No, Red Hook is not the most convenient place to trek just for a beer. Mayor Bloomberg: I think they need a subway already, at least to make it easier to get to Ikea. However, if you’re looking to spend an hour or two off the grid, nursing a beer, and digging into decent barbecue, there’s no better destination than Red Hook’s Brooklyn Ice House, on Van Brunt Street.
Look above the bottles that line the bar to pick your poison. Listed on the blackboard are dozens of beer options from the lowbrow (Pork Slap Ale served in a cozy) to craft brews, local selections, and beer-snob imports like Belgium’s Delirium and Affligem. It’s best to order a round while you peruse your snacking options and choose which pinball machine you’d like to try your hand at.
It’s possible to walk into the “Ice House” with just $20 in your pocket (this is a cash-only joint) and easily afford a meal for two. There’s a burger, and veggie burger, with fries for just $8, and gluttonous chili cheese fries for a five-spot. Two Bulleit bourbons and two-for-$5 pulled pork sliders (really larger than a slider but smaller than a sandwich) will bring your bar tab to just $19. Go the extra mile by ordering some sweet-potato fries ($1), and round up some of the change at the bottom of your bag to leave the bartender a decent tip.
Oh, and those sliders? The white-bread rolls are stuffed with perfectly pulled, smoky-sweet meat, and a few pickle slices are thrown onto the side for good measure. Squirt barbecue sauce on to taste. All meat is smoked on premises, and you can frequently find special additions like a recent brisket slider that yielded chunks of perfectly moist beef.
The bartenders are friendly, the music is inoffensive, and interesting locals pop in and out throughout the afternoon. What more could you want from a neighborhood bar? Besides a more accessible neighborhood, of course.
Brooklyn Ice House
318 Van Brunt Street, between Pioneer and King streets