Hmm… so, apparently, yesterday was National Scotch Day. Hooray? Who knew! In honor of that, uh, beloved holiday, we figured now would be a pretty good time to celebrate whiskey in general, and scotch in particular. And how better to celebrate than by knocking back a few drinks at some of Brooklyn’s finest amber liquid-specializing bars. Here’s where we’ll be headed this week. And next. And the one after that.
Post Office: Situated on what is possibly the the loudest corridor in Williamsburg, Post Office is pretty well insulated from the din of trucks passing by on Havemeyer and overhead on the BQE. The walls are wooden and the lighting is dim, and Post Office gives off a feeling of coziness that feels almost foreign once you escape the tumult outside. The selection of bourbon and whiskey is pretty overwhelming, but Post Office’s cocktails are fun, and allow a layperson the option of letting the bartender guide his or her way. We recommend the Old Pal (dry vermouth, campari, rye, orange bitters) or the Little Devil (combier, colin blanc, rye, peychaud bitters), if you want to try something that isn’t just an old fashioned.
188 Havemeyer Street, Williamsburg
The Dram Shop: A two-story watering hole dedicated to smoky bourbons and hearty charcoal burgers (and veggie burgers!), the Dram Shop is Park Slope’s ideal venue for neighborhood hangs. The bar is massive–33-feet-long to be exact, and you’ll find yourself feeling casual among fixtures like darts, pool and shuffleboard. This is the kind of place to sip Jameson after a hefty order of buffalo wings, but can also serve as an establishment for quiet conversation and cocktails.
229 9th Street, Park Slope
OTB: OTB is a sprawling, high-ceilinged whiskey emporium that serves as the cousin to the Post Office, which is owned by the same people. You’re likely to find bartenders dressed up in the fancy attire you’ll see at self-described modern speakeasies, but the atmosphere here isn’t one of elitism–drinks are affordable, and you can savor fine whiskeys for as little as $6 or $7. The menu is quite broad, but if you’re into sipping on staples like the Riverboat Rye ($7) you’ll find yourself pretty grounded. The cocktail list is also really inviting, so get into treats like the Gangstir12 (cocchi americano, contratto blanco, New Holland hopquila whiskey, giffard triple sec, orange bitters $12) or classics like the Old Fashioned ($11), Manhattan ($12), or the Moscow Mule ($12).
114 Broadway, Williamsburg
Noorman’s Kil: Noorman’s Kil can be raucous. It’s the kind of place where you’ll find yourself knocking back pints into the wee hours of the morning. It looks much the same as many a classy cocktail joint that have cropped up along north Brooklyn’s nightlife scene, but it’s more than that, too. There’s a diverse selection of whiskey to choose from, organized by country (Scotland, Ireland, Canada, USA and “elsewhere”) and bartenders are pretty willing to enlighten the uninformed as to which bourbon, scotch, or rye will fit their fancy. Come with something of an idea though, because the whiskey lists are literally hundreds of bottles deep. You might also want to order one of the bar’s famous grilled cheese sandwiches, which are rich, gooey, cheap and served right up in a matter of minutes.
609 Grand Street, Williamsburg
Sunny’s: Ahh, Sunny’s. There’s no better place to enjoy whiskey in the borough, we think. It’s even got a bluegrass band that plays on Saturday nights. Sunny’s is small, but it’s the kind of atmosphere you look for when you journey all the way down to the far reaches of the Red Hook waterfront. If you’re looking for a mellow nightcap in an understated kind of place, well, then, Sunny’s is your best bet.
253 Conover Street, Red Hook
The Crown Inn: The Crown Inn is all wood and bricks, and its abundantly sunlit patio makes it an appropriate destination for all hours of the day. Its whiskey list isn’t as extensive as what you’ll find at some sort of revivalist speakeasy, but if you’re craving something like a Wild Turkey ($8) or a Makers Mark ($9), you’ll find these alongside small batch whiskeys like Basil Hayden’s ($12) or Bookers ($12). If cocktails are more your speed, you might find yourself sipping the New Pal (bourbon, campari, sweet vermouth, $11) or the Bee’s Knees (gin, honey, lemon, bitters, $10), the latter of which makes for some solid late-afternoon companionship on the outdoor patio.
724 Franklin Avenue, Crown Heights
Sycamore Bar Flower Shop: This place is a compelling spot for a number of reasons, not least because of the fragrance you’ll find emanating from all over the bar one you walk inside. That’s because Ditmas Park’s Sycamore Bar and Flower Shop is true to its name, and peddles flowers in addition to copious amounts of bourbon. This is a neighborhood spot. You’ll find that many patrons are regulars, and the daily specials are an obvious indication of why people pencil Sycamore into their weekly routines. On otherwise dreary Mondays, you can partake in the Nip & Sip (1 oz of the whiskey of the week perfectly paired alongside a half-pint draught for a special price), and in the middle of the week, Flight Night sees 4 x 5 oz pours of any draughts for only $9.
1118 Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Park
The Whiskey Brooklyn: Deriving its namesake from the famous sleaze-ball venue on Hollywood’s Sunset strip, the Whiskey Brooklyn has everything a Fire Ball slurping bro-machine might look for in a bar, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go (and we mean that, actually). This bar is a gargantuan arcade for adults, complete with a shuffleboard table and a stripper pole that’s probably there for irony’s sake. This isn’t a place to go to be mindful of your health, as many dishes might as well have been contrived by a drunken Guy Fieri. You could get straight down to business by ordering a bowl of bacon ($8), or cut the crap and get down with everyone’s favorite stoner-dude accoutrements, like mozzarella sicks ($7) or some jalapeño poppers ($8). And if you feel like throwing caution to the wind in particularly brash fashion, you might even devour a hostess cupcake with a shot of White Russian, because you’re certainly that guy, aren’t you?
44 Berry Street, Williamsburg
No Name: By neglecting to erect a sign on top of its front door, No Name seems to suggest that if you’re curious enough to come through the door, you’ll be pleasantly rewarded. The bar is cramped, but that’s kind of the point–if you’re lucky enough to nab one of the wooden benches or the slim alcove of seating in the back, you’ll probably stay put at No Name for most of the night. But let’s be honest, No Name isn’t a place where whiskey experts intent on dropping enlightening tidbits of distillery knowledge gather for conversations based on one-up’smanship–it’s a place to knock back Jim Beam and sip Tecate, which is just as appropriate as imbibing Manhattans at some overpriced pretend speakeasy.
597 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint