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By our very technical definition, a dive bar is a beer-stained, time-weathered hole-in-the-wall, a beat-up saloon with carved-up bathrooms, flickering neon signs and sticky floors. Essentially, a dive’s grungy vibes aren’t created so much as thrust upon it through long years, late nights and poor life choices. Enter the Drift, a next-generation “dive” in Greenpoint from Chris Young and the team behind the Commodore and El Cortez. The people who filter through the cabin-themed barroom indeed match the surroundings—your veritable petri dish of beanie wearers, beard growers and drifters taking cigarette breaks in the back courtyard—and do their part to boost the bar’s scruffy bona fides. But the wood paneling on the walls is too neatly laid out, the taxidermic animal heads a bit too carefully placed, the bathroom floors a touch too clean for it to be a true New York dive. Still, with drinks this easy on the wallet, who gives a fuck about authenticity?
ORDER THIS: The digs scream mountains, but the drinks are all beach. Like the tropical numbers that stock the menus at its sister bars, the treacly tipples at the Drift aren’t aiming for highbrow acclaim. Tequila-based cocktails like the El Cortez (with ancho-chili liquor, grapefruit juice and mint; $9), and the fittingly named Refresco (with watermelon juice, chili flakes, agave and a spiced salt rim; $9) strike a seriously drinkable balance of sweet, spicy and smoky notes.
GOOD FOR: A penny-pinching night out in cool-kid Brooklyn. Most of the bar’s cocktails set you back less than a Hamilton, and dishes from chef Mamie-Claire Cornelius, in collaboration with Stephen Tanner, follow in thrifty suit: Get low-country boiled peanuts for $4, jalapeño-capped deviled eggs for $6 and a hearty smoked-chicken sandwich, the kitchen’s priciest plate, at $11. The chicken may not beat the fried clucks over at the Commodore, but it is sufficiently tender, and its spice is nicely mitigated by sour pickles and tangy white sauce.
THE CLINCHER: To add to the retro cabin-fever vibe, the mountain-mural–painted back room features a single Kiss pinball machine and a rainbow-hued throwback jukebox. The 1970s rock tunes (Judas Priest, the Fall) humming through the speakers on weeknights add to the joint’s nostalgic feel.
579 Meeker Ave
|Cross street:||between N Henry and Monitor Sts|
|Price:||Average cocktail: $9|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 4pm-4am; Sat, Sun 11-4am|
|Do you own this business?|