Greenpoint is the neighborhood trying to have it all. Close enough to bathe in the reflected glory of Williamsburg/Bushwick youth, this arty enclave parties hard yet still sees itself as kind of above all that. Greenpoint is like that dude at a rager who slams three drinks and rules the dancefloor for an hour, then abruptly leaves to go read his new book about Venice. The neighborhood is obsessed with itself, a feeling no doubt helped by difficulties travelling in or out. Does all this make a perfect formula for a diverse, daring and bloody-minded bar scene? You bet it does. Plus, HBO’s Girls is largely filmed here. So where are the best places in Greenpoint to drink away the pain of writers’ block, daddy issues, or that Q-Tip you shoved too far in? We rate the finest watering holes in neighborhood.
10. Manhattan Inn
632 Manhattan Avenue, 718.383.0885
We can sum up this place in seven words: “Finally, a piano bar that doesn’t suck.” A cocktail cave with accompanying restaurant, the soundtrack to a very special episode of your life is provided by the baby grand piano dominating the Inn’s back room. Plus, the Manhattan is a great place to order its namesake booze-bowl cocktail: their rye and bourbon-based drinks are by far the largest and lustiest in the borough. The keys are covered up at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays as very sloppy dance parties break out, the perfect environment for you to try cocaine for the first time and show off your nipples through a mesh shirt.
113 Franklin Street, 718.383.6000
When your friends are squabbling over which bar to hit next, few phrases settle the argument quite like: “I know a place with free pizza.” And it’s not just free. It’s actually kind of good. Any drink at this local dive bar institution buys you a raffle ticket redeemable for a personal cheese pie straight from their oven. You want to dust it with Oregano? Parm? Crushed red pepper? Hey, they’re not animals. They got you, bro. Other toppings are just a buck extra. Without a doubt, you will meet several Ray Ploshansky-types relaxing after a long day of misanthropic self-absorption. Luckily his barista salary can easily swing their “Low Life Special”: a shot of whiskey, a Miller Highlife and a pizza token for just $5.
8. No Name Bar
597 Manhattan Avenue, no phone
With its lack of a sign, abundance of tasteful carpentry, and many beautiful women, locals dubbed this place “Wood Pussy” for a while, but “No Name” has stuck as an official title. They have a full bar, but don’t kid yourself: you’re here for cans of Tecate and large helpings of eye candy. This low-lit spot feels like the location for a film noir shot entirely in the forest: Rockabilly meets Twin Peaks. Hot tattooed girls are everywhere, begetting hot tattooed boys in strong pursuit. Punk night on Wednesdays brings them out in force, so prepare your obscure band name-dropping in advance. “Is this a Flux of Pink Indians song?”, you ask the DJ in feigned curiosity, knowing the answer is irrelevant because you only asked to look cool, you fraud. This is definitely the type of place Jessa would spend too much time arguing that you can’t really “get” The Clash if you’re not from West London.
7. The Bounty
131 Greenpoint Avenue, 347.689.3325
This charming, nautical-themed space looks like a 19th century whaling ship crashed into an MC Escher painting. While the place is known for good seafood, the burger is exceptional (rivaling local hits like Five Leaves’ egg/beet/pineapple masterpiece). The seasonal cocktails are also worth a visit by themselves. The Harvest Moon, for example (calvados, orange, lemon, and cinnamon syrup) is worth every penny of $12. That’s the only problem. It’s pricey: the kind of place Marnie would drag her hot startup millionaire boyfriend and love every second of not paying. Worth a splurge, if you have the cash.
6. The Turkey’s Nest
94 Bedford Avenue, 718.384.9774
Is this bar officially in Greenpoint? Or Williamsburg? Or some sort of Forbidden Zone between the two? Either way, you’ll be very drunk in it. The Nest is a true dive, where $5 gets you 32oz of Budweiser or store-mix margarita in a Styrofoam cup. There are even lids and straws available for that busy girl who has to booze on the go (they’ve done it for years years and the cops apparently don’t care). The area’s relative dearth of sports bars is a godsend here, making the Turkey’s Nest one of the most delightfully eccentric places in town to watch Sunday football. Old Brooklyn dudes and young hipsters mingle happily, wearing the same Member’s Only jackets. And if you arrive early, a discrete Sicilian gentleman may indulge a wager on sporting outcomes. Lately a crew of Detroit fans have made the place their home, so expect impromptu renditions of the Lions’ fight song when touchdowns happen: “Forward down the field/ A charging team that will not yield…” etc. etc. The Nest is amazing.
5. Greenpoint Heights
278 Nassau Avenue, 718.389.0110
In Greenpoint’s far east, residential streets give way to old-school industrial parks, where a lifetime of hard work is rewarded with mesothelioma. What did you do all day except loll around a coffee shop, pretending to write? Relax. Ease your class privilege anxieties with this great bar. A huge outdoor area, 50 cent wings during happy hour, and the bourbon-spiked Greenpoint Heights lemonade are the selling points for this out-of-the-way spot. Make the most of the full kitchen, especially every Thursday, with a dollar off tacos all night. Vegetarians will be particularly pleased at the creative fillings that go beyond the standard option: “some kind of bean.”
4. Saint Vitus
1120 Manhattan Avenue, no phone
The greatest metal bar in the city, Saint Vitus is extremely loud, extremely bearded, and entirely wonderful: the perfect place to get your thrash on. heir back room plays host to the following bands in the next month: Toxic Holocaust, Animals Killing People, and the ominously named “Woe.” Icona Pop it ain’t. They serve excellent steamed bun sandwiches and have fine drink specials (e.g. “The Pope”, a Coors Banquet tall boy with a pickle back and a shot of Tullamore Dew). m/
615 Manhattan Avenue, 718.389.6034
If you were searching for beer snob Valhalla. stop looking. Danish beer god and Evil Twin Brewing founder Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø owns this temple of sud-worship with Daniel Burns, formerly of Noma and Momofuku. It’s probably the finest beer establishment in the five boroughs, with 21 rotating drafts, over 100 bottles, and an incredibly high tech system that regulates the temperature and pouring pressure of each individual beer to the owner and brewer’s exact specifications. Add a well-briefed staff who don’t make you feel stupid for not knowing much, plus the stunningly furnished Danish Modern-inspired taproom, and you have a truly memorable evening laid out before you. They even serve beer in wine glasses, so you know it’s fancy. The bar is the near-perfect location to persuade your publisher that you need more time to finish your shitty e-book.
195 Franklin Street, 347.227.7296
The fundamental lesson of Girls is: value the times when your parents pick up the check. That’s where places like Alameda come in. Their rotating bar menu is as excellent as it is over-priced, and their cocktails both taste wonderful and numb the pain of parental questions about your personal and professional life. Their Double Dark and Stormy is made with two rums and house-made ginger beer, and is one of the fieriest cocktails anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard. Thanks, Daddy!
1. The Black Rabbit
91 Greenpoint Avenue, 718.349.1595
The Black Rabbit is hands down the best bar in Greenpoint. It’s a home run in every category: date spot, post-work watering hole, casual boozing, rotating cocktails, a bratwurst and mini-burger bar menu? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Perfection incarnate. It provides cheap yet civilized drinking whenever you want it (their house brew pint has never been more than $4, $3 during happy hour) and pulls off the quantum trick of never quite seeming crowded, despite being so. Even their occasional events are delightful: it’s worth joining their mailing list purely for advance notice of “Smiths Speed Dating” (couples meet for the length of a Morrissey tune, then move on). Eccentric touches round out a flawless experience: the service call button-quipped booths are a reminder of a more cultured age of drinking we thought lost, but lives on at The Rabbit.
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