09/20/13 10:15am
09/20/2013 10:15 AM |

Don really needs a book. Thatd cheer him right up.

  • Don really needs a book. That’d cheer him right up.

There is almost nowhere I like better to read than in a bar. Perched on a stool, book in hand, glass of wine or bourbon on the rocks or gin and tonic or pint glass just within reach—it’s the perfect way to while away an afternoon. While reading is generally a solitary pursuit, reading at a bar serves the purpose of getting me out of my apartment, affording me the possibility of striking of a literary conversation with the bartender or one of my fellow bar-goers (but only if I feel like it, I’ve found burying my head in a book to be the world’s best pre-emptive conversation killer), and just feeling like a part of a larger community instead of like a hermit (which is what I usually feel like). But, as easy as it might seem to just grab any old novel and hit any old bar, you actually want to be reading exactly the right book at exactly the right bar in order to enjoy your literary/drinking endeavor to the fullest degree. And so, after much consideration, I’ve come up with a list of the ten perfect books to read at ten Brooklyn bars. Happy reading, and happy drinking!

09/19/13 12:42pm
09/19/2013 12:42 PM |



If, like us, you’re still nursing a bit of a food hangover from last weekend’s Taste Talks, now feels like the right time to take a quick trip down memory lane. And for a two day event, there’s a lot to recap! We ate a ton of pancakes, got a few tips from ?uestlove about how to make money in this economy, and strolled through East River Park learning how to pair exactly the right wine with ostrich burgers. Not a bad way to spend a weekend. Thanks to all of you who joined us and made the weekend what it was. We’ll see you next year!



09/18/13 1:22pm
09/18/2013 1:22 PM |


For many, the ultimate indication of the start of autumn is the reappearance of pumpkin spice lattes at the local Starbucks. But for others, it’s the beginning of Oktoberfest (held from September 21st to October 1st this year), a 16-day celebration of Bavarian culture as expressed through beer drinking, pretzel-eating, and dirndl-wearing oompah bands. And while we absolutely recommend devoting a day or two to trolling beirgartens, your festivities don’t need to be limited to ingesting exorbitant amounts of Hofbräu. Especially since there are plenty of great borough restaurants serving elegant, Oktoberfest-worthy fare. Guten appétit, and bitte leiten sie den senf (please pass the mustard).


09/18/13 12:45pm

Sweet, glorious beer champagne. c/o

  • Sweet, glorious beer champagne. c/o

On my birthday this year, everything was going great until I read Deadspin’s ranking of 36 cheap American beers. Cue tailspin: there’s no way that Natty Light (or Natty Ice for that matter!) could beat out Yuengling. They got cheap American beer all wrong.

The tailspin continues with this little bit of news, and it hits home: The owner of Bed-Stuy’ Black Swan, Sureshan Pather, is selling something criminal at his new bar/venue Beast of Bourbon: a 40 oz. of Miller High Life in a brown bag for $10.


The 6,000 square foot space serves over-the-counter BBQ and features over 50 domestic beers on draught, reports DNAInfo. The news site also points readers to this photo hosted on the bar’s Facebook page, and it is almost painful to accept: I’m pretty sure 22’s of High Life cost about $2 at the bodega. You know, the bodega that is down the street.

I’m pretty stoked for everything else that the bar has to offer, though: 50 beers, BBQ from Black Swan chef Adam Schere, and a jukebox with over 100 CDs running the punk rock gamut. But if Pather wants the place to be very DIY, as he says in the DNAInfo piece, the juxtaposition of a “DIY” band at a place that has a 500-700% markup on a $4 beer feels forced and gimmicky. Yeah, yeah, everybody’s got a gimmick, but: $10? Are you really going to ask the 22 year old with the Wipers pin to pay $10? The 35 year old with the X pin? Or, is the problem that the 22 year old is naive enough to fall into that trap? I mean, I… no words.

09/17/13 2:10pm
09/17/2013 2:10 PM |


New York magazine food critic and Manhattan resident Adam Platt ventured out to Williamsburg recently to dine at and review The Elm, chef Paul Liebrandt’s new restaurant in the King & Grove hotel on the northern end of Bedford Avenue. Once there, Platt expressed surprise that The Elm was not the typical “raffish outer-borough destination” and, that it was, in fact, more evocative of Manhattan. But a very specific part of Manhattan, namely, Platt thinks The Elm is “like the breakfast lounge of a second-tier midtown tourist hotel.” Ouch. But then, while being served mini-baguettes by a “plaid-shirted waiter,” Platt really drove the point home, saying, “This is the end of Brooklyn.” Ominous!


