Readers of food and nightlife websites breathlessly track the openings and closings of restaurants and bars as though they were following pro-baseball players; now, as you’re preparing to unveil a new brew pub, you can start a blog and get people talking months before your doors even open. That’s what the owners of
Bar Great Harry (280 Smith Street, Brooklyn) have done. They started blogging in early spring at bargreatharry.com, and they’ve kept it up since their opening three months ago.
BGH has taken over the spot previously occupied by the concisely named Bar, a place notable mainly for its complete lack of any defining qualities other than a prime corner location. The new owners, Ben and Mike, gave the space a good scrubbing-up and replaced the weirdly tall bar with a handsome walnut number at a more elbow-friendly height. They’ve also wisely held onto the glass doors that make up the exterior walls and open onto the sidewalk. By far their greatest improvement, however, is the beer selection: They’ve brought in suds by the truckload. The bottle/can list alone runs to 70 choices, from a lowly PBR ($4) to a mammoth bottle of Lindeman’s Cuvée René ($25), clearly the Johnny Walker Blue of beers.
The draft list is a changing list of 12 options—fanatics can track it through the blog. Feeling a little overwhelmed, I ordered the exact same thing as the patron before me: the Aventinus Wheat ($8); it was tasty, but I preferred my friend’s Weihenstephan ($6). (She declared it appropriately Germanic. We have to take her word for it.) Later, I trusted in the affable bartender’s guidance as he steered me towards a Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter ($6). He said it had been described as tasting “like a Virginia ham.” It didn’t, but that’s probably for the best.
Maintaining proper bar etiquette in a low-key place like this is crucial. There is a jukebox, but we don’t want to hear three Sublime songs in a row, sorry. Engage in your favorite childhood board games, but avoid Boggle: too noisy. Also, ridiculous orders—like grown men requesting Malibu and pineapple juice—will be noted and roundly mocked. In the past, these transgressions might have earned you nothing more than a scornful look, but not any longer. The bartenders at BGH are not only silently judging your behavior, but they’re posting it online. A perusal of the blog turns up myriad offenders, including a woman who monkeyed with a pint of pilsner by topping it off with Sprite and a guy who shamefully corrupted his Dogfish Head by drinking it over ice. And woe to the swaggering nimrod who eschews proper glassware in favor of swilling straight from the bottle. Beer consumption is taken seriously here, so show some respect.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 30, 2007