This is one of our favorite issues of the year to put together. As a staff, we take an entire month off to explore all of the city’s latest additions to drinking culture, while at the same time revisiting some of the classic, older watering holes. Some days, we’ll visit up to ten bars — that’s hard work! And despite the staggering loss of brain cells, money, friends, loved ones and years off our life, all that work was well worth it, as it is with great pleasure we present the following awards. Enjoy.
BEST BAR FOR PINBALL AND HARD DRINKING IN BROOKLYN: Boat
, 175 Smith St.
Boat: the default answer to “Drinks? Smith St?” And their recent upgrade from Lord of the Rings pinball to Pirates of the Caribbean pinball added a shot of freshness in an otherwise pleasantly stale, windowless den of unfancy drinking and amusing wall graffiti.
BEST MULTITASKER: Union Hall
, 702 Union St.
One-stop shopping for bocce, live music, an outdoor patio, cold beer, stiff drinks, velvet couches, faux literary clutter and attractive, earth-tone-clad Brooklynites.
BEST WALL OF FAME:
You know how heartland BBQ places display polaroids of patrons who’ve eaten an entire cow in one sitting? Well, isn’t the High Scores chalkboard at Barcade (388 Union Ave)
basically that, only with much tighter pants?
“COUNTRY CLUB” LEAST LIKELY TO INSPIRE CLASS CONFLICT THAT CAN ONLY BE ALLEVIATED BY A CONTROVERSIAL GOLF MATCH À lA CADDYSHACK: Bushwick Country Club
, 618 Grand St.
The plebes may resent the members for their $5 White Russians, but may be placated by the fact that the mini golf course in back is open to the public.
BEST BAR THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT YOU THOUGHT THE PERFECT BAR WOULD BE LIKE WHEN YOU WERE 13 (and 23, and 33): The Gutter
, 200 N. 14th St.
Much has been made of this temple of Rust Belt forgetting: the great local beer available in pitchers, the eerily perfect regional simulacra all over the place, the comfy booths looking over the bowling alley… oh, and the fucking bowling alley. We love this bar.
BEST KARAOKE SPOT FOR KARAOKE ENTHUSIASTS: Hope & Anchor, 347 Van Brunt St.
What makes standard karaoke bars so terrible is that they’re full of people who wind up there after long nights of drinking, and who invariably act retarded. Not so with Hope & Anchor, which, because of its location (tucked away in Red Hook), demands a good deal of planning ahead. The result? People who take karaoke somewhat seriously and are usually pretty good singers.
BEST CLASSIC OLD JUKEBOX THAT DOESN'T MAKE YOUR BRAIN HURT BY BEING A SUPER-COMPUTER: Tile Bar
(WCOU Radio), 115 First Ave.
Cold beer, normal people, Billie Holliday, Lou Reed, ACDC on the jukebox... Sounds like home.
BEST LIVE MUSIC: Sound Fix
, 110 Bedford Ave.
Or, rather, Live Music Venue That, What with Its Sensible Décor and Affordable Beer, Best Approximates a
Bar to Which You Would Actually Go.
BEST BAR FOR DJ SETS: Hanger Bar
, 217 E. 3rd St.
Plenty of bars have DJ sets, but only Hanger Bar has a smoke machine.
BEST BAR FOR NONDEscript PERFECTION AND FREE BILLIARDS: B61
, 187 Columbia St.
The Columbia Waterfront District (is that what the kids are calling it now?) never quite became the hotspot they said it would, but terrific Mexican destination restaurant Alma packs them in daily, and the bar below it, named for the bus that stops there, is nigh unimpeachable.
BEST BAR IN NEED OF A LITTLE NUDGE, ATMOSPHERE WISE: Wells Ales and Lager
, 303 Bedford Ave.
Hey, the beer is well chosen, eclectic, perfectly poured, temperature modulated and reasonably priced… it’s just… we don’t know… it has kind of a waiting-room vibe.
BEST BEER WITH MORE ATMOSPHERE THAN YOU'D EXPECT FROM A BEER BAR (BECAUSE IT'S ACTUALLY A RESTAURANT): Jimmy’s No. 43
, 43 E. 7th St.
You could say it’s a restaurant because of the local, seasonal menu, but the ever-changing line-up of great organic beer and wine in this gorgeous, cavernous downstairs space qualifies it for double duty.
BEST BAR FOR BUDDING BEER SNOBS: Downtown Bar and Grill
, 160 Court St
You might not be terribly impressed by the 12 beers they have on tap (though you should, because they’re delicious and expertly chosen), but if the 800 available bottled beers don’t do it for you, you should probably go home and have a cup of tea or something lame like that. Bring multiple credit cards and try them all!
