159 Greenpoint Ave, nr Manhattan
Too often, bars rely on a gimmick to get customers in the doors. There is the faux-dive, the not-so-hidden speakeasy, the rowdy beer garden. Gypsy Bar, however, is simply glad to be a pleasant place to have a drink, with just enough character to not be boring. Enter off Greenpoint Avenue to find a tiny square of a bar outfitted with a few vintage mirrors, an antique hearth and a handful of thickset wooden tables.
When I went for happy hour, it was already packed with a fairly casual crowd, Greenpoint 20-somethings dressed in flannels and black hoodies. Stop in before 8pm and you can get a beer of the bar's choosing for $3 or three sliders for the same amount. The kitchen puts out standard but solid pub grub, including said sliders as well as Buffalo wings, fish and chips, bratwurst and more, staying open until around midnight or ''whenever the guy feels like going home,'' as the bartender, who looked like a thinner version of Hurley from Lost, said to me.
The beer selection is solid as well, including 12 brews on tap, most of them from local craft breweries like Defiant and Smuttynose, although there are some international options, such as La Chouffe from Belgium and Guinness from, well, everywhere. Beware oenophiles: there isn't much of a wine selection, just four bottles listed sans winery. You're better off going the hard liquor route, as the bar has a decent selection of whiskeys. Gypsy stocks hard cider too, just in case you time travel there from the 18th Century.
The vibe is refreshingly relaxed and not self-conscious. Nobody was wearing a vintage vest and fashioning ice cubes, there was no DJ spinning obscure '90s R&B for drunken hipsters. Ersatz-Hurley just plugged in his iPod and played the greatest hits for Williamsburg residents born in the 1980s which, in case you were wondering, includes a lot of New Order. The bar has only been open for a few months and already someone was celebrating their birthday there. A few moments after everyone finished clapping for the birthday girl, the bartender announced ''Happy hour is over, but that doesn't mean you have to stop being happy!'' How right he was.