Bushwick is one of New York’s best neighborhoods to get your buzz on, thanks to the diversity of its drink options. Classic, game-changing cocktails? Check. Laid-back beer bars? It’s got those too, not to mention bars with great live music, comic book merch and boob-themed decor.
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Adrienne Dowd and Carmen Mello, longtime bartenders at the Half King, break out on their own with a nautically themed drinkery. The bar features a golden mermaid bust outside and a hanging Russian metal diving suit indoors, plus 20 black-velvet paintings, including a squid-versus-whale rendering. Tip back one of six draft beers or opt for a sipping liquor. Overboard boozers can counteract the night's tippling with salty bar snacks, including nachos, boiled peanuts and an intriguing combo of pickles with whipped pork fat.
When you hear boobs and beer, you think Hooters. But even that iconic paean to cleavage and canned suds gets some serious competition from this Bushwick bar and breastaurant from Iggy’s drink slinger Kristen North. Lady lumps abound at the brazen, retro-kitted dive, but hidden beneath the nip-slip kitsch is a surprisingly respectable neighborhood hangout. Tall boys reign at the bar, but two draft lines sprouting from a naked mannequin pour one light (Pacífico) and one dark (Negra Modelo) brew. On the spirits front, jugs of margaritas are heavy-handed on the tequila, so your $25 is well spent.
Find this welcoming comic-book temple tucked beneath the rattling tracks of the elevated M train—just look for the giant mural of Batman outside. If themed mixed drinks like the Green Lantern (Zubrowka, apple schnapps, Sprite) give you pause, stick with $3 PBR-and–Old Crow whiskey combos while geeking out over the bar’s deep collection of superhero memorabilia.
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. While there's no food, the bar makes an ideal pre- or postdinner drinkery.
Sixteen taps dispense craft brews (Lagunitas, Clown Shoes) at this Bushwick beer bar, which is named after the space's former occupant, a coffin factory. And if that's not enough, the bar hosts regular trivia matches, karaoke nights and reps its vegan owners by offering non-meat and non-dairy alternatives to Bloody Marys and Irish Car Bombs.
The Wreck refers to car crashes (mangled fenders and accordioned license plates dress the walls), but we’d like to think it’s a subversive nod to the Bushwick hip kids belly-flopping into vinyl car-seat booths and sagging their rag-doll bodies onto wobbly barstools. Between the sweet and chatty bartenders and $4 Genny-and-Beam special, sobriety doesn’t stand a chance—nor does any form of solitude.
Forest Hills Station House
Hop off the LIRR at 71st Avenue to find this beer-and-bourbon-focused gastropub in the Queens nabe of the same name. Fifteen craft brews are on tap at the barn-wood bar, including Evil Twin Lil' B, Blue Point Toasted Lager and Left Hand Milk Stout. Bottles (Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold, Rodenbach Grand Cru) and cans (Sixpoint Resin, Oskar Blues G'Knight) are also on offer. Thirty-two bourbon and rye bottles line the wooden shelves behind the bar, for stirring into cocktails like a Woodford Reserve old-fashioned or the Boulevard (Templeton Rye, Campari and Carpano Antica). Upscale bar bites include fried chicken livers with roasted-garlic aioli; short rib–kimchi empanadas with sriracha mayo; and beer-battered meatballs with stout mustard. For dessert, look for a deep-fried Snickers with bacon-bourbon glaze—with a few slugs of the dark stuff in you, you'll forget the near comical gluttony ever happened.
Venue says: “16 Craft Beer Taps, 1 Cask Ale, 120+ Whiskeys, Craft Cocktails, & Gastropub Fare in a Chill Environment.”