This Week’s NY Happenings: Manhattan Cocktail Classic, BBQ Blowout, The Pines

FRIDAY: The Cocktail Classic Shakes and Stirs Citywide
The fourth Manhattan Cocktail Classic drops this weekend, celebrating mixology across four boroughs, five nights, and dozens of venues. Catch a buzz and some knowledge as Middle Branch hosts an Ode to Eau, Booker and Dax show off techniques and technology, and Huckleberry Bar serves spirits made with Brooklyn pride. There’s plenty more on offer, including an Industry Invitational at the Andaz Fifth Avenue; get on the highball as tickets are going fast.

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic runs from Friday, May 17th through Tuesday, May 21st, at venues like Booker and Dax (207 Second Ave., East Village). To learn more about the bars, check out the listings in bold above at BlackBook Guides. Photo by Belathée Photography.

TUESDAY: BBQ Blowout
Greg Bresnitz and the Snacky Tunes crew return for another series of summer barbecues. This year’s inaugural blowout sees Brooklyn Brewery peeps serving Middle Eastern bites and Summer Ales at Good Co.

BBQ Blowout starts at 7pm, Tuesday, May 14th, at Good Co. (10 Hope St., Williamsburg). Advance tickets are $10 and include a beer and a plate of food. To learn more about Good Co., check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SATURDAY: Beyond The Pines
Gowanus charmer (no, that’s not an oxymoron) The Pines puts their leafy backyard into play with a cider bar and a menu of outdoor exclusives. Look for the likes of cheese, clams, and Wagyu steaks grilled over a wood fire.

Backyard at The Pines (284 Third Ave., Gowanus) opens Saturday, May 18th. To learn more about The Pines, check out its listing at BlackBook Guides.

Brisket Boom

In April 2012, Texas native Daniel Delaney started Brisketlab, a pop-up shop featuring, what else, smoked brisket. In 48 hours, he sold 2,500 pounds of meat and earned a name for himself and his product. Now, Delaney dishes up brisket at his first brick and mortar shop Delaney Barbecue, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There, you can buy tender, fatty brisket and smoky ribs by the pound, along with a tangy potato salad and coleslaw. Bring your own beer to chase the meat, and lots of friends to share it with.

Also dishing out stellar brisket is Bill Fletcher, who runs Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue in Gowanus. What is Brooklyn barbecue you may ask? The owner said it’s not from Texas, it’s not from St. Louis, and it’s not from the Carolinas, it’s from Brooklyn. Plus, in sticking with the local, organic, grass-fed beef trend that, thankfully, many restaurants in the borough have adopted, Fletcher’s also makes sure their product remains sustainable. You can also buy by the pound here, and, aside from ribs and brisket, they serve Pat LaFrieda spicy sausage, pork shoulder, baked beans, and house-made fridge pickles.

Recently, in Astoria, Queens, The Strand Smokehouse opened up with former Jeffrey’s Grocery chef Eric Milley cooking pulled pork, smoked pork loin, and macaroni and cheese. They have a good selection of beer and have a handful of whiskey-filled barrels right for tapping. 

 

Photo Credit: Critter

New Barbecue Restaurant Feeds Gowanus

Despite all the cancellations and pushed back opening dates, Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue had no problem during Hurricane Sandy and welcomed guests into their warm, hearty eatery or the first time last Friday.

"We were lucky,” said owner Bill Fletcher, aka BBQ Billy. “The restaurant didn’t flood, we didn’t lose power, and we were able to stay on track for a Friday opening."  

This means Gowanus now has what Fletcher describes as “a uniquely Brooklyn style of American pit barbecue” at their greasy, saucy fingertips. Though what Brooklyn-style barbecue is has yet to be fully determined, we eagerly await the verdict and the chance to try the goods, which get cooked over maple and oak wood in their 2,600-pound, cherry red pit. After all, Fletcher himself has a long history working the pit and has won many accolades on the northeast barbecue competition circuit. Another reason we have high hopes comes in the form of pit master Matt Fisher, formally of R.U.B., who will be manning the meat with BBQ Billy.

Together, they pile plates high with ribs, pork shoulder, brisket, and a rotating menu of market-driven options like Char Siu pork belly and maple smoked Red Wattle Pork Loin. All the meat is sustainably raised and they plan on keeping specials and side dishes seasonal. Aside from slabs of meat, you can also get mac and cheese, pit-smoked baked beans, a rotating list of sliders, and barbecue tacos. 

All of this can be found in their industrial-butcher-meets-rustic-eatery on Wednesday through Monday, starting at 5pm until they run out.

Showing Some Love For Mister Sunday

It’s a clear Sunday afternoon in late August. I find myself in a beautiful outdoor park situated next to the infamous Gowanus Canal, hidden from the busy streets of downtown Brooklyn, amongst a lively underground house scene. As a nice breeze complements the late afternoon sunshine, my feet are in constant motion, dancing to Terence Parker’s “Your Love.” The DJs are in a rhythm, spinning deep house and soulful funk, while hundreds of beautiful people, young and old, join in on the dance floor’s communal groove. The outdoor dance party that I’m talking about is known as Mister Sunday.

The brainchild of Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin, this weekly dance party is an extension of the extremely popular, year-round loft party series called Mister Saturday Night. Starting in June and concluding in the fall, Mister Sunday is a unique and wonderful experience for house music lovers and party goers alike. Acting as event producers and resident DJs, Carter and Harkin are as accessible and friendly as they are inspiring and vivacious. While they focus on crafting seamless mixes, they always wave and acknowledge me with a warm greeting, as they do many of their guests. They constantly show their appreciation to those of us who come to dance and spark movement on the floor, a particularly welcoming feeling. And in helping me discover new artists, new sounds and new styles of house music, they even let me peek at their records. I’m spinning my head, hoping to catch the title of that Theo Parrish record. Phew, got it—it was “Baby Steps!” Now let’s take a stroll through the party.