So, “the end of Brooklyn.” What does that even mean? In this case, it seems to mean that Brooklyn’s demise is due to, I don’t know, strangulation by ivy-covered walls, with the soul of the very borough itself writhing and spasming on countertops of shiny stainless steel. All of which is to say, Platt so closely associates fine dining and this specific type of stylized interiors with Manhattan that he thinks its very presence in Williamsburg (of all places!) signifies the end of the concept, or, you know, brand, (*shudder*), of Brooklyn. You know, Brooklyn is dead. Long live Brooklyn. That kind of thing.

Except, of course, that this is ridiculous. Platt seems to think of Brooklyn as still only being populated with “scruffy bourbon bars and locally sourced restaurants,” which, of course, it is but it’s not only that, and yet Platt seems to think that these are the only places that exemplify Brooklyn, both the borough and the brand. And so, when he notices that all of his Manhattan friends are able to enjoy themselves at The Elm, he seems to think this means that “the original style that the locavore gastronomes created for themselves [will begin] to mirror the stuffy, gilded fine-dining world of Manhattan that they left behind.” And, I mean, sure! But that’s been happening for a while now. And there have actually always been Brooklyn restaurants (The River Café, anyone?) which have modeled themselves off the idea of top-tier Manhattan restaurants. There’s nothing new there. And to deride The Elm’s decor as being similar to that of a midtown hotel’s? Well, King & Grove is a hotel, and that part of Williamsburg? We hate to say it, but, these days, it’s not too dissimilar from Murray Hill.

The thing is, there won’t be any “end” to Brooklyn. Not Brooklyn the brand, and definitely not Brooklyn the borough. And that’s mostly because there was no real beginning to the Brooklyn that Platt thinks of when he thinks “Brooklyn.” It’s not like waiters in plaid shirts and beards emerged fully formed from oyster shells on the banks of the East River, like hirsute Aphrodites on their way to work at Maison Premiere. The Brooklyn that exists now is the end result of decades and decades of social and economic changes that haven’t stopped and that are not entirely possible to accurately predict. And so will there be more “Manhattan hotel” restaurants in Brooklyn? Maybe! Probably. But that doesn’t negate all the other stuff going on here, and it certainly doesn’t portend the death of Brooklyn as we know it, any more than just the plain old passing of time signifies change. Brooklyn’s development continues unabated, but it doesn’t have to mean death. And if death comes at the hands of plaid shirted waiters carrying baguettes? Well, you know. Things could be worse. Much, much worse.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

09/13/13 11:18am
09/13/2013 11:18 AM |

A controversial hipster bar in Bay Ridge could be open as early as next week, almost a year to the day after it was first announced. Bay Ridge restaurateur Tommy Casatelli, of Kettle Black and Ho’ Brah, said last September that he would open a bar in his uncle’s old locksmith shop to cater to the neighborhood’s growing hipster population. “Bay Ridge needed to open its arms a bit,” he told the Brooklyn Paper. “We’ve been a spaghetti and meatball and Irish bar neighborhood forever. Brooklyn’s always changing and there’s room for everybody.” By January, locals had started freaking out, worried that stylish young people would stay up all night and ruin their ways of life. But since then the commotion died down; a January opening was delayed to June and then delayed again, apparently, as the bar still hasn’t opened. The planned beer garden missed the summer.


But it continued to work quietly toward opening: last month, Bay Ridge Odyssey published a photo of the new storefront, with the name spelled out Coney Islandishly in a red carnival-font outline filled in with yellow light bulbs. I heard that the chef was working out a hot dog/sausages menu (including maybe a vegan one? Hipsters!!) Now a website is up, though it just says “coming soon,” and a Twitter feed started up, promising it would be open soon. How soon?

“Hopefully by next Friday.”

The bar also released its beer menu, a solid assortment of craft beers local and not, reasonably priced at $6 a pint. And despite initial reports of neighborhood animus, many others are delighted. “I just passed by—the place looks great!” one member of the local community board posted to my Facebook. “Can’t wait for it to open!”

