46 Bushwick Ave, Brooklyn
New York State is a beautiful place, or so I've heard. The problem is I don't own a car and thus have to vicariously visit cities like Lakewood (Southern Tier), Cooperstown (Ommegang), Pleasantville (Captain Lawrence) and Lake Placid (um, Lake Placid) through their famous beers. Matt Torrey's, the new Bushwicksburg bar named after one of its owners (who also run Harefield Road down the street), is like a boozy virtual tour of our state, but without the depressing rest stops.
The bar boasts 20 beers on tap, 18 of them from New York State, all affordably priced at $5 or $6. The aforementioned breweries are joined by lesser-knowns like the Ithaca Beer Co. and familiar local faves Sixpoint and Brooklyn Brewery. I had a very fine Brooklyn Dark Matter (the latest in the brewery's Brewmaster's Reserve series), a nicely balanced brown ale with traces of chocolate and the whiskey barrels it was aged in. The bottle list is made of contrasts of almost comic proportions: upscale imported beers like the wonderfully complex Hitachino Red Rice Ale and Scotland's dark-as-night Old Engine Oil next to bottles of Bud Light and Pacifico. If liquor does you quicker, there is also your standard selection of spirits, but don't expect anything fancy.
Of course, beers don't make the bar—the people and atmosphere do. The space has an aesthetic reminiscent of the wood-heavy, grown-up Williamsburg look of Harefield Road, although sexed up a bit with white subway tiles and a gorgeous wall of windows looking out onto the ungentrified wilds of Bushwick Avenue. Save for the patrons, the bar wouldn't look out of place on some cute corner in the West Village. Expect a crowd of 30-somethings with just a dash of bohemia and 20-somethings clad in hoodies or leather jackets, all laidback and settled into the deeply recessed pine booths lit by tea lights and Edison bulbs. This is one of those multifaceted bars, with its mellow indie rock soundtrack and dim lighting, that works equally well as a date spot or just a place to hang out with a few friends (or a lot of friends, as the booths sit around 16 people).
Its location on the eastern edge of Williamsburg guarantees a neighborhood feel; in fact, as I sat reading a book and savoring my beer on the black-dyed ash bar, I saw a few friends randomly walk in, and they in turn just happened to know someone sitting to my right. The point is, if you happen to live in the hood, you'll probably see someone you know here, and if you don't, the great beer selection and friendly bartenders will make you feel like you do.