Drinks »Troost

1011 Manhattan Ave

Friends and I agree, Troost is a very pleasant place. Everything is just right and unobtrusive. The lighting is dim but not too dark, the service is extremely helpful (even offering sips of wines to taste) but not pushy, even the music is just the right volume and nice and jazzy without being disruptive.

A very nice addition to the neighborhood, Troost offers a spot to relax with cava or wine without battling a scene. The list of wines and beers is short but carefully selected and impressive.

I am looking forward to trying both their daytime coffee and the delicious sounding menu of small plates, sandwiches, meats and cheeses.

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Posted on December 14, 2011

Drinks »Second Chance Saloon

659 Grand St, Brooklyn

Seven bucks for two beers? Whaaa? Maybe I just haven’t been to happy hour in awhile but the price is right at the Second Chance Saloon, a dark, divey yet homey spot.

One pool table (occupied by serious players with their own stick carriers and everything) takes up the rear of the bar but there’s plenty of seating, a CSI ping pong table, a juke box and Americas Funniest Home Videos playing on the TV which is way better than sports because conversations are only disrupted by a man breast feeding a kitten.

Good beer selection and a pretty friendly environment. Seems like new bars are popping up all over the area and this ones nice and laid back, open to all sorts with a local hang out feel.

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Posted on December 7, 2011

Drinks »Spritzenhaus

33 Nassau Ave, Greenpoint

The highly anticipated, absolutely humongous Greenpoint beer garden, Spritzenhaus opened the end of last week and I expected crazy drunken crowds Saturday but to many people’s possible horror, but my delight, at 1:00 it was over run with toddlers and there were plenty of tables to choose from. Despite its size, it still started getting crowded around 3:00.

There are 25 beers on tap (as well as bottles, wine and a full bar) including three Six Points, Mother’s Milk Stout, and a great dark Schwarzbier – just don’t expect help in your selection from the bar tenders. Young and bright eyed, they’re as cute as can be but completely clueless about beer. But I can’t complain about the friendly smiles.

I was happy to hear that a food menu is coming, but for now just order some classic greasy pizza from nearby Carmine’s. A perfect accompaniment to afternoon brew.

Airy and rustic, the space is inviting and distinctly new New York with lots of exposed brick and beams, copper, and worn wood. There  are plenty of stool at the bars, individual tables and a long line of communal style ones that ingeniously roll on tracks allowing people to walk between them or join them together.

This is such a welcome addition and so close to my place that we will no doubt become enthusiastic regulars – especially in the coming warmer months when the floor to ceiling windows are all open, allowing for sunshine and people watching.

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Posted on May 2, 2011

Drinks »Veronica People’s Club

105 Franklin St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

In this day in age, in this neighborhood, you can’t turn a corner without running into a good cup of (usually) Intelligentsia coffee. (You can still get a really bad cup, but the place is so tiny, cute and friendly, I’ll just leave it unnamed, but it’s bright green FYI).

So, as a late comer to the good coffee party, Veronica People’s Club is probably most exciting to those who live closest to it.

While I wholeheartedly welcome it to the neighborhood, it only garners major enthusiasm from me for two reasons:

1. the Ovenly baked goods. A small but dizzying display of goodies great you with tiny hand written placards reading such intriguing words as “blue cheese, pistachio, cinnamon, fig…”

As it was morning time, I went without the chocolate chip cookies and chose the equally delectable but slated for breakfast treat of a fig and thyme scone. yum.

2. During the day the place is empty, as in I startled the sole employee when I walked in, empty.

If you’ve ever been to Cafe Grumpy at the height of I-am-writing-my-first-novel-but-actually-just-checking-facebook-over-and-over hour or are smacked in the face with the reality that you are far from being the only unemployed person who thought they could just waltz into Five Leaves, you know how appealing a quiet, easy going spot with a decent i-pod selection playing can be.

Now I just need to find people who are either willing to trek to my area or want to quit their jobs to hang out over a long, scone filled coffee break with me and Van…

While I am writing up the coffee bar, I am lead to believe that VPC, opened by the people from Heather’s (the bar, not the movie, though the movie inspired both bar names) functions primarily as a bar bar.

And by light of day, I can see how it could be a nice place to drink. Just the right amount of nonchalance in the decor and a sign listing house cocktails let me know it’s heart is in the right place.

While I am not able to bar hop at the moment with little one in tow, you might want to check it out. Or maybe I’ll head back on the early side (unlike many places, they start serving around 3 on weekdays, 1 on weekends) some day soon for an afternoon beer before the hip young things who (understandably) don’t want to be drinking with a baby in the room invade.

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Posted on February 17, 2011

Drinks,Restaurants »The Counting Room

44 Berry Street, Williamsburg

I have to preface that my experience of The Counting Room may be very different from yours, unless you too go to bars in the early afternoon when the neighborhood babies along with their booze starved parents take over. So don’t blame me if it’s full of techno and 19 year old jerks at midnight.

During this time, it’s a bright, lovely space with soaring ceilings, picnic tables, and chic barn light fixtures.

I was itching for a cocktail – but those don’t make their appearance until after 6pm, so I went for the Bloody Wilbur, a bacon infused (what isn’t bacon infused at this point) bloody mary that was pretty good, but not mind blowing and very weak as far as the vodka goes.

Much more impressive was the beer list which included the incredibly tasty and surprisingly American Domaine DuPage French Style Country Ale, a brew I will be keeping my out for from now on. It won over everyone at our table.

The food was also a pleasant surprise. Going far beyond expected bar food that can taste like an after thought, everything we tried was excellent: a well adorned sopressata sandwich on criso French bread, and yummy, slightly lemony deviled eggs.

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Posted on January 30, 2011

Drinks »La Venencia

Sherry Bar, Madrid

Thanks to Astrid and Marcus for sharing their fabulous Spain travels with us:

“We spent a little while looking for this place since it came up a lot in our Madrid research.  It was well worth it.  La Venencia is definitely a taste of old-world Madrid.  They only server sherry on draft from large wood casks.  The decor is authentically rustic with dusty old bottles and a chalkboard to tally up your orders.

It’s a great place to explore sherry while you eat olives near their fireplace and get closely monitored by the resident black cat.

One of our favorites was the dry Oloroso, which had a smoky vanilla flavor.  We wish there was a place like it in New York, but for now it’s one of the many places we’ll want to go back to Madrid for.”

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Posted on December 6, 2010

Drinks »Apotheke

9 Doyers Street

Like any good new wave speakeasy, Apotheke is hidden behind a nondescript old Chinatown storefront, down a small windy road (Doyers, one of my favorite streets in the city) and you’d never know it was there unless you were in the know.

Apotheke means pharmacy or drugstore, or a place for the art, practice or profession of preparing, preserving, compounding, and dispensing medical herbs, elixirs or potions. The team and theme here is appropriately medical and the staff plays along with lab coats and a menu that reads like old-timey makeshift healing elixirs.

The space is dark and snugly, but a bit on the contemporary side of its roots as an opium den. The walls are beautifully scruffy brick, the couches look plucked from a Victorian parlor and the bathroom has some quirky copper Fraggle Rock style pipes that are worth taking a look at. But that’s all surface, and none of it matters if the drinks are no good, but whatever it was I ordered (something frothy infused with tea, if I recall) was delicious. Might not be the best place with crowds on a Saturday night but I’d come back for an early drink with ambiance.

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Posted on January 31, 2010

Drinks »Manhattan Inn

manhattan inn632 Manhattan Ave

Manhattan Inn is a brand new piano and cocktail bar/restaurant with an impressive decor that evokes a rosy eyed old school New York and deserves a visit to see for yourself considering the low light offered little chance for my camera to capture it. Formerly Johnny’s Cafe, a local bar and restaurant that few of the neighborhood’s hip set would actually step in to, the new space will not continue to deter that crowd with its fancy cocktails, southern and Chinese inflected menu (they’re open for brunch, lunch and dinner) and speakeasy stylings.

We went early on a Saturday but were a bit disappointed to find the grand piano, which is the focal point of the lovely back room, was un-played – it was the only disappointment of the evening, though. The Warsaw Mermaid, made with green tea vodka, sake, creme de violette and lime juice, was pleasant (though too sweet fto consume more than one), so I switched to the Black Eyed Gibson, a tarragon infused delight with a small balsamic onion as garnish. It boasts a nice scent, a none too sweet taste and, dangerously, a clean finish with absolutely no after taste, making it very, very easy to drink. To go with our booze, we opted for the chicken liver pate which was delicious and hearty.

