Feb 10, 2017
Freelance Life: The 10 Best Brooklyn Bars to Work in (While Drinking)
With freelancers now making up more than a third of the U.S. workforce, every publication has written its own version of the tried-and-true “Best Coffee Shops to Work From” article, including us. Everyone loves lists, and everyone loves coffee. But even in New York City, there are only so many coffee shops with fast, reliable Wi-Fi, and many of those shops appear on each of those lists—which means, self-defeatingly, the “best” places become perpetually overcrowded with freelancers and the brave soldiers of Brooklyn startups.
Bar-working, on the other hand, still flies a little under-the-radar. As Hemingway’s famous habits prove, drinking while working is not a new strategy, nor is it an ineffective one: Alcohol enhances creativity, according to the journal Consciousness and Cognition. So where are the best places in Brooklyn to do it? Start with the following vendors of alcohol (and snacks) throughout Brooklyn, each of which has Wi-Fi and some (or many), power outlets.
61 Local (Cobble Hill)
61 Local is both cavernous and cozy, its 20-foot ceilings balanced by brick walls, warm lighting, and a communal atmosphere produced by dozens of people quietly hunched over their Macbooks or reading tomes with the anxious fervor of graduate students. There are a half-dozen long picnic tables to work at, plus high stools along the bar. 61 Local’s food and drink options, all from independent and local sources, are tasty, if very stereotypically Brooklyn: kimchi’d kale salad, Kombucha on tap, truffled grilled cheese, avocado toast, and five varieties of hard cider, for example.
Outlets are at a premium, however, and certain tables are laptop-free from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Small prices to pay for a bar that has everything—tons of space, fantastic food, speedy Wi-Fi, $1 off refills for coffee—a remote worker might want.
61 Bergen St, Cobble Hill
The Cobra Club (Bushwick)
With its dimly lit interior, graffiti-covered bathroom, pool table, Big Buck Hunter game, and small outdoor space for taking drags on American Spirits, The Cobra Club looks like your standard Bushwick dive bar. But it serves Counter Culture coffee and oversized Dough donuts, and has infallible Wi-Fi. Its most unique quality is its multipurpose back room, which hosts comedy shows, burlesque, live music, and—drumroll, please—yoga classes. “We are a home for yoga misfits,” its website reads, “and we embrace our dark side.” Even The Cobra Club’s daily happy hour is notable, offering $4 drafts from 4 p.m. to a remarkably late 9 p.m. The weekday trifecta of working, sweating, and drinking has never been so easy.
6 Wyckoff Ave, Bushwick
Bedford Hall (Bedford-Stuyvesant)
Bedford Hall has a warm Prohibition-era study vibe, with an eclectic mix of leather armchairs, old couches, wooden chairs, and little one-person tables topped by the green-shaded metal lamps you’d find in old libraries. The decor includes taxidermy and black-and-white portraits of famous Bed-Stuy residents like Jackie Robinson, along with bookshelves filled with, notably, the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. And with a power strip every few feet below the wooden bar, Bedford Hall is the perfect place for extended work sessions.
During the daytime, more people at Bedford Hall are conversing or quietly using their phones at the bar than are doing work. There’s no collective keeping-up-with-the-Joneses spirit of productivity, but that also means you’re not perpetually wondering whether the guy next to you is working on a screenplay that’s better than yours. What’s more, Bedford Hall doesn’t serve coffee, but since it opens at noon, you’d need to get caffeinated beforehand anyways, right?
1177 Bedford Ave, Bed-Stuy
Father Knows Best (Bushwick)
Father Knows Best would be less noteworthy were it closer to Manhattan, but off the far reaches of the Wilson L, this bar–coffee shop hybrid—the sign outside reads, “Productivity in the a.m., promiscuity in the p.m.”—is a needed novelty. Its food options are stellar, ranging from the Lumberdad Breakfast (eggs, pancakes, chorizo, and johnnycakes) and Papi’s Huevos (baked eggs) to the Reuben Daddy Melt and the Mom Bod (a roasted cauliflower sandwich with pickled vegetables). Outlets are beneath every high-top table, and drinks have happy-hour prices all day long, including $4 draft beer and $5 wine. Tired of working? There’s a hammock-equipped backyard and a projector screen showing sports, Back to the Future, and everything in between.
