Drinking is fun enough as it is, but why not make it even more fun by doing it during the day? Here are our 20 picks for the best Brooklyn bars to indulge in a little daytime revelry. Some of these bars are open all day, some open at 3pm. All should be frequented as much as possibly during sunny times, and then even well into the long nights ahead.
1) The Adirondack: Though a relatively new arrival to this bar-starved corner of Windsor Terrace, the Adirondack has quickly become a go-to for locals. In warmer months, the handful of outdoor tables are always crowded with drinkers amiably chatting with local passersby; and in the winter? There’s really no cozier indoor spot, thanks to the abundance of natural wood and a secret-feeling, tucked-away booth for two. Oh, and then there’s the beer list. It’s smart, comprehensive and fairly priced; it’s also complemented by a full bar (stick with the classics, and enjoy an excellent old fashioned) and a small selection of wine.
1241 Prospect Avenue, Windsor Terrace
2) Black Swan: Behold the rare place you can take pretty much anyone for pretty much any occasion. Black Swan is cool without taking itself too seriously. With plenty of space, it also manages to feel bustling yet simultaneously chill. You’d be happy to be taken there on a date (whether it’s your first or your hundredth), or by a friend just to catch up, or with a group to watch the game. Your parents would love it. Anyone who likes to eat—especially late at night when pickings are slim—would love it. And whether you’re a sommelier or a beer nerd or wino on a budget or a mixologist or just want a damn shot of tequila (or anywhere in between), you’ll find something you’re excited to drink.
1048 Bedford Avenue, Bed-Stuy
3) Brooklyn Ice House: Though it’s right next door to Bait & Tackle, neither of these neighborhood staples ever lack patrons. Get the $4 Stevedore shot special—an old nickname for the neighborhood’s once omnipresent dockworkers—for a PBR and Evan Williams combo to sip out in the expansive graveled backyard that’s full of long picnic tables perfect for summer lounging. If you get hungry, smoked pulled pork sliders are 2 for $5 and a gorgonzola and beet salad is $7. It’s a cheap, casual and classic bar that possesses all the potential amenities a bar could possibly have—including Jenga. You’ll find few reasons to live, especially when you’re surrounded by friends, sitting in the backyard looking up at the stars.
318 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
4) Chilo’s: “Tacos, tacos, tacos, tacos, tacos” is pretty much the main thing running through our minds at any given moment when we’re drunk. So we were pretty damn overjoyed when Chilo’s opened up this past year, with a food truck slinging tacos until late Thursday through Sunday. A true blessing. Additional blessings include: some of the best frozen cocktails in Brooklyn, a great backyard (covered for your continued enjoyment in the winter), pico back shot (pico de gallo and tequila), a fine beer selection, a really cool all-black interior, and a door handle that’s a bust of Theodore Roosevelt.
323 Franklin Avenue, Bed-Stuy
5) Fawkner: Fawkner is a top-notch gastropub with good beer, classic cocktails, and a relaxed atmosphere, from the people who opened the Bell House, Floyd and Union Hall. Everything is affordably-priced and well-executed. If you’re hanging with a group of buddies, grab one of the booths set into wooden caves, and dig into a bowl of cheesy Poutine doused with New England style brown gravy, and some sweet, savory, or spicy beer nuts. Don’t miss the fried chicken sandwich, made with a lightly breaded thigh and topped with relish, corn pudding, and fried onions (good luck getting it all into your mouth). Snuggle up with your date on the couch in back, where several antique couches and low lighting create a nice mood in front of the working fireplace.
191 Smith Street, Boerum Hill
6) Fort Defiance: Tucked away in the heart of Red Hook is Fort Defiance, the fastidious, brilliant brainchild of Saint John Frizell. The bar and restaurant has evolved into something of a town hall, helping the neighborhood’s denizens weathers storms both physical and emotional, while retaining a cocktail program that rivals any of Manhattan’s most elegant speakeasies. For brunch, try any of their updated classics, like the New Orleans hat-tip Ramos Gin Fizz, or drop by every Thursday evening for their signature Sunken Harbor Club, an award-winning Tiki cocktail night. Finish off any cold, cold Brooklyn evening with the Irish Coffee as a nightcap. According to the New York Times, it’s the finest in the known world. Locals and tourists alike are inclined to agree.
