Your Expert Guide to Drinking (& Nibbling) Around Brooklyn

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How is it that despite the seemingly endless openings of new bars in Brooklyn, when it’s time to decide where to go it feels like there are only three options at most, all of which you’ve frequented for years…and have probably grown sick of?
It’s crucial to have an expert’s advice in matters of the heart and of alcohol, which is why we enlisted Alamo Drafthouse Beverage Director Vincent Favella, to tap into his five favorite secret drinking establishments in the borough, as well as his five favorite bar / food crossovers.
Prepare to drink with dignity.

Top 5 Best Underground Bars

The Brooklyn Inn

VF: The Brooklyn Inn is one of Brooklyn’s oldest bars and feels like a blast from the past, where I’d drink anything that makes me feel like it’s the 19th Century.

Dirty Precious and Jupiter Disco

 

VF: For 2 more recent openings (this century), I love Dirty Precious, with a bar staff that is seasoned in everything from upscale classic cocktails to beer & wine; and Jupiter Disco, that also does the impossible of making all the people happy all the time with wonderful cocktails, sound, DJs, ambience, etc.

Featherweight

VF: If you are looking for a Classic Cocktail from the Sasha Petraske templates, look no further than Featherweight.

The Narrows

VF: The Narrows got into the coolest neighborhood on Earth before all the rest with awesome staff, decor, backyard – it’s also a food and beverage industry favorite.

5 Best Food/ Bar Combos

Grand Army

 

VF: Grand Army is great for a delicious lite snack or a full meal – and never disappoints.

Maison Premiere

VF: Maison Premiere will take you to New Orleans without leaving New York…with atmosphere and the best service this side of the mighty Mississippi.

Desnuda

VF: Desnuda does the same for South America, with new finds on every visit.

Leyenda

VF: Leyenda, specializing in Mexico and all it’s deliciousness, has amazing service, food and drink – from the ownership & general manager all the way to support staff.

Lighthouse

VF: Lighthouse may be considered by some as more of a restaurant, with amazing dinner and brunch; but the owners are bar people at heart and the clientele is almost all industry.

Brooklyn: Where Halloween Tomfoolery Goes After Hours

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Claptone (Sabrina Feige)

It’s no secret that locating any truly late night New York fun these days requires a trip into Brooklyn. You needn’t search much further than the explosion of secret raves, underground parties and crowded venues from deep Bushwick to trendy nightspots in Williamsburg. Take, for example, earlier in October when Chris Lake performed alongside Nero at the Brooklyn Hangar as part of their North American tour. (On Dec.14 Gratitude*NYC will present “Cosmic Mirrors,” a trippy, experimental affair at the same location). Hours after Nero’s show ended, techno master Guy Gerber hosted an all-night rager with BLKMRKT that continued until sunrise.

“I said, ‘I needed to come to Brooklyn,’ and I was looking for the right partner,” Gerber told BlackBook of the BLKMRKT event. “I was surprised at how they come up with the party and literally no one knows the address until an hour before it starts. I thought the sound was great for a warehouse—it was probably one of my best shows!”

Manhattan remains commercial king for EDM with glossy clubs, lounges and arena concerts like Zedd’s recent stop at Madison Square Garden. That being said, finding a balance of mischievousness and euphoric, high-quality electro beats—especially during Halloween week—is never a true challenge. But as soon as the clock strikes 4 am, your options dwindle disappointingly fast. This year felt especially telling. It was perhaps the first Halloween since the clubbing ascent of the outer borough where the action in Brooklyn completely trumped the Manhattan scene.

Not to say Manhattan didn’t deliver the goods—for the less adventurous, but equally as boisterous and discerning, Pier of Fear, produced by top-shelf agency RPM, set the bar high. The special effects, lights and organization of the weeklong mayhem could only be outmatched by roster of world-class DJs.

“As we approach our fifth year at the Pier, we’re doing it bigger and better than ever,” commented RPM founder Eddie Dean (also behind the secret parties for Nero). “New York is in for a real treat.” Right he was; Kaskade had a refreshingly dynamic set the weekend before Halloween. (Queens native CID certainly got the crowd lubricated with his high-octane warm-up).

