Hidden in the basement under pan-Asian restaurant Faan, Bar Below claims to be “Brooklyn’s best-kept secret”, but you wouldn’t know it by the hip hoppers and pre-clubbing B & Ters who flock to the place. In fact, after a few 4 a.m. brawls, things got so hot here that a bouncer now enforces a “no doo-rags or athletic gear” policy. (The “no dancing sign,” which hangs upside down, is not as strictly enforced.) The interior is funky and futuristic. The long paisley-shaped peninsular bar divides the space into two zones: in the front, a bi-level, white-tiled curvy seating area resembles a sauna, while in the back people relax to DJ music in the dark-lit lounge.
Drink order: The $6 Kool Aid (vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice and amaretto) or the dessert-like Snickers Martini ($7) which satisfies even if, in keeping with the space-age décor, it tastes more like a Milky Way.
• 209 Smith St., at Baltic St.; 718-694-2277; Fri-Sat, 7 p.m.-4 a.m.
When it reopened a year ago, boys and girls alike took to the converted Sicilianmen-only club that retains the look and feel of another era. Theblack-and-white photos of Brooklyn and a beat-up pool table inthe back room add to the old school Kings County vibe. The hot pressed sandwiches ($6), made with ingredients from the nabe’s Italian food stores, are enough to rouse the ghosts of Paulie, Tonyand Vincente, although they aren’t likely to dance to the Fela, Clash andreggae tunes on the jukebox.
Drink order: Carefully prepared $7 cocktails such as Matt’s Ginger Old Fashioned, which incorporates real ginger; or the vodka-based Riposto with fresh rosemary and tangerine slices.
• 335 Smith St., between President and Carroll Sts.; 718-858-7758;Mon-Thu, 6 p.m.-2 a.m.; Fri-Sat, 6 p.m.-4 a.m.; Sun, 5 p.m.-2 a.m.
With no sign in front, Boat is sometimes referred to as “thered bar” or “the phone bar” because of the pay phone outside. The red walls and lights make it feel like a dive even if it’s not quite dirty enough to be one (if the bathrooms get any worse, though, it will be). The juke box, which New York Magazine named one of the top five in the city a few years ago, cranks out a steady stream of indie rock. Even if the antique pinball machine doesn’t always work, a stack of board games,including Battleship and Yahtzee, get much play, and impromptu tournamentstake place on the puck-sliding bowling game. Drinks are cheap, especially duringhappy hour (5 p.m.-8 p.m. daily), when drafts, bottles and rail drinks are threedollars.
Drink order: Irish Car Bombs(a pint of Guinness with a shot of Jamesonand Baileys, $8) are so popular (and dangerous) with the rock crowd that the bartender sometimes has to ban them.
• 175 Smith St., between Warren and Wyckoff Sts.; 718-254-0607; Daily, 5p.m.-4 a.m.
Brooklyn’s most notorious tiki bar may be small, but Zombie’sdrinks are tall and potent. After a couple of$8 Gilligans (vodka, three types of rum and OJ) you’ll feel like you’ve beenwashed up on a deserted island.The walls are covered in bamboo and adorned with Polynesian masks andtrinkets. Music ranges from Eminemto Simon and Garfunkel, and always manages to sound groovy. After meeting at the bar, singles eventually head back to the couches in the back to make out.
Drink order: A $20 Frozen Foursome margarita is one way to bond with your friends. If sickly-sweet, oddly-colored drinks served with kitschy plastic stirrers aren’t your thing, PBRs are always available for $2 along with other reasonably priced beers.
• 261 Smith St., between Douglass and Degraw Sts.; 718-875-3433;Sun-Thu, 5:30 p.m.-4 a.m.; Fri-Sat, 5p.m.-4 a.m.
Quench was the first bar to capitalize on Smith Street’s explodingrestaurant scene. With a glowing bar, plush curvy seating, and candlelighting, it is cut from the same bolt of velvet cloth that spawned theManhattan lounge craze. And yet its low-key, mostly local crowdpre-dates the Smith St. boom more than any other bar on the strip. Theknockout bartenders speak with a Brooklyn accent, as do many of thewell-dressed patrons who come here for a variety of reasonably pricedwines and scotches and the laidback, conversation-friendly vibe.
Drink order: The “Bada Bing” Banana Split cocktail (topped with whipped cream and a cherry) or the Goddess, made with Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur and mysterious “special goddess dust.” $8 each. The tap selection isunimaginative; bottled beer options are better.
• 282 Smith St., at Sackett St.; 718-875-1500; Daily, 5 p.m.-4 a.m.
With a décor of highly polished wood, brass and stained glass, Wade’s isn’t so much angry as, well…nice—a solidly square place that would be more at home in a small upstate town than on one of the most aggressively hip streets in Brooklyn. The fireplace is a big attraction on nippy days, and if you come early enough to snag the cozy hearthside chairs, you can pass quite a cheap and comfortable happy hour. —Andrew Yamato
Drink order: This month’s specials include a peach martini ($7), the “Absolute Trouble,” a mixture of Absolut Citron, Grand Marnier, orange juice, and grenadine ($5), and the Blue Point Toasted Lager ($3). Pints and well-drinks are half off during happy hour (Mon-Fri 3 p.m.-6 p.m., Sat-Sun, noon-3 p.m.).
• 222 Smith St., at Butler St.; 718-488-7253; Mon-Thu, 3 p.m.-4 a.m., Fri-Sun, noon-4 a.m.
Underneath Village 247’s restaurant is adown-to-earth bar modeled after a traditional English pub. The beer pongtable is popular with the college crowd and the bar’s two TVs cater tosports fans. Friday nights, a two-drink minimum gets you ten comedyacts at 10 p.m. and a DJ at midnight. On dinner-and-a-movie Wednesdays,hang out on the heated backyard patio and dine on “Regional AmericanHomestyle” cuisine while watching classic films and ‘80s comedies.
Drink order: For $50, owner Brett Ballweg hand-paints acustom design on a 32 oz mug which permanently hangs from the bar’sceiling. During subsequent visits, “Mug Club” members can fill it withbeer for $5. During happy hour (5 p.m.-7 p.m.), pints are $3, well drinks are$4, and a complimentary dish (like Buffalo wings) soaks up the sauce.
• 247 Smith St., between Douglas and Degraw Sts.; 718-855-2848;Mon-Fri, 5 p.m.-late; Sat-Sun, 10 a.m.-late. Hours subject to change.
Gowanus Yacht Club
Cheap beer, hot dogs, and hamburgers are the big draws for the after-work crowd at this nautically-themed beer garden. The décor – think large umbrellas, string lights, and mismatched furniture – certainly isn’t.
Drink order: Down the Duff, a Simpsons inspired 16-ounce draft of mysterious origin ($2). If you think that’s cheap, a mere $1 buys an 8 ounce can of Bud.
• 323 Smith St., at President St.; Mon-Fri, 4 p.m.-2 a.m., Sat-Sun, 2 p.m.-4 a.m.