Gothamist and Eater have far nicer photos for you to peruse.

Click here for the rest of Manhattan Inn

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Posted on November 29, 2009

Drinks »The Charleston (Worst Drink)

You guys know I'm always there to defend a hipster; that's not the source of my beef with The Charleston. It's just become such a terrible scene to run smack into on your way out of the subway – like an underage pocket of Austin's grody 6th Street. It defines the new obnoxious, oblivious, street-side drunkenness that gives the younger generation such a bad name.

I've even been coerced into going inside once by a friend we ran into on the street, and what CitySearch has erroneously called “vastly charming” is actually vastly disgusting, with some of the most heinously unkempt and overflowing toilets I have ever been privy to (pun intended) in my life… But that's the downside of offering free pizza to drunk children, I suppose.

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Posted on November 9, 2009

Drinks »Milk and Honey

milk and honey logo Here's what I said back on January 5th:
Tales of the ill-kept secret Milk and Honey bar, where at one time you could only enter if you had been given the ever changing phone number by an already trusted regular seemed the stuff of legend and had I not known people who had actually went through the hassle of obtaining the number, I probably would have let the famously exclusive Sasha Petraske hot spot remain off my radar and to do list forever.

See, I am not one for hassle and when I heard that they had changed their policy once again to make it where only members with a special key would be able to enjoy the hallowed dim cocktail walls, I knew that Milk and Honey was just a place I'd never see the inside of.

Fortunately for me, though, good friends are among the few who nabbed a key and they were kind enough to invite us there on Jim's Birthday. In a time when “speak easy” is the trend for drinking, this place trumps them all, as it should since it started the whole thing. The entrance is truly nondescript, even a bit sketchy: an unmarked beaten up thick gray steel door in a quiet apartment building, as you walk in you half expect that there's been some mistake and you'll end up in a stranger's living room past the thick curtains.

In fact, the space is not much larger than a living room and the ambiance is minimal: the lights are very dark, the booths are a bit battered and cozy, the music soft. I can't imagine the place would make any sort of real impression on those expecting a level of fanciness for all the secrecy, particularly if those lights were turned all the way up.

But superfluous decoration is beside the point of Milk and Honey, a bar truly and utterly devoted to the notion of substance over style. The experience here is about a civilized environment in which to enjoy perfect cocktails. Plus these expertly cocktails all cost $9; a price which is a steal compared to the $11-13 that absolutely everyone seems to think they can charge these days.

There are no crowds here and to our surprise, no menus either. You simply tell your kind and knowledgeable waiter what sort of drink you fancy and they come back with a custom made concoction. I opted for bourbon, starting with a frothy ginger spiced highball and moving on to a simplified take on the old fashioned. Jim found happiness in his beloved Chicago fizz.

It's a strange place in theory. In some ways it's a stand against the celebrity obsessed, over hyped bar scene. No name dropping or obnoxious behavior is tolerated, but at the same time, it's become an almost uncomfortably elitist corner of the city (in theory). After such a wonderfully pleasant evening there, however, I stepped outside and decided I may just enjoy being an elitist sometimes, so long as it means secret keys that open doors to places like Milk and Honey.

Voodoo Rootbeer
Agua Frescas
The Richardson
Lion's Tail
Temple Bar

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Posted on November 2, 2009

Drinks »Berry Park

While the weather still permits it, you should try to make it out to Berry Park, the new super mellow rooftop beer hall behind the automotive high school in Williamsburg.

The views of Manhattan are great and the menu of beers is impressive but be warned – a lot of these brews are quite strong. The German dunkels (dark beers) are always a favorite of mine and currently the HB Dunkel is featured on the menu. Some nights the rooftop bar itself is out of service, but the trek downstairs is not a far one. So far, it's never been overly crowded or obnoxious, which is probably the greatest feature of all.

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Posted on October 12, 2009

Drinks »The Ten Bells

Any place with dollar oysters until seven is good in my book, but The Ten Bells goes one step beyond by offering a civilized old worldy atmosphere and a menu of great French and Belgium beers. I've yet to take advantage of their other menu items, but am eagerly awaiting the day I can get out of work early enough to gorge on beer and oysters again. When it happens, I will cherish it.

