Brooklyn, The Borough: The Kings of Beer

It seems like every time you turn the corner these days you run into yet another new bar. This is especially true in the gentrified neighborhoods of Brooklyn and very much so in Prospect Heights. Time Out New York recently ran a page-long charticle on the heavy bar presence on Vanderbilt Avenue, the go-to strip for ProHo nightlife.

The eight-block avenue boasts restaurants, cafes and boutiques for moms and dads puttering around with their stroller-strapped kids during the day and by night there are no less than four drinking establishments and one on the verge of receiving its liquor license. Recently, my friends Adam and Dave joined me in hitting a few of my local spots, including the brand-new Weather Up and the six-year-old Soda.

A few years back the three of us would have happily traveled into Manhattan to hop a few bars and head back to Brooklyn for a late night drink before heading home. The bars we frequented on Brooklyn’s north side were rarely getting their parties started before 1 or 2 in the morning on a weekend anyway. But as more of Manhattan’s great dives become extinct, to be replaced by trendier and pricier nightlife spots, Brooklyn is increasingly drawing the attention of Manhattanites out for a fun, interesting night on the cheap(er). Though, there are still a few of you islanders that don’t know much about the Borough of Kings, even though you have three bridges and a tunnel to get you here.

So around 11 on a recent Saturday night we were surprised to find the back room of Soda totally bumping. Having just left Weather Up – a beautifully designed, low-key, yet more expensive joint down the street – we were sort of expecting the same general low-key atmosphere. We were wrong.

It was like a scene out of a college house party: bodies were strewn across the rectangular room filled with musty old couches while the resident DJ held court in the back. Soda gets a serious A+ effort on the bohemian effect. Before long the three of us were surrounded by couples shoved up against the wall passionately making out. The plan had been to have a drink or two and catch up, not the all-night booze fueled adventure, though – don’t get me wrong – those are fun too.

After a little while we gave up trying to ignore the chaos around us and shoved through the crowd to have a cigarette outside. A preppy type of guy wandered over with a loud group of about five similar looking friends in their late 20s and asked what nearby watering hole has a pool table. For better or worse I pointed the bar hoppers to the pool hall on Flatbush Avenue and Park Place. He wasn’t familiar enough with the area to know how to get there. Clearly they weren’t neighborhood folk.

These inner-borough revelers were exploring and for good reason. Often drink prices are lower than Manhattan waterhing holes and Brooklyn neighborhood bars offer a more casual atmosphere, generally cater to the local set and want to keep reeling them in week after week. At which Soda succeeded. After giving out directions we returned to the bar to find a cozy window booth free at the much quieter front of the bar and we chatted, ordered a few sandwiches and headed home for the night.

Just the other day I found out that one of my oldest friends is opening a bar. The Second Chance Saloon (659 Grand Street, Brooklyn) will have its grand opening party today. So how about we make room for yet another local spot?

Brooklyn, The Borough: The Kings of Beer