365 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
7) Flowers for All Occasions: When the weather is nice and the sun shines in Brooklyn, charming hangouts exude an especially great amount of… charm. And this bar, near the border of Bed-Stuy and Bushwick, is one place stood out as being particularly irresistible. Flowers for All Occasions features dreamy pink neon window signage that identify it as a bar, that also offered espresso and cocktails, even if its actual name suggests it didn’t do any of that. Though only in posession of a license for wine and beer, the spot offers plenty of inventive low-alcohol cocktails and is a lovely place to while away the day drinking, but not getting totally hammered.
1114 Dekalb Avenue, Bushwick
8) Forrest Point: In possession of what is easily one of the most beautiful backyards in Brooklyn (it feels like you’re in Fern Gully!), Forrest Point has an impeccable craft cocktail menu, featuring several amazing renditions of milk punch (our favorite is the Silken Road, redolent of bourbon, lemongrass, lychee, and coconut milk), and a great food menu, with great snack food and more hearty fare like a delicious quinoa salad (yes, quinoa can be good!). Eat and drink outside under the strings of fairy lights, surrounded by tables fashioned from stumps and adult-sized swings.
970 Flushing Avenue, Bushwick
9) Habana Outpost: In a very real sense, this outdoor picnic table, margarita, and corn on the cob party could be considered the epicenter of neighborhood. It takes up the prominent (and significant portion of the) corner at Fulton and South Portland Avenue, and—during warm months—it rarely lacks for day or nighttime drinkers. Frozen drinks and mojitos are gulped aplenty, and vibrant fiesta colors are found on the tables and fenced-in outdoor space. There is also an indoor, more traditional restaurant—but, really, this place is all about the outdoors, and pretending like you’re having a party in a hot place, much farther south than in Brooklyn.
757 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
10) Krupa Grocery: Sidle up to the marble bar here (or take a seat in the beautiful backyard during warmer months) and enjoy some really excellent cocktails (we love the Cold Bruise, not only for its name, but also because it’s a sweet, caffeine-laced blend of cold brew coffee, amarena cherry syrup, cynar, and gin), or wine by the glass, carafe, or bottle. The bar snacks are spot on; there’s excellent charcuterie and cheeses, as well as beautifully blistered shishito peppers, and parsnip fries (!) with a pungent, garlicky aioli. Plus, everything on the menu is marked as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free where applicable, which is really important in Brooklyn circa now.
231 Prospect Park West, Windsor Terrace
11) Lowlands: Lowland’s is open starting at 1pm on Friday, and what better reason to skip out on work than heading over to Gowanus to drink in this bar’s quiet backyard, play some board games, and eat a Buffalo chicken sandwich? Plus, let’s say you really have to work or something? Lowlands has free WiFi, so you can sign on to your computer while knocking back beer and you can feel productive and like you’re a great multi-tasker. Good for you! Treat yourself to another beer.
543 3rd Avenue, Gowanus
12) Mekelburg’s: Not only is there no place quite like Mekelburg’s in Clinton Hill, there is, we dare say, no other place quite like it in Brooklyn. When the part-gourmet-grocer, part-bar opened in summer 2015, it was a novelty-cum-staple success. Longtime Clinton Hill residents Alicia and Daniel Mekelburg opened their basement-level culinary hideout because quality groceries like high-end cheeses, meats and sandwiches were unavailable in the vicinity. But beyond these front-room delicacies, the back room is where the party is at. With a combination of bar, four-top, and backyard picnic seating, 16 local beers on tap, and surprising small plates like a caviar and crème fraîche baked potato (plus excellent meat and cheese plates, assembled up front), Mekelburg’s is all inspired-hit and no miss.
293 Grand Avenue, Clinton Hill
13) Ruby’s Bar and Grill: While it could have been the greatest casualty of Coney Island’s big revamp, the 40-year-old Ruby’s (the most long-standing bar on the boardwalk) received a last minute reprieve back in 2011, offered an eight-year-long lease by Zamperla USA. No promises on what happens next, but it still provides devoted patrons with a decent enough cushion, for multiple summers left to come spent staring out at the ocean, with a salted margarita or frosty bottle of Rolling Rock in one hand, and a crab cake sandwich or cloud of cotton candy in the other.
