The weather is warming up nicely and it’s time to stop drinking at home and get to the bar. But lately, many doorways of our favorite watering holes have been blocked. Not by passed out winos or vomit but by, of all things, baby strollers.
Bucking the boozy agreement to leave young-ins at home, many Park Slope families have decided it’s okay for little Timmy to tag along to the neighborhood bar while mom and dad get their swerve on. The Slope baby boom and ensuing barroom infestation has reached a point that many establishments now post signs to inform patrons they no longer allow crib lizards after certain hours.
And remember, parents: Chuck E. Cheese serves alcohol. A list like this doesn’t need to exist. But because it does…
See also: What Makes NYC Metal?
Jackie’s 5th Amendment
404 5th Ave, 718.788.9123
We’ll start with the venerable Jackie’s 5th Amendment because, at 8AM, it’s the only bar that opens early enough for you to duck in for a quick one on your way to work. Bring your kids here if they happen to love octogenarians on oxygen tanks and listening to Bob Seger on repeat.
The frill-less watering hole features wood paneled walls from a bygone era of Brooklyn that little of Park Slope seems to resemble these days. Even the bar’s namesake is an allusion to its alleged former association to certain groups that were both organized and illegal. An assortment of metal stools hug the bar with generally kind, salt of the earth regulars that are more than happy to grumble with you about the state of the economy and how things used to be while nipping on cold-as-ice pony bottles of Budweiser.
440 5th Avenue, 718-788-5218
Just down 5th Avenue from Jackie’s, Smith’s Tavern has been pouring cold domestic mugs of beers since well before your grandfather shipped off to Europe to kill Nazis. They’ve spruced the place up a bit since then with an internet jukebox and even scrubbed the tobacco stains off the walls. The faux stone arches they added feel like they were brought in from a suburban Italian chain restaurant. But the place more than makes up for it with their solid, no bullshit bartenders who probably won’t bother you unless you want to talk about the Mets or Yankees game on the plasma screens. The patrons are still the same cast of retirees and younger blue collar folks looking for a game of darts and definitely not $15 cocktails. Be careful though, they’re definitely still looking out for Nazis.
Lucky 13 Saloon
273 13th St, 718-499-7553
You think Saint Vitus is metal? In a neighborhood inundated with organic cocktails, where discussing the kale you picked up from the Prospect Park farmers market gets many a local all atwitter, Lucky 13 is the stuff nightmares are made of. If someone has a child here, it’s probably because they stole it.
C-rate horror movies play while an epicurean selection of metal new and old is blasted. Drinks are cheap and it wouldn’t be unlikely for a Mohawk-sporting bartender with nothing more than electric tape over her nipples to serve them to you. Did we forget to mention the strippers go-go dancers that actually shimmy and shake on the bar top itself on the weekends?
627 5th Avenue, 718-768-0131, freddysbar.com
The Brooklyn institution, home to a cast of neighborhood creative types, ne’er-do-wells and general rabble-rousers, Freddy’s damn near became a casualty when they lost their original location to the Barclays Center. Instead of closing up shop, they painstakingly moved every bit of the bar and unusual ephemera (including taxidermy and video art) down 5th Avenue to a new home just on the other side of Prospect Parkway.
Freddy’s is without a doubt, one of the last great places in Park Slope where a bartender might know you by name for both the right and wrong reasons. They might even remember your poison of choice if they haven’t had too much drink themselves.
Just pick a comfortable bar stool under the old mismatched light fixtures and tin ceiling. Grab some pub fair or maybe poke your head in the backroom to check out a variety of live music and comedy if you feel up to snuff. It all still feels like home and if you see kids, it’s only because their grandpa is probably buying them their first beer ever.
243 5th Ave, 718-788-0401, highdivebrooklyn.com
A well loved neighborhood haunt, High Dive is the place local parents go when they’re avoiding their own children or drinking because of them. A clean refuge where the predominately thirty-something crowd could order PBR, but rarely do. You can still nod your head to the Pixies or Pavement at the dimly-lit bar and nobody is going to strike up a conversation with you about Skrillex. Or organic baby formula.
The drink selection is slightly more grown up too, featuring a nice assortment of craft beer that pairs nicely with the free popcorn that patrons can munch on at will. A quaint patio in back makes for a nice quieter drink for a date, but things can get pretty crowded on the weekends.
363 5th Avenue, 718-788-0924, gingersbarbklyn.com
If you park your stroller inside the door of Ginger’s, there’s a really good chance that a drag queen will incorporate it as a stage prop during karaoke. The bar is stocked with an inviting cast of generally easy-going neighborhood locals, probably downing the signature Ginger’s Brew found on tap. A second room in the rear features a steady stream of competitive pool players, but gives way to an amply-spaced back patio. The weekends usually usher in more of a crowd of those looking to get rowdy and they usually do so with regular deejays promising a boisterous atmosphere.
The Owl Farm
297 9th Street, 718-499-4988, theowlfarm.com
The same beer nerds responsible for Bar Great Harry and Mission Delores opened this hop-lovers environment almost a year ago on 9th Street. After saddling up at the bar, you have to spend some quality time reading the tap list that changes on a daily basis. Heavy-handed and often limited brews like Russian imperial stouts and double IPAs rule the roost here and can be a bit daunting to newcomers, but the welcoming staff is generally more than happy to help you decipher the menu. A fireplace, a couple pinball machines and exposed brick add to the congenial nature of the place. And while most microbrew Meccas tend to consist of a solely bearded and brawny crowd, The Owl Farm manages a much wider spectrum of patrons, even offering Narragansett tallboys for those who prefer to drink water.
629 5th Avenue, 718-832-4720, southpubnyc.com
Slightly more decadent than other Southern Park Slope haunts, South boasts an array of craft beers, whiskeys and even pickle backs. If you find yourself with a hankering for something to eat after possibly having one too many, their grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich will likely set you back on the right course.
Much like the food and drink, it’s a comfortable setting with a smallish wooden bar and assortment of videogames, should you feel inclined to indulge in some Big Buck hunter. The sunny patio in back and an early afternoon opening make day drinking here very inviting. Leave the kids in school.
577 5th Avenue, 718-788-6297
A fleet of friendly bartenders and what tends to be a liberal pour, it’s hard to dislike this South Slope oasis from the same owners of Boat. Cheap drinks and an even cheaper happy hour keep your pint glasses full, though Miller High Life seems to be the general drink of choice.
Old wooden floors, exposed brick and a pool table shoved in the corner, Buttermilk is barebones at best but none of the seemingly chipper twenty and thirty-somethings drinking beer and a shot combos seem to mind one bit. To shine the place up would only take away part of the bar’s dingy charm, bathroom graffiti and all.
497 5th Avenue, 718-768-2040, commonwealthbar.com
Nestled in South Park Slope, Commonwealth provides a nice and mellow atmosphere for those looking to swill alcohol in some amount of peace. It’s a middle ground bar, a place where you won’t run into too many degenerates or Wall Street types. Indie rock tends to own the jukebox, but with nary a milquetoast hipster in view.
While it’s no library, you can actually hear your friends speak both inside at the bar or outside on the patio. They even manage to curate a nice selection of bourbons for the whiskey inclined and their prices won’t make your accountant cringe.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 16, 2013
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