As you walk into the Gowanus Grove, home to Mister Sunday for several years running, you’re immediately captivated by what you see, what you hear, and what you feel. House music keeps the tempo as you first pass the Country Boy’s taco stand, which serves delicious quesadillas and huarache. Rows of picnic tables on the right side, bocce ball courts on the left, families and friends relaxing and reading, drinking and chatting. As you walk further, the grounds open up to two large dance floors; one, a two-foot platform off to the side, adjacent to the Gowanus Canal; the other is located under the scattered poplar trees directly in front of the DJ booth. And just beyond the booth is where Mister Sunday’s outdoor bar serves Brooklyn-brewed beer, delicious sangria, juice, and water to keep us dancing folk’ hydrated!

We’re now in the midst of it all, listening to big tracks like “Make Me Believe In You” by Patti Jo, “1960 What” by Gregory Porter, and the Henrik Schwarz remix of Omar’s “Feelin You.” As the day goes on, the sun begins to set over Brooklyn while the evening air cools us off. The DJs are taking us on a musical journey, increasing the waves of intensity with each track. Once the sky is dark enough, the lights turn on and the disco ball starts spinning, and, as if on cue, the already-jubilant crowd explodes in excitement. The atmosphere out here is so electric, the vibes so positive, and the people so welcoming, it’s hard for me not to use the words life-changing. On the dance floor, people are swinging and two-stepping, smiling ear to ear as they look around to see a community that truly loves and appreciates each other. I have proudly spent all but one of my summers Sundays dancing my ass off in this grove. From my very first experience, I was inspired and transformed by the vibes and sensations of these outdoor parties.

Each Mister Sunday seemed to have its own unique vibe and special experience. Some Sundays were packed with my friends and me getting drunk and dancing like animals. Other Sundays were filled with deep interaction and light flirtation; this led to discovering new friends and a meaningful romance with an amazing lass from Ireland. Some Sundays were so hot that we prayed for rain, and when we got it, the dance floor would erupt with joy. I’ll never forget the day that the heavens opened up and rain flooded Mister Sunday, while everyone danced merrily. Eamon kept spinning tracks about love in the rain until one of the speakers blew out. Although they had to shut down the part, it felt wonderful running through such an intense rainstorm.

And other Sundays were just for me. I would dance on the floor from start to finish, in my own little world, observing and enjoying everything I was experiencing around me. 

Sundays, once filled with hangovers and unwanted anticipation for the work-week, are now filled with delicious food, funky tracks, beautiful women, smooth dance moves, sunshine, good friends, disco balls, cute dogs and, most importantly, a sense of community. In a city as large and impersonal as New York, it’s easy to lose our sense of togetherness. But at Mister Sunday—or as I like to call it, Church—there is a beautiful congregation that shows no judgment, only acceptance; no drama, only love. When I get on the dance floor and find my own rhythm, I look up and see that everyone is smiling together, moving together. In the most genuine way, we are truly a community.

Pioneers of the modern house party, Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin consistently draw hundreds of people to their events, and regularly bring out dope DJ’s and special guests such as Omar S, Moodyman, Optimo, Archie Pelago and Funkineven to join them in celebrating these Sunday parties. For their 100th party, the Brooklyn Steppers, a local youth drum line ensemble, were called in for a special live performance as well.

Thanks to the entire Mister Sunday Crew, Brooklynites have a paradise in which they can have a good time, express themselves, and in turn, become part of something special. With only a few Sunday parties left, I urge everyone who is reading this right now to put on your dancing shoes, and take a voyage in experiencing this wonderful community at the Gowanus Grove. You can RSVP for the next Mister Sunday at mister@mistersaturdaynight.com, and find out more information about their upcoming parties at mistersaturdaynight.com 

Photo by Marshall McDonald

Gowanus is the New Park Slope (With Used Condoms)!

Stereotypes often exist for a reason, especially when it comes to broad-stroke descriptions of neighborhoods. There are a lot of scary folk near Bed-Stuy. Tapered denim has overtaken Williamsburg. Young married couples aren’t using condoms in Park Slope, which is notorious for its sea of strollers and lesbians. You know where they are using condoms? In Gowanus, that’s where. And each day, on my walk to and from the subway, I’m reminded of it.

If there were tracks to separate idyllic Park Slope from its ugly orphan equivalent in Gowanus, they’d cut somewhere across Fourth Avenue. Above: cutesy gardens with homemade signs; vegan dishes served by biodegradable waiters; vintage clothing for every shape and obesity. Below, on Razor Blade Row: used condoms; broken glass bottles; one resolute hooker without teeth who just won’t leave. Ah, home.

In light of recent articles in The New York Times and on New York‘s “Daily Intelligencer,” both of which address the apathy with which Park Slope haters now drip, I’ve decided to shed light on the hamlet of Gowanus.

Nestled among an industrial wasteland that consists of some sort of seedy textile operation, a once thriving box factory, and a whole pack of friendly attacks dogs contained by barbed wire, lies Gowanus. There is nary a kid in sight. There are few restaurants, and only one decent bar (but it serves popcorn, and you can bring your own burger meat and the tenders will cook it). There are plently of colorful locals that give me nightmares as I rest my head on my pillow at night. There’s even a canal to separate us from the yuppie assholes over in Carroll Gardens (and we love it, even if it’s more diseased than Jerri Blank’s ovaries).