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Brooklyn Broadside: Bars in Brooklyn - The Old and the New

By Dennis Holt

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

BROOKLYN — Thinking of bars in Brooklyn for people a bit long in the tooth usually brings up memories of solid doors, few windows, a bit of gusto in the air and a hint of mystery.

No one with those memories would think of a bar called the Sycamore Bar and Flower Shop, nor the Sunburnt Calf and certainly not The Bourgeois Pig.

But thanks to The L Magazine, you don’t have to live in Ditmas Park, Prospect Heights or Carroll Gardens where these places are located in order to know they exist. This magazine has just published a telling report about the best bars in Brooklyn, with 20 winners and 20 runners-up, and thus we know about these funny names and many more.

The names we used to be comfortable with were like Sam’s Saloon, Theresa’s Tavern, the Red Rose, the Open Bar, even Montero’s. There was something sturdy and dependable about places with those names.

Now we have places like Wolf and Deer, Banter, the Owl’s Head, Noorman’s Kil and the like. This is another sure sign of gentrification that hasn’t been talked about much, but it gives a clear impression that things have changed and probably will never be the same again.

The aforementioned 40 bars are not concentrated in any one neighborhood. Ten are located in Williamsburg and East Williamsburg, with four in Prospect Heights and four in Red Hook (there’s not much else to do in Red Hook except to shop and drink). Sunny’s is there, one of those old-fashioned places and winner in the category of the “Best Local Bar.”

Park Slope got four listings, if you include South Slope; and Carroll Gardens got three. Boerum Hill received two, but you wouldn’t know it from the magazine. The L Magazine’s editors have always had a problem about knowing where Boerum Hill is. The winner of the “Best Home Office” category was 61 Bergen St. in Boerum Hill, not Cobble Hill as listed.

The categories are meant to be amusing, like the “Best Themed Bar,” “Best Free Drunk Snacks,” “Best Bar To Bring a Parent” and “Best Bar To Bring a Date.”

In the future, I hope the editors, in addition to getting Boerum Hill right, would add some other categories like the “Best Bar Stools,”  the “Best Bar Mirrors,” the “Best Painting of Custer’s Last Stand” and “the Best Ice Display in the Urinals.”

One should note there were no winners in Brooklyn Heights. In addition, David Walentas should correct the absence of DUMBO in the listings.

March 5, 2012 - 11:14am


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