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Bars in Red Hook: Where to drink in the waterfront neighborhood

Stumbling distance from the water, you'll find a prime catch of Irish pubs, dive bars and cocktail havens—many with decks or outdoor areas.

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If you've made it all the way to Red Hook, you should reward yourself with a drink. Lucky for you, options range from two fine cocktail havens to an Irish pub with a roof deck. Then there's Sunny's, a beloved neighborhood bar that—while closed by flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy—is aiming to reopen in summer 2013. Tie one on and worry about how to get home later.

RECOMMENDED: Red Hook neighborhood guide

Bars in Red Hook

Brooklyn Botanica
  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Red Hook
  • price 2 of 4

Before gastro fanatics hunkered down for a two-hour wait at Pok Pok Ny or cocktail nerds made the pilgrimage to Fort Defiance in Red Hook, seasonal bar Botanica beckoned Brooklyn locals to a quiet corner in the ’hood for its produce-driven libations and stunning Venetian-inspired room. But though the April-to-October spot gained fans from the borough, it never quite made its way onto the lips of culinary sophisticates. That may soon change (or should, at least): This past spring, one of those local admirers, Michelin-starred chef Saul Bolton—who discovered the Red Hook gem on a trip back from Fairway—rebooted the food and drink menus, with plans to keep the joint open year-round. Bolton, a pioneer of Brooklyn’s now-surging food scene, already had his hands full with his restaurants Saul, the Vanderbilt and (coming this fall) Red Gravy. But he was so charmed with Botanica that he tracked down owner Dan Preston, who also presides over the glass-windowed chocolate factory and distillery Cacao Prieto housed in the same 1846 Dutch building, and convinced Preston to let him take over operations. With Bolton’s own team in the kitchen and behind the bar, the gorgeous spot—easily one of the city’s best-looking watering holes—finally has destination-worthy food and cocktails to match the dreamy setting. DRINK THIS: Bolton installed his head barkeep at Saul, Dan Carlson, behind the stately copper bar at Botanica. Carlson’s breezy nine-drink list hits all the notes of today’s cocktail tr

  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Red Hook
  • price 1 of 4

The splintered-wood walls and mismatched furniture are holdovers from Pioneer Bar-B-Q, the grizzly eatery that last occupied this Red Hook space. Owner Trevor Budd’s beer-bar pedigree (he is a Ginger Man vet) translates to 30-plus affordable brews, from the $2 Carling Black Label to chocolatey Aventinus from Germany (a $7 steal). For those missing Pioneer, the same smoker still pumps out excellent barbecue—pulled pork piled on soft buns (two for $5) is a delicious reminder of the departed haunt.

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Fort Defiance
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Red Hook
  • price 2 of 4

The serious take on tippling offered at Fort Defiance is rare in isolated Red Hook, but the cocktails rank among the best in the borough. The Journalist, made with gin and vermouth, is as clean and crisp as a classic Manhattan. A Prescription Julep is an extra-potent mint julep featuring cognac and rye, poured over hand-crushed ice. If you live in the ’hood, this could be your new local spot (it opens at 7am on weekdays, serving coffee and breakfast). The frontier pricing—most drinks are under $10—helps justify the trek for the rest of us.

Rocky Sullivan’s
  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Red Hook
  • price 2 of 4

Insane rent sent this Gramercy-area Irish pub scuttling to Red Hook’s former Liberty Heights Tap Room space, a sprawling, roof-decked haunt with a view of the waterfront. While Rocky’s still serves brick-oven pizzas, also offered at Liberty, and brewed-next-door Sixpoint Ales, Irish touches such as draft Guinness and Celtic hip-hoppers on Friday nights turn this distant destination into a Gaelic roadhouse worth the journey.

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  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Red Hook

What's special about San Pedro Inn is the amount of care it took to make it look and feel like a neighborhood bar. And not "neighborhood-y" in the way that many spots brand themselves to feel like they're apart of a community. Even in its first weeks of operation, characters from all walks of life have found a home at the former site of Bait & Tackle, the once-beloved dive bar. The idea for San Pedro came from a collaborative art installation between Gabriel Florenz, Artistic Director of Pioneer Works (which is located just down the street) and Jason Grunwald. Design remains an intrisic part of the ethos; Grunwald, who also owns Other Times Vintage, a furniture shop in Bushwick, built out the space himself.  San Pedro Inn serves tacos, quesadillas and tostadas, with housemade fermented hot sauce, farm fresh vegetables and homemade tortillas, all made by Norberto Piattoni, formerly of Mettā. And the drinks...it is a bar after all. Here, you can get classics like a Corona or G&T, but the standouts are their sensational margaritas; they're offered as the regular or with hibiscus (we prefer the regular).  The end result is a near-perfect bar that blends American dive sensibilities with great Mexican food and drink traditions, a nod to Florenz' roots. 

Seaborne
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Red Hook
  • price 1 of 4

When pioneering drinks legend Sasha Petraske died unexpectedly at the age of 42 in August 2015, cocktail-loving New York mourned the loss of one of its most influential barkeeps. With speakeasy Milk & Honey, which opened in 1999, Petraske almost single-handedly reignited Gotham’s obsession with Prohibition-era cocktailing and inspired a wave of like-minded drinkeries. Following Petraske’s passing, his erstwhile protégé and Middle Branch partner Lucinda Sterling, along with longtime cohort John Bonsignore (Little Branch, Middle Branch), sought to carry out his final act, seeing through the construction of this sleek Red Hook boîte. The bar honors Petraske’s storied career the best way it can—with great cocktails. ORDER THIS: Expertly balanced drinks ($12) from Sterling, who taps into Petraske’s mantra of harmony in cocktails. (The bar takes its name from a William Butler Yeats poem describing a bird balanced in flight.) Her take on a Blue Devil features floral gin and maraschino liqueur but swaps out the usual curaçao for a cobalt-colored butterfly pea flower extract to lend the drink its deep-violet hue. Meanwhile the bar’s pisco sour is a textbook example of the Peruvian classic, with shaken egg white providing a wonderful froth to tame the rustic bite of grape brandy.  GOOD FOR: A snug evening in a tucked-away corner of Brooklyn. Even as Red Hook has welcomed destination-worthy food-and-drink spots (Hometown Bar-B-Que, Red Hook Winery), the harborside district manages to re

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Sunny’s
  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Red Hook
  • price 1 of 4

This unassuming wharfside tavern has been passed down in the Balzano family since 1890. On weekends, the bar buzzes with middle-aged and new-generation bohemians (the latter distinguished by their PBR cans), and the odd salty dog (canines, not sailors). Despite the nautical feel, you’re more likely to hear bossa nova or bluegrass than sea chanties warbling from the speakers. RECOMMENDED: 101 best things do in NYC

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