WILLIAMSBURG IS now a post-hipster (the hipsters went to Bed-Stuy), slightly less commercial, mini-Manhattan for twentysomethings. Rental prices are going up as fast as waterfront luxury buildings are being built — bummer if you’re looking to score an affordable apartment, but amazing for the nightlife scene. Bars keep popping up, each vying to be the latest IT spot. There are a lot of great options, but the age-old divide separates the two absolute best Williamsburg bar crawls: getting rowdy vs. chilling out.
The Best Williamsburg Bar Crawl for Getting Rowdy
[Note: Click on any of the spots in the map below to see an expanded description.]
1. Westlight at The William Vale
I will promise you two things about your first stop at Westlight: You will likely wait in line to get in and the view will make it worth it. If it weren’t for the fact that you’ll be looking at the Manhattan skyline, the Westlight’s $18 cocktails, polished vibe, and model-esque crowd would have you convinced you were in a trendy Meatpacking bar. The sexy sights and sexier people will set the tone for an amped up night. Plus, you can catch a rooftop dance party on the weekends. Live it up for one drink.
2. The Gutter
Round the corner to The Gutter, a dive bar with a bowling alley attached. There might be a wait for a lane, so put your name in as soon as you enter. Aside from bowling, it’s a grungy dive bar: think cheap drinks, thrift shop aesthetic, and a hidden back room where you can catch local bands (there’s usually a cover fee).
3. The Whiskey
I call The Whiskey Brooklyn the best worst bar in Williamsburg, which is why I’m a regular. The crowd is garish, the bouncers are friendly, the drinks are cheap and the bartenders are loud (and give out free pickle back shots, if you’re friendly). Upstairs serves frozen drinks, but other than that is nothing special. You want to be downstairs, which feels like a way edgier Cheers; the bartenders are charmingly brash and a ton of fun and there are arcade games like pinball. It gets crowded and it gets lively.
4. Brooklyn Bowl
It’s hard to describe Brooklyn Bowl because it is so insanely unique. Part bowling alley, part giant music venue (with headliner acts), part fried chicken restaurant (Blue Ribbon, which has been voted some of the best fried chicken in NYC) — all in an enormous converted warehouse with a sort of subtle carnival theme. Good to knows: Questlove DJs a giant dance party every Thursday night and, if you show up early on a concert day and get in before the show starts, you can stay for the show for free.
Brooklyn’s mega club, Output, is for electronic music lovers, or anyone that wants to get lost dancing (Aussies, lots of Aussies). Late nights, lots of drinking, lots of strobe lights, and a rooftop for getting some air. Expect to wait in line to get in, but stay out til 4am sweating it out with sexy strangers.
Other noteworthy bars in the area: Berry Park, Kinfolk, Hotel Delmano, Brooklyn Brewery
The Best Williamsburg Bar Crawl for Chilling Out
[CLOSED] Videology is a bar with food and drinks… and a screening room, where they play old school, cult and current classic flicks nightly. There’s also trivia and bingo, depending on the night you stop in. Plus, if you’re looking to ogle hipsters, this is where they’re still hanging in Williamsburg.
Down the street is neighborhood fave Lucky Dog, a seemingly standard dive bar… jukebox, shuffleboard table, outdoor patio… and dogs. Live. Dogs. Patrons come to the bar to show off their pooches. And yes, if you don’t have a dog, you’re still welcome. Hang on the back patio — you’ll make plenty of canine friends (maybe some human ones, too).
Dardy Bar is the kind of place you would never take your parents. It is dark and dingy and smells funky in certain pockets and the bartenders are certainly up to questionable business, making it the literal perfect dive bar. The crowd is eclectic and gritty. There’s a tiny back patio where you’ll find South Williamsburg’s finest residents chain-smoking cigarettes. And apparently they have free hot dogs sometimes, though I haven’t seen proof of that aside from the sign out front that says, “FREE HOTDOGS.”
The Commodore is like being on a tropical vacation in the 60s on a rainy day. That might sound like a bad thing, but it’s not. It’s a laid-back, dark saloon serving up tropical drinks and fried chicken to customers in lush vinyl booths. It’s a theme bar that forgot its theme, which is the exact irony that draws in the cooler set of the Williamsburg crowd. Plus, there is an outdoor patio with plenty of room for groups.
Everyone calls Union Pool the ultimate hook up bar, probably because it is always filled with good looking, young, drunk people packed together into three distinct rooms. Room one is for dancing, room two is not so much a room, but a giant outdoor space, complete with a Taco Truck and room three is a live music venue. There’s literally something for everyone at Union Pool. It feels like the whole of Williamsburg shows up here to end their night, and figure out who they’re going home with.
Other noteworthy bars in the area: Fresh Kills Bar, The Twenty, Rocka Rolla, The Regal