Aspall Cyder - Cider and Vinegar

New York in the the Spring - my 5 favourite bars in Brookyn

22nd June 2015

Henry's Travels

Do you ever remember at school being shown an image similar to the one above and being asked to read out what it says?

It’s one of those illusion things; we all think it says “NYC in the springtime”, but it actually says “NYC in the the springtime”. It shows that actually our brains are very quick to interpret what we see rather than actually seeing what is there; all good survival instinct stuff I’m sure, developed over millions of years to save time and help the human species get to the top of the food chain.

And it’s not just in reading sentences that our brain helps us out with, it often shortcuts the need to process all the ‘data’ we are exposed to on a daily basis. Think of the last car journey you drove. Do you actually remember the journey itself, or were you away in a daydream whilst your brain took on the mundane process of getting you from a to b. “Don’t worry” says the brain, “all under control, you work out what you’re going to have for tea; I’ll get you home safe and sound”. And on the whole, that’s exactly what happens. 

Much of the time, we don’t notice what’s going on around us simply because we don’t have to.

Last month I spent a week in New York; I love New York, and to help get quickly into our groove on landing, we always rent the same apartment in Williamsburg. We know where the shops are, the laundromat, we have favourite restaurants now. I also noticed on the last trip that I’m beginning to stop noticing things. Trips around the neighbourhood occur increasingly whilst my mind is somewhere else. Visits to bars fill me with the contentment of familiarity not the excitement of exploration. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – as long as you catch yourself from time to time, and remember to “stop and smell the flowers”. So my “5 favourites” list from this trip, are my 5 favourite Brooklyn bars; bars that we go to every trip, and bars that are “old friend familiar”. Bars I haven’t written about before because they have become part of my global furniture. 

  • 1. Radegast 113 N 3rd St, Brooklyn 11249

    Nestled in the centre of Williamsburg, Radegast has become an institution of a bar.

    Set inside a converted warehouse building, it has a great décor that is authentic and welcoming. Super beer garden feel, fantastic range of beers (and a good cyder….), and extensive bar food menu – from the wurst grill through to kitchen prepared schnitzels, chops, bone marrow, Munich pretzel, the spaetzel and a great deal more. The atmosphere is welcoming and buzzy, and there is often great live music. Not to be missed if you’re in New York. All you need to know on this  video.

  • 2. Spritzenhaus 33 Nassau Ave, Brooklyn NY 11222

    As a fair weather New York visitor – I time my trips for Spring and Fall to avoid the stifling summer heat and freezing winter chills – this bar is THE perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon.

    The street windows open fully to bring the outside in, and your gaze is drawn out past the street towards the green of Mcarren Park. It is a huge open space internally, a friendly and lively atmosphere with 2 bars that have an approachable and extensive list. Food is to die for – great sausages to choose from, and Sigmund’s soft pretzel with choice of dipping sauce is a must. There are not many better places to pass an afternoon with friends.

  • 3. Wythe Hotel. 80 Wythe Ave. at N. 11th Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11249

    The Wythe is based in an old factory building built in 1901 and subsequently converted into a hotel with 70 rooms.

    It also has a bar with deck on the 6th floor which offers simply the best view of Manhattan – especially at sunset. It could so easily rest on those laurels could get away with not offering a great bar list as it would be packed for the view alone. The fact that it does make the extra effort is a hedonist’s dream. Great beer list, fabulous cocktails and usually a great DJ. Oh, and what a view. Get there early.

  • 4. Dear Bushwick. 41 Wilson Ave, Brooklyn 11237

    If you are an Englishman (or woman) in New York and you get even vaguely homesick, this is the place for you.

    Describing itself as An English Country Kitchen in the heart of Bushwick, the décor alone will whisk you back to familiar surroundings. The food is exceptional, all locally sourced with an English theme – if an English Brie Sandwich, Baked Salt Cod & Potato Pie, Spiced Rice Porridge, Gin Juniper Smoked Brook Trout or Yorkshire Pudding Skillet Cake doesn’t tempt you then the extensive cocktail list and joyous happy hours will. Beer and cider list is very considered and changes weekly. It’s cosy, friendly and the touches of Englishness in its decoration include milk bottle light covers, and even English tabloid wallpaper in the loos. But you don’t have to be homesick and English to love it.

  • 5. The Rookery. 425 Troutman St (btwn Wyckoff & St Nicholas Ave), Brooklyn, NY 11237

    Another bar that recently opened in up and coming Bushwick, The Rookery inhabits an old industrial building with tall ceilings and a patio out front.

    Décor is contemporary meets warehouse industrial with a Scottish twist, complete with portraits on the wall and a stuffed peacock. Beer range is a little limited by comparison to many other craft bars, but sometimes that’s a Godsend – and it’s always got good things on it. Cocktails are great too. Time seems to pass quite quickly here….