Armin van Buuren, who stormed the scene on Oct. 30 after releasing his album EMBRACE, delivered the best large concert of spooky season. It was a shame, however, that his Friday night positioning wasn’t swapped with Skrillex’s primetime Saturday set—a more progressive and forceful performance than usual, especially considering he had to jet to SoCal’s Fairplex that same morning for one last set at HARD Day of the Dead.

Thank you Armin van Buuren ... epic night at #PierofFear! Round III tonight with Skrillex & friends! Get tickets now at pieroffear.com Photos by Christopher Lazzaro for www.FreedomFilmLLC.comArmin van Buuren (Freedom Film LLC)

The real setback with the Pier of Fear is that it starts far too early and ends way before most attendees want. Organizers should consider pushing on past 5 am, although the NYPD and proponents of noise complaints would surely put up a fight.

Naturally, there was plenty of other competition throughout Halloween week. Paco Osuna held court at Space Ibiza NY; Lavo, obnoxious as that joint is, offered guests QuestLove; Marquee booked Bingo Players and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano for back-to-back weekends. In fairness, one could indulge in the Pier of Fear and then Uber off to greener, darker and rowdier pastures in Brooklyn. And that’s exactly what Halloween night called for.

Borgore’s creepy and steamy, House of Gore, the “Ultimate Haunted Halloween Warehouse Party,” attracted a crowd that was commendably jovial, troublesome and hardcore at a location deep in the bowels of Brooklyn.

“I love masquerade balls,” DJ/producer Claptone mused to BlackBook as he tried to convince us to swing by his affair in the more gentrified milieu of Williamsburg’s Verboten. “One essential characteristic about a mask is that it dissolves social or cultural differences for a certain time. The East End boys can make out with the West End girls like the Pet Shop Boys would put it.”

Claptone, who always performs under the veil of a golden mask, has earned a sturdy reputation for his soulful house.

“The mask extends your personal freedom,” he confessed. “It exceeds your personality and sparks your imagination—so dress up and join me.”

gibson_claptone_sabrina-feige-7Claptone (Sabrina Feige)

Unmoved, we reminded him that it would be a busy night in Brooklyn and making wise decisions during the wee-hours would be crucial. “I’ll have a lot of other surprises in store for my guests, musical as well as non-musical, ” Claptone replied, baiting us. “Don’t tell me I didn’t give you a heads up.”

Indeed, Claptone was the surprise hit of the night (morning, at that rate). His masquerade boasted an enticing assortment of costumed revelers getting down and dirty to every single amazing, underground house beat he played.

A Dutch entourage shared treats with dancing neighbors as a coven of witches caressed a brawny, shirtless stud dressed as a Trojan. It’s precisely such an international, pansexual gathering of the curious and the intoxicated that kept our Halloween spontaneous until well past 7.30 am. When the plug was pulled and daylight swooped in, Brooklyn had succeeded beyond expectations yet again.

“Do you have the address for Loco Dice?” a model dressed like a woodsman asked, as he limbered toward our car.

“Yes,” we said, sharing the Sunset Park warehouse location near Industry City that was slated to endure until noon. “An underground party with a covert vibe” was how Loco Dice’s publicist had described it.

“Let’s share a car!” he said presumptuously.

“Nah—we have to go cheer on our friends running the marathon,” we mumbled, firmly closing the door.

The race had already started.

WTF: There’s a Brooklyn-Themed Bar in Manhattan 

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Photo via The Brooklyneer 

There’s an odd shift in the space-time continuum of New York City; rents are getting lower in some Manhattan neighborhoods while Whole Foods and Starbucks and even Ralph Lauren are popping up in Williamsburg. The cool edgy vibe of Kings County is slowly dissipating as more corporations see millennial money to be had. But that quintessentially hip, young Brooklyn vibe is still a draw. Just ask the owners of a Brooklyn-themed bar in Manhattan’s West Village.

“The Brooklyneer” as it’s called, is either some sort of weird social experiment, art installation, or just a really, really silly concept. Why waste literally dozens of minutes on the L train when you can enjoy all the trappings of Brooklyn in Manhattan? The menu is chock full of eye-roll inducing Brooklyn stereotypes like kombucha, craft beer and local liquors. We wouldn’t be surprised if the bartender wears a knit beanie all year round and has a mustache tattoo on the inside of his finger.

