Skinny Dennis: Honky Tonk Brooklyn

04/10/2013 4:00 AM |


The new bar from the owners of Lucky Dog is exaggerated country dive meets basement rec room—and it’s more exuberant than most real examples of either. Nostalgia is inescapable in this tight space, extending to the patrons’ dress; I counted five flannel shirts seated side by side along the bar. With 18 beers on draft, vintage arcade games, and live bands three nights a week, it’s just a lot of good ol’ fun.

The corner spot has been a bar for more than 70 years, most recently as Barberry. That probably accounts for the waft of spilled beer permeating the well-worn room. Everything is vintage: colored bar stools, country music posters, taxidermy souvenirs, the backseat of a van serving as a sofa. Here, the reclaimed wood is on the ceiling, and the walls are lined with old-looking bricks. The original tin ceiling, too decrepit to stay overhead, is patched onto one wall and the front facade, which features an impressive pastiche of all three materials. It makes the comfy Lucky Dog, just up the street on Bedford, look like an austere older sibling. Just step inside the bathroom, its walls plastered with vintage pinup tearsheets, and you’ll see.

The best things about Skinny Dennis are right behind the bar. Most of the drafts are American craft beers, and unlike so many bars in the neighborhood, most are only $5 a pint. With a rotating selection that might include Allagash White, Founders Red Rye, Green Flash Imperial IPA or Ommegang Rare Vos, there is a plentiful selection of styles with seldom a repeat from the same brewery. That’s not easy to pull off; it only works in places that drink up just about every beer available every night—which seems to be the case at Skinny Dennis, crowded even on the weeknights I visited.

There are a few more drink options, like a mason jar of Coors for $4, if that seems worth the bargain. Cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Bud and Rolling Rock go for $3. Skinny Dennis has a specialty cocktail called Uncle Willie’s Frozen Coffee, a sweetened elixir with coffee liqueur, bourbon and brandy. A cup of this’ll set you back $6, and the slushy mixture is served up in an iconic Greek paper coffee cup, so you can walk down the street inconspicuously boozing if there are no seats at the bar. You could also saddle up beside the vintage bar games, like a foosball-sized mechanical bowling alley. It may seem treacherous when played by bustling crowds guzzling beers, but the miniature lane is far easier to strike or spare after a few rounds.

Photo Austin McAllister