The Best Bars In Bushwick guide image


The Best Bars In Bushwick

The best places to drink when you get off the L train.

Bushwick is big. Really big. We wouldn’t be surprised if you told us it was the size of Los Angeles. And just like Los Angeles, its size can make it hard to know the best places to spend your time.

But if you’re going to let its size intimidate you, or cause you to end up at the same two places every weekend, then you’re missing out on a lot of great drinking opportunities. Sure, you might not be able to bounce down one street all night like you can do in some other neighborhoods, but there also isn’t a whole lot of adventure in those other neighborhoods. Going drinking in Bushwick is essentially an alcoholic scavenger hunt. Let’s play.

The Spots

Yours Sincerely

This is one of the better choices in Bushwick to impress someone with an interesting cocktail. All of the drinks come in graduated cylinders, and all of the drink ingredients come from taps with little doll heads on them. Hit this place during their daily Happy Hour, when the cocktails are $5.

It’s possible your Manhattan friends (who don't usually want to go to Bushwick) have been wanting to go to Mood Ring, an astrological-themed bar on Myrtle Avenue with a rotating zodiac cocktail of the month. There’s a back room with lasers and fog, where you can dance and try to guess where the walls are and what year everyone around you graduated high school (both are impossible). But if dancing isn’t your thing, you can hang in a booth with a big group of friends and yell over electronic disco music.

Sunrise/Sunset is the best (and only) wine bar in Bushwick. We appreciate that it’s not pretending to be located in Paris - it’s just a low-key little neighborhood spot where most of the wines by the glass are under $10. They also have their own wine store (called Henry), so the servers actually know what they’re talking about if you ask them to explain biodynamic wine. The place functions as a cafe during the day, and they serve brunch on the weekends.

If beer, wine, and liquor are no longer enough for you and your cutting-edge drinking companions, try Honey’s - a meadery and cocktail bar in the part of Bushwick that could also be accurately called East Williamsburg. We’d recommend sticking with the drinks made from mead (fermented honey that’s been infused with flowers), but they also have a decent beer and wine selection.

Boobie Trap is the kind of neighborhood bar where no two chairs are the same and there are slinkies and toy guns fastened above the bar. They have a bunch of beer/shot deals and, if you spend a lot of time in the area, you might end up treating this like the Bushwick version of Cheers.

There comes a time in the weekend where you must ask yourself a simple question: do I dance or do I not dance? If it’s a dancing night, consider Lot 45. This place in a warehouse, so there’s enough space to actually dance like a person having a good time - instead of the shoulder isolation stuff that makes you look like a self-conscious teen at a wedding. As for the music, it’s usually something you know the words to. There’s a cover, but you can just think of that as your $10 charge for having a fun night.

Jupiter Disco is a space-themed bar on Flushing Ave that was probably conceived by someone who likes sci-fi for its aesthetics and not really any other reason. This is a spot for the end of the night with a crew that’s trying to dance and drink strong cocktails. It will be crowded and sweaty, but if that's what you're going for, it's fun. Just know there’s usually a cover on weekends.

Speaking of getting sweated on by young people, ever been to Bossa Nova? This is a dance club, but you won’t hear Top 40, and there won’t be a guest list. Depending on how late you get here, there might be a line and cover - but you shouldn’t let those things get between you and a night of dancing very poorly (but enthusiastically) on a dance floor that’s usually covered in fog. Disclaimer: this is closer to a dive bar than it is to a club in Manhattan, and the only music they play is electronic.

The Johnson’s looks like what would happen if you picked up a dilapidated country club/drug den from 1969 and stuck it in the middle of Bushwick. There’s astroturf, swinging wicker chairs, furry rugs, and a pool table, and it basically always feels like a party here. Come for the daily till-9pm Happy Hour, stay for the alcoholic slushies and $2 beers. And if you have a few too many slushies? There’s a burger window at the front.

Pine Box Rock Shop used to be a coffin factory, and now it’s a music venue and very cool beer bar. There’s a stage area in the back for concerts and TVs above the bar for watching the game in a setting that doesn’t feel like a sports bar. Come with friends and play I Spy with the vintage concert ticket stubs under the plexiglass bar counter (bonus points if you can find the Patti Smith ticket from 2001).

