There are trees in Brooklyn. And brownstones. Also, fewer rats. Or maybe the rats are just better at hiding. Either way, an overall better rat situation. It’s also a nice place to get a drink, and if you live or spend time in Bed-Stuy, here’s a guide for where to do that. On this list, you’ll find new bars, old bars, bars with DJs, and at least one bar with a whole wall covered in bird art. Scroll through and find a place that appeals to you. Then head over, get a drink, and drink it. That’s how bars typically work.
This list isn’t ordered in any way, but we thought we’d put Tip Top at the top. It’s the oldest bar on the list and possibly our favorite. Technically it’s a dive bar, but it’s friendlier than your average dive. The same family has owned this place for decades, and you’ll probably see a few of them when you go. The decor consists of some Christmas lights, a good amount of Obama memorabilia, and an old jukebox in the corner with a solid playlist. Overall, it feels like someone turned their basement into a bar and refused to renovate it for forty years.
Part cocktail bar, part restaurant, part coffee shop, and part live music venue, Bar Lunatico is easily one of the most fun places to hang out in Bed-Stuy right now. It’s a very narrow little space, so if your priority is to settle in for a night of drinking and snacking and music-enjoying here, show up on the earlier side. That said, if you stumble into Bar Lunatico under any other circumstances, you won’t be disappointed. It feels like pretty much nothing else we can think of in New York - and more like the kinds of places we imagine you find in South America, or wherever enjoyable live music at bars is the rule, not the exception. To be clear - for NYC, this is the exception.
Casablanca is a retro, cash-only spot with tin ceilings, chandeliers, and a big vintage sign. And if you came here on a weeknight, or early in the evening on a weekend, you’d think it was simply a good place for a low-key cocktail. But that’s only one half of Casablanca’s real identity. Come after 11pm or so on weekends - or whenever the DJ shows up - and you’ll find a full-blown dance party (sometimes one you have to pay a $10 cover for). It always feels like it’s someone’s birthday here.
If you live in Bed-Stuy and don’t find yourself at Dynaco regularly, you might want to consider a major life change. This is an awesome spot - warm and welcoming (without feeling “cute”), relaxed but not boring, and cool enough to bring just about anyone. There’s an impressive beer list, cocktails, and wine, rotating snacks, and - maybe most importantly - cake. If you’re looking to start or end a night out in Bed-Stuy, this is always a good choice.
This isn’t the first time we’ve told you about Chilo’s - they serve some killer tacos out of a truck. But that truck happens to be parked on the back patio of a divey mezcal/tequila bar. Inside, it kind of feels like a place you’d see on CSI: Miami. By which we mean, there’s a lot of black and neon. They make a solid margarita and michelada, which are best enjoyed on that back patio (with lots of tacos). If you’re in the market for happy hour, they also do some drink specials.
C’mon Everybody is a few feet from Chilo’s, and you’re probably wondering how two bars can exist right next to one another. Well, Chilo’s has tacos and C’mon Everybody has music. Up front, there’s a bar, and in the back there’s a room with a stage where they host live music and the occasional dance party. The events are ticketed, but they generally don’t cost much - and if you don’t feel like buying a ticket, you can just drink at the bar up front. The music up there won’t be live, but it will be very loud.
If you live near Moloko, make it your neighborhood bar. Besides the cash-only policy, it’s pretty ideal to have by your house. It sort of feels like a tiny house in the woods. One with no windows, a long bar, and some waitstaff. They also open at noon every day, in case you ever call in sick and feel like the right thing to do is to spend the day drinking, and they also serve food. This place is casual, but it’s also nice enough to bring a date, if you can convince someone to spend time with you romantically.
Do or Dive is relatively new, but it was built to look it’s been around for decades. Inside, you’ll find a bunch of vintage beer signs, a few antique lamps, and some vinyl bar stools that look like they were stolen from a strip club or a bowling alley. It feels like sort of place where you’d want to get a drink after you lost a lot of money betting on horses. Appropriately, the drinks are pretty cheap, and they also make some decent cocktails. Like the (alcoholic) frozen coffee drink they serve in a paper cup.
Black Swan is a pub where you can get a burger or a fried chicken sandwich at 3am. There’s a bar up front and a dining room in the back, and they serve food all day. They also do brunch on weekends. You will not leave the Black Swan a healthier person, but if you’re looking to eat some solid pub food in a dark, cozy, somewhat loud environment, this place is a good option.
You should never not be in the mood to drink a rum punch and listen to reggae. If you really feel like you aren’t in the mood, go drink a rum punch and listen to reggae. That’ll put you in the mood. You can do this at Lover's Rock. It’s a Caribbean-themed cocktail bar in south Bed-Stuy where they make some good drinks and keep the lights dim. Reggae isn’t the only music they play, but don’t expect Top 40. It’s more old-school than that. For a fun night out that isn’t too crazy, we recommend this place. And when it’s warm, hit their backyard.
This place stays busy, and maybe that’s because of the bird art. There are 20+ paintings of birds here, and, on second thought, no one goes to a bar for bird art. People come here to eat, drink, and talk to other people. This is a neighborhood bar, and they serve things like cheese fries, grilled shrimp, and a fried chicken sandwich. It’s a nice little place to sit and hang out. They also do brunch, and you can trust that this bar will be busy on weekends.
Any night of the week, you’re going to find a crowd at Doris. Maybe it’s the backyard, maybe it’s the DJ playing vinyl, or maybe it’s the disco ball that seems to go on at 11pm sharp. Maybe it’s because of all three. This is where you go to meet someone in Bed-Stuy. It feels sort of like something you’d find on the LES, although people here generally know how to keep it together.
Glorietta Baldy pours some hard-to-find craft beers, but you can also get a $5 Narragansett here. They also make some good drinks, although this place isn’t as fancy as your typical cocktail bar. So it’s kind of the best of both worlds. There are even a few pinball machines for when you have a few beers and suddenly consider pinball a compelling game. Come here when you’re looking to have a low-key drink. If you need somewhere to meet a date, it could also work for that.
The vibes here are pure basement party. It’s a dark, tiny space with some seating along one wall and a DJ booth in the back. It’s also beer-and-wine-only, but that’s probably a good thing. It keeps things civilized - which is usually tough to do when there’s a DJ. Stop by the next time you want to nerd out over some beer and wine with the option of having a low-key dance party. The little dance floor will fit maybe 10 people max. Be one of those 10 people.