949 Grand St, between Morgan Ave and Catherine St, Brooklyn
Venturing into East Williamsburg, I couldn’t believe that somebody had actually bothered to open any kind of business along the forlorn stretch of industrial filth near the grimy Newtown Creek. Amongst tombs of garages and tire shops, the Lockinn is a delightful little secret — diamond in a disappearing rough.
A ‘lock-in’ in England refers to the practice of cheating the draconian mandate that pubs close at 11pm, in which the publican covers the window with an opaque curtain and locks the door so that his “friends” can stay later. As far as achieving the cozy, centuries-old British pub aesthetic goes, this place comes pretty close — just without the centuries-old punters reeking of Benson and Hedges. Along with the worn-in church pew style benches and chairs, exposed brick, and an antique statue of Winston Churchill, candles, disco ball, and local artists’ sculptures and paintings add a “Williamsburg” touch. Also in true British fashion, the draft beer roster is more than plentiful. Apart from the usual classy imports, you can find some more obscure domestic, local and seasonal brews here. Though this place is the unrivaled habitat of strict beer drinkers, Hanna, the veteran tapster recommends a Jameson and Ginger Ale. I declined on that in favor of an Octoberfest, followed by the Lockinn’s special “Just Beer,” which most people are content to refer to as Bud Light.
The most charming features of Lockinn are the odd little gimmicks and non-booze/human interaction type entertainment. In a place like this, one can embrace one’s inner trainspotter and try to beat the high scores on the addictive little trivia machine or play any of the myriad games available, which include Scrabble and everything else short of shuffleboard and tetherball. The jukebox is more diverse than even the best mix tapes. A shift from Frank Sinatra to Modest Mouse is not uncommon. My favorite little stunt they pull is gastronomical: Lockinn regularly has cookies, cupcakes, popcorn and pizza for grabs at the bar. That’s a third grade birthday party buffet right there! Sweet! Why doesn’t anyone else do that?
If you are one of the many who’ve outgrown the Bedford scene, this Brooklyn-meets-Brixton watering hole is a great place to get pissed.