335 Smith St., Carroll Gardens
Friendly, low-key bars are a dime a dozen in Brooklyn. What the borough needs is a little less grunge and a little more concept—Brooklyn Social provides it, while still hanging on to the charm that made you move there. Once an Italian social club, the bar gets the throwback formula right, from the front door marked “non-members welcome” to the slowly revolving ceiling fans, red pressed-tin ceiling, and strains of Duke Ellington. Bartenders dress the part, donning ties and expertly mixing cocktails like Matt’s Ginger Old-Fashioned (bourbon, ginger, sugar, cherries, orange, and soda) and the Society Riposto (vodka, tangerine slices and fresh rosemary), named in honor of the original club. Getting a feel for the old neighborhood was never easier.