When looking to escape the summer heat,
a good watering hole is a must. Here are bars in Fort Greene,
Downtown Brooklyn and Smith Street with tall pints and cool bartenders.
80 Lafayette Ave. betw. Fulton Street and So. Portland Avenue, (718) 797-9536
Moe’s Bar. The name in itself brings a snicker from those who pass, and those who stop in for a drink. They wonder if the bar is perhaps named after Moe Szyslak, the surly, two-faced owner of Moe’s Tavern on "The Simpsons." And upon asking, anybody will find out that, in fact, it is, and yes, the Fort Greene bar also offers Duff Beer.
Moe’s Bar, on Lafayette Avenue, may not have Bart Simpson regularly placing prank phone calls to the bar, asking bartender Moe to page such fictitious patrons as "Jacques Strap" or "Ivana Tinkle," but the bar’s real upbeat, full-of-life bartenders, add their own fun. The bar’s homage to the television cartoon continues right on up to a portrait of Moe on the wall, but the colorful decor and no-frills aura creates a scene enticing enough for even a Simpsons fan to miss a weekly episode for a Moe’s Bar Sunday night party.
Moe’s Bar opened in June 2001, according to manager Kimberly Smith, and is owned by Ruby Lawrence and Chelsea Altman - two women whose friendship took root in high school and whose desire for a local hangout created the business.
Its customers and its staff describe the bar as a colorful nightspot on quiet Lafayette Avenue that reflects vibrancy in both its decor - with art-deco lights over the curved bar and eye-catching vintage furniture set in a space that used to be occupied by a tailor’s shop - and its diverse crowd. Keep in mind, that even with a name like Moe’s, the customers are a lot more inviting than Homer and Barney.
"It brings in a great crowd," Smith said, as she looked around the bar, with its walls as colorful as the mix of faces sitting against them. "We bring in characters here. Even the bartenders They are just insane."
Smith said the scene behind the bar fuels the scene in front of it. On this night, a good-looking Tom Cruise wannabe bartender attempts to impress the female customers - a la "Cocktail" - with a flick of the wrist and flip of a bottle, only to drop most of what is in his hand and the attention of any prospective onlookers.
Thursday through Sunday, Moe’s Bar spins hip-hop, soul, funk and oldies but goodies through the talents of local and international DJs. One night each month, an event called "Come Clean" offers the spinning of three to five different DJs from all over the globe.
"People know about that night," Smith said. "It attracts a nice crowd."
On Wednesdays, the bar hosts its own game of charades, and happy hour goes on from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, Monday through Friday, with two-for-one drafts and $1 off well drinks. But don’t bring any credit cards, debit cards or fake IDs for that matter - Moe’s only takes cash and they do card their customers.
Moe’s Bar is open from 5:30 pm to 4 am, seven days a week. The drink menu includes Guinness, Bass, Stella Artois and Duff’s - the name given to whatever beer is on special for the day, priced at $3 a pint - on tap. Most of the tap beers are priced at $4. Moe’s Bar also offers specialty drinks, such as a Bailey’s Chocolate Martini, a Purple Cosmo, a Bloody Martini, a Gingerbread Martini, and, of course, the Flaming Moe Shot - Wild Turkey topped with Bacardi, served in a flaming shot glass.
And if you’re hungry, ask the bartender for the book of local restaurant menus. If you can find a little elbowroom, Moe’s Bar allows its customers to order takeout food. Moe’s Bar is easily accessible via the C and G trains at Fulton Street, with a subway stop directly outside its front doors. The Atlantic Avenue Q, 1, 2, 4, 5 station is also nearby. - HW
160 Court St. at corner of Amity Street, (718) 596-3514
Sept. 11 was still a blur.
Thursday the 13th had brought with it a bigger than usual day-after-press-night hangover (no sleep, caffeine withdrawal) compounded by the fact that, now that the paper was out, I couldn’t tear myself away from the television. I finally had time to let it all seep in. I needed to get out of the apartment.
I needed a beer.
My soon-to-be wife met me at home in the Heights around 1 pm. She was home early because she’s a federal agent and her Lower Manhattan office was off-limits. On 9-11, they had her clearing people out of Lower Manhattan.
