Garden Party

Outside is the perfect setting to cure all that ales you

A long time ago (1539), in a land far, far away, Bavarian authorities forbade the brewing of fermented mash between April and September for fear of spoiling and widespread indigestion. Sick of the system's bellyaching and opposed to a summer without swill, rebel Bavarians struck back by mixing a more potent beer and storing it in barrels below chestnut trees. Under the shade of these broad leaves, guzzlers could chug these jugs where they lay, a practice that gave birth to the biergarten. With immigration to America, Germans brought over their folklore, work ethic, and, yes, biergartens too. (Cheers to cultural diversity!) New York's gardens were once 800 strong, but Prohibition wiped out all but one, the BOHEMIAN HALL AND GARDEN (29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria, Queens, 718-721-4226). Completed in 1919 as a home for the local Czech community, it's the only garden in NYC that's more than a glorified backyard. Still, many have sprung along this vine of tradition. Below are a few of our favorites; you don't need a green thumb to tend to any of these, just a thirsty belly. KIM

After gallery-hopping in Chelsea, the ideal place to grab some shade and a few beers is in the courtyard garden of CHELSEA COMMONS, a classic English pub. The selection here is pretty standard (including Heineken, Budweiser, Beck's, and Stella at $4 a bottle; pints of Guinness, Saranac, cider, and Rolling Rock for another buck), but the atmosphere is not: Ivy climbs the low, red brick walls enclosing this cozy hideaway while sunlight streaks through the branches of the towering dogwood tree that stems from the garden's center. As the sun goes down, 18th-century-style lamps cast a dim glow over the dozen or so quaint, round tables, and the smell of fresh flowers fills the air. Ah yes, the best of England minus those annoying Brits. Chelsea Commons, 242 Tenth Avenue, 212.929.9424 SWITZER

Find out what the brewhaha is all about at the Bohemian Hall and Garden.
photo: Tara Engberg
Find out what the brewhaha is all about at the Bohemian Hall and Garden.


More Summer In The City:
  • Cabin Fever The heat is on—and for a limited time only—so get out of the house and soak it up before it's gone
  • Perfect Picnics Grab some eats, spread a tablecloth, and get lost in the landscape
  • Outdoor Concerts & Music Festivals
  • Jazz
  • Classical Music
  • Film
  • Theater
  • Dance
  • Events

  • Drinkers in Williamsburg are lucky these days, thanks to the LUCKY CAT. The year-old bar/performance space serves Warsteiner and its evil stout twin, Dunkel, on tap for $4, and a ridiculous array of beers, from the obvious (Corona and Guinness at $5) to the obscure (super-cheap Bohemia at $3 and Paulaner, a wheat beer in the bottle). All other bottles are $4. It also serves vegan snacks. Not only does the Cat have an outdoor garden area (yay, smoking!), it has a shallow moat running through it. The only thing funnier than watching some drunk take a header into it is reading the owner's blog entry about the incident the next day. The Lucky Cat, 245 Grand Street, Brooklyn, 718.782.0437 MAMATAS

    Although Sunnyside is now on the map for new New Yorkers looking to expand their horizons into Queens, you may never chance upon MICKEY JOHN'S, a pub two blocks off the beaten path of Queens Boulevard. After visiting MOMA QNS (closing at the end of September), check out this sunny paneled barroom with a pool table, and snag a seat in the garden, enclosed by an ivy-covered picket fence that's no-frills—without being no-atmosphere. You'll be surrounded by guys with thick brogues and cigarettes and families with babies. Irish staples Guinness stout and Harp lager are on tap, as well as Smithwick's ale, introduced to the U.S. last March and made by the same people who brought us the meal in a pint ($5). Mickey John's, 46-08 Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside, Queens, 718.729.9605 KIM

    Situated near Red Hook's waterfront, LIBERTY HEIGHTS, a large rooftop beer garden, boasts an outdoor grill, live music, views of Manhattan, and an essential river breeze. At wooden tables and benches, a mix of dockworkers, local artists, and first-time parents (often with baby in tow) enjoy draft beers, including Redhook Brewing Company brands and the favorite, Okocim ($4.50 a pint), a crisp Polish pilsner; bottled beers are $3 to $4. Liberty Heights Tap Room, 34 Van Dyke Street, Brooklyn, 718.246.1793 ASHMAN

    The Kinks' song "Sunny Afternoon" says it best with the lines "Now I'm sitting here, sipping at my ice cold beer, lazing on a sunny afternoon." Not only does JOHNNY FOX'S have ice cold beer, it has a good selection too, including its own amber ale, a spicy cider-like brew, and an unbeatable happy-hour (weekdays, 4 to 7) special of Bud or Bud Light on tap at $2.50. Take that beverage outside and sit in the year-round garden. Nestled in the bar's backyard, you can join about 50 of your friends at the dozen or so tables and pretend the shaded garden is your Survivor island hangout. Johnny Fox's, 316 Third Avenue, 212.673.5149 ABER

    The Irish know a thing or two about being cooped up because of lousy weather. They also know a thing or two about beer. So it makes sense that the lads (who hail from the old sod) at IONA have created the perfect backyard hangout, where vitamin D–starved hipsters can drink in the summer sun while sucking down frosty pints of brew (about 20 on tap, including Bellhaven, Stella, and of course, Guinness—each $5). With its long wooden tables and benches, flourishing trees, sprawling ivy, and abundance of lush green plants, Iona's rustic drinking garden feels miles away from the concrete jungle. And for mildly athletic types, this urban oasis even has a Ping-Pong table. You don't have to be lucky or Irish to get the most out of this place—just thirsty. Iona, 180 Grand Street, Brooklyn, 718.384.5008 SWITZER

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