BEST BAR TO DRINK FAR, FAR MORE BEAUJOLAIS THAN YOU SHOULD ON A MONDAY EVENING: Bourgeois Pig
, 111 E 7th St.
We loved the tiny and sloppy-romantic Bourgeois Pig when it was on MacDougal, and we love it now, in its bigger but still cheesy, chocolatey, harem-like digs.
THE LITTLEST BAR THAT COULD: Smith & Mills
, 71 N Moore St.
2007 was the year of the tiny bar, perhaps best exemplified by Smith & Mills, a wee closet of a restaurant and drinking hole — formerly a horse stable — gussied up with “haute factory” appeal and superlative cocktails.
BEST BAR FOR IMPRESSING A DATE: Little Branch
, 20 Seventh Ave S.
We went to Little Branch on a first date once, and even though we sat in silence for most of it with someone who told us we were dressed like a Pilgrim, we haven’t forgotten the ethereal cocktails, the beautiful bartender or the live music.
BEST COCKTAILS: Death & Co.
, 433 E 6th St.
Careful, classic and clever cocktails surrounded by understated but elegant décor. Think wood and chandeliers with nary a misstep in sight. If we were forced at gunpoint to live forever inside a bar, any bar, this would be the one.
BEST BAR FOR THE ART OF THE COCKTAIL: Pegu Club
, 77 W Houston St.
At first we thought the snazzy kits of cocktail condiments along the bar and at each handsome, handsome table were pretentious, but we were wrong. Not that you need them — cocktails at Pegu are already among the best in the city.
BEST FANCY ROOFTOP BAR: 230 Fifth
, 230 Fifth Ave.
The first time we went to the ridiculously huge and gorgeous rooftop bar at 230 Fifth, we used the phrase “This is the best night of [our] life.” Sure the drinks were overpriced, it was the first perfect night of summer anyway, and most of the people there were foreigners in white pants, but damned if it wasn’t one of the best nights of our life.
BEST, AND BEST PRICED, JERK CHICKEN AND WATERMELON MOJITOS: Spur Tree
, 76 Orchard St.
The staff is as attractive as the food, which is hot, sweet and artfully presented — and one of the better bargains in the Lower East Side. We’re also (mentally) in line for the yet-to-be-opened outdoor patio.
BEST DISGUSTING, DELICIOUS FREE FOOD BAR: The Levee
, 212 Berry St
We like to think it’s also the board games and the Texas Two-Step (a bottle of Lone Star and a shot of equila, $4) that keep us coming back to the Levee, but mostly it’s the Cheez Balls and Twizzlers. Cheez Balls and Twizzlers, let us count the ways we love thee. One, you taste so good; two, you are free.
BEST BAR THAT THINKS IT'S A RESTAURANT: Fette Sau
, 354 Metropolitan Ave.
Yes, the first things people mention are the luscious hunks of pork and pork-related edibles you can smear all over your hands, your shirtfront and the butcher paper they came on, but Fette Sau has more terrific bourbons than you can shake a lamb shank at.
BEST RESTAURANT THAT THINKS IT'S A BAR (TIE): Café Katja
, 79 Orchard St.
Nothing about this Austrian beer and wine bar doesn’t warm our heart. From the sausages to the spaetzle to the homemade pickles to the towering glasses of golden Schneider hefe-weisse, diminutive Café Katja sates and endears, and endears and sates.
, 136 Division St.
It’s only got about five seats, but the Gothic/monastic bi-level Venetian wine bar manages to offer not only dozens of appellations by the bottle but heaping plates of gorgeous Italian tapas (snails with garlic, fritto misto) — thanks in no small part to their… salami room.
BEST BAR SO NICE THEY NAMED IT TWICE: Nita Nita
, 146 Wythe Ave.
This quiet little Williamsburg bar is a triple threat: surprisingly great kitchen, modest, very well chosen beers and simple, delicious cocktails, and a great garden. It’s kind of like the guy/girl you didn’t notice at first but who turns about to be stunningly attractive and smart. It’s a stealth babe!
BEST BIBIMBAP IN A BEATIFUL BAR WHILE LISTENING TO ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN: Dokebi
, 199 Grand St.
Not only is the Korean food at this Williamsburg spot fast, cheap and delicious, the music is a perfect mix of up-to-the-second indie and classic college rock. And you get a two-for-one, with a restaurant space up front (on Grand Street) and a great bar at the back (on N 1st Street).
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