A Guide to Summer Drinking in Brooklyn

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This past Polar Vortex winter, I do believe I set a personal record for bourbon consumption. As temperatures plummeted and sidewalks turned to tundra, I steadily drained liter bottles of Benchmark and W.L. Weller. Brown spirits warmed me as banshee winds whipped through my poorly insulated Crown Heights apartment and provided courage as I took my dog on teeth-chattering walks, praying he’d relieve himself before hypothermia took hold.

Before my will and liver were permanently broken, temperatures ticked north, degree by degree. The sun said hello. Black glaciers of filth slowly drained into gutters, and garbage men finally toted away Christmas trees. Sunny days were here to stay. And that meant it was time to toast the climate shift with a drink.

During Brooklyn winters, we imbibe to blunt yet another nor’easter, to give those dark skies a bright little glow. We huddle in dark bars, clinking glasses over candlelight, loudly cursing California friends’ Instagram pictures. Drought be damned, maybe Los Angeles wouldn’t be so bad, right? But then spring arrives, green and bloomy, and thoughts of escape are abandoned. Beer gardens open, movies play at parks, and outdoor concerts flood ears with free music.

Invites to picnics and rooftop BBQs roll in, beaches open for business, and restaurants and bars line sidewalks with tables and seats, beckoning you for a round or two. On blue-sky Friday afternoons, work is no longer the most important thing to a New Yorker.

Over the last 15 years, summer has been a spark to rekindle a winter-dulled love affair with Brooklyn and the city at large. I boogie-board at Rockaway Beach, scream myself silly on the Cyclone, fling flying discs in Prospect Park, and ride my bike to far-flung bars, where my reward is a shady backyard and cold, cold beer. Be it on a Bushwick rooftop, at the Red Hook pool, or walking along the Williamsburg waterfront, summer is a reason to reconnect with the city’s soul—well, at least when a heat wave isn’t turning New York into a stinky, humid sauna.

Alcohol isn’t an essential ingredient to enjoy our fair metropolis’s open-air pleasures. You don’t need booze, per se, to have fun. But answer me this: Has a frozen margarita, glass of sparkling rosé, or condensation-slick pint of locally brewed IPA ever made a situation worse? Summer is fleeting. It’s time to hit pause, sit outside, and drink in the season.

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