1213 Boardwalk West, Coney Island
14) Skinny Dennis: Country music is slowly but surely seeping its way into Brooklyn’s mainstream—not that it wasn’t lurking under the surface all along—and Skinny Dennis is formidable proof of this. The honky-tonk bar serves up peanuts, live music and a quirky, extensive drinks menu with down home aplomb. The unmissable alcoholic entry here is their perfect coffee-and-whiskey drink called Willie’s Frozen Coffee. If you don’t know which Willie, you’re in the wrong place.
152 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg
15) Sisters: Sisters, as far as a still-living human can tell, is what a bar would look like in heaven. Design firm hOmE created a space flooded by natural light (a gigantic, 30-foot skylight draws the eye upward) and is anchored by a long, white marble snaking bar. Aim to sit there; it is a true delight. The serenity continues with a white latticed tile floor, pendant globe lights, and sandalwood paneling throughout. Daytimes are great for working (all that sun and plush plant life!) and the brunch crowd is chill on the weekends. Nighttimes offer what you want from a bar: candlelight, live music in the the back bar (yes, there are two full and separate bars ), a full dinner menu, and lots of people casually drinking and eating for long stretches of time: This is a heavenly bar, so it is very hard to leave.
900 Fulton Street, Clinton Hill
16) Soccer Tavern: As a consummate dive, Soccer Tavern is, by definition, unremarkable—décor runs to linoleum floors, dartboards and a few flat screens, not necessarily devoted to soccer. What’s important to know is it opens at nine, there are Chinese street meat carts parked outside, and the taps flow with Amstel, sold for a song.
6004 8th Avenue, Sunset Park
17) South: Perhaps the perfect neighborhood bar, South is located in Park Slope and offers plenty of beer on tap and in the bottle, a comprehensive selection of whiskey and rye, and the kind of bar food (grilled cheese, PB &J) that will ameliorate any of the negative effects of daytime drinking. South has a backyard and a jukebox and the kind of bartenders who are a joy to sit around with and shoot the shit. Whether you go in solo or with friends, you won’t ever feel alone. It’s an excellent place to get a mid-afternoon buzz and play around on a jukebox.
629 5th Avenue, Park Slope
18) Superfine: This brick-walled hangout is part art gallery, pool hall, and dining space neatly packed as one. It’s huge, but it always gets crowded come happy hour, which is why you should hit it up even earlier. The draft beer list is decent, and there’s lots of cocktail options featuring local favorite top-shelf alcohol, like Widow Jane Rye and Greenhook Gin. Also, you enter the women’s bathroom through a curtain of wood beads, which brings us right back to our days of dorm room-decorating, in the best possible way.
126 Front Street, DUMBO
19) Sycamore: There’s not many bars that do double duty as flower shops, but Sycamore is really one of a kind. Woodsy decor and solitary roses are scattered around the intimate lounge and bar, lending it an enchanted forest feel. The cocktail and wine menu are relatively basic but the beer list covers everything from cheap, college favorites to brewed-in-a-bathtub-in-Portland craft beers. And beyond opening its space to creative activities like watercolor and printmaking, Sycamore ties it all together by giving those who order a $10 pint of beer a bouquet of flowers. Sometimes it pays to stop and smell the roses.
1118 Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Park
20) The Wicked Monk: After dispensing suds at the same 5th Avenue location for almost 20 years, the Wicked Monk recently relocated to its current spot, at the far end of Bay Ridge. But regulars needn’t have worried, as the new space has been lovingly and precisely retrofitted with the same, gothic monastery décor; from the pulpit, pews, crouching gargoyles, handsome wood bar and stained glass windows (obtained from a 1897-era chapel in Ireland’s Greenmount Monastery), to the hand painted, 36-foot long mural of mug-hoisting patrons and soused monks adorning the recessed ceiling. And you can enjoy it all starting at noon, like god—or at least the monks—intended.
9510 3rd Avenue, Bay Ridge
Photos by Jane Bruce of Flowers for All Occasions