Is this supposed to be, to use a v. Brooklyn word, “ironic”? And even if it is ironic, there’s a weird Disney Land sense of hyperreality about this place that would make even Jean Baudrillard go bonkers.

Premiere: Hear the Sonic Bedlam of Highly Suspect’s New Track, ‘Lost’

Music, High Society, Lost
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It’s Monday morning, and ain’t nobody happy bout it. There’s probably not enough coffee in the three Starbucks’ downstairs combined to give me the energy I need to charge through this recurring misfortune. Luckily, I found a new band to love, Highly Suspect, and their brand new banger “Lost” is helping to get my head bobbing and my productive juices flowing.

Composed of Ryan Meyer (drums/vocals), Rich Meyer (bass/vocals), and Johnny Stevens (guitar, vocals, synth) the Brooklyn-based Rock trio has been grabbing attention with their blues-infused rock, which called upon an unmistakable Hip-Hop like cadence. Their new track “Lost” mixes the guitar shredding havoc of typical Brooklyn grunge with stead, jabbing bass. It explores the contrasts between virtually total silence and sonic bedlam, breathing in a few resting moments for those like me who are not high-stamina rock enthusiasts.

About the song, Rich Meyer tells us:

“Lost” is about having to break up with somebody even though you’re still in love with them.  I was in a relationship that really wasn’t good for either one of us; different lifestyles, histories, and futures were pulling us apart.  Love lost its way in a forest of circumstantial conflicts.    

Today, we’re pleased to premiere Highly Suspect’s new track, ‘Lost’,  so check it out the track below, and find more on Highly Suspect HERE and HERE.

The Best New Boutique in Williamsburg: 10 Items to Shop Now (For Guys and Gals)

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Photo: Will Foster

The just-opened Concrete + Water is what boutique dreams are of made of. Brands like YMC (which heretofore, I literally have only ever found in London) meet salvaged Levi’s and higher-end picks from Sea–and that’s just in womenswear.

The men are not excluded, though, making this a perfectly acceptable stop on a neighborhood stroll with one’s other half. And, as any truly special boutique should, there’s also a gorgeous selection of curated home goods and knick-knacks–just check out those oceanic mugs a bit below.

Meet Hannah Dilworth and JD Gluckstern, owners of Concrete + Water.

hannah

Dilworth’s fashion credentials are top-notch–she’s worked at Lucky and Shopbop with style director, Elle Strauss.

store entry

store landscape

store view store table

home goods

Hannah’s Picks

YMC Cropped Cable Knitsweater“This cable knit feels vintage and cozy, but with an updated cropped fit,” says Hannah.

F-Troupe Bow Bootbooties
From Hannah: “Playful and comfortable…Score!

Denim Refinery jeansIf you are always on the hunt for the perfect Levi’s then look no further. Denim Refinery takes old Levi’s and brings them to life again,” says Hannah.

Sea Black Lace Jumpsuitsea jumpsuit“Sea is known for their lace and I love the idea of instead of a dress switching it up with a super feminine black lace jumpsuit for all your holiday parties,” says Hannah.

Lizzy Disney Loop BagclutchThis bag from British designer Lizzy Disney is made from the finest quality English saddle leather, and can be used as a crossbody or clutch. The clean and simple silhouette feels classic and timeless. Especially love the gorgeous oxblood color!” says Hannah.

 

JD’s Picks

Soulland Mathias Shirt button down shirt“I love playful and colorful prints and Soulland comes through with great versions of this shirt every season. I’m a big space nerd so this shirt really speaks to me,” J.D. says.

La Panoplie Woven Jacketcoat“A slightly more street friendly version of the peacoat. Love the hood, and the copper toggles. Looks great on every guy,” says J.D.

Hentsch Man Colour Block Raglancolor block sweater“Just a very unique color way, and an amazing weight make this knit one of my favorites,”says J.D.

Common Cut Donato Sneakersneakers“I think its hard to find a sneaker at this price point that can stand out from the crowd. The look is classic but the details are one-of-a-kind with a faux-fur lining and mohair heel piece. We’re Common Cut’s only New York representation so we’re really excited about this brand new Portuguese brand,” says J.D.

Mazama Ceramics mugs“Gorgeous hand-spun ceramics that we discovered while road tripping through Oregon. Perfect shapes and colors that are modern and sleek while still maintaining a comfy, cozy vibe that work in everyone’s house,” says J.D.

