ECLECTIC has become an overused word in recent years but it may still be fairly applied to nightlife in Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s least easy-to-define neighborhood. From hookup havens to cocktail lounges to bier halls, the world class bar scene stems from a culture clash with few rivals in New York or anywhere.
Barcade’s raison d’etre is thirty vintage video game titles, including Donkey Kong, Frogger, Asteroids, Punch Out!, Gauntlet, DigDug, and many others. Supplement that geeky awesomeness with 25 tap beers featuring a strong local presence, chill bartenders, and even small shelves between games to hold your pint while you blast aliens and rescue princesses.
388 Union Ave 718.302.6464 www.barcadebrooklyn.com
On the northern fringes of the neighborhood, Turkey’s Nest still represents for your grandparents’ Brooklyn and is unquestionably the best place to drink a beer in a styrofoam cup on the entire planet. This time machine to the golden age of blue collar Brooklyn is a dive in the best sense of the word.
Friendly bartenders, downright cheap prices, a defiantly unhip juke box, and a cast of characters that spans half a century of local flavor are just some of the highlights of this delightful neighborhood bar that has refused to surrender to the hipsters and the too cool crowd.
94 Bedford Ave., 718.384.9774
Bembe lies on a sketchy block under the bridge and looks like an abandoned warehouse as you approach their giant wooden door. Upon entering you’ll be smacked to Miami Beach, as your senses are lambasted with Latin percussion sounds, suave bartenders who look the part, and legions of sexy locals dancing the night away. Great and varied live music occurs nightly.
With an impressive menu of fruity island cocktails and low on attitude vibe, this is the dance club for people who hate dance clubs.
81 South 6th Street, (at Berry Street) 718.387.5389 http://bembe.us/
Although only open for Friday happy hour and Saturday afternoons, this is still a prime location for unpretentious socializing and people watching with 300 of your best buds. Walk in and buy some tokens, redeem them for fresh malty goodness and sit at any of dozens of long wooden tables.
79 North 11th Street, 718.486.7422 www.brooklynbrewery.com
Ale enthusiasts from all over the city make pilgrimages to this Belgian themed beauty. With dozens of obscure and fanciful bottle selections and decadent appetizers to go with them, this upscale tavern (named for a loogie-slinging Lucifer) takes the genre to new heights.
The bartenders are knowledgeable and usually very good, although some regulars grumble that they aren’t quite as attentive as they once were. Regardless, there is nothing else quite like it any closer than Brussels, and that’s a good thing.
359 Metropolitan Ave. 718.963.4140 www.spuytenduyvilnyc.com
With a modern Iberian themed menu and an impressive selection of specialty cocktails like the Tequila Mockingbird and the Barton Pear, Nita Nita adds a touch of sophistication to a bar scene that could use it. The outside patio and cozy atmosphere make this an awesome first stop of the night or date destination.
146 Wythe Ave (At N. 8TH St.) 718.388.5328
This cheerful nook is frequented by many of the artists and writers that live in the vicinity. With wood everywhere and a relaxed atmosphere, this is the place for those long, pointlessly meaningful conversations with your best friends. Harefield also provides a multitude of beer choices (26 selections on tap), as well as plenty of wine by the glass and a wide range of single malts.
769 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211 718.388.6870
The Metropolitan is Williamsburg’s reigning dean of gay bars but has a reputation for embracing and welcoming everyone and feels as much a neighborhood bar as anything else. Part of that is the friendly, laid back clientele and staff and part is the comfy booths and light, airy atmosphere over two sprawling floors of drinking fun littered with pool tables and video games. The summer months reveal the opening of a vine-covered backyard and Metropolitan’s famous Sunday afternoon free barbecue.
559 Lorimer St., Brooklyn, NY 11211 718.599.4444
RADEGAST HALL AND BEER GARDEN
This authentic Czech beer hall is ten blocks south of The Gutter but four thousand miles away in spirit. Radegast revels in the glory of lager and ale, not to mention bratwurst, kielbasa, and schnitzel. It’s the minor details that really make this joint, from the homemade sauerkraut to the waitresses wearing straight out of Bavaria dirndls while hoisting steins.
The old world feel is reinforced by the tap selection, which hail almost entirely from central Europe. The whole deal is complemented by a strong bottle list, fine wine, and a full bar. The reasonable prices and smiling staff make this one a winner across the board.
113 N 3rd Street, 718.963.3973 www.radegasthall.com
The Gutter is a gorgeous vintage bowling alley, dismantled in Minnesota, trekked cost country, and reassembled on a cool warehouse row in the heart of Williamsburg. Brought to you by the same geniuses in charge of Barcade, The Gutter is a classic hangout with a great beer selection of mostly local microbrews, retro but hip décor, and reasonable prices on pitchers and pints. Large cafeteria-sized tables and a friendly atmosphere make it easy to meet new friends as well as chill with your old ones. Perfect for extreme bowling.
200 North 14th Street, 718.387.3585 www.thegutterbrooklyn.com
***Explore the world party scene with 101 PLACES TO GET F*CKED UP BEFORE YOU DIE. Part travel guide, part drunken social commentary, 101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die may have some of the most hilarious scenes and straight-up observations of youth culture of any book you’ve ever read.***
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Matthew is a castle enthusiast and onetime wrestling champion of a tiny herding village in inner Mongolia who is looking forward to the birth of his first son in June.