It's a pity that summer is over. I could have used a few more nights sitting in the leafy back garden of The Narrows, a relatively new bar tucked away on a barren stretch of Flushing Avenue in Bushwick. It was built by owners Keith Cochran and Matt Webber, the man who owns the Soft Spot, aka the two-for-one happy hour joint where all good Williamsburg drunks have kicked off many a regretful bender.
The backyard is among the nicest in Brooklyn, sequestered from the drab industrial surroundings by tall wooden walls. Sitting back there with a cold beer in my hand, I almost forgot I was in my old neighborhood, where, back in the day, the only places to drink were on rooftops and improvised bars the SLA wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. Now you can sip specialty cocktails made with the very herbs growing all around you in pots and planters scattered along the walls. Wooden benches and a hodgepodge of outdoor furniture provide plenty of seating, with enough standing room to accommodate a Department of Buildings-sanctioned 75 people (wink, wink). The bar serves eight beers on tap, mostly from American craft breweries, which range from $6-$10. Not exactly Bushwick prices, I know, but if you want to save some cash you can always order a $4 Bud or take advantage of the Jameson and Bud or tequila and Sol duo for $6.
If you are sitting inside, a cocktail might be more appropriate. The Narrows is what you might call a classy joint, all smooth, curved lines, lacquered surfaces and Art Deco details, with a classic black-and-white color scheme that suggests a jacket and tie might be more suitable than a thrift store flannel. The house specialty is the Caulfield's Dream, made of rye whiskey, syrup and sprigs of spearmint straight from the garden. Bartenders start their shifts by cutting fresh fruit and juicing—that is, making juice, not taking steroids. Settle into one of the black banquettes or a stool along the brass bar, both because it's comfortable and also, as the bar's name would suggest, because there isn't much standing room in the narrow space.
I guess the only complaint one might have is that the place just might be too nice for its surroundings. Is a recent art school grad living five-to-a-loft really going to want to pop in for a Manhattan or two? Of course, nowadays you can go down the street and order a plate of foie gras or diver scallops from Roberta's. I guess there's no fighting change and, with places like these, why would you want to?
Photo by Ashley Minette