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

09/13/13 10:30am

There will be lots more of these.

  • There will be lots more of these.

The number one complaint you always hear about Williamsburg and Greenpoint is that there aren’t enough bars. There just isn’t any kind of a nightlife scene, right? It’s always so dead on the weekends. Oh. Wait. That’s not true at all! Well, but soon, it’s going to be even less true, because Community Board 1 (which covers Williamsburg and Greenpoint) has just received liquor license applications from 106 businesses. That’s the equivalent of, like, five bars on every block. Ok, not quite, but still. That’s a lot of bars!


DNAInfo reports that while some of the applications are just license renewals (required every few years), applications also “include 37 brand-new licenses…[and] 10 alterations (like when a bar adds liquor to a beer and wine menu).” So who exactly is applying for a new license? Well, “among the applicants for new licenses is the chain Urban Outfitters, which is seeking to sell booze in its clothing store opening on North Sixth Street and postponed its application from May.” Yeah, shopping drunk at Urban Outfitters sounds like a great idea. Shopping drunk at Urban Outfitters is actually pretty much how I spent many a high school weekend, or, I guess more accurately, I was shopping hungover, but sometimes I was actually still drunk. All I’ve got to say about that is there were some questionable decisions made when it came to body jewelry.

Anyway. Other businesses applying for licenses include “barber shop-bar hybrid the Blind Barber…Our Wicked Lady (to be opened by former Brooklyn Bowl managers), the bakery Charlotte Patisserie (looking to add beer and wine to their pastry and sandwich menu), a new Korean eatery called Dotory, and a new bar opened by the owners of North Williamsburg’s 4th Down Sports Bar.”

I feel like it would be a little disingenuous to get really worked up about this or feel much more than weary resignation. Expressing shock that new bars are opening in North Brooklyn is a little like claiming to be surprised at rising Brooklyn rents. You’d have to have had your head buried in the sand for the last few years not to see which way things were going. And I guess it could be worse, right? All those bars could be banks! If there’s one thing I know, it’s that bars are still better than banks.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

09/12/13 10:11am
09/12/2013 10:11 AM |

Eat these now! Before theyre mealy and watery and terrible!

  • c/o
  • Eat these now! Before they’re mealy and watery and terrible!

Summer is drawing to its inevitable end, and with its demise comes the harsh truth that—were we all to eat purely seasonally and locally—we’ll soon be in store for a solid few months of nothing but root vegetables and, I don’t know, apples. And, look, apples and root vegetables are lovely, but nothing quite compares to the bounty of fruits and vegetables that grace the farmer’s markets and restaurant menus during the summer. So before all those peaches and tomatoes and berries leave our lives for the next few months, here are ten things you really ought to eat and drink as you say goodbye to the long, muggy days of New York City summertime.


09/11/13 8:00am
09/11/2013 8:00 AM |

It’s no secret that Brooklyn has become a culinary Mecca in the last few years. Long gone are the days when the only Brooklyn dining destinations were Peter Luger or Grimaldi’s. So while nobody needs to celebrate Brooklyn’s dining scene (really, the lines at Pok Pok are already out of control), we still want celebrate it. And we’re not the only ones. Renowned chef April Bloomfield (the Spotted Pig, the Breslin, John Dory Oyster Bar, and Salvation Taco) has taken the lead by curating Northside Media Group’s Taste Talks, a two-day culinary extravaganza (yes, we used the word extravaganza) exploring the latest trends in food and drink, featuring events like an All-Star Cookout and panels galore on everything from chef horror stories from the likes of Dale Talde to contemporary restaurant design with AvroKO. Other very familiar names joining Bloomfield include Mario Batali, Wylie Dufresne, Dan Barber, and Alessandro Porcelli, who will all be in Williamsburg for panel discussions, the All-Star cookout, Cook It Raw Brooklyn and more. Of course, Bloomfield will be right there in the thick of the action, exploring the British culinary canon with chef Paul Liebrandt of the Elm, and grilling up beef hearts with her former chef, Nate Smith of Allswell. Sound enticing? The second you’re done reading this interview, log on to, because tickets to those highly affordable events are getting snapped up fast. And seriously? We’re talking April Bloomfield plus Nate Smith plus beef hearts. This is important, people. You’ll want to be there.