Hopping from watering hole to watering hole in Bushwick is a great way to spend a Saturday night. Imbibe your drink of choice at one of the best bars this Brooklyn neighborhood has to offer.
The median age in Bushwick is 13 percent lower than Manhattan’s, with the industrial Brooklyn neighborhood attracting young(ish) artists and creatives who can often be seen prowling the local bars on weekends. Below, we list off the best bars Bushwick has to offer.
As the name suggests, this bar, conveniently located under the Central M stop, is concerned with the mystical. Its signature cocktails change out roughly once a month as the astrological chart enters a new house. For example, from December 21 to January 19 you can get a Capricorn Special, which includes Prairie gin, Marie Brizard ruby grapefruit liqueur, thyme and lemon. Dimly swathed in LED lights, the space gets tights on weekends, but if you can slide past all the bodies and make it to the dance floor in the back, it’s well worth it. DJs regularly spin everything from house to PC Music.
This two-story bar on the outskirts of Maria Hernandez Park is cash only, but a small wad will go far. Beers on tap cost a meager $2, and it’s only $5 for a beer and shot combo. You can really stretch your budget if you ask your bartender for a bowl of free party mix, though you’ll probably want to feed your extra bucks into the change machine so you and your friends can hustle on one of the three pool tables on the mezzanine level.
The atmosphere at Birdy’s is similar to that of Carmelo’s as the bars share management. The vibe is 1970s rock’n’roll: the PA plays a mix of garage rock and post-punk (think The Stranglers, Love and Gang of Four), and the vintage pinball machines and wood panels give it a dad’s basement feel. The frozen cocktails, such as the the daiquiri and the whiskey sour, are topped with a maraschino cherry and tiki umbrella. The proximity to Happyfun Hideaway (it’s right next door!) makes this a popular spot for bar-hopping.
This bespoke queer bar is located on a busy strip of Myrtle where multiple watering holes can be visited on foot over the course of a evening. That said, weather permitting, you might just spend the whole night laughing with friends on the benches in the spacious backyard as they make for a great place to catch up over a gay juice (a rum punch) or two. The tiki-themed bar is also a fun space to drink classic cocktails, all of which are on the cheap side, while enjoying dance music and classic pop.
On the corner of Bushwick Avenue and Jefferson Street stands the diminutive neighborhood bar Rebecca’s. What it lacks in space, it makes up in comfort. Its atmospheric lighting and living room furniture make Rebecca’s a low-key spot to spend a night out that feels like a night in. Its close quarters also make it the perfect place to sing a song during karaoke night. If the small crowd doesn’t encourage you to belt some Beyoncé, then the cheap libations will help you get over your nerves.
Because of its adjacency to Bushwick staple Norbert’s Pizza, Jones Beach has one of the best drink deals in the neighborhood: $5 for a beer and cheese slice. Simply buy the beer and the bartender will give you a ticket to bring next door for your pizza. Not a fan of ’za? Lactose intolerant? That’s OK. The bar often plays host to shows and stand-up comedy sets in the backroom, so check the schedule if you are looking to visit on a quieter night. The spaces are, however, separate enough that you can plop down at the bar or table near the window if you want to opt out.
Once believed to be the former site of a florist (this myth was debunked only after it was christened and the name stuck), Flowers for All Occasions is more than just a bar. On almost any given night, the creatives who run this space (many of whom are former staff of shuttered DIY space The Glove) program DJ sets, pop-up markets, karaoke, shows and performances. The back of the bar doubles as a gallery space and each month works are swapped out for new displays. It’s worth noting that Flowers does not sell hard liquor; the bar stocks wine and beer and there are speciality cocktails made with soju, a Korean spirit.
The ample seating outside Left Hand Path is one of the best patios in the neighborhood. Inside, the all-wood interior feels like a homey cabin. The beer selection is diverse (beers either come in a pint or pitcher) and the cocktails are original, such as the Café Racer, which includes tequila reposado, coffee liqueur, lemon, egg white, chili tincture and cinnamon. In addition to drinks, this pub serves quality food until 2am, from a variety of hotdogs to classics such as pickled eggs and salted nuts.
Alphaville isn’t strictly a bar; it’s also a bona fide venue where bands perform in a separate backroom reminiscent of a dingy basement. On Monday nights, the stage is taken not by DIY punk bands, but by anyone with a hankering to sing during the weekly karaoke night. The drink selection is typical of a dive bar, but the draw is the lack of frilly cocktails. Highly recommended are the “dollar nugz,” lightly breaded and juicy boneless chicken, which run as a $1 happy hour special from 5pm-8pm daily; you can try all of the nine accompanying dipping sauces. There is also a selection of burgers served until 3am.
The sister bar of the Lower East Side’s Welcome to the Johnson’s is a lot bigger and cleaner than the original. The Johnson’s is decorated to look like a great-aunt’s basement, replete with plastic-covered couches, hanging chairs and kitschy wall art. There’s a free pool table and $2 cans of Lionshead pilsner, but everyone’s favorite drink is the happy hour special: a $4 painkiller, a rum-based coconut-flavored slushie cocktail.
One of Bushwick’s newest bars, Old Timers has spacious booths, pinball machines and a rocking soundtrack similar to other local dives. What sets it apart from all the other quasi-hole-in-the-walls is its “health goth” cocktail menu: boozy drinks featuring fresh ingredients, courtesy of the nearby fruit-stand stalwart Mr Kiwi. Skip the Bud, (though OT’s does have one of the best happy hour specials: $2 off drafts, $3 well drinks and a $4 beer and shot from 5pm to 9pm) and get The Neighbors, a beet-jalapeño–infused drink with Los Vecinos mezcal, garnished with rosemary olive oil. Don’t forget to play Skee-Ball in the back – you can win a free drink if you score high enough.
Go to enough Bushwick apartments and you’ll eventually come across one of Boobie Trap’s iconic free lighters, which features the establishment’s name with two breasts in place of the double o’s. Boobie Trap is a campy spot where fun is guaranteed. Sit at the bar and snack on free candy from the jars that line the counter, or grab a table and play any number of board games, from Guess Who? to Connect Four. The walls are decorated with a Mona Lisa baring her breasts, while behind the bar is a rotating “Shitty Yelper of the Month,” a photo shaming customers who left less-than-positive reviews on the popular business directory app. Boobie Trap is open until 4am each night except for Sundays, when it closes at midnight. Wells, drafts and wine are an affordable $4 on weekdays from noon until 8pm,