The two of us walked up to Court Street like the rest of the city, with that dazed look on our faces, and then we stumbled onto someplace that somehow seemed familiar, even though I hadn’t been there in years.
So we walked into Cousins II on Court Street and grabbed a couple of stools at the end of the bar. There were only a handful of patrons in the bar that early on a Thursday but every one of them was either glued to the six televisions playing CNN or talking about some facet of the terror that was still fresh in the memories, with an eye always wandering toward one of the monitors. The chance of finding a survivor was still a real possibility then.
But there was something about the "feel" of the 22-year-old bar, whether it was the camaraderie that everyone felt at that time, fueled by the normally friendly and chatty bartenders, or the fact that everyone was focused on the one thing, and if they weren’t before, the constant CNN in the background brought it to them, that made Cousins feel like the place to be at that moment. A place to unwind, as much as you could in those days following 9-11.
We must have gone back to Cousins six or seven times in the next two weeks. A regular post-9-11 crowd developed that supplemented the regularly bustling crowd that’s been patronizing Cousins for years. There were newspaper reporters and editors, former CNN producers, news photographers, firemen covered in soot, just back from "the site" and stopping in for a glass of cold water, and all the regulars from Boerum Hill and neighboring Cobble Hill or Brooklyn Heights.
All eyes wandered to CNN, all conversation focused on the rescue, or where you were on 9-11, or volunteering to help out in the relief effort. We all experienced it. But for the next few weeks that crowd and that place was like a home away from home.
Cousins mainstay Butch Ford, who runs the karaoke Friday nights always seemed to be there, like an unofficial host offering a warm hug and handshake whenever we walked into the bar. (Passing by Cousins several weeks later, Butch rushed outside to congratulate Caroline and I on our wedding, insisting we stop in soon so he could by us a drink.)
The thing of it is, Cousins is always like that. Nothing trendy or chic about it, Cousins is a neighborhood joint that’s also a damned good sports bar. Eventually the coverage on the six televisions returned to sports, most notably on Sept. 21, when baseball returned and the Mets hosted the first sporting event in the city since the attacks. Even the adjoining dining area, separated by just a partition with additional bar counter space and stools, fell still during a pre-game moment of silence and the entire joint seemed to sing along with "God Bless America."
Under normal circumstances, Cousins bustles with a couple of games on the televisions, which are placed throughout the pub so that even diners can watch along. Football Sundays are big, especially when the Giants and Jets are televised, and there are food and drink specials during the games.
There are 11 beers on tap, including my favorite, Brooklyn Lager, and there is a happy hour special, Monday through Friday, from 4 pm to 7 pm, during which frozen drinks are $4, pints are $3 and there is $1 off all liquors. As mentioned before, Friday nights feature karaoke (oh well) but there are also live bands on Saturday nights.
The full menu is available at both the bar or in the dining area and it ranges from the more upscale daily specials to individual pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, burgers and fries.
Cousins II is open seven days a week, Monday-Tuesday, 4 pm-2 am; Wednesday-Thursday and Sunday, noon-2 am; Friday-Saturday, noon-4 am; and accepts all major credit cards.
The best thing about Cousins, however, is the crowd the bar draws and the bartenders, many of whom have been there for years, who still, unlike in most other bars these days, buy back a round.
I remember back in 1994, when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup (and before I had cable) Cousins was the place my friends and I would rush - all the way from the other side of Brooklyn - to catch the playoff games. Under orders from owners Bob Cardillo and Vincent Chisari (who are cousins), the bartenders would buy the house a shot every time the Rangers scored a goal. It’s that kind of place.
224 Smith St. betw. Butler and Douglass streets, (718) 488-7253
Behind the lengthy, wooden bar - in front of bottles and bottles of liquor and ornate sculptures that look as if they were stolen from a museum display case - three bartenders set the mood of a hip, charismatic bar scene in a dim, aged and worn pub.
