Best place to wear an eye patch or just drink like it - 2006
A "BAR" sign was added in 1910, but that was almost two decades after Great-Great-Granddad opened Sunny's Bar. At the time, Red Hook was the busiest port in the country, the domain of longshoremen, sailors, and prostitutes. Times have changed, but the oil-painting of Sunny Balzano's great-great-grandfather still overlooks this convivial maritime bar nestled between overgrown waterfront and uninviting warehouses. Thankfully, there is no easy transportation to Sunny's. The people that come to Conover Street after dark live here, work here, or just love it here. There's a lot of love. The booze is cheap, the pretzels are copious, and the customers are down to earth. Rows of Toby jugs and figurines of famous silver-screen stars line the shelves, wearing eye patches; twinkle lights augment the holes which were cut in the front archway in lieu of electricity; a bedpan-turned-ukulele hangs on the wall near a pair of ancient boxing gloves. Balzano is an artist (a few of his large canvases hang over the bar's only four booths), and in his easy way, he has created a comfortable watering hole for writers and plumbers to rub elbows. One Sunday a month, Sunny's is open for a literary salon held in the former dining room. Any other night—that is only Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday—you can expect bluegrass on the juke or a live band nestled in the corner between the bar and the toilet. And if the mood strikes you, feel free to grab a bell or a washboard off the bar and join in. Balzano no longer allows customers to keep their own bar tab, the neighborhood is changing, after all, but for now, it's still that kind of place.