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Amongst Brooklyn’s famed bars, Sunny’s has achieved almost mythic status: a magical den of bluegrass and whisky, hidden down by the harbor in Red Hook, where long nights roll into pink-hued mornings looking over cobblestone streets, as the last of the musicians leave for the night, their instruments tucked under their arm and a skip in their step. But while many of the bar’s disciples recognize its charismatic namesake—the late Antonio “Sunny” Balzano, with his...
When Sunny Balzano died in March of this year, Red Hook—and the entire city of New York—mourned the loss of a man who, to many, embodied a kind of quicksilver Brooklyn magic. He was the charming proprietor of a lost bar on a lonely, harborside street where intimacy and spectacle and serendipity intermingled. He was captain of the kind of place that New Yorkers tell themselves can only exist here, and perhaps even then...
Ask anyone who's been to Sunny's in Red Hook to define the bar, and they'll come up with a host of different answers: A bar. An institution. A destination. A relic. It isn't easy to find just one word to entirely capture the establishment's character and lasting impact, but most people come around to this truth about the spot: Sunny's is special. For decades, Sunny's has operated as a local-favorite watering hole, but it's...

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