But Angry Wade’s, the host of this scene, only opened for business two years ago, in November 2000, and according to manager Mian Raven, the dusty antiques have the look of old, but no ages old stories behind them. The owners, she thinks, ordered a lot of the bar’s decor from a knick-knack catalog.
"There is really no story behind anything," Raven said, laughing.
But upon thinking about it, Raven remembered the fairly new bar did develop out of an interesting plot. Located on Smith Street, Angry Wade’s is one of two establishments owned by husband and wife Wade and Melissa Hagenbart. The other is Sweet Melissa’s, a cafe-patisserie at 276 Court St.
The Hagenbarts are young, in their early 30s, Raven said, and established the two businesses as they were first settling into their marriage, which began four years ago.
"They wanted something laid back, something relaxing," Raven said.
With a fireplace, a pool table, dartboard, wooden floors and walls, smoky lighting and five television sets, customers easily experience the British pub-like mood.
"It is just a great atmosphere, and everybody is friendly, playing pool, playing darts and drinking cold beer," she said.
In its simplicity, Angry Wade’s draws a complex crowd - older customers, who according to Raven have their regular bar stools on their regular drinking days; and younger customers, who use the bar as a meeting spot after work or for the pool table or for the simple fact that the welcoming bar also features a great jukebox and free popcorn.
And just as the nights begin to warm up and beer drinkers can use high temperatures as an excuse for high bar tabs, Angry Wade’s will open its brand new roof deck. Raven said the open-air level will open soon.
On tap, Angry Wade’s offers Guinness, Magner’s Cider, Sierra Nevada, Bass, Sam Adams, Stella Artois and Hoegarden (Belgium White), Brooklyn Pennant, Red Hook Blonde, Anchor Steam and Harp Lager. In the bottle, Angry Wade’s offers 14 beers, including Chimay, Red Stripe, Brooklyn Lager and Corona. In the summer, seasonal drinks include a "Coney Island Baby," made from coconut, rum, cassis and pineapple. Margaritas, pina coladas and wine are also on the menu.
According to Raven, happy hour - Monday through Friday, from 3 pm to 6 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 3 pm - brings regulars and new faces to Angry Wade’s in good numbers to enjoy half-off well drinks, and half-off tap beer. At 8 pm every Tuesday, a pool tournament is open to all comers.
"It’s always a good crowd," Raven said. "There is no attitude here, just a good time."
Angry Wade’s accepts all major credit cards and is open from 3 pm to 4 am, Monday through Friday, and noon to 4 am, on Saturday and Sunday.
If you love great, fresh beer, and wouldn’t
mind having samples from some of the best restaurants in Brooklyn
to wash it down with (well, maybe it’s the other way around depending
on just how much you love beer) then run, don’t walk to the Critic’s
Choice-Brooklyn event being hosted at the Brooklyn Brewery this
Saturday, July 20, from 1 pm to 4 pm.
The mini block party inside and outside the Williamsburg brewery (79 North 11th St., between Wythe and Berry streets) will feature their entire line of handcrafted brews (Lager, Pilsner, Brown, Belgian White, among them) as well as cuisine from the best of Williamsburg, Park Slope, Red Hook, Smith Street, Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO.
Participating restaurants include Allioli, Alma, Bar Tabac, Cafe Steinhof, Chip Shop, Henry’s End, Lou Lou, Max & Moritz, Minnow, Oznot’s Dish, Planet Thailand, Restaurant Saul, Rose Water and Superfine.
The event is being hosted by the non-profit American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF), which was founded in 1981 by Julia Child, Robert Mondavi and the late Richard Graff to provide a forum for the study of fine food and drink. Tickets, which include all the beer and food you can pack in for the three hours, are $40 for AIWF members and $50 for non-members. Proceeds go to AIWF scholarship programs.
The afternoon will also include stickball and wiffle ball games and miniature golf out in front of the brewery. The Blue Rays will perform live jazz and swing.
Call (212) 447-0456 for reservations. The Brooklyn Brewery is also open Fridays, from 6 pm to 10 pm, in the Tasting Room for beer and live local bands and Saturdays, from noon to 5 pm, for beer and tours. For directions and further information, log on to www.brookl
- Neil Sloane