The best Williamsburg bars

Here’s our pick of the best Williamsburg bars and watering holes, from beer gardens to cocktail parlors

Photograph: Filip Wolak
Loosie Rouge

It's no secret that Williamsburg is prime bar-hopping territory. Find European suds at some of the best beer gardens in the city, take in views of the skyline at cool rooftop bars or head to a dive for cheap beer-and-shot combos. Whatever your poison, be sure to check out these spots.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Best Williamsburg bars

Battery Harris

Veterans of Village Pourhouse and the Taïm truck turn to Caribbean comfort food and Latin cocktails with this 144-seat bar. The Queens-born owners pay tribute to the Rockaways with the name—a nod to an abandoned beach bunker in Fort Tilden park—and shore-inspired decor, including colorful stained-wood interiors, a transparent geometric roof and a wrap-around deck. Rum-heavy tipples include the Double Impact (lemon, kumquat shrub, vanilla and orange-blossom water) and the Quest (lime, basil and Angostura bitters). Also on offer: nearly 20 domestic beers and four wines on tap.

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Brooklyn Brewery

Williamsburg's craft-beer facility offers reservation-only small-batch brewery tours (Monday–Thursday 5–7pm; $8) and free general tours on Saturday and Sunday (see website for details). You can also sample beer in the tasting room.

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The Camlin

Already a formidable gastro duo thanks to their Hell’s Kitchen den Ardesia, Amorette Casaus and Mandy Oser have extended their handsomely minimal wine-bar empire to Brooklyn. The monochromatic space, with its black accent wall, slate-gray couches and white lacquered tables, certainly looks the part of a Williamsburg wine bar, but there’s a warmth here to offset the cool. Oser carefully culled a diverse list that spans regions, palates and price points. Though there’s not much in the way of sparkling or rosé, a dozen glasses each of red and white offerings are primed for sampling with a small group.

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Dram

This airy Williamsburg bar is New York’s first truly progressive cocktail joint—a casual mixology haven with stools to spare for drinkers of all persuasions. The lighthearted but well-executed menu changes according to the whims of Dram’s precocious barkeeps. The Mighty Tux is a botanical balancing act, with crisp gin, bittersweet maraschino liqueur, and both dry and sweet vermouth lending body and depth. There are classics, too, like a beautifully integrated Sazerac, but you could take your boozing cues from the neighborhood dudes draining $4 Porkslap ales or sipping from a smart collection of international wines.

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Loosie Rouge

When a cocktail bar serves food, either the drinks or the grub often stand out. Rare is the joint that offers both done equally well. At this New Orleans–inspired Williamsburg watering hole in the old Fatty ’Cue space, both menus are thoughtfully appointed, with dangerously drinkable cocktails and chiefly bayou bites designed for sharing, though you may not want to. On-draft cocktails add unexpected twists to textbook classics. Try the Bamboo Sazerac ($12), Loosie’s Cup ($12) or the rummy frozen daiquiri ($11).

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Maison Premiere

This gorgeous salon—its green walls fogged with a faux patina that suggests decades of Gauloises smoke—is devoted to the twin pleasures of oysters and absinthe: two French Quarter staples with plenty of appeal in Brooklyn. Absinthe, that mythical anise-flavored liqueur, is the obvious choice. Maison Premiere serves 19 international varieties of the stuff, best enjoyed as an opalescent brew made by slow-dripping ice water over a sugar cube. But there's even greater sorcery to be found on the trim list of cerebral cocktails from barkeep Maxwell Britten (Freemans, Jack the Horse).

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Mugs Ale House

The plainspoken name, the American flag.… Get it? It ain’t no disco, it ain’t no party, it ain’t no foolin’ around. The walls are covered with vintage steins, coasters and other paraphernalia celebrating beer. Instead of happy hour, there’s a monthly beer special, with a pint of a select brew going for $2 at all hours. Add better-than-average pub grub and it’s clear why the raucously good-natured crowd has found this to be a perfect refuge.

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The Narrows

This democratic Bushwick drinkery balances neighborhood-bar accessibility with a serious approach to booze. The area’s DIY ethos drives thoughtful cocktails like the rye-based Caulfield’s Dream, which comes topped with a fizzy float of cava and a tuft of spearmint. But vest-clad barkeeps are just as likely to suggest a $6 beer-and-shot combo as an artisanal quaff. Try an ice-cold Sol paired with a bracing measure of spicy tequila, or peruse the well-curated list of organic wines and East Coast–leaning suds. Though there's no food, the bar makes an ideal pre- or post-dinner drinkery if you’re hitting locavore haunts Roberta’s or Northeast Kingdom.

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Skinny Dennis

Throw back a bourbon-spiked sweet tea—served in a Texas-size mason jar—at this Williamsburg honky-tonk, from the owners of Luckydog. Imbibers can also sip the Dr. G—a Guinness-and–Dr Pepper concoction—while listening to local musicians on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Sought-after seating includes a 1981 Ford F100 pickup bench and a cushioned church pew.

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Spuyten Duyvil

The pared-down lineup of six drafts and one cask speaks to owner Joe Carroll's reverence for beer. "With too many lines, the beer can sit around and get stale," he says. Spuyten's minimal draft offerings, as well as its 100-plus bottle list, focus mainly on tiny European breweries. Sample old-world rarities like the thick sherrylike Samichlaus lager from Austria or cellar-aged Cantillon lambics of various vintages. The cozy interior is chock-full of flea-market finds, most of which are for sale. There’s also a tasty bar menu of smoked meats, pâtés, cheeses and terrines.

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Union Pool

The former pool-supply outlet now supplies booze to scruffy Williamsburgers who pack the tin-walled main room’s half-moon booths and snap saucy photo-kiosk pics. Bands strum away on the adjacent stage, while a spacious courtyard is packed with wooden benches to lure chain-smokers. Arrive early to kick back $3 PBRs or $7 Jack-and-Cokes (a buck off from 5 to 8pm).

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