Best Bar for Large Get-Togethers - 2009
So, you'd like to have a big party at your place, except: 1) It's the size of a closet; 2) Your landlord wouldn't approve; 3) You've had a recurring nightmare that your guests will have nothing to discuss and end up staring at each other in silence; and 4) All of the above. Fear not, dear host. Whether it's your birthday party or you merely want to get everyone together for the hell of it, take your friends to Union Hall in Park Slope, and they're guaranteed to remember your party as excellent (even though they'll probably be too drunk to recall the details). Co-owners Jim Carden and Andy Templar (who also run the equally cool rock venue the Bell House a few blocks away) took great pains to convert this 5,000-square-foot former furniture warehouse into a two-level den of awesomeness.
For your bookish friends, the front part of the bar is like something out of The Great Gatsby, a library complete with dark wood furniture, bookshelves crammed with colorful hardbacks, red plush Victorian couches, leather club chairs, and a cozy fireplace. Sporty types will gravitate to the back, which offers endless entertainment at the two indoor bocce courts (Union Hall also has a bocce league). Downstairs, the bar in the basement hosts a wide array of alternative comedians, indie-rock bands, and literary events for a small cover charge (you may want to plan your party for a Friday night, when Union Hall presents the free midnight karaoke show, "Fakin' It Karaoke With Sid and Buddy," a hit for its fabulous hosts and incredible selection of 15,000 songs). Or, when the weather's nice, enjoy the outdoor patio.
Call ahead to reserve the back raised platform, which comfortably holds 25 to 30 people. The kitchen staff will arrange a buffet for your party with platters of delectable bar foods, such as mini-burgers and corn dogs and steak and gorgonzola crostinis. Depending on how generous you're feeling, you can buy drink tickets for everyone or run an open tab; Union Hall offers an excellent selection of microbrewed beers—ranging from a dark, delicious Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire to the citrusy Peak Organic IPA—and strong, well-shaken cocktails.
One final reason to have your party at Union Hall—no mess to clean up in the morning.