Homesick Midwesterners finally have a place to call home in Williamsburg at Burnside, where you can get your fried-cheese-curd fix while maintaining your cocktail cred with fancy, Prohibition-esque drinks. It may not be what you drank at Brewers tailgates, but the gin and green-chartreuse-based Bijou packs just as much of a punch as a shot-gunned can of Milwaukee's Best. At the end of the night, there's no better way to work off a few dozen beers and an American-cheese-stuffed Jucy Lucy burger than with a friendly game of shuffleboard.
Viktor & Spoils
Hotel on Rivington, 105 Rivington St., between Essex St. and Ludlow St.; 212-475-3485
With its earthy wood grains and eerie Day of the Dead–inspired candles, this LES tequila bar and taqueria evokes a subterranean desert respite more than a hotel bar. Slink over to a tight rectangular bar to sample one of dozens of tequilas and mezcals, or take a seat along the perimeter of the open, wood-paneled interior to order a cocktail every bit as spicy as the menu’s carnitas. An interspersing of large groups, couples, and mezcal enthusiasts keeps the atmosphere fresh.
609 Grand St., nr. Leonard St., Williamsburg
Over two-hundred-and-ninety amber-colored bottles climb the wall of this Williamsburg outpost dedicated to all things whiskey (and yes, whisky). Named after the creek formerly cutting through Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Noorman’s Kil doesn’t trickle far from the current hipster building code that apparently requires (1) a hastily Googled, historic origin; (2) a turn-of-the-century, reclaimed-materials vibe (an old New Hampshire barn in this case); (3) a lowbrow, comfort food-pairing (grilled-cheese sandwiches here).
Sons of Essex
133 Essex St., nr. Rivington St.; 212-674-7100
Formerly the bull-toting Mason Dixon, this self-styled “deli, restaurant, townhall” spared no expense if you consider how many townhouses' worth of reclaimed wood, gilded frames, antique leather-bound books, and sepia photographs went into its construction. A crowd fills up the standing-room-only bar nightly and food options range from the fancy (truffle-mushroom pizza) to the creative (Shepherd's-pie empanada) to the straight-up indulgent (five kinds of grilled cheese or six kinds of macaroni and cheese).
724 Franklin Ave., nr. Park Pl., Crown Heights; 347-915-1133
The owners here are the same group behind Soda, Doughboy, Southpaw, Hanson Dry, Dutch Boy Burger, and Franklin Park, and they've carved the space out of an old bodega. It's refitted in the classic, repurposed Brooklyn way: banded wood, black leather, ancient brick, and light fixtures ripped from salvaged ships. The bar itself features 40 types of bourbon, wines on tap, and plenty of craft beers, with a generous happy hour: $4 beers and $6 on select cocktails.
19 Greenwich Ave., nr. Christopher St.; 212-675-7261
While it may be a stretch to dub this a mecca for gin enthusiasts, Whitehall is definitely a serious house of worship. With 50-plus bottles of “mother’s ruin” filling the shelves, it’s difficult to think of another bar in the city that rivals the selection. Every style of gin is on hand, from London Dry to Genever (and seemingly every variation in between), making it not just a question of olive or twist. And for those not accustomed to swilling it cold and straight, mixologist John McCarthy has crafted a small but creative drink menu utilizing Brit staples like fig jam, marmalades, and ciders.