Precious Metal is a casual cocktail bar from the same owners as the Pine Box Rock Shop. They have regularly-scheduled events like awards show screenings and storytelling nights that you’ll actually want to attend. Also it’s near Archies, so you’re in a good position for late-night pizza afterwards.

Left Hand Path is a bar near the Jefferson Avenue L that’s ideal for every situation from casual weeknight drinks to a low-key birthday hang in the backyard. There’s plenty of seating and the whole bar feels like the inside of a whiskey barrel. Although this is much more of a place to drink large beers out of cans than it is a place to drink fancy cocktails.

There are no gimmicks at Three Diamond Door - no wacky theme, no cheesy decor, no arcade games, and no skeeball machine. It’s just a cool spot with cozy leather booths, a good number of beers on draft, and some reasonable beer/shot specials. It’s also pretty versatile. Sit in the front for a normal-bar feel, or head to the back room for dancing. On weekends it gets packed, and it’s a good place for a birthday after-party.

In the vein of Three Diamond Door, plus a bit of 1950s cruise ship flair, is the all-purpose bar Starliner. The space is massive, and could easily fit your group of 30 - or if you’re looking for your next birthday venue, this spot’s birthday booth (which is reservable in advance for a group of 10) might be perfect. Starliner is not a place you come for a rosemary shrub cocktail, but if you’re just looking for a comfortable place to sit and drink, you’ll find it here.

Meeting that friend of yours who would be happiest if they could only drink fancy cocktails for the rest of their life? Direct yourselves to The Narrows, one of our all-around favorite spots in Bushwick thanks to excellent cocktails, a great back patio, and a low-key-but-not-boring atmosphere. This is also a great date spot - make it the second stop on a one-two punch evening (Roberta’s, Momo Sushi Shack and Bunna are all close by).

The name is long, but Hard Times Christmas Liquors at the Sunset Bar is just one little bar in the space that used to be Montana’s Trail House. When you’re there, it feels like you’re in a small cabin in the woods, and, while there are some craft beers, most people will probably be drinking Budweiser or Miller High Life. There’s also a big menu of stuff like deep fried mapo chili dogs, chicken wings, and avocado tempura fries, so consider this place the next time you need to get something to eat after a night out drinking.

This place isn’t really “mad” tropical. Sure, there are some potted plants and bright barstools, but mostly it just feels like the bar that was here before it. That bar was called Tandem, and, like that place, Mad Tropical is a semi-divey spot where you can hang with a date up front or hit the dance floor in back. Dance parties occur Thursday through Sunday, so if you need somewhere in the neighborhood to get a little weird, this is a perfectly good choice. And if you get hungry midway through your dance party, there are tacos and Mexican pizzas.

Yes, Duck Duck is technically in East Williamsburg. But we don’t really believe in East Williamsburg as a technical term. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can move on to telling you why, if you haven’t already been hanging at Duck Duck, you’ve been missing out. It’s been open since 2001 (when there was no East Williamsburg), and over the years it’s established itself as an excellent place to drink cheaply, dance freely, and make some new friends. They recently remodeled, and now there’s even more space for the giant 3am dance circle you and your friends always end up in.

If you are a fan of any of the following bars, you will likely also be a fan of The Topaz: Sisters in Clinton Hill, Ramona in Greenpoint, Donna in Williamsburg, and The Wayland in the East Village. We recently discovered that all of this city’s most attractive bars were designed by the same people, and while possessing that knowledge makes us kind of uncomfortable, it also makes a lot of sense. The Topaz is the newest notch in that group’s beautiful bar belt, and it’s also the only place of its kind in this area. Go here if your priorities lie in aesthetics - and also try to get here before their excellent daily Happy Hour (until 8pm) ends.

KCBC beer is a brewery and taproom on Troutman near the Jefferson stop. You’ve probably seen their beer in bars around the city, but their taproom has some interesting ones you won’t find elsewhere. Weekend nights here get packed, but the crowd during the week and weekend afternoons is ideal for dogs, children, and fully grown adults alike. Be warned: the scrabble board is missing several pieces.

