Some nights are meant for bars with hushed interiors, where the music plays at a level that you can still speak over. Other nights are meant for a little more control. Enter the jukebox, a bar’s worst enemy or best friend, depending on who’s pulling the strings. Commandeering a jukebox at a bar takes a certain skill. You have to be able to read the room and to have enough confidence to know that whatever jams you’re about to put on aren’t going to ruin the night for you, your friends or the other patrons who really, really don’t want to hear any more Creedence Clearwater Revival, no matter how much you love it. Take heed, amateur DJs, and head to any of these bars, located in the bustling, undiscovered(sarcasm. Get it?) neighborhood of Williamsburg and impress the crowds with your musical prowess.
The Levee – 212 Berry Street
You can play “Little Red Corvette” on the jukebox while eating a bowl of free cheese puffs and drinking cold bottles of Abita Purple Haze on the back patio. If that’s not a perfect evening, then I don’t know what is.
The Second Chance Saloon – 659 Grand Street
There’s a hearty selection of punk and metal on the jukebox, the drinks are cheap, and it’s far enough away from the crush of Bedford Avenue for you to feel like you’re in some undiscovered part of Brooklyn. All good things.
The Turkey’s Nest – 94 Bedford Avenue
You have two choices at this place — take your $10 margarita in a styrofoam cup over to McCarren Park, or do the thing you said you’d never do, which is stay inside the Turkey’s Nest, mess with its jukebox and revel in the feeling of an actual dive bar, like the kind you find on road trips across the country that you tell your friends about when you finally make it back to Brooklyn.
Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern – 188 Bedford Avenue
Cheap beers served to you by nice old ladies in an interior covered in Christmas lights that looks like it hasn’t changed in 30 years? Sign me up. There’s also a good jukebox here, and it’s been a neighborhood staple since before Williamsburg was an adjective.
Ontario – 559 Grand Street
You could go to Midway, Ontario’s flashier sister, but Ontario is better, trust us. There’s a good jukebox, it’s never too crowded, and if you get there early enough, snag the cozy booth in the front by the window. It’s the best seat in the house.
Lady Jay’s – 633 Grand Street
The patio game here is almost as strong as their jukebox. It’s multi-level, huge and relatively quiet, which is all anyone asks for, really. The bartenders are super friendly, the prices are just right, so cue up some songs and hang out for a while.
Skinny Dennis – 152 Metropolitan Avenue
We’ve sung the praises of this Texas themed bar, but what we left out is that there’s a killer country jukebox and free peanuts. I like it the best here during the day, and I imagine you will, too. Order a Willie’s Frozen Coffee, which is a dangerous and delicious concoction of Oslo coffee and bourbon, put some Willie Nelson on the jukebox and relax.
Redd’s – 511 Grand Street
A good place to watch sports, or to play Big Buck Hunter, or to just have a drink and pay DJ for the night, Redd’s is a solid choice for a casual Tuesday-night hang, or a good place to settle in and watch hours and hours of football.
Daddy’s – 435 Graham Avenue
Good burgers, great jukebox and on Mondays, all drinks are $3, so if that isn’t enough to convince you to get down there, then I don’t know how else we’re gonna do it. There’s a lot of seats, and a clientele that will generally leave you alone. It’s my favorite spot for drinking a beer by myself without feeling weird.
The Gibson – 108 Bedford Avenue
The least dive-y of all these spots, the Gibson is a unassuming little bar that has a lot going for it — great beers on tap(try the Finback En Verano, a wheat beer with lemon and jalapeño), a nice, cozy ambiance, and a solid jukebox.