611A Wilson Ave, Bushwick
Milk & Roses (Greenpoint)
It almost feels wrong to work on a laptop at Milk & Roses, a bar that looks like the secret library of a well-heeled flapper-era aesthete. From its paint-chipped tin ceilings and elegant grand piano to its marble surfaces and tall bookshelves stocked with old books with worn spines, Milk & Roses feels sophisticated and scholarly. You’re compelled to order wine here, not beer, and if you were told you could access a secret room by pulling on the spine of a certain book, you’d believe it. There’s also a back garden so idyllic that it makes work almost seem romantic. Two notes: No laptops are permitted after 5 o’clock, and it’s cash-only, but there’s an ATM.
1110 Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint
Freehold is a coffee shop, a bar, an event space, an arcade, a nightclub—a locus of productivity and a den of iniquity all at once. (“We wanted to make a hotel lobby but without the rooms,” its co-owner told Gothamist.) During the day, it’s filled with twentysomethings working furiously on Macbooks in its small coffee bar, which opens at 7 a.m. and serves Stumptown coffee, and its spacious main room, which opens at 10 a.m. and has couches, plush armchairs, booths, and benches surrounding large group-meeting-worthy tables. Come nighttime, Freehold transforms into a lively bar; on Fridays and Saturdays, it’s a sweaty dance hall. In warmer weather, Freehold’s backyard, with an artificial “lawn” for lounging and plenty of tables and chairs, is perfect for sunlit working. Freehold gets a lot of flak for being paradigmatic of gentrified Williamsburg and attracting a certain breed of trend-following millennial—not unfair criticism, but Freehold remains one of the best spaces to work from in all of Brooklyn.
45 S 3rd St, Williamsburg
Skylark Bar (Park Slope)
Skylark Bar looks like your mom’s homey living room from 1974, if she collected woodcarvings of owls, board games, a haphazard assortment of leather and kitchen chairs, objectively bad oil paintings of ships and pastoral scenes, and shag tapestries. But that’s precisely Skylark’s charm—it’s relaxed and unpretentious, almost kitschily so, in a neighborhood of brownstones and babies in thousand-dollar strollers. Its happy hour encompasses the entire time you’d likely be working there: noon to 7 p.m. Pro tip: The skinny front of the bar becomes a bottleneck in the evening, so plow your way to the back for less noise, more comfort, and vintage pinball.
477 5th Ave, Park Slope
The West (Williamsburg)
The West’s rotating selection of craft beers on tap, dark wood interior, and thoroughly average food make it like most other bars. So what sets it apart? Fast Wi-Fi and outlets galore, for starters. And a patio that has its own wireless network and that, unlike most other bars’ outdoor spaces, doesn’t close until the bar itself does. (On summer nights, you’ll find people working under the, uh, light pollution until 2 a.m.) The West also has nitro cold brew on tap, and it’s exquisite—silky, creamy, just the right amount of sweet. It’s absurdly expensive, at $6.25 for a large, but well worth it.
379 Union Ave, Williamsburg
Erv’s (Prospect-Lefferts Gardens)
On the eastern edge of Prospect Park, Erv’s is an intimate, quaint bar that, due to its location around the corner from the bustling Flatbush Avenue, still maintains something of an in-the-know feeling. (“Intimate” might even be an understatement—it’s only 300 square feet.) Erv’s offers over 20 inventive cocktails, like a bacon-infused Old Fashioned, making it an ideal place to work unperturbed with a cheap, fancy drink at hand. It also hosts a monthly reading series and weekly music series to inspire your creativity. Bring a friend, but probably not two.
2122 Beekman Pl, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens
Hamilton’s (Windsor Terrace)
When you walk into Hamilton’s, you feel very removed from the relentless freneticism of New York City. That’s partly because of the bar’s location, in a tiny residential neighborhood nestled between Prospect Park and Greenwood Cemetery, but more because of its old-fashioned New England atmosphere. Dark, polished wood and oil paintings of nautical scenes abound, making the vibe quintessential Boston tavern. Because of its proximity to a school and a church, Hamilton’s can’t serve hard liquor—all the cocktails are soju-based, but you’d be a fool to not order one of the 20 or so draft beers available. It’s a table-service establishment, but you won’t be bothered if you stick around to work long after polishing off your (excellent) food. Speaking of which, order the mac and cheese. It’s large in size and overwhelming in cheesiness, and it costs just $9.
2826 Fort Hamilton Pkwy, Windsor Terrace
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