This is a nondescript dive bar right below the J train between Kosciusko and Myrtle/Broadway. If it could, their drink list would laugh at KCBC’s beer menu and say “Bro, calm down” and that’s why we like it here. And the fact that there are many portraits of wolves on the walls. Plus, it’s extremely close to Santa Panza, if you happen to choose your bars based on their proximity to pizza.

Do you not mind being sweaty outside in the summer? Do you love layering up and pretending it’s not freezing outside in the winter? Do you cry tears of joy and work hard to resist the urge to run around naked on those 13 yearly days of actually-perfect weather in NYC? Then you should be spending more time at Forrest Point, which has some of the best patio real estate in Bushwick. If you hate the outdoors, there’s also plenty of indoor space.

Syndicated is a movie theater. But it’s also a restaurant, and it’s also a bar. The theater is at the back of the hangar-like space, but at the front is a giant open space centered around a square bar. There are often movies or TV shows projected onto the huge walls, there’s plenty of bar and table seating, and there are always a good number of people there to hang out. If you’re looking for a laid-back place to get drinks with friends on a Tuesday, or a place to drink and maybe eat something before a night out, Syndicated feels like a nice change from your average bar setup.

Pearl’s Social is the default bar in the area around the Jefferson L stop. It’s where you go to meet your friends (who are probably drinking there), and it’s where you loiter outside as if it were your stoop. How did it get this way? Who knows. But this is where you go when you want to drink and chat and stand shoulder to shoulder with other Bushwick folk. It’s a pretty small room, but there are some tables, a bar, and some window seats where you can hang out, check out the old-timey knick knacks on the wall, and decide what you’ll do with the rest of your night.

If Ashton Kutcher is good for one thing, it’s teaching us that the 70s were a very good time. El Cortez, a 70s themed bar that looks like a desert chapel from the outside, is also a good time. The giant tiki drink menu is printed with pictures so you can easily select your chosen route to tomorrow’s hangover, and there’s often a DJ. Get a cheeseburger or any of the actually quite solid Tex-Mex food to make that hangover a little less painful.

Happyfun Hideaway feels like a drunk person decided to open a bar, so they signed a lease, found a pinball machine, and acquired a few boxes of Franzia. And yes, you can get Franzia here. You can also play pinball on a machine with a young Alec Baldwin’s face on it. There’s a vaguely tropical theme here, but most of the decor looks like it was found on the street, so that’s probably just how it came together. Drinks are cheap, and there’s a backyard.

Want to have a laid-back hang with a big group of friends? Go to The Rookery. Want to sit down (inside or outside) for a beer and a patty melt and still be within walking distance of several other bars where you can get sweated on by other young people? This is the place. Even on weekends, there’s room here to move around, and they do brunch, dinner, and a late-night menu. This might not be the place to get crazy, but it’s a good spot to sit for a while and recharge.

Bushwick Public House is the closest thing Bushwick has to a town hall - it’s not particularly special, but it’s where a lot of people in the neighborhood congregate. The main floor is a coffee shop by day and a relaxed bar by night, filled with people who might pay rent to sleep on the pool table. There’s a basement where dancing usually happens, especially after enough cheap PBR and Fireball shot combos.

Birdy’s looks like it should be on the outskirts of a small town, sandwiched between a strip club and a bowling alley. Instead, it’s on a corner in Bushwick. This place is 70s-themed, and there are some retro hanging lamps, abundant wood paneling, and a few strings of Christmas lights hanging over the bar. Come here for cheap drinks, comfy booths, and the opportunity to feel nostalgic for a decade you were maybe not alive for.

The Cobra Club

This place is a coffee shop during the day, and a bar at night. They also offer ballet for toddlers and heavy metal yoga. The Cobra Club is sort of like a community center for people who drink heavily (i.e., young adults living in Bushwick), and it has an inclusive, neighborhood feel. Come in the morning and get a coffee and a Dough donut, or stop by at night for an 80s dance party and have a well-made cocktail named after a Misfits song.

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photo credit: Noah Devereaux

The Best Bars In Bushwick guide image