OK: Time to get on the L train: Concrete + Water is at 485 Driggs Avenue. If you want those Levi’s, sorry, but you’ll have to race me.

MADE Music Brings Back Cypress Hill to Kick Off the New Music Incubator

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Cypress Hill performs at Baby’s All Right. Photo courtesy of BFAnyc.com

The fashion crowd knows about Milk Made, the incubator that’s helped to fund the shows and presentations of fledgling designers who otherwise might go under trying to foot the bill. With the underwriting help of Amex, MADE Music launches, striving to offer the same support to musicians on the rise, covering costs of music videos, practice times, recording sessions, and more.

To celebrate the launch, members of both the fashion and music crowds like Mazdack Rassi, Jen Brill, Lazaro Hernandez, Dao-Yi Chow, Chelsea Leyland, May Kwok, Jacquelyn Jablonski, Jus Ske, Harif Guzman, and more came out to Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn for performances by Dreamshow and (throwback!) Cypress Hill.

MADE Music Launch Event

MADE Music Launch Event
Cypress Hill

MADE Music Launch Event
Cypress Hill

MADE Music Launch Event
Harif Guzman, Laurence Chandler, and Joshua Cooper

MADE Music Launch Event
Jen Brill and Lazaro Hernandez

MADE Music Launch Event
Jenné Lombardo

MADE Music Launch Event
Dao-Yi Chow and Mazdack Rassi


All the Other Kids with the Pumped Up Rents

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IMAGINE YOU’RE AT A BIRTHDAY PARTY IN THE LES and approximately six negronis deep. Beforehand, you may have also had maybe like three hits of the joint left back home as you were getting dressed and listening to Robbie Williams. Someone mentions Greenpoint, Brooklyn and you suddenly perk your ears out of sheer curiosity wondering what new restaurants manifest the area. Let’s face the music. Brooklyn is just as popular as Manhattan, if not more. (Is Baby’s All Right having another sold out show?)

I asked my Brooklynite acquaintance whom I had met only once previously at an art gallery show, “What restaurants are in Greenpoint?” I suppose it may have been a quick transition from discussing buying “purple drank” on Instagram but the question itched me. Bushwick’s Blanca is still on my list but I have to wait two months just to eat there. I haven’t made my reservation yet. (Does that make me pretentious?)

My friend pulled me aside and suggested that I had too many negronis. I sounded “pretentious”, he said. By all means, I didn’t intend to sound like a naive millennial who just shops at Opening Ceremony and bitches about Uber drivers being too late.

Carry on, Taylor…

So, I apologetically stated that I didn’t want to come off as pretentious and/or demeaning in any shameless notion suggesting that Manhattan is better than Brooklyn or that I’m mocking Brooklyn’s prevalent culinary world.

In response, my fellow Brooklynite replied, “There’s a new creperie that opened around the corner.”

“Well, we should go sometime,” I suggested, as if we were really close friends. That just made me feel even more unsettled.

Dinner was over. I walked away with a bitter taste in my mouth asking myself if I really did come off as pretentious. I know that people, especially my age, are on the fence about the move to Williamsburg, thinking it’s significantly cheaper than Manhattan’s downtown living. In some way, I suppose it’s possible to find a cheaper living arrangement but I chose to live in Manhattan because I’m closer to my friends. It’s not that I chose to live in Manhattan so I could live this fantasy world where I go out dancing every weekend at The Box or eat at Koi. Within this last year, I’ve sort of become this post-collegiate stoner cat person who writes, assists, and manages his own work at my desktop. I’ll go to Angelika Center and see the recent Woody Allen with a friend but I won’t buy a table at some club that has bottle service. Honestly, I really do enjoy the simple things and the convenience of where I live.

Do we Manhattanites or Brooklynites really pride ourselves on our living situations? It may sound silly but really…What does it mean to live in the time of living arrangement stereotypes? It’s not like everyone in Williamsburg listens to MGMT and everyone in Manhattan is bourgeoise and takes Uber. How does that affect the social landscapes and interactions in which we place ourselves?

I asked myself these questions and I couldn’t really pinpoint the frustration that seemed to be erupting within me. Much like the LA vs. New York debate that most of my NYU peers discussed when I had attended the university last year, this debate seemed to be surrounding me in real world settings such as the hair salon, bodegas, and coffee shops. It’s probably stemming from the constant exposure of such an argument that I’ve become that person who rolls his eyes. And here I am asking myself, “Does that make me pretentious?” Eventually, living costs will skyrocket (as they already have) and the debate will end. Right? Brooklyn and Manhattan will both be just as expensive. Where will that leave the millennials that pride themselves on living in New York, NY? Or Manhattan? Or Brooklyn? Whatever we settle for…

If Brooklyn does indeed become the equivalent of Manhattan in real estate price then I just hope that for all of us rent-stabilization is still a thing because we have financial challenges up ahead.

Monster Children Gather for A-Trak in Red Hook

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A-Trak DJing

Over the weekend we brought our passports and traveled all the way to Red Hook, Brooklyn to see A-Trak DJ the Monster Children issue #43 launch party. There were food trucks and lots of art since it was located at an ‘art factory’ called Pioneer Works. The scene of the crowd was between fashion and Brooklyn-indie-band with people like Sydney Reising and Andrew VanWyngarden (whose knee is pictured in the end as the last photo before my film ran out) in the same circle. Here are some photos I took of the event.

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Miyako Bellizzi and friends

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John Tuite and Carlos Santolalla

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Zha Zha

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Sydney Reising and Stephanie Gotch49640023
Gigi Burris

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Indochine’s Michael Callahan Joins Brooklyn’s Culinary Movement with Coco

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The amusement over Brooklyn’s cultural explosion is no longer a subject for headlines, as most people in NYC and around the world are well acquainted with the borough’s emancipation. Brooklyn’s experimental nature has always attracted artists, musicians, and creative types of all sorts, but most recently its culinary movement is making Brooklyn a top destination for restaurateurs as well.

Michael Callahan has been part of the New York restaurant scene since the opening of Indochine in 1984. Through multiple partnerships and connections in the arts and literature worlds he was able to build a mini empire in Manhattan. Now, 30 years and 18 restaurants later, he came across the opportunity to open a place in his native Brooklyn, where his only partner is the landlord.

“I found this place through a friend” said Callahan, admitting to like the “word of mouth” way of Greenpoint.

“This used to be a chocolate factory, and is right next to the music venue Coco 66, so we spent a year renovating it and decided to keep the name Coco, it made sense.” Callahan’s Indochine, Bond St, Republic, and Kitichai all have a lot in common, from the cultural inspiration to their architectonic nature, but Coco is different.

“It’s my baby,” says the restaurateur. Callahan plans to sound proof and insulate the venue next door to create a place for local bands to perform, with the intention to bring in a more music-oriented crowd.

As you walk through the dimly lit hallway past the 12-seat steel bar, an open kitchen with glass windows invites diners to witness the process of what chefs Julie Farias and Joseph Capozzi call “elevated home cooking.” The restaurant’s layout and setup is in perfect harmony with this philosophy – simple, clean, and with a Brooklyn charm. You will feel at home as soon as you see the vinyl collection, tufted white booths, and tall wooden tables. The chefs periodically come out to talk about the dishes and are happy to share stories about the process of finding the best ingredients. According to Capozzi, what attracts him to the Brooklyn Culinary Movement is the emphasis on utilizing only local and seasonal produce, from the wine, to the bread and cheese. “The secret is to use simple recipes with extra loving,” says the chef as he comes over with a platter of grilled oysters with bourbon butter and seaweed beans. The flavors are exquisitely combined and of course, you feel the extra loving.  The $5 bacon cheeseburger is already a favorite, revealing the importance of having something for everyone.

Capozzi is also a veteran in this industry with 11 Madison Park, Ruschmeyer’s, and The Fat Radish under his belt.  One can’t help but wonder: what is it about them that makes it work? Looking at these restaurant veterans, it’s clearly not only about the food; it’s the atmosphere, the consistency, the location, and most importantly, how you treat people.

Coco had its first soft opening this weekend, serving only specials and a bar menu to those lucky enough to pass by and venture inside. A complete menu with items such as a grilled pork chop with cherry peppers and escarole and a root vegetable casserole with be available this week, along with a full bar.

Coco is located at 66 Greenpoint Ave (between Franklin & West), Brooklyn, NY 11222. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 6 p.m. until late. 

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