441 Grand Ave., Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
The vibe at Fulton Grand is in line with its sister beer bars, Washington Commons in Prospect Heights and 4th Avenue Pub in Park Slope. There’s black tin ceilings, no television, vintage beer ads on the wall and a taxidermy deer bust. Plenty of attention is paid to the rotating beer selection, which includes affordable Belgians, seasonal specialties, and independent breweries.
9 Clinton St., nr. Houston St.; 646-863-7171
The Manhattan sibling of Williamsburg’s Dijital Fix, Culture Fix is primarily a future-focused design and gadget store hawking everything from lomography to high-end speakers. But unlike Dijital, Culture Fix boasts a downstairs bar, meaning each visit generally entails some fun exploration through technology, design, art and booze (not necessarily in that order).
978 Second Ave., nr. 52nd St.; 212-755-8383
The constantly changing drink specials at Irish Exit are generously affordable for midtown, and there’s a large dining room in the back with a full bill of Irish fare, including some notably creative heart-attack-inducing bar snacks like Irish Nachos (that’d be potato chips piled with corned beef and melted cheddar cheese) and “Techno Fries” (mozzarella, bacon, and, oh boy, Guinness- infused gravy). And, for what it's worth: Vanilla Ice was at the opening!
706 Washington Ave., Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; 718-399-7722
Jesse Levitt, the man behind Kings County, opened this Prospect Heights bar in the summer of 2010 despite some bad omens: as the story goes, when a fortune teller told him his new joint was doomed, he gritted his teeth and powered through, attempting to skirt fate only by changing the name from Flying Monkeys to Minor Arcana. The end result is a restrained, dimly lit neighborhood spot perfect for nursing beers and conversations.
Night of Joy
667 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-8693
Like its sister-bar in Greenwich Village, the Dove Parlour, the granny mode of design is in full effect here. There are ottomans and throw pillows to recline upon, shelves holding exquisitely decorated urns and flasks and eggs (no touching!), and a refrigerator-sized TV to not watch TV on, as it appears to be from the Stone Age. A bowl of dusty hard candy would not be out of place.
114 Franklin St., nr. West Broadway; 212-334-3733
Albert Trummer’s foray into the Cocktail-esque world of flair bartending is less "Cocktails and Dreams" and more Moulin Rouge. There are fabrics and curtains from forties theaters, and an elevated bar, which Trummer likens to a stage.