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Posted on September 7, 2009

Drinks »Temple Bar

jalapeno mojito at temple barWhen my friend and co worker told me that Temple Bar got no sunlight, she wasn't joking. The place is as pitch dark as you can get with pops of light on each table. The result is a great place to drink cocktails and feel secluded at your table even with people surrounding you.

The cocktails are priced as expensively as anywhere else and I highly recommend the jalapeno mojito, which was refreshing and not overly sweet, even if it could have benefited from a bit more kick. The free snack of popcorn with dried beets and yams is almost worth the price of getting a cocktail alone. We plowed through several bowls over a couple drinks.

The front bar is surprisingly elegant in contrast to their noisy location and 1990s extreme Iced Tea style logo and would be an excellent place for romance.

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Posted on August 31, 2009

Drinks »Rusty Knot

Can you fault a place for its douchey clientele? Not when it's The Rusty Knot, which serves such a delightful menu. There are few places that offer so many of my favorite things: spicy beer (cerveza Cubana, their refreshing and flavorful take on the michelada) and sides of pickles and oysters; even in a sea of pleated khakis, halter tops and going-out-pants, we had a great time.

The interior is tight with only a few coveted tables (one of which we hogged for hours) and a stupidly large pool table taking up most of the largest room. The theme is big-time nautical with a Polynesian twist, expect Tiki cups and lots of wood paneling; the drinks are cheap (regular beers start at 99 cents) and the general mood is low key, but any sense of divey-ness is carefully fabricated – the gentlemen behind the popular hangout come from Freeman's, Milk and Honey, The Spotted Pig, and Momofuku; a group well versed in what's hip and how to convey it without seeming to try too hard.

It's a skill that's made them very rich I'm sure, and I don't mind adding to their coffers when they're serving such yummy snacks and drinks – but next time I'll make a wiser decision than to go so close to the meatpacking district on a Saturday evening.

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Posted on August 17, 2009

Drinks »Hideout

hideout cocktails fort greeneThe atmosphere of the appropriately named Hideout bar in Fort Greene is mellow, dark, inviting and snug. Unfortunately the bartender is none of these things. Why any self proclaimed mixologist would find it becoming to bitch about having to shake three fizzes in a row or bemoan a couple that dared to leave their empty 12 dollar a drink glasses on the table is beyond me, but the din of regular and clinking glass can drown him out, and hey, maybe he was just having an off night.

I won't let it mar the total drinking experience, an experience that included fig tinted cocktails and flowery strong punches. The impressive menu (you'll have a terribly fun time choosing a drink) are courtesy of onetime U.K. Bartender of the Year, Charlotte Voisey. ?br/>
You find the faux speakeasy behind unmarked wooden garage doors on Adelphi St.

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Posted on August 3, 2009

Drinks »Flatiron Lounge

flatiron loungeThe Flatiron District isn't an area of the city that I might expect to find a decent, sophisticated cocktail spot not marred by bland ambiance and overwhelmingly lame and obtrusive clientele, but then I found the truly impressive Flatiron Lounge. Flatiron began pouring high end cocktails towards the beginning of the trend and feels comfortably lived-in with its art deco inspired interior and restored wooden bar. While seats may become hard to come by as the night wears on and on weekends, after work our group was able to snag a corner booth – and I find booths most conducive to indulging in whiskey concoctions.

The drinks I tried were both whiskey based and excellently mixed but the menu changes often and I can't ind a current menu to let you know what I had by name, but if you go for lemony and whiskey I can promise it will be wonderful. Nothing on the three page menu that interests you? Jim ordered off menu requesting a fizz and the guy made it special for him.?

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Posted on July 13, 2009

Drinks »The Frying Pan

the frying pan viewThe Frying Pan is one part of a new generation of Manhattan must-do spots that has been on my own list since it re-opened. An afternoon with my family recently offered the perfect opportunity to finally check it off and enjoy a few Blue Point Blueberry beers under blue skies with the quiet sway of the water and views of Chelsea and the water.

The salvaged historic boat that once sat at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay sits off shore of the newly renovated water front along the West Side Highway. The barnacled bar is reportedly pretty divey, crowded, and wild on the expected nights, but if you can get there in the afternoon, it's an eccentric oasis among the busy city and the kind of place you can relax for hours at.

Make sure to take a carpeted walk down to the bathroom for a real old timey ship environment and, if you're hungry, Adam seemed to enjoy his hot dog.

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Posted on July 6, 2009