442 Court St, between 3rd and 4th Place, 718-522-6900, Carroll Gardens
Cheapest Drink: $3 Happy House drafts and well drinks, 6-8 weeknights; 12am to 1am Sun-Thurs Most Expensive Drink: Try champagne, it’ll make you romantic. Overheard: Bartender to customer Joey: “What do you think is the best Italian restaurant in the neighborhood?” Joey: “My mudda’s house!”
My apartment resides in Carroll Gardens — home to many great things: beautiful brownstones, tree-lined streets, stately churches, well-dressed babies, quaint coffee shops, fine dining, hip boutiques and yes, even some decent bars. All of this within a few blocks of the subway. But, the neighborhood extends far from the main vein, and something weird happens when the sun goes down. The darkened, shadowy streets become suspiciously bare and quiet, especially when one walks into the west. Whoever said the frontier could be a prison might’ve been right.
I’ve wished a lot for a good place to grab a drink, somewhere cool and comfortable, and most importantly, nearby. And then, with the hive mind working in full effect, somebody on south Court Street received my message. What we have now is the coolest kid on the block: Abilene. You’re welcome very much.
Brooklyn bars are known generally for some kind of specific draw: pinball, DIY jukeboxes, weird themes, and enough ironic wit to last until the last trucker hat decomposes in Fresh Kills (take the bar called “Bar,” for instance). Abilene is basically a tastefully decorated bar where the aging indie rockers of these streets can convene. There’s simple-yet-funky décor and artwork and dim lighting and eight tap beers, one of which is the tasty Blue Point. There’s a long bar and enough table seating to keep it packed but organized. The draw is the excellent music… song after glorious song. A friend that works in a record store hooked up the reliable MP3 player, and it provides a perfect barroom soundtrack of post punk, folk and indie rock.
I see it loud and clear now. I know the truth. My beer is half empty, but the glass is half full. And it might just be a beer-induced dream of happiness, but Abilene is one of the best new bars around, plain and simple.