By Jared Chausow
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By Jon Campbell
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Living nearby, I took note when Duckduck (153 Montrose Avenue), a garage turned bar, recently set up shop on the Bushwick/Williamsburg border. But I kept my distance. "Don't go in," I would tell myself whenever I passed by. "You'll get attached and it'll close." Businesses come and go on this step- child-esque strip, where commercial spaces rent for a few thousand a month but are mostly ignored by revelers who travel deeper into either neighborhood for a night out. Surprisingly, for the past eight months, this web-footed watering hole has been drawing an increasingly steady crowd with its weekly double happy hours (from 5 to 8 p.m. and 2 to 3 a.m.) and sincere vibe. So I caved.
As we entered the spot on a busy Saturday night, we were met by a group of scantily clad girls taking pictures of their cleavage. We rolled our eyes and brushed by the attention seekers as they huddled around the camera discussing the shots, nodding seriously, and pointing like NASA engineers surveying a blip screen. "That one's totally your MySpace!" one girl excitedly assured another.
While that scene betrayed the bar's supposedly "low-key and refreshingly un-obnoxious, un-Williamsburg" image, we were intrigued. The crowd seemed impressively at odds with itself, as the space was abuzz with the young and old, the dressed-up and dressed-down, affectionate couples and people on a mission to get laidlending the joint a genuine, inclusive quality that larger nearby establishments have never achieved.
Yes, there were a few of the tragically thin, American Appareled guys indicative of the neighborhood. Those dudes are like raccoons that ransack people's garbage cans at night: sort of cute, look like they're wearing eyeliner, and are ultimately huge pains in the ass. But what can you do? You're sort of stuck with them.
We snatched up two of the mismatched bar stools and had a couple of the $9 Golden Margaritas, a bare-bones concoction of Cuervo Gold and Grand Marnier. According to the ambidextrous owner, who was serving drinks, doing shots with patrons, and taking requests on his iPod all at once, if patrons donate a duck-related item for behind-the-bar display, they get a drink on the house. The bar already has plenty of wooden mallards, rubber duckies, and stuffed animals, but it could use a photo of Jon Cryer and some Howard the Duck gear.
Moving past the defunct spiral staircase to the other side of the room was like stepping into an entirely different place. We went from mixin' with vintage-clad thirty- somethings playing Connect Four and sipping Blueberry Mojitos ($9), to marveling at loud Irish tourists dancing to Amy Winehouse. We also met the world's worst guy. After grabbing my arm and blurting out, "The bathroom door here exists on, like, four alternate planes" (but without getting the response he was looking for), he took a more direct approach: "We should just go do a bunch of coke and have a crazy make-out party in a van." Reader, I married him. OK, not really. But it was 3:30 a.m. and we'd had our fair share of Golden Margaritas and witty banter. It was time for us to put our ducks in a row and head out, happy to have found a new neighborhood bar.