bar.
The San Francisco Handshake at Hotel Delmano
Who said you can’t be all things to all people? This concoction is savory (thyme-infused gin, a dash of Fernet-Branca), sweet (St. Germain), and sour (fresh lemon juice) in perfect proportion.
The Criterium at Fort Defiance
A bracing rhubarb-and-grapefruit riff on the highball, named for a local bike race, from a bar-slash-restaurant with a locavore ethos.
The Keep Calm and Carry On at Weather Up
Not so much a specific drink as it is therapy. Give the bartender in this candlelit grotto a baseline—you want a rum drink? something that’ll help you relax?—and he’ll mix up what you need.
The dress code at Glasslands Gallery: urban-party whatever.
It’s not that the music venues in Brooklyn are better than anywhere else in the city—though they are, if only for the lack of fist-pumping tools. It’s more that this borough is the place so many great acts—TV on the Radio, Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens—sleep when they’re not on tour and you get to see them on their home turf. This is where shows stretch on an extra hour, and when the lead singer says he’s glad to be here, he genuinely means it.
The Bell House
The cavernous halls, chandeliers, and buffalo portraiture evoke the finest steak house in Denver circa 1920; the lineup ranges from indie acts like Beach House and Jonathan Richman to taxidermy contests and steak dinners for 250. If you need a break from the action, retreat to the Frontier Room for a music-themed cocktail like the Teaches of Peaches, an appropriately sweet-and-rough infused-vodka concoction.
At this renovated warehouse and art-meets-life mecca—don’t call it a “club”—you’d be forgiven for mistaking some of the audience members for the headliners. And since it’s CBGB’s for the Williamsburg set, there isn’t much difference. From up on the balcony you’re as likely to spot the next Yeasayer or Vampire Weekend head-nodding as rocking out onstage.
Music Hall of Williamsburg
There’s a reason LCD Soundsystem played the first concert of their final tour here: The space is cavernous but still feels conspiratorial, like you’re getting in on a show that you’ll brag about to your grandkids decades from now. Doesn’t hurt that you can find a bar on all three floors—including a basement-level one where you can sit out the opener—and that there’s not a bad sight line in the house.