Chasing a Buzz


Everyone we know who lives in Fort Greene boasts about how wonderful it is—the neighborhood is hip, the people are nice, and life in the Fort is as good as it gets. So we found it mildly disconcerting when we asked them for bar recommendations and the consensus was: “We live here. We don’t go out here.” In an effort to decide whether inhabitants of this trendy ‘hood were missing out on their own buzz, we decided to pursue one ourselves.

Our first stop was Stonehome Wine Bar (87 Lafayette Ave). A few steps down off the street leads to this narrow, candlelit gem. The exposed brick and cherry-wood bar contribute to a comfortable, intimate atmosphere that’s date-appropriate, but not so much so that non-couples feel like pariahs. Stonehome proved a good launch pad for the night, with a tempting menu—not to mention very generous pours. (Our companion for the night maintains that her very generous pour consisted of champagne; she ordered Prosecco. We’d still go back.)

Upon leaving, said companion spotted some acquaintances smoking outside a brownstone. They invited us to crash the cocktail party they were attending, where a socialized math nerd was graphing number of attendees over time on a large chart in the bathroom, and all the men were attractive and named Owen. We stayed for two drinks and vowed to come back.

We then headed to Frank’s Cocktail Lounge (660 Fulton St), a low-ceilinged, semi-seedy neighborhood staple lit up with Christmas lights. Almost immediately, we met a guy who provided a brief history of the bar’s evolution. “Back in the day, this place was packed with black folks drinking and dancing. Then it was packed with white folks drinking, watching the black folks dancing. Now it’s . . . well, now it’s like this,” he said, nodding toward the dance floor, a demographic profiler’s wet dream. “I don’t know what this is.” We don’t, either. But when a solitary old man named James instructed us to put all of our drinks on his tab because he liked the way we stood against the bar, we warmed to the place. The DJ was spinning tracks meant to make us move; the barkeep was a no-bullshit type serving stiff drinks with a smile; and at least two strangers offered to share their illegal substances, if we would just come outside and step around the corner. Buzz, indeed.

After a quick stop back at the party to gather as many Owens as possible, we jumped across the street to Moe’s ( 80 Lafayette Ave), considered the quintessential Fort Greene bar. Named for the Simpsons dive—there’s even a (heinous) portrait of the titular bartender in the back room—this joint is much sexier than the animated version ever considered possible. The crowd is young, friendly, and visibly … well, buzzed; normally, we’d be sold upon point of entry. But something about a Saturday night here is off. It’s almost like someone slapped a little lipstick on the sloppy Wednesday herd and said, “Now act glamorous, damn it.” Still, though, everyone was unfailingly polite, offering to share booths when the upper level became too crowded.

So, yeah, we definitely understand why people brag about living here—Fort Greene is nice. But with a social scene that offers residents willing to share their friends, their seats, and their drugs, we think those locals hoofing it elsewhere on the weekends should consider staying put. Their neighbors are.